Diving in Indonesia
Straddling the Equator and stretching more than 3,200 miles from east to west, Indonesia is a country of more than 17,500 islands. From this vast array of coastlines, a select number of areas have emerged as favorites among divers. This area, east of Malaysia and west of Papua New Guinea, is at the epicenter of our planet's marine biodiversity. From the weird and wonderful critters in Lembeh Strait to the graceful mantas and incredible coral gardens of Komodo, the diving in Indonesia is some of the best in the world. Few places on the planet are as varied and give you the opportunity to see more diverse underwater flora and fauna including more than 2,000 species of fish, from car-sized whale sharks to pygmy sea horses smaller than a grain of rice. There are reef slopes, drop offs, plateaus, caves, wrecks and muck diving sites. Northern Sulawesi is Indonesia’s muck diving capital, with Lembeh the reining king for weird and wonderful critters. If you are looking for subjects like the endemic Banggai cardinalfish to the amazing mimic octopus and wunderpus this is the place to find them. And the cast of critters does not end there, Lembeh also features lacy scorpionfish, flamboyant cuttlefish, harlequin shrimp, as well as some of the wildest species of nudibranchs known to man. In Southern Sulawesi, the focus shifts to reefs, with the Wakatobi region offering some of the finest coral formations in the Indonesia. Here, vertical escarpments that begin their drop mere feet from the surface straight down hundreds of feet into the depths. To the east, off the tip of West Papua the tip of the islands of Raja Ampat offer stunning topside profiles, and near-pristine reefs that harbor the world's greatest number of fish species in one location. Divers often tally more than 200 species on a single dive. Some live aboard itineraries also venture into Triton Bay, which is known for extensive soft coral coverage, vast forests of black coral, big schools of fish, epaulette sharks, pilot whales and more. Recently, divers have also discovered Cenderawasih Bay, where whale sharks congregate. Indonesia's other prime liveaboard destination is the Komodo region, where divers can choose between calm reefs and coral-covered pinnacles that attract large schools of fish, with a good chance of mantas and sharks, plus land visits to see Komodo dragons. Other liveaboard itineraries may take in remote sites in the Banda Islands, known for dense fish populations and pelagic sightings, and Alor for macro life and benthic diversity. Because most Indonesian dive trips begin and end at Bali, many travelers add a few days to their itinerary to explore the reefs and walls around the island. A favorite dive is the USS Liberty Wreck, which has the distinction of being the only ship in the world sunk by a lava flow.
Passport and/or Visa Requirements
U.S. citizens require a valid passport to enter Indonesia. The passport must be valid for 6 months beyond the date of entry into the country. Two blank pages are required for the endorsement page stamp upon entry, which is a full page stamp. This stamp acts as your visa which is valid for a 30 day stay for tourists. There is no charge for the stamp. There is a departure tax of 200,000 IDR approximately $16 U.S. which is paid at the airport upon departure.
There are no immunizations required by the Indonesian government.
Please, check with your doctor or visit the web site of the Center for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov for a listing of immunizations
recommended for travel to Indonesia.
Culture and Customs
Indonesia is a nation of islands, and of blended cultures. Centuries of maritime trade have spread influences of Indian and the Far East, but individual island groups have also developed their own traditions and languages. The region is home to more that 300 distinct native ethnic groups, and 742 different languages and dialects. One trait that is common to all of these disparate communities is a tradition of hospitality and acceptance for travelers. The attentive service lavished on guests of resorts and liveaboards is not an affectation, but an integral element of a national psyche that take pride in playing the welcoming host. Equally apparent is a sense of tolerance, which allows the traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Islam and Christianity to coexist. Indonesia is also a land of contrasts. Jakarta's steel and glass towers soar to heights of more than 1,000 feet in one of the most modern commercial centers in the region. A thousand miles away, islanders living in traditional villages still observe local traditions of ancestor worship and animism such as Kebatinan. And then there is the food. Indonesian cuisines are among the most vibrant and flavorful in the world, mixing intense spices and subtle overtones that draw from the culinary traditions of India, Holland, the Middle East, China, southeast Asia, Polynesia and Melanesia. Equally savory is the lively street food scene, where the rich aromas of bakso or gila fill the air.
and Internet Access
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50 Hz. The standard outlet is a two pin round socket. If your appliance is not labled 100-240 Volt, 50-60 Hz input, you may need a step down transformer as well.
Check with your cell phone provider for international plans which may include text, data and voice. WiFi is available at most hotels, restaurants and cafes. The internet speed is slower, so in some cases, streaming and large file transfers might not be an option.
Tap water in Indonesia is largely not safe for drinking. Sealed bottled water is advisable and available for purchase.
Language & Currency
The official language is Indonesian Bahasa. English is widely understood and tourist resorts. There are over 300 languages spoken in Indonesia, with most Indonesians being bilingual in their local dialect as well as Bahasa Indonesia. Many Indonesians are multi lingual, also speaking English, Chinese and Japanese.
The currency is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) or recognized locally as Rp. Money may be exchanged at money changer offices which usually offer the best rate, with banks offering the next best rate and exchanging at hotels is often not the best rate. Money changers prefer newer undamaged bills and may refuse damaged currency. ATMs are available and credit cards are accepted at most resorts. Travelers checks are not recommended.
Indonesia spans three time zones. Western Indonesia Time called Waktu Indonesia Time (WIB) including Java, Jakarta and Sumatra is 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+7 GMT). Central Indonesian Time or Waktu Indonesia Tengah (WITA) including Bali, Sulawesi and Lombok is 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+8 GMT). Eastern Indonesian Time or Waktu Indonesia Timur (WIT) including Irian Jaya is 9 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+ GMT). Indonesia does not observe daylight savings time.
Location, Size and Population
The Republic of Indonesia is a nation of islands in southeast Asia that lies between the Indian and Pacific Ocean. The name Indonesia is derived from the Greek words “indus” (India)
and “nesos” (islands) and is the world's largest archipelagic
nation with over 18,000 islands. It is bordered by the nations of Papua New Guinea, East Timor,
and Malaysia and encompasses over 735,000 sq miles.
Approx. 260 Million people (2016).