Diving in Indonesia
Straddling the Equator and stretching across 3,500 miles
of Pacific Ocean from East to West, Indonesia is a country of more than
17,500 islands. Of those islands, 6,000 are inhabited. This area, east
of Malaysia and west of Papua New Guinea, is it at the epicenter of
our planet's marine biodiversity. From the “weird & 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 critters such as the amazing “wunderpus,” mimic
octopus, flamboyant cuttlefish, pigmy seahorses, harlequin shrimp, nudibranchs,
ornate ghost pipefish, stargazers, devil fish, lacy scorpionfish and
the endemic Banggai cardinalfish.
Indonesia has two main seasons: the dry and the rainy
season. In most regions of Indonesia, the dry season falls between the
months of May and November, while the rainy season is from December
to April. Water temperatures vary depending on the dive location due
to the many cold currents and upwellings caused by the convergence of
wind and weather patterns from both the northern and southern hemispheres,
and the deep oceanic currents of both the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
However, expect a temperature range of about 73 to 84 degrees F.
Whether you want to dive reef slopes, drop offs, plateaus,
caves, wrecks or try “muck diving” and look for unusual
critters in the black sand, Indonesia has lots of different diving to
offer. And just as varied as the diving, is the style of vacation…
from upscale liveaboard to secluded beach resorts to dive-dedicated
lodges, there is something for everyone.
Passport and/or Visa Requirements
United States citizens require a passport and a visa to
enter Indonesia. All passports must be valid for six months from date
of entry. A visa is required by all nationalities. This can be obtained
on arrival, for a stay of up to 30 days, provided the passport contains
at least one unused visa page for the visa-on-arrival sticker which covers
an entire passport page. A visa can also be purchased prior to arrival.
A return ticket or documentation for onward travel, and proof of sufficient
funds (US$1,000 or valid credit card), is essential.
There are no immunizations required by the Indonesian government.
Please, check with your local health department 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
The Indonesian culture originated from the farming activities
of the indigenous people. It was influenced by the waves of traders from
India, China, Saudi Arabia and Europe which brought along their religious
teachings. Western influence arrived with the Portuguese, who came in
search of spices in the early 16th century and later with the arrival
of British and Dutch merchants. Hindu cultural heritage, such as the Ramayana
and Mahabharata epic poems, play an important role in Indonesian culture.
Customs and traditions which have merged with religious teachings have
brought about different ceremonies and festivities, which vary from area
and Internet Access
Electrical current is 120/230 volts, 50 Hz. A variety of
plugs are in use including the European two-pin and UK-style three-pin,
so bring an adaptor set and converter.
Telephone service is available in most tourist area hotels
Hotels in the larger cities are equipped with Internet
services and there are plenty of Internet cafes around Bali, but don’t
expect much internet service in the remote islands.
Tap water in Indonesia is not fit for drinking, so only
purchase bottled water from reputable sources.
Language & Currency
Bahasa Indonesia is the official language, with over 300
dialects spoken. English is widely understood in tourist resorts.
The Rupiah is the official currency and is divided into
100 sen. Foreign currency can easily be exchanged at banks, hotels and
money changers in major tourist destinations; US dollars is the most accepted
currency. Cash often yields a better exchange rate than travellers cheques,
which are not always accepted. Cash (US dollars) for exchange must be
bills dated no earlier than 2000, in immaculate condition with no tears
or marks of any kind on the bill. Even the smallest tear or mark, will
result in the rejection of your money by the bank. Most major credit cards
are accepted at hotels, restaurants and stores, but may be subject to
a 3-5% surcharge. ATMs are available in most larger towns.
Indonesia spans three time zones. GMT +7 (West, including
Java and Sumatra), GMT +8 (Central, including Bali, Sulawesi and Lombok),
GMT +9 (East, including Irian Jaya). So that means, when it’s 6
pm on the East Coast of the United States, it is 6 am in Bali. Indonesia
does not observe daylight saving time.
History, Art, and Culture
Indonesia is rich in art and culture which are intertwined
with religion and age-old traditions from the time of early migrants with
Western thoughts brought by Portuguese traders and Dutch colonists. You
can’t think of Bali without visualizing the beautiful Balinese dancers,
which are highly stylized in movement and costume. The performers are
accompanied by a full "gamelan" orchestra comprising xylophones,
drums, gongs, and in some cases string instruments and flutes.
Batik painting is also being produced in many areas of
Indonesia, including Bali, where local designs are incorporated. Other
provinces produce hand-woven cloths of gold and silver threads, silks
or cottons with intricate designs. Paintings are numerous all over the
country, both traditional and contemporary, woodcarvings for ornamentation
and furniture, silverwork and engraving, filgree from South Sulawesi and
Bali with different styles of clay, sandstone and wood sculptures.
Location and Size
The Republic of Indonesia is a nation of islands consisting
of almost 18,000 islands in the South East Asian Archipelago. The name
Indonesia is derived from the Greek words “indus” (India)
and “nesos” (islands) and is the world's largest archipelagic
nation. It is bordered by the nations of Papua New Guinea, East Timor,
and Malaysia and encompasses 741,096 sq miles.
Approx. 235 million people.