Discover the Superbowl of Snorkeling
Indonesia is deservedly known as one of the world's top snorkeling destinations, delivering an unmatched combination of clear water, diverse marine life and dramatic seascapes. Sitting in the heart of the famed Coral Triangle, these waters boast the world's highest levels of marine biodiversity, with hundreds of species of colorful corals and thousands of varieties of fish and invertebrates on display. And these underwater riches aren't reserved for divers, as reefs often rise to within mere feet of the surface, allowing sunshine to reveal the full colors and details of the world below. Snorkelers can drift the edges of precipitous walls, hunt for rare creatures in shallow grass beds, or glide through mangrove nurseries where light and shadows play.
- Best for: Everyone, spa travellers, culture experiences and beaches
- Best season to visit: Year round
- Weather: Indonesia has a tropical climate with two seasons, wet and dry. Most regions, the dry season spans from May - Sep, with rain from Oct - Apr. Indonesia straddles the Equator. Areas near the coast remain in the 80s during the day
Snorkeling in Indonesia Overview
A unique feature of many reefs in Indonesia is the abrupt transition from shallow to deep, and the short distances from shore that these underwater slopes and steep walls begin. This creates ideal conditions for shore-based snorkeling, and also expands horizons to more distant sites, as sites visited by divers may sit adjacent to very shallow formations that can be enjoyed from the surface.
Snorkeling in Indonesia Tips
At several top snorkeling resorts, coral reefs begin quite close to shore and are available day and night. Take advantage of this full-time access by bringing a dive light, which will reveal a whole new cast of characters that emerge when the sun goes down. A good strategy is to first explore a chosen reef in the daytime to gain familiarity, then retrace the same route at night.
Best Places for Snorkeling in Indonesia
Wakatoibi’s House Reef has been named the world's best shore dive. Snorkelers have been known to spend entire days exploring this expansive formation. The shallow reefs that hug Siladen Island are home to more than 30 species of butterflyfish and 20 varieties of clownfish. Manta rays gather at cleaning stations on Raja Ampat’s Manta Ridge, giving snorkelers a rare chance for up-close encounters. In Komodo National Park, the rock island known as Batu Bolong is swarmed by a massive colony of orange anthias and attracts tunas, giant trevallies, and dolphin pods.
What to Pack for Snorkeling in Indonesia
Protect your shoulders and back from the tropical sun with a water shirt or rash guard. Long sleeves are best. If you are in the water for long periods, you might also want to add a form-fitting headcover. Make sure any sunscreen you pack is reef safe, and don't forget the lip balm.
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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 website 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 co-exist. 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.
Electricity, Phone and Internet Access
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50 Hz. The standard outlet is a two pin round socket. If your appliance is not labeled 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. Traveler's checks are not recommended.
Indonesia spans three time zones. Western Indonesia Time called Waktu Indonesia Time (WIB) including Java, Jakarta and Sumatra are 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+7 GMT). Central Indonesian Time or Waktu Indonesia Tengah (WITA) including Bali, Sulawesi and Lombok are 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).