Note: This post contains a lot of photos so please be patient while it loads!
Almost 1700 miles were covered in back-to-back 17 nights trips aboard the Pindito, cruising some of the most far flung areas of the Indonesian archipelago. We went from Misool to Watubela, from Triton Bay to Ambon Bay and from the Pacific Ocean across the Banda Sea to the Indian Ocean. We dived pinnacles far from any land, walls that fell to several thousand feet and some of the most pristine reefs the world has to offer. Despite the best efforts of El Niño and the devastating forest fires that raged across the country we managed to have some of the best dives and animal encounters ever. And the best thing? We’re going back in 2017 to do it all over again! So sit back and peruse some of our images from the trip before signing up for our next Epic Indonesia trip.
The wildfires that ravaged Indonesia’s forests and turned the air in Singapore toxic also made an impact over the skies of Raja Ampat. For days the sky was a pallid grey with the sun trying desperately to break through. After one of the areas transitory rain showers we’d have clear skies until the haze could win back its lost ground. Despite this topside tragedy the diving was spectacular. With just enough current to keep things interesting the fish life and soft corals were on full display.
Topping off the Raja Ampat portion of the trip we had some of the best oceanic manta encounters ever at Karang Bayangan. Between six and eight large adults spent the better part of the day visiting the cleaning stations and giving everyone a close pass or two.
Heading down to Triton Bay we stopped over at Pulau Pisang. Having spent time there before we had written the day off as a transition day that would probably yield some mediocre diving. We were pleasantly surprised. Awesome soft corals, large elephant ear sponges and glass fish made for great wide angle opportunities.
After Pisang, our next stop was Triton Bay. We spent several weeks in Triton Bay back when we were still Cruise Directing and always found it to be one of the most colorful destinations in Indonesia. With soft corals that take on different hues from those in Raja and Komodo as well as fields of black coral bushes that cover the deeper reefs. We were unsuccessful in our attempts at meeting the resident whale sharks that feed at the fishing platforms due to a rather poor baitfish catch. We did have rather a lot of moon jellyfish in the water throughout our time in Triton Bay. One morning we even had a mola-mola feeding on them at the surface.
Thes rest of the cruise was spent in the Banda Sea and the Forgotten Islands. This is a huge section of open sea that reaches depths of several thousand meters! Mostly pinnacles or active open ocean volcanos, the Banda Sea is generally known for crystal clear warm water. Thanks to El Nino we didnt really have that all the time. In fact on one dive it would switch between 84º and 74º and 30m and 2m visibility several times as the cold green water would rise and fall along the wall.
What we did have was stellar diving. The cold water brought us amazing hammerhead encounters.
Gili Manuk, one of the open ocean volcanos that juts from several thousand meter deep water to a few hundred feet in the air and emits noxious sulfur gas clouds was on fire. Not literally of course. The snakes, hammerheads, and mobula rays made every dive pure unadulterated awesome diving.
Not to be outdone by all the cool big animals our cruises both ended in the muck haven of Ambon harbor. Although definitely some of the least pleasant surroundings to dive (think pampers, fishing boats, and rubble slopes) we still used every last drop of air in our tanks on every dive to shoot the amazing critters that live there.
Experiencing all of this in two trips is nothing short of incredible. For those that journeyed with us we appreciate you choosing Got Muck and we hope you enjoyed your trip. We’ll be heading back to the area in 2017 aboard the Blue Manta so sign up now!