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FREEDIVING / SNORKELING MUST DO LIST INDONESIA - SUGGESTIONS

  • Infin1tty

    Joined Travelfish
    27th August, 2014
    Posts: 8

    Hi All,

    I am planning a trip this winter, spending December 2014 in Indonesia. I would love to do some sightseeing like Yoyakarta, Bromo, Iljen, Rinjani, Kinabalu. But Also primarily I would like to focus on the freediving/snorkeling sites.

    Now, I have been researching past few weeks for the best spots and places to snorkel/freedive. By snorkel I mean going up to aprox. 15 meters depth.
    Could you please suggest some top spots for this while bearing in mind the budget options, meaning no liveaboards or overpriced packages. So far, my top picks were Raja Ampat, Sipadan islands, Wakatobi and Bunaken. Out of those 4, I see that the cheapest would be Bunaken. Raja is far off with sky high prices, Sipadan is budget friendly with 50rm p night and 110rm per day dive, Wakatobi seems to be pricey and not many options to stay or snorkel / 140usd per day for snorkelling is way too much/.
    Could you suggest if there are ways to do those four or other top sites on the budget?
    I am also planning Komodo, Bali, Lombok snorkeling/freediving, but that seems to be easily accessible and probably reasonably priced, but any suggestions welcome.
    Also any Freediving buddy welcome to join, travel the islands in December.

    Thank you very much for input.

    #1 Posted: 27/8/2014 - 14:19

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  • noddytravel

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Australia
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    Well, you have listed Komodo, i don't scuba but last trip to Labuan Bajo, Flores, it seemed that everybody from far and wide were there for the diving. great pricing too they all said. i can't remember exact details on the pricing but i know that 3 dives a day were a hell of a lot cheaper than 140 us, so freediving options could be good.

    There was some great snorkelling for Asia around the island (i'm from western australia so very spoilt for great beaches/snorkelling). Riung has 17 island marine park, really nice and decent pricing. I'm in peninsular Malaysia now, about to hit Borneo for a month so will update you on the islands in the north later if you like.

    I visited 1000 islands north of Jakarta also, very nice but i only went to a close one, Pari Island. not sure on dive/snorkelling options further out but might be worth a look?

    I'd also love to go Raja Ampat, but at this stage, because i travel full time, just not in the budget for now..

    Where are you from? the Solomon Islands has some of the most amazing diving/ snorkelling/ islands i have ever seen, and cheap too, depending on where you fly from.

    #2 Posted: 28/8/2014 - 02:25

  • ardi

    Joined Travelfish
    28th August, 2014
    Posts: 5

    Raja Ampat is indeed awesome, yet a bit pricey. For alternatives, you may try Derawan or Ora beach in Seram island, Maluku.

    #3 Posted: 28/8/2014 - 04:01

  • Infin1tty

    Joined Travelfish
    27th August, 2014
    Posts: 8

    Thank you very much for the input.

    I have already recieved a couple of replies from the resorts from Sipadan and Wakatobi, It seems I can cross both places out of my list :)
    I will share it with you, so you know if in case you plan snorkeling there:

    1. Sipadan: email from scubajunkie place, they have single rooms at Saporna for 70rm, however, they do not do a day trip to Sipadan island. Day trips from Semporna are to Mabul, Kapalai and the Tun Sakaran Marine Park. These coast 120RM per person.
    reply from scubajunkie: Snorkeling at Sipadan requires you to do a package that starts at 3 nights / 4 days and includes accommodation on Mabul Island. We do not do the trip from Semporna and we do not offer it as a day trip either I am afraid. Prices start from 2070RM.

    2. Wakatobi - only 1 resort there which charges sky high prices, so seems like backpackers/travellers on budget have no chance to snorkle & swim at Wakatobi park.

    Still left on my list is Bunaken & Raja Ampat, so any comments welcome. Thanks.

    #4 Posted: 28/8/2014 - 07:21

  • mooball

    TF writer
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    Location Australia
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    At least 132

    Well, I think the problem you're having is that most places listed on the internet are expensive places. The homestays on places like Wakatobi aren't necessarily listed online. Still, I have heard it is quite expensive to get there despite there being budget options once there.

    For me, I'd try Pulau Weh, Karimunjawa, Komodo, Menjangan in Bali... How long do you have? Are you planning on Malaysia or Indonesia first?

    #5 Posted: 28/8/2014 - 10:03

  • Infin1tty

    Joined Travelfish
    27th August, 2014
    Posts: 8

    My own idea as follows:
    Option 1.
    -19/11 - fly to Tokyo
    -26/11 - from Nagoya to Kuala Lumpur
    - 27/11 fly from Kuala Lumpur to Yoyakarta, visit sights, then Bromo, Iljen,
    - Early December arrive to Bali, snorkle at Menjangan, Tulamben, Penida island,
    - Gili, Lombok - Rinjani,
    - Komodo, Kanawa snorkeling
    - get from Komodo to Makassar, Sulawesi, visit Selayar island - snorkeling
    - on to Raja Ampat, snorkel 4 days
    - move to Manado, Bunaken snorkeling
    - fly to Tawau, Semporna, visit islands snorkelin
    - Mt. Kinabalu, hike up if possible
    - Move to Philippines around 28/12, spend NYE at Borocay,
    - snorkle at Puerto Galera
    - from Manilla fly to Siem Reap 1 day Angor Wat
    - Bangkok, flight on 11 January to Europe
    I am arriving to Kuala Lumpur on 26 November. From that time onwards, I have time till early January to spend snorkeling and travelling. My main area of focus is underwater world, snorkeling, freediving, then hiking and backpacking.
    Not sure if Im better off buying air fair tickets online /air asia, etc.../ or rather on the spot, based on the weather etc..
    as i do not know how much can the local air tickets grow in December.
    Thanks for input

    #6 Posted: 28/8/2014 - 14:12

  • savorygal

    Joined Travelfish
    16th July, 2010
    Posts: 135

    Hi There,
    I think all your places sound great.... and I hate to rain on your parade, but December is the middle of the monsoon season here. Sure there will be a few dry days, but mostly it will be raining. Especially towards the end of December. Rinjani trail may be closed already ( as it is unsafe to climb when it is so wet)

    So just take int account that transport will take longer & the visibility may not be clear when you are snorkeling.

    #7 Posted: 28/8/2014 - 19:27

  • SBE

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    I think you'd be better buying flights as and when you need them, even though tickets will be more expensive nearer the date. As Savorygal says, you haven't chosen the best time of year to go snorkeling in Indonesia... rainy season really sets in in early December and the seas are often too rough for snorkeling so you may decide to go to the Philippines earlier than originally planned. Also there's a pretty high chance you won't actually go to a lot of the places on that list because if you do you'll be spending most of your time time getting to and from airports and waiting for flights rather than in the water.

    I don't think Raja Ampat is worth the 4 day detour unless money is absolutely no object. Flights to Sorong are relatively expensive and you'll get hit with lots of extra costs even if you're staying in one of the so-called "budget" homestays. On Mansuar Island the snorkeling off the beach isn't as good the hype leads you to expect ... a lot of the coral has been damaged by bombing and there weren't really all that many fish in places that didn't need a boat to get to. Some places had very fierce currents at times (including down currents) so you had to choose your moment to go snorkeling wisely because there aren't any rescue services around there. In October/November the visibility is quite poor compared to places like the Bandas or Komodo at the same time of year ... dunno if it's any better in December. The beach on Gam island isn't as pretty as on Mansuar but the coral was in better shape and I saw some interesting rare critters around there and even a wobblegong shark but unless you fork out a small fortune on a good local snorkeling guide and pay for boats you probably won't see anything you can't find elsewhere in Indonesia. I saw more mantas around Komodo than I did in Raja Ampat and the napoleon wrasse are bigger in the Bandas.

    In terms of bang for your buck Komodo marine park is probably better than Raja Ampat, so if the weather's OK I'd suggest staying longer on Kanawa and using the money you've saved by not going to Raja Ampat for 4 days (2 days of which will be spent getting to and from the airport) to do a few extra snorkeling boat trips. Kanawa accommodation is rather overpriced for what you get but it's a steal compared to what you'd pay for a mattress on the floor in a basic hut in Raja Ampat and the food's better on Kanawa too (yes really ;-)).

    #8 Posted: 28/8/2014 - 20:49

  • Infin1tty

    Joined Travelfish
    27th August, 2014
    Posts: 8

    Thank you very much. I do really appreciate the input and all the info you guys have provided.

    All in all, as I see this, December is the month I can take long time off from work, so hence Im travelling that time of the year.
    Also, It is the only time I can take some days off new vacation period for 2015, so I combined all the vacation days and flexi hours and new vacation to have a long time travelling in Asia.
    Like I said, Im open to suggestions and have done a lot of reading and research past weeks. The only missing pieces of the puzzle was the info you have just provided.
    I would love to see Raja Ampat, Wakatobi, etc. but not at all cost and would rather spend my time & money cost effective.
    So am really considering spending more time in the Philippines then in Indonesia in December, especially the latter part of the month.

    Now I think I have 2 choices,
    1.
    go snorkelling as soon as I hit Kuala Lumpur 27 November and fly to Ambon /currently ticket would be round 68euro, go to Banda islands then move to Komodo and spend at least a week there, then visit Bali, snorkel there and try to do the land sights and hikes along or after this. As it seems that the weather early December may still hold for the snorkelling and possibly for Bromo & Iljen.
    So I could spend time till eg. 20 December in Indonesia, then fly from Jakarta round Christmas to Manila and spend the other half of December snorkelling in Philippines - Puerto Galera, Panglao, and maybe Palawan, etc.

    2.
    The other choice would be the opposite direction, start Yoyakarta, then work my way to Bali, spend 7 days and move to Komodo, then if weather & time permits, perhaps Banda islands, then on to Kota Kinabalu, from where I could fly around 20th December to Philippines.

    In worst case if weather is not good, I can still snorkle around Bali and Komodo and omit the lengthy travel to Banda or Raja, and just move on to Philippines. So that way, option no2 seems to be better.

    Do you guys have any suggestions for me or thoughts on the outlined plans here?

    Many thanks.
    Maros

    #9 Posted: 29/8/2014 - 04:59

  • SBE

    Click here to learn more about SBE
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    Now I think I have 2 choices,
    1.
    go snorkelling as soon as I hit Kuala Lumpur 27 November and fly to Ambon /currently ticket would be round 68euro, go to Banda islands then move to Komodo and spend at least a week there


    LOL, seems you still haven't done enough research because there are lots of missing pieces to your puzzle that you don't even seem to realize you need!

    How, precisely, do you plan to get from Ambon to to Bandaneira and from Bandaneira to Komodo? Flights to the Bandas (when there are any) are on small and usually very old Cressna planes. There have about 18 seats and a 10kg luggage allowance and you can only buy tickets in Ambon and the Bandas. Last minute cancellations are very common so you need a backup ferry plan as well as a flight ticket, especially for getting out of the Bandas. There's a regular Pelni service to and from the Bandas once a fortnight but I had a quick look at the Pelni website and extrapolated a bit (they don't have schedules for November yet) and I think you're going to miss the Pelni by a few days.

    If it were me I'd go for the worst case weather scenario Option 2 ---> Bali/Komodo then head to the Philippines even though I found the snorkeling in the Philippines very underwhelming compared to Indonesia. (I was only there for 3 weeks mind you so it's possible I simply didn't choose the right places to go). I wouldn't recommend being anywhere too remote in Indonesia because you might get stuck there for a while and it's not much fun sitting in a damp beach hut with nothing to do except watch the pouring rain and scratch mosquito bites.

    I was on Kanawa late last November/early December last year. Most of the time the weather was OK but for a few days it absolutely poured with rain. People's mattresses, bags and iphones got blown out of the bales into very deep puddles on the flooded paths and many of the bungalows had leaking roofs. However it was still possible to go snorkeling on the house reef in the rain. The snorkeling and dive trips were cancelled for several days due to rough seas, but as far as I remember they didn't cancel any of the daily boats back to Labuan Bajo so I don't think anyone missed their flight back to Bali.

    #10 Posted: 30/8/2014 - 04:55

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  • Infin1tty

    Joined Travelfish
    27th August, 2014
    Posts: 8

    Thank you very much for the reply.

    I have been sending out some emails, searching for more details found out the following:


    Just to give you guys the recent info I got from the Dive blue motion on Banda islands, saying that the flights are operational from Ambon to Bandaneira and back each Monday and Thursday.

    Hope that helps.


    Regarding my trip, it is getting into the final shape, many thanks for all the input.
    So far, thinking about doing Raja first week, then move to Banda, then Kanawa and onwards to Bali...etc.

    Thank you again.
    Maros

    #11 Posted: 1/9/2014 - 04:42

  • mooball

    TF writer
    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Australia
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    How are you getting from Raja Ampat to Ambon for Bandas? Without knowing flight schedules, I'd imagine that might be a tough connection.

    #12 Posted: 1/9/2014 - 04:53

  • Infin1tty

    Joined Travelfish
    27th August, 2014
    Posts: 8

    Hi,

    I know that flights leave Ambon on Mondays & Thursdays at 7.00am. So I hope to arrive a day before from Sorong to Ambon, preferably fly. I see still tickets available, but not sure which company will accept European visa online card payment.

    Any suggestions?
    Thank you.

    #13 Posted: 1/9/2014 - 06:28

  • mooball

    TF writer
    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Australia
    Posts: 320
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    At least 132

    If you have a flight lined up, try tiket.com. They're pretty good. Have you tried directly with LionAir?

    #14 Posted: 1/9/2014 - 09:37

  • SBE

    Click here to learn more about SBE
    Joined Travelfish
    14th April, 2008
    Location Global Village
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    I know that flights leave Ambon on Mondays & Thursdays at 7.00am. So I hope to arrive a day before from Sorong to Ambon, preferably fly. I see still tickets available, but not sure which company will accept European visa online card payment.

    Are you talking about flights to Bandaneira? Where can you still see tickets available??? There's only one company that flies to Banda (Aviastar) and I very very much doubt if their tickets are bookable online or even bookable through Travelindo or Ticket.com.... but go on, surprise me! :-)

    And as I keep trying to tell you, you never actually know if there are flights leaving Ambon or Banda until the plane's taken off with you on it. Ask Busylizzy! ;-) Couple of years ago my son arrived in Ambon and was booked on a flight next morning but someone knocked on his door 30 minutes after he'd checked into his GH to say the plane was leaving right now. Good job he was staying at a GH across the road from the airport.

    #15 Posted: 1/9/2014 - 12:05

  • Infin1tty

    Joined Travelfish
    27th August, 2014
    Posts: 8

    Thanks, the things cleared up thanks God for that, and I got answers for almost all my questions...
    so yes, I changed plans a bit.
    Im gonna try Banda first, get to Ambon on 30 November and on Monday 1st December there should be plane, if not plane then 2 ferries, one on 1st then on 2nd Dec. so I hope that I will somehow with Gods help make it...
    Then I will leave it pretty much open, so maybe Raja maybe Wakatobi and then down to Kanawa..

    I am booking flight to Ambon, thats what I meant, by Ï see tickets still online.... tickets to Raja /Sorong/... I know that the tickets to Bandaneira are not online, and I have a phone number to call and book, so I ll do that.

    Thank you all for your input help and thoughts you shared..

    All the best, will let know how things are moving,... still gonna plan a few bits and pieces here and there.

    Maros

    #16 Posted: 1/9/2014 - 16:08

  • amandaed2014

    Joined Travelfish
    4th September, 2014
    Posts: 2

    I am planning a Bali trip in Jan and a friend suggested that I take a dive at USAT Liberty and Tulmben drop off in Indoensia.

    #17 Posted: 12/11/2014 - 06:22

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