During the cruising season in Nusa Tenggara, the Indo Aggressor will visit the most colourful, interesting and diverse dive destinations; Buton, Wakatobi, Alor, Lembata and East Flores. These trips are scheduled one way in two directions - starting and finishing in two different locations (Buton, South Sulawesi and Maumere in Flores) offering a splendid cross-section of Indonesian scuba diving: dazzling coral reefs and walls in crystal clear water, as well as a many cryptic critter dives, some that only liveaboards like the Indo Aggressor can reach.
These “combination cruises” are split into two different sections: Buton and the Tukang Besi Islands (Wakatobi) to the north and the collection of islands from Alor to Flores, the eastern end of Nusa Tenggara in the south. On the surface, these combined destinations are very different, with the Alor to Flores section featuring towering volcanoes almost everywhere you look, while at Buton and Wakatobi, the change in scenery is dramatic and dominated by idyllic coral atolls and surface reefs rising up from the deep Banda Sea.
The mid-point of the cruise includes a live volcano display: the permanently erupting Komba, 30 miles north of the Lembata coast – an explosive experience both above and below the water. Both areas offer supreme reef and wall diving. The walls of Alor, in particular, plunge into the depths from shallow coral gardens, while the Wakatobi region has been described by Jacques Cousteau as “one of the best reef systems we have ever dived”.
The major areas the yacht visits; running from north to south, Buton to Maumere:
After landing at Kendari Airport in south Sulawesi, it is just a short trip to Kendari Harbour where the Indo Aggressor will be moored and ready to start your trip. Buton Island and particularly Wajo Bay are becoming increasingly popular as a diving destination on their own.
Wakatobi: The Wakatobi island complex some 50 nautical miles southeast of Buton is known as one of Indonesia’s premier dive destinations. Rising from the north west perimeter of the Banda Sea, the Tukang Besi National Marine Park benefits from the upwellings of nutrients from its depths, as well as the strong currents that surge and swirl around the islands. Its signature sea fan covered walls, coral reefs and sea mounts are some of the most active in Indonesia. Diving at the well-known sites like the razor thin ridges of Blade or the spread out collection of undulating sea mounts at Roma and the barracuda-patrolled sites of north Hoga are first-rate marine experiences.
After our visits to Buton and Wakatobi, the yacht moves south across the Flores Sea to Alor and Flores and the islands in between – after making a stop at the fearsome volcano island of Komba that pushes angrily some 600 meters up and out of the Flores Sea some 30 nautical miles out from the north Flores coastline. Creeping up on this smoke puffing beast just before dark huge dust and ash clouds can be seen blasting out into the sky from deep inside the island at regular intervals. When darkness falls, we are presented with the even more awesome sight of huge molten red rocks and ash bouncing and scattering down the mountain side before plunging with a loud hiss into the sea, underlined from time to time with deafening staccato explosions - an incredible experience. It’s now that you know you are well and truly in the “Ring of Fire”.
The Indo Aggressor dive team, being the intrepid underwater explorers that we are, have dived Komba’s surrounding waters on many occasions in the past and discovered even more fascinating and mysterious vibrant reef and black sand sites to add to our already impressive and ever growing list.
Alor, Pantar, Lembata, Adonara & Flores: Waking up the next morning, we are presented with even more volcanoes, running in a line along the East Nusa Tenggara islands east to west from Alor to Flores. We are on the north side of an island chain and can explore the new critter sites in the Kalabahi Sound and the pristine walls and reefs of the Alor Strait, or navigate the super deep wall complex in Teluk Waihinga for the most prolific Rhinopias dive at Lembata island.
Motoring down the channels that separate this line of islands to the south side, we find ourselves in the Indian Ocean. Much like the more well-known channels of the Komodo National Park, these waterways form a boundary line between two marked different marine environments. Colder deep water upwellings provide a smorgasbord of nutrients and food for the animals of these rarely visited sites. The premier critter haven of Beangabang Bay on Pantar continues to surprise us with its ever changing conditions and marine life while moving east we have the jaw- dropping architecture and color of the wave-battered rocks and reefs of the islets along the southern coastline of Lembata.
The trip ends in the quaint harbour town of Maumere in Flores. The largest town on the north Flores coast, Maumere’s busy harbour hides another treasure; the sand, silt and rocks that the docks pilings have been hammered into provide a playground for the elusive mandarin fish, right underneath the boat.
These sites - some known only to us - and more, with plenty of others to be discovered, are all part of a Indo Aggressor Best of Indonesia “combination cruise” from Buton to Maumere.
Kendari to Flores/Flores to Kendari: Indo Aggressor will be cruising and exploring the seas between Buton, southeast Sulawesi to Maumere, on the north coast of Flores. These trips are scheduled to run one way from two different directions. Firstly, north to south from Baubau on the island of Buton, then to the Wakatobi region before crossing the Flores sea to visit Alor, Pantar and Lembata and finishing at Maumere in Flores. The other option runs south to north and starts in Maumere,reversing the first route and finishing at Buton, flying home from Kendari.
Whichever direction you choose, these cruises offer 10 days of spectacular and varied diving, with between two to four dives per day and many fascinating land excursions along the way.