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Budget Diving around Alor, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia by Andrew Falconer

 

In October 2018 I flew from Denpasar to Kupang (Lion Air, where I had to overnight to make a connection), and then on to Alor island (Wings Air).


As a solo diver, I had booked a week’s diving with Thomas, a long time German resident of Kalabahi at www.alor-dive.com, on the understanding that even if there were no other divers I would still be able to dive. Thomas also booked my accommodation at the Cantik Homestay. Kalabahi is the main town on Alor and the homestay a quite well run and economical Indonesian place to stay. There are other dive operations and accommodation closer to the dive sites.

 

Location of Alor, Kalabahi and the Pantar Strait

 

 

Thomas was true to his word, and for the next week, I was the only paying diver on his dive boat which can take up to 14 divers! I was buddied up with a friend of his who also lives on Alor, and we did two boat dives per day (total 12), except for one day when it was too windy. The days started early at 7am with a pick up and then a boat ride of at least one hour as Kalabahi was some distance from the dive sites which are almost all in the Pantar Strait, and by afternoon it was often windy. The on board lunch provided was for me unpalatable, and I resorted to buying some fruits from the market and biscuits.


The Pantar Strait is a channel between Alor and Pantar islands through which waters from the Banda and Savu Seas traverse depending on tides. The strait has several small islands within it and currents can at times be very strong.

 

There are a lot of walls with some very nice soft corals with lots of the usual reef fish, but notably absent were large pelagic fish and sharks. Most of my dives were self-guided, with limited briefing and guiding from my buddy. As a result I probably missed a lot of macro, which was confirmed on the way out when I compared notes with another diver who dived and stayed elsewhere. He had literally hundreds of nudibranch photos compared to my solitary one!

 

There was one large school of medium sized rainbow runners on one of my early dives. Visibility was generally good.

 

 

the nudibranch shot

white spotted moray eel

a colourful anemone

sweetlips

Starfish close up

trevally

the rainbow runner school

some of the many reef fish

 

 

In conclusion, while it was great to be able to dive with so few other divers, and the corals and walls were excellent, the distance from the dive sites, lack of guidance, large pelagic fish and good on board food was less so. The cost for a week’s diving and accommodation of $AUD700 was good value.