Indonesia: Alor + Halmahera + Sumbawa - July 2018
Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text:
It was last summer, in July 2018. I went back to dive in the waters of the Alor Archipelago, Indonesia, to explore its gorgeous coral reefs... often swept by raging currents!
COVID-19. Can we travel to Indonesia from France? As of this writing (June 7, 2022), foreign travelers are again allowed to enter Indonesia without quarantine. There is no need to present a PCR test upon arrival if one is vaccinated. The 30-day tourist Visa on Arrival (VoA) is reinstated at all airports (500,000 IDR, about 35 €, renewable once), the B211A-tourism visa is also valid again. The following are still required: a certificate of vaccination with two or three doses for at least 14 days (one dose for the Johnson & Johnson), an insurance covering Covid-19 (for an amount of at least 13 400 €), as well as the registration on the application PeduliLindungi for smartphone (iOS or Android). For regularly updated information on the health situation and tourism in Indonesia, I invite you to visit this page of BaliAutrement agency.
Away from the crowds in the Alor archipelago
This is the second time I'm in Alor. Six years have already passed since my previous trip there, in 2012, which I had combined with Raja Ampat. The Alor archipelago is located in the east of the Lesser Sunda Islands (East Nusa Tenggara), just "above" Timor.
Go. In six years, air connections have improved and Alor is easier to reach than before. But you still have to go through Kupang, capital of the Indonesian part of Timor. The company Garuda Kupang dessert from Jakarta or Bali. Then Lion Air / Wings now makes the Kupang-Alor link.
Alor is still away from mass tourism. It is a very pleasant feeling to be at the end of the world. Here, the 3G network allowing to connect to the internet is random and not many people speak English. An atmosphere that will please lovers of tranquility, nature, authenticity.... 👌 Another corner of Indonesia perfect to disconnect, far from the crowds.
Read also :
- Sulawesi: diving away from the crowds
- West Papua: fabulous dives under the coconut trees of Triton Bay
I went back to the same place I was in 2012, on the island of Pantar, at Alor Divers, a small diving resort created by a Franco-Slovenian couple, Gilles and Neya. I would have liked to see them again, but they were not there during my stay. The place remained beautiful and peaceful, as I remembered it, designed by and for divers, with tasty food and a lovely welcome. "This is a very nice detail for those who travel sololike me: there is no extra single about the rates ... ????
We stay in simple but comfortable bungalows, with terrace, hot water and all the necessary electrical plugs for recharging the batteries. Hidden in the vegetation, they preserve intimacy, well away from each other, facing a deserted beach. On the horizon, the conical profiles of the volcanic islands of the archipelago. It is beautiful!
How (almost) drown his camera
On site, I find my diving partner since our cruise in May 2018, in Tubbataha in the Philippines : the marine biologist Steven Weinberg.
I take this opportunity to warmly recommend his identification books, which are THE reference in this field. Volume 2 of Discover underwater life: Red Sea, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean has just been released by Éditions Gap, a must-have for divers who love organic products (and those curious about nature)!
Thanks to Steven, I was able to observe a dugong in Alor, as I said in the previous post… ????
And it is also thanks to him that I could bring back underwater pictures from this Indonesian trip. Because I almost flooded my camera during my very first dive in Alor! If Steven hadn't spotted the leak, my Canon would have died in the salt water...
# ReconnaissanceÉternelle 🤗 # StevenMonHéros
The drama unfolds in 15 meters of water, after 30 minutes of a quiet dive, on a site protected from the current. I am in front of an imposing pink sponge-barrique on which is perched a white leaf-fish, very photogenic, that Dena, the Dutch instructor of Alor Divers who is accompanying our group, has just shown me...
I am about to trigger, when Steven appears in my field of vision, his eyes wide behind his mask, his finger pointed at my chamber. A transparent Ikelite boxI have to take a few seconds to understand (and to react). It takes me a few (too) long seconds to understand (and to react)...
Horror! Water is pouring in! 😱
I quickly incline the dome downwards, this one forming like a jar collecting the water, whose level I see rising, a little too fast for my taste. I signal to Dena, the thumb raised: I stop the dive, I go up. She accompanies me to the surface and then returns to join the group.
The boat is there and picks me up right away. On board, the captain and boatman are surprised to see me come out before everybody else. I hand them the drowned boat at arm's length and explain to them to hold it horizontally, the dome full of water downwards, until I get back on board...
I came back to the surface just in time! When I took the SLR out of the housing, I was relieved to see that the water inside had only grazed the lens glass in the dome. Neither the camera nor its support containing the electrical circuits connected to the flashes were wet. Phew!!!
Back at the resort, the adorable Steven took care of cleaning and repairing the defective seal of the chamber.
What caused the leak? At the beginning of the dive, I had forced the side knob of the housing to activate the zoom. I clearly remember hearing a little "clack". But at the time, it did not alert me more than that... In fact, the knob was seized, so that instead of making it rotate on its axis, my gesture loosened the nut which maintained the whole!
It is more than eight years old, this chamber... I take care of it during my travels and I had not experienced any major problem before this day. I keep my fingers crossed that it will last.
- Read more → Diving and photo: my equipment
Another little photographic setback: one of my flashes left me during this stay... (When it doesn't want to, it doesn't want to.) This, it had already happened to me in the past (in Raja Ampat 😡). A problem with the internal electronics. Impossible to repair on site.
It makes you grumble, it's frustrating, but you can still take pictures, you just have to relearn how to fiddle with a single light source... A little extra challenge to have fun underwater! 😉
The underwater treasures of Alor
The repair lasted, the chamber went back in the water with me and I am happy to have been able to bring back new images of the underwater treasures of Alor... Six years after my first visit to this place, I am happy to find coral reefs in good shape !
I also find these unpredictable currents These are the characteristics of the archipelago (and of Indonesia in general), which sometimes force us, when they are too strong, to give up some sites. But who cares, there is always a more sheltered one to fall back on, to start a new underwater treasure hunt!
Despite my only flash, I had a lot of fun with the underwater pictures... I give you a small selection below, as a souvenir of this wonderful week spent in Alor.
After Alor, I headed to another small island, Sali Kecil, located near Halmahera, in the North Moluccas. I invite you to discover it in the article I put online here → Sali Kecil, another part of the world in Indonesia 👌