End of dive, the boat comes to recover us! (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
End of dive, the boat comes to recover us! (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)

All in the water in Alor!


  Indonesia: Alor + Halmahera + Sumbawa - July 2018

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, 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 :

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!

Panoramic view of Alor Divers beach, on the island of Pantar. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
Panoramic view of Alor Divers beach on Pantar Island (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018).
My house for a week at Alor Divers. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
My house for a week at Alor Divers. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
At the landing stage of Alor Kecil, the boats follow one another, disembarking and loading people and goods. (Indonesia, July 2018)
At the Alor Kecil landing, boat after boat comes in and out, landing and loading people and goods. (Indonesia, July 2018)
When we go diving, we often meet fishermen, who immerse or raise their traditional bamboo traps. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
When we go diving, we often come across fishermen, who immerse or raise their traditional bamboo nets (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
One of these bamboo traps under the water. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
One of these bamboo traps underwater (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
The beautiful beach of Alor Divers, on the island of Pantar, at high tide. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
The beautiful beach of Alor Divers, on Pantar Island, at high tide (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018).
The guys from Alor Divers take their serious look (or almost) for the photo. (Pantar, Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
The guys at Alor Divers take their serious (or almost serious) looks for the photo (Pantar, Alor, Indonesia, July 2018).
On the beach of Pantar, we are not disturbed by the crowd. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
On Pantar beach, you are not bothered by the crowd (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018).
The blocks (bottles) are transported to the dive boat on a boat. (Pantar, Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
The tanks are transported to the dive boat on a boat (Pantar, Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
Let's go for the dives of the day! (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
Let's go for the dives of the day (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
Nice, the mini-boat with rockers. ! (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
Nice, the mini-boat with rockers. ! (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
End of dive, the boat comes to recover us! (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
End of dive, the boat comes to recover us! (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)

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...

Hello Steven! (Tubbataha, Philippines, May 2018)
My camera (an SLR) is enclosed in this transparent box, a basically waterproof underwater housing... In front, my mini-dome for the fisheye lens. (Photo taken in Tubbataha, Philippines, May 2018, by Steven Weinberg)

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.

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.

There is so much to see and observe, impossible to get tired of Indonesian coral reefs ... (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
There is so much to see and observe, impossible to get tired of Indonesian coral reefs ... (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
Another trap, resting on the reef. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
Another trap, resting on the reef. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
A big pink sponge-barrel, surrounded by other species of sponges. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
A large pink barrique sponge, surrounded by other sponge species. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
Atmosphere without flash, just with natural light. In the foreground, a beautiful coral-brain. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
Atmosphere without flash, just with natural light. In the foreground, a beautiful coral-brain. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
Coral landscape in natural light, a few meters below the surface. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
Coral landscape in natural light, a few meters below the surface. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
The anthias wriggle cheerfully in the current above the reef colonized by soft corals. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
The anthias wriggle cheerfully in the current above the reef colonized by soft corals. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
This big toad fish (antennae) found a comfortable perch on tubular sponges. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
This large toadfish (antennae) has found a comfortable perch on tubular sponges. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
Play of light above an imposing sponge hanging on the slope of the reef. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
Play of light above an imposing sponge clinging to the reef slope (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
Sponges can take surprising shapes and colors. Two crinoids (comatulas) decided to hang on there. (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018)
Sponges can take on surprising shapes and colors. Two crinoids (comatulas) decided to hang out there (Alor, Indonesia, July 2018).

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 👌

  Indonesia: Alor + Halmahera + Sumbawa - July 2018

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    1. Damn it! Here is the dugong that we missed this summer in Alor. We had managed to get an appointment with a cab who organized everything for us. We waited for him all morning... what a disappointment...
      It must be said that the telephone communications were not working well and that complicated everything. It makes us dream to realize yet, so much the better!

    1. @Johnmaldives: This model of flash seemed to me reliable for a long time. The first one lasted about 6-7 years, without any failure. I only had to replace the battery pack after a while. It failed me once after many years of good and loyal services (problem with the internal electronics, everything worked except the flash which did not trigger) and since the return to the manufacturer and its repair it works well again. The second one, acquired later and much more recent than the first one, which I talk about in the article, had the same failure during my stay in Alor... I was really annoyed about it, because it was much more recent. I had it repaired too, it worked well during a recent stay in Raja Ampat in December... I'm crossing my fingers that I'll never have this problem again.

  1. Hello,

    Wonderful pictures and what a fright with the camera. I still haven't taken the step to put my SLR underwater, it scares me too much

    1. @ Régis: it's a great pleasure to make images underwater... But I understand that it's scary... 😉 Until that day of almost drowning in Alor, I was quite confident, having not had any problem in eight years...

  2. The episode of the rescue of the camera held me in suspense, like in a thriller, hi! hi! and moreover, with a happy ending! oh! oh!!
    Very beautiful photos of the site, beautiful colors.

  3. Alor? We love .... we went there 4, 5 times, we don't know. And we will go back, that's for sure! And we can say it because the size of the resort means that we don't have to fear the crowd. Small, big, medium ... we see everything. The drop offs are beautiful, the sites are varied. In short, only happiness. And as a friend said, Alor is 80% of Raja-Ampat, 80% of Komodo, 80% of Lembeh. This inspired us to write an article : Alor, 3 weeks in 240ù: http://www.ontheploufagain.com/?p=9240

  4. You have just won your rescue certificate, congratulations from a multi-graduate in casting.
    It would have been a pity in view of the superb photos. I never get tired of Alor.

    1. @Ludovic : I must admit that I could have done without this little scare... I don't want to become a multi-grader in this matter. I loved finding Alor. I'm going to have to go back, with two working flashes... 😉

  5. Thank you, I was with my sister in Alor, 10 years ago, in another small resort run by French people, but more basic than Alor Divers. Alor is great for corals, but the fishes are much smaller than in Raja Ampat. I can't dive anymore, but I love your pages, I was afraid you were gone!

    1. @Christine: yes, there is also the resort La Petite Kepa run by French people (I don't know, I have never been there), which is very appreciated by many visitors and divers.

      For fish, it depends on the site. You have to go where there is "juice" to see big fish (sharks). But "the juice" in Alor is more than just a headache, and often these sites are not accessible... Overall, it is probably not comparable to Raja Ampat for the size of some specimens and the overall biomass, but the reefs are still beautiful, and for the macro, there is a lot to enjoy. Some divers managed to see hammerhead sharks in Alor (which is far from being "small" fish) and dolphins and whales are regularly observed from boats on the surface...

      I'm very touched by your message (and sorry to hear that you can't dive anymore). I haven't disappeared, no, I just need to get back on track with my publications, I'm very late on a lot of stories... I've been busy with work and then I had some technical problems to solve with the blog because I recently changed host... But it's basically back to normal now, this new article allowed me to check that everything is working fine for the publications and the comments. Thanks a lot!

    1. @Steven: a huge thank you too !!! It was high time that I finally paid tribute to the wonderful marine biologist and underwater tank rescuer without whom there would have been no images of these wonderful memories... (I am currently spending hours immersed in your guides, re-identifying and verifying the pedigree of various bugs stored in my hard drive... exciting!!!)

  6. Hello Corinne,
    Thank you very much for your photos and comments; each time they take us away.

    Regarding the little Kepa, we have been there twice and Anne and Cédric are lovely hosts and they allow you to live as a family.
    The staff (the bibis) is very caring hosts with delicious food and fresh ...
    Cedric is a guide who listens to the divers and takes you to magical spots. He is the one who discovered most of them and gave them their current names.
    Important too, this is a great ecolodge and everything is done to take care of the environment.

    1. @Philippe: thank you for this feedback! Everyone has always told me great things about P'tite Kepa (which I don't know), your comments are along the same lines 🙂

  7. Your pictures are beautiful and the area and the reefs look absolutely fabulous. Unfortunately, with these fishing baskets thrown on the reef, I fear it will not last long. The area will become more popular, so more tourists to feed and more baskets on the corals. In Gili, there is nothing left. Not 20 years ago it was still a paradise for reefs. Today they lie at the bottom of the sea, killed by the anchors of the local boats that take tourists for a walk or snorkeling.


    1. @Pierre : It is probably not the traditional bamboo traps of the small local fishermen that are the most problematic, but rather the industrial overfishing and excessive tourism development... On the other hand, local fishermen using dynamite or cyanide have done a lot of damage in many parts of Southeast Asia, and this has sometimes destroyed entire reefs, including those of the Gili in northwest Lombok. This type of destructive fishing is in principle forbidden, but in reality it continues in some parts of Indonesia and the Philippines...

  8. Hello Corinne, what happiness to read your blog! Alor interests me a lot, I take notes and it will be this autumn or spring 2020. Tell me how you did to join Halmahera, you went after Alor?
    Thank you !
    PS glad that your camera is safe!

    1. @Louise: nice project for next year!!! Yes, I went to Halmahera after Alor, I will tell that in another post. Trip: Alor-Kupang-Bali, followed by Bali-Makassar and night in Makassar, then the next day Makassar-Ternate followed by a Ternate-Labuha (my final destination)...

  9. Always a lot of pleasure to read you, Corinne, and to see your photos, superb.bravo for the plays of light, even more if you had only one flash.and, Alor, it was our last destination after Pula Weh in December, the Bandas, Ambon, we are in Kupang.
    We will just have to decide between the little Kepa and Alor Divers or to make both, we have a small month before the return in Brittany, the spring and the work which goes with.
    I saw that there are rhinopias, our darlings of the moment. Alain and Yolande

  10. Hello, beautiful as always, and I will ask my eternal question, do you think that the bottoms of Alor are suitable for snorkeling or only for diving? I've had Little Kepa in my sights for a while but I can't make up my mind.

    1. @Catherine: hard for me to answer you, since I do not practice snorkelling. Why do not you send an email to La P'tite Kepa? He can tell you, better than me, what is possible or not, question snorkelling ... Good preparations!

  11. Hello Catherine,
    To have gone twice to the small Kepa and to maintain a regular contact with Anne and Cedric, to want to return there this summer, you can safely go there.
    Apart from diving and ... snorkelling, so I specify, you enter a family atmosphere, with almost no constraints, a food of exellence and, in a typical ecolodge structure.
    Anne and her team take care of everything, to ensure your pleasure on the spot but also on arrival and departure, from and to the airport, on the water, under water and on the island. Yes, in addition to little Kepa, the island of Alor, with its villages and its people, is worth the trip.
    Clearly, you have, in my opinion always, no hesitation to have.
    As for the seabed, they have a wealth that has nothing to envy to komodos and other Sipadan or Bali but without overpopulation tourism.

    Attention demand is strong.
    Feel free to contact them…

    And if I can.

  12. SO….!!!!
    First of all some precisions : "La Petite Kepa" as well as "Alor Divers" are closed in winter...!!!
    Fortunately we were able to dive with "Lazy Turtle", just in front of Kepa Island. Andy & Maree know the bottom very well and we loved diving with them.
    We saw our first Paddle Flap Rhinopias, one red and the other brown, a yellow Weedy the same as on your picture, frogs fish, and the magnificent Sea Apples, these red, blue holothurians with golden braids, they are of any beauty when they open their 10 arms, without comparison with those which we usually see, brown or black.
    Let's not forget the multitude of fish, from butterfly to shark, evolving in the middle of multicolored corals and sponges.
    As you say, Corinne, the same level as Komodo, Raja Ampat or Wakatobi with perhaps a little more for the beauty of the walls on Alor, richer than Bunaken.
    By cons it takes time to go.
    For accommodation, the only solution we found:
    Sebanjar, seaside resort for Indonesians, 9 bungalows with flat screen but basic sanitary (without shower, large tray and bowl, ....).
    We deal with it…!!!!
    More difficult the weekend where the karaoke is thoroughly and the techno music on the beach especially after a dive where the world of silence reigns .... !!!
    Otherwise the beach is beautiful and the snorkeling great especially at night.
    One of the most beautiful destinations in Indonesia for divers.
    We will return.
    Alain & Yolande

    1. @Alain and Yolande: Many thanks for the report, it's really nice to have taken the time to come back here to tell all this, and it's interesting information as an alternative to the known resorts... I feel sorry for the karaoke...

  13. Thank you for the testimony having enjoyed alor in 2008 with Gilles an organized enthusiast who with the Marseilles accent speaks to you about the "Lifiche" (leaf fish). Does anyone have any news about him?