A magnificent gorgon "overflown" by a cloud of anthias. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
A magnificent gorgon "overflown" by a cloud of anthias. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)

Sali Kecil, another part of the world in Indonesia

# Indonesia #Moluccas

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic Google translation from a post originally written in French. My apologies for the weird sentences and the funny mistakes that could have been generated during the process. If you can read French, the original and correct version can be found here:

  Indonesia : Alor + Halmahera + Sumbawa – July 2018

Want to Indonesia? I will take you to the waters of Sali Kecil, a small island far from everything on the west coast of Halmahera. Magnificent !

Head to Halmahera

July 2018, Indonesia. I know, I'm very late in my stories ... 😜 That summer, after the archipelago of Alor (see previous articles: All in the water in Alor! and A Strange Mermaid Called Dugong), I headed for Halmahera, located in North Maluku Islands (Maluku Utara, in Indonesian).

Halmaherait is the big quirky island that lies between the huge Sulawesi also called Celebes Island (in the west) and the huge Papua (in the east). We usually arrive via Ternate, an island-volcano cinema, flanked by an airport at the water's edge.

The arrival at Ternate, the volcano island, is always spectacular ... We can see the runway of the airport, at the water's edge, at the bottom right. (Indonesia, North Maluku, July 2018)
The arrival at Ternate, the island-volcano that disputed Portuguese and Spanish at the beginning of the sixteenth century, is still spectacular & #8230; We can see the runway of the airport, at the water's edge, at the bottom right. (Indonesia, North Maluku, July 2018)
Pulau Tidore, another impressive island-volcano, neighbor of Ternate. (North Maluku, Indonesia, July 2018)
Pulau Tidore, another impressive island-volcano, neighbor of Ternate. (North Maluku, Indonesia, July 2018)

I do not have much to tell about Ternate, because I'm just passing through (with a short round trip taxi between two planes, from the airport to the big central pharmacy, to buy antibiotics to to cure an ugly infected palm bulb ... 😱 #nocomment). To know more about Ternate and its region, I refer you on the excellent blog One Chai.

Me, for this new Indonesian trip dedicated to diving, I chose to ask myself for a week a little further south, to Sali Kecil, a tiny island located in the Strait of Bacan.

I did not come here by chance. A hotel with divers, the Sali Bay Resort, has recently opened on this island far from everything. It's here :

Luxury, calm and pleasure in Sali Kecil

I make the crossing between the island of Bacan and Sali Kecil at dusk. I arrive on the island at night and discover my new environment the next day & #160: a dozen huge bungalows facing the sea in a beautiful shady coconut trees garden, all in length, at the foot of a hill covered with jungle. & #x1f632;

The manager of Sali Bay Resort, a very nice Swiss Swiss polyglot, welcomes me in French. He tells me that the work is not finished in the resort building at the end of the beach called Divers Lodge, where I booked a room (smaller and cheaper than a bungalow Beach Front Villa).

Result: here I am graciously "upgraded" for the duration of the stay in one of these huge bungalows! ! !

The big class ... I'm really lucky. But this is not the first time that it happens to me, thus to benefit from a room of higher category, without having asked anything. Princess one day, princess always? 😂 (Some examples: My princess boat in Komodo and Live my life as a princess in Raja Ampat.)

The small coconut grove that houses the Sali Bay Resort, seen from the sea. (Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
The small coconut grove that houses the Sali Bay Resort, seen from the sea. (Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
We are not disturbed by the crowd, on the beautiful beach of Sali Bay Resort ... (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
We are not disturbed by the crowd, on the beautiful beach of Sali Bay Resort ... (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
My "home" for a week ... (Sali Bay Resort, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
My "house" for a week ... (Sali Bay Resort, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Panoramic view of Sali Kecil from the Sali Bay Resort dock. (Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Panoramic view of Sali Kecil from the Sali Bay Resort dock. (Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
The Sali Bay Resort dock side by side ... (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
The Sali Bay Resort dock side by side ... (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
The Sali Bay Resort pontoon facing the ... (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
The Sali Bay Resort pontoon facing the ... (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Dense vegetation covers most of the island. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Dense vegetation covers most of the island. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)

This time, I'm not the only one privileged. An Italian, who solo trip Like me and who will be my dive buddy the time of stay has benefited from the same preferential treatment, for the same reason. In short, we can say that we fell right at the right time ... There is even wifi (intermittent) and a small pool. I admit: I enjoy this incredible luxury in such an isolated place.

The few tourists who have decided to make the long trip to Sali Kecil are mostly divers who already know Indonesia. Over the days, I'm friends with the other photographers sub in the Camera Room, installed in front of the pontoon that spans the coral.

But we are not very numerous in mid-July and almost all my little comrades of bubbles do not dive in the morning, so I often have the boat and my guide for me all alone in the afternoon ... A little luxury extra, very appreciable.

We are therefore in a small committee, which makes the atmosphere very nice, almost family. In the evening, we meet before dinner with a drink in the restaurant room open on the beach.

There is even a pocket pool ... (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
There is even a pocket pool ... (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
The Camera Room at Sali Bay Resort. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
The Camera Room at Sali Bay Resort. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Surface interval. The pile, on the left, is a 5mm combi, a 2.5mm mouse and a small turtleneck lycra ... Guess who needs all this to be comfortable in water at 27-28 ° C? (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Surface interval. The pile, on the left, is a 5mm combi, a 2.5mm mouse and a small turtleneck lycra ... Guess who needs all this to be comfortable in water at 27-28 ° C? (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)

This so far World Soccer 2018

A little parenthesis football, before you talk about coral and fish ... the World Cup final falls on July 15th, at the end of my stay, the day before my departure from Sali Kecil.

I am the only French and my lack of passion for the ball makes everyone laugh. The Indonesians who, in past years, all spoke to me about Zidane as if he were my friend every time I declined my nationality, now love Mbappé!

But with the time difference, around 23:30, the match has not started yet. We go to bed and get up early, here. Only a few football buffs (Indonesian resort staff and a German diver) are waiting around the only TV near the staff quarters.

As I have to get up before dawn to catch my flight Labuha-Ternate, I just take the predictions of each other before going to join one last time my princess bed ...

23:30 ... Only five soccer fans at Sali Bay Resort, ready to watch after midnight to watch the World Cup final on the night of July 15-16. (Halmahera, Indonesia, 2018)
23:30 ... Only five soccer fans at Sali Bay Resort, ready to watch after midnight to watch the World Cup final on the night of July 15-16. (Halmahera, Indonesia, 2018)

I will not learn the victory of the Blues until the next day! 🇫🇷 😂

I will still find some pictures at the Indonesian JT during my stopover at Ternate airport, where I have several hours of waiting before the next flight. There is something to comfortably enjoy, in a great little restaurant-jewelry store-souvenir, with TV, wifi, large sofas where to wallow and (very) spicy food served by a lovely staff.

It's on Indonesian TV: the French (Perancis) celebrate their victory at the 2018 World Cup! (Ternate, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
It's on Indonesian TV & #160; the French (Perancis) celebrate their victory at the 2018 World Soccer & #160 ;! (Ternate, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Wifi, pancake, kopi ... Perfect for waiting at Ternate airport. (Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Wifi, pancake, kopi ... Perfect for waiting at Ternate airport. (Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
The small pile of peppers that I removed from my "nasi goreng" (fried rice), excellent by the way, to the small restaurant of the airport of Ternate ... (Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
The small pile of peppers that I removed from my "nasi goreng" (fried rice), excellent by the way, to the small restaurant of the airport of Ternate ... (Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)

Impressive currents

Let's go back to Sali Kecil ... Underwater, it's sumptuous. But on some sites, the current is not a joke and diving can become damn drifting ...

The islands of Sali Kecil (the little one) and Sali Besar (the big one) are indeed in the middle of the strait between Bacan and Halmahera (see Google Maps above). Depending on the tides and sites, the "juice" propels our palanquée a "corner" from the reef to the other, like pinball balls ... Sometimes, it becomes mission impossible to stop for photos!

The profile of the reef against the light, with, in the foreground, the photogenic "grove" of a red gorgonian Ellisella cercidia, sometimes nicknamed "whip of the sea". (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
The profile of the reef against the light, with, in the foreground, the photogenic "grove" red of a gorgon Ellisella cercidia, sometimes nicknamed "whip of the sea". (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)

These powerful currents are typical of the Indonesian archipelago. Well known divers Komodo, Lombok, Bali and Raja Ampat, they are particularly related to the phenomenon called Indonesian Throughflow or ITF (see this article in English on the BirdsHeadSeascape website → The Indonesian Throughflow: Fitfteenth Thousand Rivers).

Simply put, the ITF is a mega-current generated by the huge bodies of water in the Pacific Ocean that flow into the Indian Ocean, through the straits between the islands of the Indonesian archipelago ...

Indonesian Throughflow (Source: by ehackert, own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17445468)
Diagram representing the current called Indonesian Throughflow or ITF. (Source: Wikimedia, by ehackert, own work, CC BY-SA 4.0)
The dive sites accessible from Sali Kecil (the small island in the middle). (Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
The dive sites accessible from Sali Kecil (the small island in the middle). (Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Islands still unspoiled by mass tourism ... (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Islands still unspoiled by mass tourism ... (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)

Here, in this strait on the southwest coast of Halmahera, the currents that can be observed from the surface at the mercy of the tides are indeed very impressive: it looks like a torrent in flood, but in the middle of the sea ... 😱 The boat that transports me with the other divers between Sali Kecil and the surrounding sites (a big fishing boat fitted out for the diving and provided with powerful engines) is sometimes difficult to cross these impetuous waves!

Thanks to the Indonesian Throughflow brewing, Indonesia (with the Philippines and Papua New Guinea) is the region of the planet richest in marine biodiversity. The area holds in particular the record of species of corals, which is worth to him the name of Coral Triangle.

But these powerful nourishing currents also have a setback: they carry countless plastic waste, which come back to ruin at each tide, a sight that has unfortunately become "banal" all over Indonesia.

The solution to this problem? In Asia, as elsewhere in the world, it is mostly on land: it is the flow of our waste that must be dried up (avoid, reduce, recycle) to reduce the volume that ends up in the ocean. Once at sea, plastics break down into tiny particles that can not be "cleaned up" and end up in the food chain ... The Tara Ocean Foundationwho welcomed me in early 2018 aboard his schooner scientist for a report in the Philippines, launched in 2019 a new mission on this theme. To find out more, here is → At the origins of plastic pollution.

Diversity of coral species in the world. (Source: WWF Australia report, May 2009)
Diversity of coral species in the world. (Source: WWF Australia report, May 2009)
The coral at water level, under the pontoon, at low tide. Between two dives ... (Sali Bay Resort, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
The coral at water level, under the pontoon, at low tide. Between two dives ... (Sali Bay Resort, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
The tide of the day brought together natural waste and plastic waste ... (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
The tide of the day brought together natural waste and plastic waste ... (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Back to Sali Kecil after a dive in the afternoon. Fortunately, the captain is familiar with the currents around the island. (Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Back to Sali Kecil after a dive in the afternoon. Fortunately, the captain is familiar with the currents around the island. (Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Some mornings, the sea is incredibly calm. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Some mornings, the sea can also be incredibly calm ... (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)

Explosion of life under the surface

But the underwater sites around Sali Kecil are splendid. Everywhere, there are armored reefs of coral and fish. The corner seems to have escaped the dynamite fishing that has destroyed so many other coasts in Indonesia.

What life! How beautiful ! 😲 As soon as we go back under the surface, I marvel.

The reefs are teeming with life. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
The reefs are teeming with life. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)

Overall, in this season, we had pretty good visibility. At almost every dive, we encounter harmless coral sharks with white tips (Triaenodon obesus), who sleep on the bottom or walk around in the crowd, indifferent to our regulators who vibrate and our bubbles that fuse. Impressive giant gorgonians, bright orange or fuchsia pink, curl up against the current. Clouds of anthias and wriggling fish-fish benches are made and unmade, tirelessly ...

There are also small sheltered bays, slopes and drop offs protected from the current, for quieter dives, as well as sites to muck-dive (diving at the bottom of the substrate, to observe the small fauna that is hidden there).

The inhabitants of the region do not see passing masses of tourists. So inevitably, when at the foot of the pontoon of a neighboring village, I put myself in the water for a muck-dive with my guide "eye of lynx" Jemmy, they observe me with curiosity.

Under a gray sky, the guys from the neighboring village watch me with a smile wedge draw my iPhone for a souvenir photo. Today it's muck-dive under their pontoon. (Sali Islands, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Under a gray sky, the guys from the neighboring village watch me with a smile wedge draw my iPhone for a souvenir photo. Today it's muck-dive under their pontoon. (Sali Islands, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
My super dive guide Jemy is posing with me. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
My super Jemmy dive guide is posing with me. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
My guide went to pose in the "window" formed by the reef where swarms of glass fish move. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
My guide went to pose in the "window" formed by the reef where swarms of glass fish move. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)

Indonesian native of Manado (Sulawesi), Jemmy is a very experienced dive guide, who knows the expectations of underwater photographers like me. And I am able to let me fascinate very long by a huge gorgon as a tiny nudibranch ... Patient, attentive, he spares no effort under water to help me succeed my images. He leads me to strategic places when I'm at a wide angle and finds me small curiosities that are worth seeing when I switched to the macro lens.

I owe him especially to have managed to photograph my first nudibranch "Shaun The Sheep", Shaun the sheep: this tiny sea slug (Costasiella kuroshimae of its scientific name) is so nicknamed because of its resemblance to the character of the cartoon ...

I leave you with some underwater images brought back from there, it was time for me to get out of my hard drive ... 😉 👌

Shaun the sheep, aka "Costasiella kuroshimae" is a tiny nudibranch just a few millimeters, very difficult to spot. Particularity of this sea slug: it is capable of photosynthesis, like a plant. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Shaun the sheep, aka "Costasiella kuroshimae" is a tiny nudibranch barely a few millimeters, very difficult to spot. Particularity of this sea slug: it is capable of photosynthesis, like a plant. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
A magnificent gorgon "overflown" by a cloud of anthias. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
A magnificent gorgon "overflown" by a cloud of anthias. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
This giant gorgon rose unfolds like a dome facing the current, to catch in its interweaving of polyps nutrients suspended in water. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
This giant gorgon rose unfolds like a dome facing the current, to catch in its interweaving of polyps nutrients suspended in water. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
An adorable Pygmy Seahorse Bargibanti .. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
An adorable pygmy hippocampus Bargibanti .. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Another mini-sea horse, the Pontohi seahorse. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Another mini-sea horse, the Pontohi seahorse. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Always on the watch, Mr. Gobie ... (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Always on the watch, Mr. Gobie ... (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
A large thorny hippocampus (Hippocampus histrix) timidly takes the pose on the bottom of black sand. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
A large thorny hippocampus (Hippocampus histrix) timidly takes the pose on the bottom of black sand. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Too cute, this miniature limefish (Rudarius minutus). (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Too cute, this miniature limefish (Rudarius minutus). (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Yes, this little orange ball is a fish ... A juvenile starfish Arothron stellatus? (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Yes, this little orange ball is a fish ... A juvenile starfish-fish "Arothron stellatus"? (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
The white light of my flashes reveals the beautiful red orange of the sea fans. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
The white light of my flashes reveals the beautiful red orange of the sea fans. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
How many different species on this coral "potato"? (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
How many different species on this coral "potato"? (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
It quivers ... (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
It quivers ... (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
A colored jewel in the substrate: a sea slug (nudibranch) of the family Flabellinidae. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
A colored jewel in the substrate: a sea slug (nudibranch) of the family Flabellinidae. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
A nudibranch "Chromodoris magnifica" rather common, in the Indo-Pacific area, but still very photogenic. Note the "Neptune lace" next ... His meal? (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
A nudibranch "Chromodoris magnifica" rather common, in the Indo-Pacific area, but still very photogenic. Note the "Neptune lace" next ... His meal? (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Flabellina exoptata, delicate small sea slug. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Flabellina exoptata, delicate small sea slug. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
"Gymnodoris Broome", an orange electric nudibranch! (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
"Gymnodoris sp. Broome, an electric orange nudibranch! (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
In the Pokemon family, here is the "Thecacera picta". (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
In the Pokemon family, here is the "Thecacera picta". (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Orange and blue are colors that go so well together ... (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Orange and blue are colors that go so well together ... (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Another beautiful bright orange gorgon and its cloud of anthias. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)
Another beautiful bright orange gorgon and its cloud of anthias. (Sali Kecil, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2018)

  Indonesia : Alor + Halmahera + Sumbawa – July 2018

  1. Pleasure of reading and feast for the eyes; a beautiful terrestrial and underwater getaway in the beauty of the world (except plastic!). Thank you.

  2. I think I'm voting for the orange electric nudibranch. I do not know why, but I find in his attitude a very snobbish and sure of him really extra 🙂 But the rest is not bad either. Crazy what we find under water (and that I do not explore more than that) in this corner of the world.
    Thanks for the link to my article on Ternate. I would go back to the Moluccas! What a wonder, and in every way, this place.

    1. @Laurent: 😀 Yes, what a snob, this nudi !!! For travelers who would like to walk in the area, you're a much better source of information than me ... I have to arbitrate between my insatiable desire to dive and the time at my disposal, which leaves less room for purely terrestrial travel ... Yes, the Moluccas, at least the little that I know, I love! I will also go back this summer, in another corner, all the way north of Halmahera ... 😉

  3. Super photos that make you want to be there!
    Are surface currents as powerful as they are deep? The snorkelling is envsageable? 🙂

    1. @Marine : some currents are very impressive seen from the surface ... just do not go inside! Yes, snorkelling is obviously possible, in sheltered places and at the right time (tide station) provided of course not to bathe alone in its corner for safety. One person, a friend of a family of German divers present when I was there, sometimes accompanied us on the boat to snorkel.

  4. Was he as happy as you were diving? I guess he did not see the same things! The big pink gorgon, or the nudibranchs for example! What a beauty!

    1. @Marine : hard to say ... he seemed happy, but that's all I can say. I do not practice snorkeling, so I do not realize, during our dives, what can be nice for swimmers near the surface ... The photos I posted here are all at depths too important for snorkelers ...

  5. You very quickly evoke the logistics to get to ... Can you tell me which airport we have reached Ternate? thank you in advance

    1. @Nadia: from memory, in direct domestic flight, we can reach Ternate from Jakarta (the capital) or from Makassar (the big city of southern Sulawesi, where I passed), maybe also Manado (north-Sulawesi) I'm not did not go check. But in domestic flights with stops and / or changes of plane, it is possible to reach Ternate from most Indonesian airports.

      The best way is to explore the websites of the two major Indonesian airlines Garuda (and its subsidiary Citilink which took over Sriwijaya and Nam Air) and Lion Air (which also manages the subsidiaries Wings and Batik) to see the destinations. and possible matches, depending on where you are in Indonesia.

  6. Corinne thank you for making us travel again, beautiful ...! A new destination to explore for us, but this year in July, head for Raja Ampat at Raja Ampat Dive Lodge that you mentioned in a previous article, then Siladen / Onong Resort! Looking forward to it and thank you for all these tips, it really helps me with every trip planning !!

    1. @Pascal: and thank you for this very nice little message! Nice to inspire you for your travels! Do not hesitate to send me your impressions of the RADL and Siladan by e-mail on return. Enjoy it 🙂

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