Indonesia Reef - © image by Rick HeydelWhether you’re looking for big pelagics or the chance to photograph rare and unusual marine life, a scuba diving vacation in Indonesia offers unique opportunities for exploration that range from drift diving over pristine coral fields to outstanding muck, wreck, and wall dives. Indonesia is truly a nation of islands. Spanning almost 2 million square kilometers (1,250,000 square miles) between Asia and Australia, this unusual country sprawls across some 18,000 islands and is home to almost 250 million residents.
Given the sheer size of the region, it’s hardly surprising that Indonesia’s climate can vary widely from one location to another. With its central islands straddling the equator however, scuba diving vacations here tend to be defined by hot, humid weather most of the time. While the official rainy season runs from October through March, diving in this one-of-a-kind environment is a year-round event.
Between dives, visitors will soon discover that Indonesia boasts almost as many on-shore diversions as it does marine species: from temples, museums, and local dance and crafts, to caving, surfing, hiking, and golf. There are also plenty of opportunities to explore the unique wildlife, and the jumble of waterfalls, volcanoes and tropical jungles that punctuate the region’s varied terrain.

The best way to reach the various areas of Indonesia is through the gateways of Jakarta or Bali. Depending on your destination, you’ll find that both shore diving and liveaboards have much to offer throughout the archipelago. Some of the best scuba diving opportunities lay sandwiched between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and include the locales of Sulawesi, Raja Ampat, Bali, Lombok, Komodo, Kalimantan, and Ambon in the Banda Sea.

Pygmy Seahorse in Indonesia - © image by Rick HeydelSulawesi

Situated directly on the equator, and accented by abundant coastal islets with reefs and atolls galore, the northern tip of the island of Sulawesi is home to some of the country’s most legendary dive destinations. Foremost among these is the Lembeh Strait, best known for its extraordinary muck diving. North Sulawesi is a mecca for sheer walls and trenches, stunning coral environments, and an array of bountiful sea life that’s on offer every time you take advantage of the area’s renowned critter dives. Off the south-eastern tip of Sulawesi you will find the exquisite and secluded area of Wakatobi, known for amazing reef & wall-diving with a mind-blowing array of colours and marine life.

Raja Ampat

The startlingly beautiful islands of Raja Ampat form an idyllic chain that winds through the clear, turquoise waters to rise above the waves in peaks of vivid green foliage. Here, amongst hundreds of tiny atolls, the marine life is remarkably diverse and brightly coloured reefs are easily explored in the exceptionally clear waters that are the hallmark of this nutrient-rich region. Black tipped reef sharks, manta rays, and drift diving opportunities abound.

Bali & Lombok

Off the southeastern tip of Java lie the magical islands of Bali and Lombok. Impressive wrecks, dramatic walls and drop-offs, and large pelagics are all in a day’s dive here. From the ribbon eels and gently sloping coral gardens of Paradise Reef, to the muck dives in Secret Bay’s shallow, volcanic basin, exploring the coastlines of these smaller islets offers something for every level of diver. 

Our preferred supplier in Bali is AquaMarine Diving - Bali.


Scorpionfish - © image by Rick HeydelWith its infamous dragons above, and its equally unusual creatures below, the island of Komodo is a not-to-be-missed diving destination. The proliferation of hard coral reefs, together with ample macro and critter life means that keeping your dive camera at the ready is a must at all times. The gorgeous reefs of this national park feature thousands of weird and wonderful marine species, ranging from carpet sharks to flying lizards.


 Home to large gatherings of manta rays and scores of turtle breeding grounds, Kalimantan is the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo. The protected waters of the various dive sites here offer a pristine example of an untouched tropical marine ecosystem. Blue light caves, drift wall diving, and a land-locked marine lake, boasting four different species of non-stinging jellyfish, are just some of the unique underwater features waiting to be explored.

Banda Sea & AmbonCuttlefish - © image by Rick Heydel

 In the waters of the Banda Sea, and off the island of Ambon in particular, divers will encounter incredible sea fan gardens, huge reef fish diversity, enormous barrel sponges, and several hundred species of hard coral. The visibility here, in what is one of Indonesia’s clearest harbors, is often as high as 50 meters (165 feet) and many sites take the form of wall dives. Among its many marine treasures, this area is home to the largest known population of Napoleon wrasses in Indonesia. Ambon is also known for incredible muck diving, or "Critter Hunting" as we like to call it.

Photos taken by Staff Photographer Rick Heydel