Dive Into Ambon - Indonesia
Updated: Mar 5
Ambon Island is part of the Maluku Islands of Indonesia, and lies off the southwest coast of the much larger Seram Island, and (part of the legendary spice islands) is known as one of the best muck diving destinations on the planet, with a full range of macro critters, as good as anywhere in the world and there are no crowds. As well as awesome macro diving in Ambon Bay there is also glorious coral, wall and wide-angle diving on the south coast with pristine coral, no other dive boats and it’s a dream come true.
It is on the north side of the Banda Sea, part of a chain of volcanic islands that encircle the sea. The island is mountainous, well watered, and fertile and consists of two territories - the city of Ambon to the south and various districts (kecamatan) of the Central Maluku Regency to the north. The main city and seaport is Ambon (with a 2014 population of 368,987), which is also the capital of Maluku province.
Dive Into Ambon is perfectly placed to take advantage of both types of diving. They dive both sides of their wonderful central location in Baguala Bay, based at Ambon’s best boutique hotel, Maluku Resort & Spa. Their big covered boats are equipped with hot water, charging stations, toilets, sun deck and much more, and they take you to some of the most incredible dive sites in Indonesia, all at an unparalleled level of comfort.
After diving you can relax by the pool, unwind with a Bintang or a marvellous massage at the spa and enjoy the stunning sunsets....
Dive Into Ambon is the best and only diving resort in Ambon.
My trip started with a personal transfer with a cold drink and personal service from the Airport to the Resort door, and greeted by Kaj (Manager). It was a relaxed, friendly and worry-free process to book in, settle into room and unpack ready for an afternoon dive.
The format is;
* Breakfast at 7.00am
* Check dive gear, especially batteries and camera gear
* Board boat at 8.15am
* Head out all day for 3 dives with snacks, lunch, water, hot towels and gorgeous views
* Arrive back to Resort around 3-4pm
* The crew wash your dive gear and place cameras in rinse tubs
* You choice of Bintang, Poolside, Nap or otherwise......
* At 7.00pm Dinner is served (Family Style) with all guests including Kaj (AAAA+++)
My reason to go to Ambon and dive there was to see Rhinopias and Psychedelic Frogfish (PF) along with any/all other critters Ambon has to offer. I understand though from many dive trips as many Dive Guides say '110% No Guarantee' when giving dive briefings, but I still had faith and hope to witness and see these special creatures.
As the days start to roll into each other, I eagerly wait for conditions to be right to head to the known sites for the PF at 'Jeff's Jungle' dive site. After the dive briefing we all dived the site allowing Jeff to carry out his detailed search, and for the length of 65min unfortunately no PF was to be found.....however the site did provide many many critters, colourful coral, soft sponges to investigate and appreciate.
Ambon is also known for its 'Clear Water' diving (Reef) which is where we headed for other divers who were leaving soon, sites such as Pintu Kota, Hukurila Cave and ALFA Bar. Oh yes, these did not disappoint in any spectrum of what they offered and what a ride with diversity, topography, currents and life in particular Hukurila Cave. This dive offered a slight cave entry into a stalactite area where you can surface and view the cave, and then submerge-turn torches off and watch the flashlight fish come to life (trippy...).
Day's and Dive's become a blurrrrrr, and it's time to dive Laha 1, 2 or 3 which is very near the main town centre, known for its muck area and Rhinopias. Very excited, apprehensive and eager to get in and see my very 1st Rhinopias, but after a long and very critter filled dive, 'No' Rhinopias. This dive was the first time in 4 days of any site that I saw another dive boat and divers, as we had all the sites and diving to ourselves which I was told is quite the norm. However, maybe this time to my advantage due to a little camaraderie between the guides telling us there was Rhinopias at Laha 3.
The Surface Interval was excruciatingly long (lol) and couldn't wait to get back in the water as we slowly moved to Laha 3. Finally, it was time to back-roll in, descend and search for my Rhinopias, not knowing if there would be 1 or 2 or more. As good as the dive was it was excruciating waiting and wanting to see my Rhinopias. It was not long before I saw the guide do a hand signal (not explained in briefing) similar to a large lip swoop, and I knew straight away - Rhinopias, Ooooooh Yeah.
My 1st ever Rhinopias frondosa
Purple Lace Paddleflap
The Rhinopias is one of the most searched fish in the world and this rare species is described as the 'Holy Grail' of underwater photography and tops the list of weird and strange creatures - called critters - that can be found. They even belong to the top attractions in the few places on the world where they can be seen!
The Rhinopias, who are also classified in the family of scorpionfish (Scorpaenidae), includes only six species.
* xenops (Hawaii)
* argoliba (Japan)
* cea (Easter Islands)
Amongst Ambon there are soooo many critters, and some say comparable or better than Lembeh, Nth Sulawesi. I have now been to both locations and to quote a great phase (which child is your favourite) makes this argument an open one, one that I cannot confirm.
Apart from Rhinopias and Psychedelic Frogfish, Ambon is also the home to the Ambon Scorpionfish, as per the Dive Resort Logo. It was on Blue Duck Jetty dive site amongst the many muck critters I got to see the Ambon Scorpionfish. I believe they come in several colours, however this one was brown in brown sand and muck making it very difficult to photograph.
Another photo I was lucky to take on this same dive was of good fortune and opportunity as I hunted through the rubbish and muck under the Jetty. It just shows the beauty that can reveal itself from such devastating conditions.
Ambon is a magical place with a many great dive sites and wonders I did not get to witness, dive and embrace - time was my enemy. I share with you more images of my dives and the critters I was given the pleasure to photograph.
In closing, 'Take Every Chance You Get In Life, Because Some Things Only Happen ONCE', & let my stories and experience give you inspiration to create your own Moments.