Ambon, Indonesia - Destination Report - November 2009

Ambon Island is one of the Maluku Islands of Indonesia. It is located in central Indonesia in the northern Banda Sea.  Ambon offers reef systems and world-class muck diving.  But getting there was a long and arduous task.

  4 hour drive from Central Wisconsin to Minneapolis - 5 hours of airport check-in and wait time
  4 hour flight to Los Angeles - 5 hours airport check-in and wait time in Los Angeles
  15 hour flight to Hong Kong - 3 hours airport check-in and wait time in Hong Kong
  4 hour flight to Denpasar, Bali - Overnight in Denpasar
  4 hour flight to Ambon - Overnight in Denpasar

Welcome to Maluku Divers, the only land-based dive resort in Ambon.  There are ten bungalows, private bathrooms, showers, covered wooden terraces and ocean views.   The attractive bungalows nestled between large trees provide a lovely tropical ambiance.  The air-conditioned bungalows are spacious and designed to offer ample storage and workspace, including individual editing tables for photographers.  Two generators provide 24-hour electricity, so hot showers are always available. 




Aa large communal, open-air dive shop and restaurant area serves as the gathering spot for divers.  Meals, beverages, laughter and dive stories are shared in this beautiful area overlooking the ocean.   Each day begins and ends here in the company of friends.    Two Balinese chef’s prepare Indonesian-style meals that include soup or salad, entree, vegetable, and dessert in the evening.  The wait staff are well-trained, personable and eager to please.  (On my 900th dive, a night dive, we surfaced to a staff bearing a cake-sized cookie decorated with flowers and lettering that read, "900th Dive".)   I appreciate new-food experiences, and found meals to be excellent.  Portions were modest, unlike our American meals which tend toward excess.  This was problematic to some folks, ravenous after a day of diving.  Seconds were offered, when available.  Tea, coffee and water were always available.  Soft drinks and Bintang beer could be purchased from the office.

Near the communal area is a camera room with set-up tables, ample outlets, stools, and a controlled climate for sensitive photography and computer equipment.  The dive gear-up area is spacious with tables for gear, benches, showers, as well as gear- and dedicated-camera rinse tanks.  A large, fenced-in equipment hanging/storage area is found at the back side of the shower area.

The dock area is still under construction (scheduled for summer 2010), so divers waded out a short distance to the boats.  This did not seem to cause any difficulties for the hearty group of divers.  Dive equipment was brought to the boat by the dive staff.  Maluku Divers operates two, twin-engine dive boats, making it possible to dive both reef and muck sites, or to spread a large group over similar sites.  And most sites were just a few minutes by boat from the resort.   Dive instructors and guides are PADI certified .  They were attentive to the needs of divers, safety conscious, and marvelous at locating and identifying the underwater creatures.  Sweet snacks were served between dives and surface intervals followed recommended guidelines.  Dive destinations were flexible and determined based on the divers' interests.  Currents were generally mild, but there were a couple of dives where one's "muck stick" was his best friend.  With ripping currents, the muck stick, firmly planted into the sand, was a saving grace!  Our group chose to focus on muck dives, and we were never disappointed.  I couldn't photograph subjects as fast as they were being found.  Fire urchins, over 50 varieties of Nudibranch, mating Mandarin Fish, Frogfish, Pipefish, Scorpionfish, Dragonets, Cuttlefish, Crinoids of every color imaginable, some walking the ocean floor, others with arms flowing in a choreography of feeding.  It was truly sensory overload on every dive; a photographer's dream.  I was awestruck in this, my first experience of diving in the South Pacific.

I found the experience at Maluka Divers to be very positive, and I can't wait to return.

November 2009

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