This post is brought to you in partnership with Original Diving
Now is not the time to travel, but I want to keep dreaming. Even if we don’t know what will happen out of the chaos we are facing, I still want to pursue my dreams. Will they always be what I thought they would? I can’t be sure, but what I know is my recent sabbatical already changed dramatically the way I travel.
With every single experience I had during these first 20 nomadic months, I could narrow down what I want from my travels: freedom and discoveries. I realised that what I love most is learning and movement. This is why I thrive through scuba diving, language learning, and cooking around the world. However, to achieve this, I don’t need to be travelling all the time, just a change of scene once or twice per year.
From Japan to Australia…
Japan was my childhood dream since I was 8. Living in Tokyo, learning Japanese, exploring Okinawa and scuba diving all around the country for 8 months filled me with a rare kind of joy. The joy to know that if I travelled back in time to meet my 8-year-old self, this little girl would be in awe with sparkles in her eyes.
It is now time to return to another destination which is close to my heart: Indonesia. As a scuba diver, it’s hard no to fall for diving in Indonesia. No wonder why it inspired me to start this blog in 2012. But when I wrote this love letter to Bali after my second trip in 2015, the reason I am fond of Indonesia goes beyond good dive sites.
At the same time, I started to feel nostalgic about my time in Scotland from 2014 to 2016. I was eager to return to living in an English-speaking country. When I learnt last year, the Australian government changed the age condition (35 years old instead of 30) for the Work Holiday Visa for Irish, Canadian and French citizens, I started considering the opportunity.
I’m glad to announce that I was accepted last month. Now I have one year to enter the country. Considering the current situation, this is not too much. So, if we are allowed to travel outside Europe after this summer, here is the plan: I will return one last time to Japan and on my way to Australia, I will do a long stopover in Indonesia.
Like I learnt Japanese in Japan, I would also like learning Indonesian one day. However, I think I will have to postpone my idea of studying Bahasa Indonesia in Yogyakarta, Java Island, for another time. I would say I would need at least 6 months in the country whereas I think, this time, I will only have the time for a 2-month visa.
Exploring the best diving of the Indonesian outer islands
This is how I decided for my third trip to Indonesia the best idea was to focus on the outer islands from Sulawesi to West Papua to have the scuba diving time of my life. As I went to 3 dive shows from Orlando to Düsseldorf recently, I could speak with the tourism board of Indonesia and many operators, including Original Diving, who offered some help to draft a 4-week itinerary with 4 destinations:
- As Bali is the best place to go to the outer islands, the easiest would be to fly from Denpasar to Manado, North Sulawesi, where I can scuba dive in Bunaken and Lembeh.
- Then I can transfer from Manado to Sorong, West Papua, where you transfer by boat to Raja Ampat.
- From Sorong, I can then fly to Ambon to scuba dive in the Banda Islands.
- Finally, on the way back to Bali, I can stop in Makassar, South Sulawesi, to explore Wakatobi National Park.
I wish I could avoid flying domestically, but unfortunately, there are no reliable alternatives in Indonesia for the moment. In the meantime, here is a bit more information Original Diving provided me about these Indonesian outer islands I am dreaming about:
- South Sulawesi: This is where you can find Wakatobi National Park, which is home to some of the best macro diving in the world. Wakatobi is boasting with marine life: about 400 species of coral and 700 species of fish were officially recorded in the National Park.
- North Sulawesi: The northern side of Sulawesi is also home to some fantastic diving around Bunaken National Park, but also the muck diving capital of the world, Lembeh. You don’t come to this part of Indonesia for the big stuff. This is where you can most likely find critters such as frogfish, blue-ringed octopus, pygmy seahorse or mimic octopus.
- Raja Ampat: Located in the heart of the Coral Triangle, the remote Indonesian archipelago boasts superb corals and colourful macro critters. According to Dr Mark Erdman of Conservation International, there are more recorded species in Raja Ampat than anywhere else on the planet.
- Banda Islands: Despite being nestled between Raja Ampat and Komodo, the Banda Islands remain relatively under the radar. Only accessible between March and April, and then September and November, those who cruise to these remote islands will be treated to some of the least dived sites in Indonesia and hammerhead shark action.
If you are already an expert about scuba diving in Indonesia, don’t hesitate to add your tips in the comments as I’m still working on the itinerary!
If you are interested in learning more about travelling and scuba diving in Indonesia, have a look at the following articles:
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Photo credits: underwater pictures of Raja Ampat, Wakatobi and Ambon, courtesy of Original Diving.
Sounds like a good plan and something to look forward to once we are ‘set free’!
I have made a couple of side trips to Indonesia from The Philippines, which is even easier now that there is (in normal times) a direct flight from Davao in the Philippines to Manado, rather than the long and expensive backtrack from Denpassar to Manado.
Although the south of Bali has been overrun by mass tourism there are still some good dives near Denpassar – from Nusa Penida, including Manta Point, the extremely fast drift dive at Mangrove Point and the Liberty wreck just 50m off the beach at Tulamben.
Bunakan Island is well worth a visit and we found Two Fish Divers there excellent, they also have a resort at Lembeh and provide transfers – a good option.
Hoping to go back there in 2021 and dive at Raja Ampat – it was just too much to fit into the last trip and it’s difficult to move directly between the islands as all travel seems be focussed on Denpassar and Jakata as hub airports.
You never know, maybe our paths will cross!