Indonesia

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  1. Snagel says:

    Late Trip Report – Bali July 2012
    Original Post by pphan13 on Scubatoys

    Sitting here at work, quiet with some down time so thought I’d do a trip report…though it is a little late but what the hey.

    Being that I get the joy of being in Afghanistan for a year I rate two weeks of R&R which is good, better part is that the government pays for where ever it is I want to go for the most part which is better. Not that great of a constellation prize but I’ll take it. I originally wanted to dive the Great Barrier Reef, still do, but the cost out there was just more than I wanted to spend so I decided on Bali and boy did I not regret it.

    Travel:
    First part of my travel was exhausting, military flights suck, thankfully that isn’t applicable in most cases.

    As for commercial flights, I love how international flights for the most part everyone’s got their own monitor w/ location tracking, I like being able to know where I’m at at the moment and counting down until my destination. The airline food wasn’t too shabby either.

    I unfortunately had an old lady sitting behind me put her leg on my armrest though using it as a foot rest, so feet right next to my face for a good time. Talk about a different culture.

    Speaking of culture, people seem to be very pushy, concept of I’m in line doesn’t seem to exist nor does personal space. Well, at least that’s what it was like at the airports. But at the same time the staff were great and more than willing to help. Had a serious debacle with our flight from Jakarta to Bali but the airline people were quick to help and fix it.

    Customs and Visa went pretty quick, maybe an hour to an hour and a half at most. It was a lot better than I had expected, especially since it was the busy season. I’ve heard it taking up to 3 hrs for some people.

    Got a cab to the hotel and thought my cab driver was a lunatic for the way he was driving, driving in both lanes of the road instead of just one, cutting people off and honking like it’s cool. But quickly I learned that is the norm and surprisingly in the two weeks I was there I never once saw an accident.

    Dive Operator:

    I ended up diving with Crystal Divers located in Sanur and was very happy with them. They are a full 5 star PADI resort and they actually run the hotel itself there as well. I didn’t stay with them though as I had already booked a hotel else where prior. I think next time I will forgo the nice hotel and stay at cheaper places so I can spend more money on the dives since the only time I spent in my room was the 6-7 hours that I slept there. The atmosphere of the place was really great. They’ve got the shop, hotel and restaurant/bar right there. The whole place caters to mostly divers. Anyone not a diver probably wouldn’t enjoy it there as much. At the end of the day after all is said and done all the divers and students just hang out there at the bar and drink and talk about the day’s dives. The instructions they provided there seemed top notch. If I was able to take a lot of time off, I’d definitely wouldn’t mind getting my DM done there.

    I had originally signed up for only 7 days of diving but had such a great time with them that I extended it an additional 5 days for a total of 12 days where I got 32 dives done. The first 7 days since I reserved well in advance they pretty much tailored a “safari” trip to my wants and needs. The last 5 days I had to pick the dives they had available. July is one of their busiest times of the year but luckily they plan multiple trips a day to different locations though a lot of them were booked however. Prices I found reasonable for 3 dives a day especially for what you get out of it I think. For the non local dives they drive you to the location, some of them pretty far. If you’re on the boat they provide you a cooked meal which is ok, but the shocker for me was that the land base dives they actually buy you lunch at a restaurant which I’ve never heard of a dive shop doing. They give you a menu during your surface interval say “hey, order what you want for lunch” and it’ll be ready after the dive.

    The staff at Crystals in my opinion have a wealth of experience and really cater to people and they are very helpful to the less experienced. Ratios were great as well with 4 divers to a DM. On multiple occasions it was even less and on a few it was just 1 on 1 which was awesome. I was lucky and had the joy of diving with “Majic” Toto who in my opinion is one of the greatest DM/instructor I’ve ever met. Wealth of experience and a great critter spotter and generally a great guy. He’s called “Magic” because he actually performs magic tricks on land and some times in the water during safety stops to entertain. They are pretty good tricks too, not the simple stuff. Apparently he use to do on stage shows at one of the near by resorts. Anyways, part way through my dive trip he had logged his 20,200th dive. Talk about a lot of dives, I don’t know many with that record, but he was still always so enthusiastic about the dives and what you see as if it was only his first time.

    Another thing that I liked about Crystal was that they do a great thorough brief before every dive and at the end of the day back at the shop they gather everyone around the table, bring out coffee and tea and has everyone fill out their log books.

    Dive sites:

    Tulamben – I did two days at Tulamben. First time was my first day there and I had a great time. Did the Wall there (I think that’s what it’s called) and then dove the wreck day and then night. Diving and visibility was good. It was a little crowded but that was to be expected. This was the first day and I was amazed to see all these women carrying our scuba gear and tanks on their heads to the dive site. Some of them carried two sets to included tank. Talk about service wow. Kind of spoiled me I think. The night dive was the best dive of the day by far, visibility was good. It was just me and Toto and towards the end of our dive we saw some other people in the water. Saw some bump head parrot fish but the neatest thing was a pretty good size red grouper that we spotted. Watched him for a bit then he disappeared then only to have him pop up again. He did this for about half an hour following us during the remaining half of the dive. Did a second day at Tulmaben a couple of days later and this is where I really fell in love with the site. Instead of going through the wreck we stayed at the more sandy shallow edges of the wreck and I got to see a bunch of great critters. I think that was even better than the wreck itself. Towards the end of the dive I got to see a small group of Jacks which I had not gotten the opportunity to see prior. Second dive was off to the right of the wreck in the coral garden I think, love it too. Shallow with lots of bottom tie and critters.

    Seraya – This was my second day and I have to say this is where I fell in love with muck dving (for the first time by the way) and critters. At first the place just looked desolate but once my eyes opened and I started seeing things it was amazing. From then on there I was hooked. Disappointing that I only did one day there. During this day it was just myself and two Norwegian divers that I got to become friends with and Toto. During the service interval Toto got us fresh coconuts and gave us a magic show like usual.

    Candidasa – This was a pretty neat site, sadly the current was strong on both days that I was there so we couldn’t go into the cave. We still did get to see other great parts of the area though and the visibility was amazing. There was a small coral table where underneath we saw about half a dozen or so baby white tips. A little further away we saw a Wobbegong shark. The second time I dove here I was lucky enough to see a Mola Mola, my first and only. That was pretty darn neat. Sadly I screwed up the white balance of my camera at the moment I saw it and the video turned out reddish.

    Padanbai – Gorgeous place above water, wow amazing. The dive at the wall there I didn’t particularly care for too much. Visibility not as good as the other sites. I really probably didn’t like it there too much because of the cold, you could see the thermocline and just think “oh crap” this is going to be cold. It dropped down to I think around 68 degrees and being in a 3mm shortie I wasn’t having fun.

    Manta Point – I loved this site and wanted to see Mantas so bad I signed up for 4 days there. Visibility isn’t that great there but seeing mantas is always well worth it. The first time I saw about 4-5 mantas and got some great shots. The second time sadly none and the third time sadly only one 1 for a short moment. The forth time I saw 2-3. The day after my last dive day I talked to the two Norwegians to dove it that day said they saw like 13 or so, there were so many that they “got bored” of seeing them because they were just every where and in your face. I wanted to choke the Norwegians for being “bored.”

    Nusa Penida – another great site. This one nothing but drift dives but great coral and amazing visibility. Current can be pretty strong at times though. Here I got to see a huge bull ray which was pretty neat. I’m not sure how big it was but it must have been at least 6+ feet across. Dude was just chilling on the bottom sleeping or something because I got up just a couple of feet away and he didn’t even budge. Sadly as soon as I saw him it was time to head up for a safety stop and end the time. I think the other most memorable moment of this dive site was that I got to see a gigantic and I mean huge yellow moray eel hanging out under some coral right next to a white tip. The two of them were just hanging out under there touching each other.

    Sanur – Only did one dive here and it was a night dive. Mostly sandy bottom but still it was a decent dive. Shallow with lots of bottom time, only thing that made it short was the cold. Got a good video of a little octopus running over a flounder and the flounder swimming off and scaring the heck out of the octopus.

    Oh, back to the Norwegian guys, the one day I finally decided to take a day off from diving and skip on the Ahmed trip I was considering, the two Norwegians came back from that dive and said they saw a whale shark on that dive that got a pretty close to them.

    Food:

    And last but not lease, food. The restaurants and food out there was pretty good. I loved it, however, all the restaurants with higher prices out there was nothing compared to the night market in Sanur which was amazing. Half of the time I just went down there for dinner because the food was amazingly better and amazingly cheaper. There was a seafood stand in the back corner that had fresh catches from the day and cooked it right there for you. I went back there so many times that the lady and her husband were always happy to see me and gave me hugs, they were especially happy to see me when I brought others there. On one of the nights there I bought food for myself and 3 other friends I met there. A couple of bottles of San Miguel, 4 Mahi Mahi steaks, about 30 huge prawns, 4 orders of fried rice and some Sate for around 30 or so bucks to include tip.

    I spent my last day doing some sight seeing in Ubud, checked out the coffee plantation and the Monkey Forest as well. I tell you what those monkeys are some aggressive monkeys.

    Well, that’s the end of my report. Sorry if it’s not the greatest as it’s my first and I tell stories like an excited little kid. Sitting here with 1/4 of my year long deployment left thinking of making a revisit to Bali and spending some more time with the critters. So many other places I’d like to go to as well, but still so much I haven’t seen in Bali as well. Besides, Bali’s a lot cheaper than the rest of Indonesia just because of the flights.

  2. admin says:

    Report Ahe Dive Resort, Cenderawasih Bay,West Papua September 2011
    Original Post by The World In My Eyes on ScubaToys

    Not long back from another wonderful 5 weeks in Indonesia,after spending time in Bali seeing friends and diving i was off to Ahe Island in the remote area of Cenderwasih bay.Ahe Island being one of 9 islands of the Harlem Islands.As i have dived all over Indonesia,this area and it’s total remoteness and the project what is happening on Ahe Island,run by Papua’s who not so along ago who just lived in the villages and now involved and with the local community and marine park rangers in protecting this area for future generations and where Whalesharks in high numbers are resident’s in this remote area and where dreams can be had to spend so much time with them and be on a robinson and crusoe type of island with basic but comfortable surrounding and with few divers and in a area not much known about and surrounded only by locals. WHAT WOULD I FIND ! My expectations were modest one’s

    What i found was the most beautiful little island i have ever been on with a lovely white beach with the jetty running off the middle of the beach,where the sounds day and night were so delightful and interesting wildlife,including the adorable Cuscus and bird life,sea eagle’s above the island and hundreds of frigate birds hovering the island towards sunset with beautiful colors in the sky.At the other side of the island was another pretty beach and you could also find somewhere on the island which made you feel only you were there.At night relaxing on the jetty looking back at the island was delightful with stars in the sky and the only sounds were those of the waves and the night creatures and fish at the surface around the jetty

    The staff were so friendly and innocent and nothing was too much to make thing more enjoyable for you.The Bungalow’s were basic but very nice and very spacious and kept clean every day.Food was good mix. and enyoyable and fresh fruit and it was nice how staff would collect fresh coconuts.Electricity was restricted but never found this a problem and plenty of clean water to wash with and plenty of drinking water

    The dive area was spacious and had what was needed.The compressor was in very good condition and tanks were fine.The house reef was very interesting and has a resident shoal of at least 2 thousand snappers in 1m of water and the two travallys visiting now and again under the jetty were many Batfish,shoals of jacks.goatfish,drummers and emperors,shading from the sun,lionfish,rays.puffers all in 3m of water,to the right of jetty reef start and a sanded area with many Gobies and shrimps.left side of jetty is sanded area which slopes down to around 23m and a coral reef,just over to the left the reef starts again in the shallow circling the whole island with very pretty coral gardens,with reef either sloping down or wall area,turtles always hanging out and plenty of reef fish even found a mandarin fish during the day.One point at the island THE CAVE is situated at around 22m on a nice slope/wall area with nice soft corals.Barrel sponges.Gorgonians and bushy black coral.The cave is more of a small swimthrough and nice photo opportunity at the exit with fans and fish passing by or a diver.Back to house reef area on the sanded area in front of dive area which is left of jetty in the shallows are some anemones with nice shrimps and crabs and also saw two sea snakes and seahorse around as indeed over the right side in sea grass found a seahorse also found were devilfish,pipefish blennies on coral whips,sand divers,various razerfish and crocodile fish.Nightdive around jetty area was ok plenty of shrimps.plenty of various crabs which was interesting including hermit,many spanish dancers and little crocodlile fish and plenty of lionfish out hunting.Indeed my conclusion was not only on a beautiful little island but a very interesting house reef area and lovely coral gardens surrounding the island with plenty to keep you interested and happy with.

    3 boat dives a day and house reef whenever you want,they have traditional boats which are no problem to dive with and now have a new speed boat which is good for the resort now that they have one and guests,yes you will come across motor problems which is not a problem they soon fix it and just remember where you are in a remote area,what the problem is with motors is due to being in this remote area,there is no where and i mean no where locally where you can get engines serviced,not even in Nabire on the mainland,so like everyone in this remote area DIY is the way to go in fixing motors,so it’s worth remembering that and how clever they have become in fixing motors.Usual 8.30am/11am/3.00pm are boat dives where they return to Island after each dive. but unlike many other places and what make Ahe Island special is they are always willing to do anything to make things more enjoyable for you and especially if not too many guests so times can be flexable and even stop off on a isolated beach/Island on the way back or visit to the village on Mambour Island or even doing 2 tank morning dive and visiting a isolated beach inbetween dives with drinks and snacks all at no extra cost.It’s all about your attitude and remembering this project has come a long way and they are learning all the time and improving all the time in all area’s and nothing is too much to them to make things more enjoyable for you and a smile goes a long way in this part of the world and they are always willing to learn from our experiences and sharing them together.

    In this chain of Islands no dive site is too far away,25 mins being the most and lovely scenery all around and there is resident shoals of Dolphins in the the area and most days you will see them.Water temp is around a lovely 30c.There is an abundance of reefs in the direct proximity of Ahe, both shallow reefs and drop offs. The number of large sponges and gorgonians, soft corals and hard corals is most impressive in many areas,so many barrel sponges in most area’s,mangrove and sea grass area’s to explore and small caves and overhangs and lots of pretty coral gardens.Viz can be low or great at times this is because the rainfall from the mountains and rivers runninng into the bay at times,there was plenty of fish.not a lot of big schooling fish but with over 2 thousand snappers around Ahe jetty and over 3 thousand around Mambour jetty that was so spectacular in is this department.Also with it difficult to know the tides around this area that can make a big differents but saying that you would go along the reefs and really hit some hotspots with loads of action going on hundreds of fusiliers ect and other shoals of fish.Much to my delight i saw eagle rays and Barracuda shoals.plenty of turtles and maybe due to viz at times some black tip sharks.Many pigmy to be found here and various colours,rays and crocodile fish.Big Lobsters,stonefish.leafish,morays galore

    Wonderland was a very nice wall dive and Cracks also but there is so much to explore here,would of like to of spent more time in the mangroves and seagrass area and there is a lagoon only diveable at fulll tide where many Nudibranch were found.Mambour village jetty i enjoyed very much and dived it a few dives and come to conclusion a very good macro site in and around the jetty,with lot’s to be found and above over 3 thousand snappers cruising around and so wonderful to watch.

    This is what is also interesting to visit this area as there is lot’s to explore and in other area’s also and something you can do and be arranged for you or drawing reef maps.this is what you can also be involved with when visiting the resort and helping them in this area and far into the national parks lots of unexplored area’s are waiting with stunning results for sure and lots of big life,this is only the start.

    Now for dreams to come true the only place in the world where you can spend so much time with whale sharks and for sure my dreams come true around 2 hours from Ahe around the fishing platforms these creatures have realised that these platform mean food,sucking on the nets of full fish or fish being thrown by the fisherman.It was so wonderful spend so much time underwater with these wonderful creature in shallow depths and seeing at all angles and coming straight towards you and stationary sucking on the nets i felt very humble sharing time with them,they are not shy and love divers bubbles i noticed how they would cruise up to the bubbles and bend to allow them to run along their stomach.amazing,We always had 3 0r 4 and a total dream come true when i saw a baby one.only just over 3m WOW and the biggest just under 8m.It was great when you arrived by boat and saw them at surface and also standing on the platforms seeing them sucking on the nets.What a truly wonderful magical experience and know every part of a whale shark now and the memory will live with me forever.

    A whaleshark visit is included with your weeks package and if for any reason they are not there then you will return again for free.also you can pay and do a extra trip also and they are planning to do 2 tank dive’s if you wanted to do additional trip.Don’t worry there will always be whale sharks in this area,there are so many in this area and othere area’s around the national park.infact there is so much more Ahe resort are to explore further away from Ahe and this is the only land based island in the area and will be for along time to come due to the logistic’s and local Papuan village rules

    Mr. Arne Pijnakker from Holland is the man behind this project,helping the Papuans with this project and with the help of scuba signs (Ahe Dive Resort Papua « Scubasigns Foundation follow the archives how it all happened as i did) and jobs for all Papuans,in fact village rules will only allow Papuans to work on the island.The logistic’s here are hard no internet.Ame has to travel most days to Nabire on the mainland to receive internet and sometimes working very slow and i could see how much hard work it takes to make it possible for us to visit this beautiful remote area,fresh food and drinking water is also brought over daily.A website is being made and should be up and running by the end of the year.Marine park and local village permits are needed to dive the area and all other area’s and hard work to obtain.But after a lot of work Ame is in good position to obtain permits in all areas.The resort has come along way even over the last months and english is not spoken too well.But i did not find that a problem also the moment there is a guide from Manado who speaks english and soon someone is coming for 2 months to teach english and the papuan guides i found to be good at what they are doing and that’s what also good about coming here as we can pass our experience onto them.But things here work Papuan ways and by village rules,this is what people miss,there have been some who have come to Ahe to work to help manage things but they bring there way’s and are not thinking Papuans ways and how they think or do things so Ame does have a lot of work on his shoulders but work he enjoys,

    This is another reason i liked this place so much,unlike most places money and profit is not what they are after.money generated by us all coming is put back into improving things on the island for the Papuans,more equipment,a new boat for guests,more rooms for staff to sleep.more training and the local villages etc… etc … and the fact that the Papuans are so happy to see us and happy to share our friendship and think nothing of making things more enjoyable for the guests.

    Coming here we can all make a differents by helping to protect the area and further afield and the marine life and whale sharks and local communities and this project and have the freedom to express ourselfs in way we feel and dive exploration where nobody has dived or little is known and stay on a Robinson and crusoe style island and enjoying nature at it’s best with only a handful of divers and surrounded by only locals and enjoying diving in a remote area and of course can’t forget the whalesharks.

    For many they will love it here and for others maybe Wakotobi would be better for you and for me i will be back i was touched by so many things here and there is lots here to explore and find and maybe see a baby whaleshark again if not his big brothers or mum and dad will do

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