Diving in Banda Sea
Banda Sea is well-recognized as one of the world’s top dive destinations,
with its coastal waters having a wealth of superb
dive sites hidden within.
Marine Life Highlights in Banda Sea
A 42-meter world-class aluminium & steel-hulled motor yacht, the Panunee can accommodate a maximum of 22 guests and 10 crew members.It was built in 2006 and all interior decoration was refurbished from floor to ceiling in December 2015 making most furniture, lighting system, camera station, bedding and accessories all new. Divers will feel safe with their up-to-date communication and satellite navigation system and get to dive with ease as Panunee Yacht features a wide dressing and individual storage areas, large dive deck with 30 fully filled tanks, 3 dinghies and Nitrox. Suite, Deluxe, and Single-bed cabins are the choice accommodation where divers can rest after a full day’s diving while the dining room on the rear deck offers scrumptious Thai, Chinese, Japanese and International cuisine prepared by the resident chef.The Panunee journeys to Indonesia’s top dive areas such as Komodo, Raja Ampat, the Banda Sea and Cenderawasih.
Dive Sites In Banda Sea
A small dormant volcano peeking at the center of Banda Islands is GunungApi, which is also known as Snake Island due to an abundance of Banded Kraits. Crystal clear waters surround the volcanic island and though its last eruption was in 1988, the effect of the cooled lava led to the regeneration of the coral reef at a fast pace. The northeast coast of the island where the lava flowed was decorated with Table corals, Warty finger corals, Acropora corals, and Bottlebrush corals while Cabbage Leaf Corals can be seen at 20 to 35 metres making it look like a field.
Sling-jaw Wrasse, Cuttlefish, slender Fusiliers, Green Snout Parrotfish and Triggerfish are residents to this site and Clown Triggerfish and Black Triggerfish are not strangers to these waters as well. GunungApi is reachable by a boat from Banda Neira with a visibility of up to 40 metres and depth of up to 70 metres.
Average Depth: 20m
Maximum Depth: 70m
Average Visibility: 10m to 40m
Banda Neira is the capital of Banda Islands founded by the Portuguese in the 1500s. It waters overgrown with Ascidians, soft corals and sponges which hosts juvenile Batfish, Crocodile fish, Scorpion fish, Pipefish, Moray Eels and is known for sightings of the colourful Mandarin fish especially during sunset. One of its dive sites, the Lava Flow also attracts divers as it is covered densely by different types of hard corals that resulted after Gunung Api’s eruption in the 1980s. Visibility in the area ranges from 40 to 50 metres during diving season and its average depth is 9 metres. Banda Neira is accessible by a Liveaboard.
Access: Banda Neira is Accessible by a Liveaboard
Average Depth: 9m
Maximum Depth: 30m
Average Visibility: 40m t0 50m
Located southwest of the island of Banda Islands, Lucipara Atolls are a group of five tiny islands that have long white sandy beaches. The islands are uninhabited and the mountains rising from the sea make for great wall dives with teeming coloured fans, corals, and marine life. During night dives, Lucipara Atoll is popular for sightings of Photoblepheron Bandanesis or commonly called as flashlight fish and you may chance upon a Gray Reef Shark or Manta Ray. Access to this site is through a Liveaboard and is usually partnered with Ambon. Visibility is up to 37 metres with very mild currents and home to a large population of huge sponges.
Access: Through a Liveaboard
Average Depth: –
Maximum Depth: –
Average Visibility: 37m
Pulau Ai is an island west of Banda Neira and one of the Banda Islands. It boasts of pretty beaches on the northern coastline with steep walls and overhangs while the southern shore has some limestone cliffs with its reefs sloping down to the sandy bottom at 40 to 50 metres. There can be some currents in the area and visibility ranges from 20 to 30 metres.
Shark encounters are common in this island with Hammerhead Sharks as regulars earning the name Hammerhead point, and occasional sightings of Thresher and Silvertip Sharks. Aside from Sharks, large schools of Chevron Barracuda and Bluefin Trevallies can be spotted hunting, Wahoo and Giant Trevallies visit the island, and Mobula Rays are often a memorable sight in Pulau Ai.
Average Depth: 40m
Maximum Depth: 50m
Average Visibility: 20m to 30m
Formerly Rozengain in the colonial era, Hatta Island is named after the first vice president of Indonesia and one of the 2 prime intellectuals behind its campaign for independence, Mohammad Hatta. Tourists and divers alike are drawn to this island because of its beaches that is probably the finest in all of Bandas, and is a great spot for snorkelling and diving. By the west shore, there is a 5 metre wide hole in the reef top that divers can be swim through that also seems like a bridge in the coral reef. Colorful soft corals cover the bridge with big Gorgonians sheltering Pygmy Seahorses, schools of Barracudas, Batfish, and Napoleons roam the area, and visits from Sea Turtles are common in Pulau Hatta. Average visibility is 20 metres with depths of 18 to 30 metres.
Average Depth: 18m
Maximum Depth: 30m
Average Visibility: 20m
At the northern end of Banda Sea is Koon Island, a healthy reef that is home to a large diversity of reef fish. Butterfly fishes, Angelfishes, Groupers, and Snappers are residents of this wall and a slope that is heavily covered by hard and soft corals such as Orange Dendronepthya and loads of healthy Cabbage Corals. The dive begins where the reef flat rises at 5 metres below the surface and on the wall, big pelagics can be seen such as Jacks, Dogtooth Tunas, and schooling Barracudas. In the wall’s nooks and crannies, Robust Ghost Pipefish can be spotted going with the flow of the water, Orangutan Crabs also takes refuge in bubble coral. Visibility ranges from 10 to 20 metres as there are mild to strong currents and the island is accessible by Liveaboard.
Average Depth: 5m
Maximum Depth: 20m
Average Visibility: 10m to 20m
Diving in Banda Sea
Banda Sea is located in the Maluku Islands of Indonesia surrounded by Ambon, Seram, and Halmahera to the north, and East Timor in the south. During the colonial era, its own islands, the Banda Islands, were sought after by Marco Polo and Columbus as it was the original Spice Islands, rich in nutmeg and mace, and was colonized by the Dutch and Portuguese who exported these spices. Presently, tourists visit the island to be able to have a glimpse on some of the world’s richest reefs, pristine corals, and large pelagic fish that are perfect for diving and snorkelling.
Climate in the Banda Sea is mostly determined by monsoon winds with an average temperature of 27 degrees Celsius to 32 degrees Celsius. Dry season is from May to November and heavy rainfalls occur during the months of January to February. Best time to dive Banda Sea is March to April and September to December as other months have inconsistent weather. Visibility ranges from an amazing 30 to 50 metres during diving season with mild to strong currents suitable for experienced divers and depths of 40 to 70 metres.
Banda Sea’s main attraction are its impressive hard coral formations, steep drop offs and some fast currents that makes the underwater scenery truly remarkable. Even coral experts are still in awe at how fast the corals grow in Banda Neira where the neighboring volcano island erupted and its lava destroyed most of the coral reefs but afterwards, gave life to layer by layer of hard corals. Other dive sites bursts with reef life as huge Seafans, Sponges and Acroporas are home to a variety of marine life.
Unique with its reef growth, Banda Sea is also extraordinary in terms of the sheer volume of marine life, both large and small. Dogtooth Tunas and Mobula Rays are dominant in these waters, with swarms of non-aggressive Sea Snakes at Gunung Api. Notable too are schools of Fusiliers, lots of Red-tooth Triggerfish, and Mandarin fish. And at some occasions, Whale species are also sighted in the waters of Banda Sea.
|Best Diving Season:||March to April & September To December|
|Weather:||May to November (Dry season) January to February (Wet Season)|
|Marine Animal Highlights:||Dogtooth Tunas, Mobula Rays, Sea Snake, Fusiliers, Red-Tooth Triggerfish, Mandarin Fish|
|Recommended Thermal Protection:||–|
|Water Visibility:|| 30m-50m