The rich and varied culture of Indonesia's 13,466 islands is mirrored below the waves, with fascinating reefs, exciting drift dives, world-class macro, big animals galore, and an awesome shipwreck to boot. But the one thing we always get asked is, 'Should I visit by liveaboard, or stay at a resort?'. To help you decide, here are some pointers to help you plan your next dive vacation to Indonesia.
What do you want to see?
Is there a particular species, or destination, that you are looking forward to discovering? Some parts of Indonesia are famous for specific animal encounters, for example the mola mola at Crystal Bay in Bali, or the manta rays at Nusa Penida island. In this case, you're best to base yourself at a local resort so that you can return to the same dive site several times to be sure of a sighting. Likewise, if you plan to focus solely on muck diving, for example, then basing yourself a resort in Lembeh is the best option, allowing you to fully explore one of the world's best macro destinations in your own time.
However, if you want to see as much as you can while experiencing adventure and variety on your trip, booking an Indonesian liveaboard is a great option. A liveaboard will cover far more ground and facilitate access to remote areas unlikely to be reached by day boats from resorts. Raja Ampat, Triton Bay, Cenderawasih Bay, and Wakatobi National Park are all amazing liveaboard dive areas, choc full of flourishing marine life, and unspoiled due to low visitor numbers.
Who are you traveling with?
If you are traveling alone, liveaboards are a great way to meet people and make new dive friends. They are also a great option for groups or clubs featuring divers with a range of skills and abilities. However, the majority of liveaboards aren't suitable for non-divers due to their heavy focus on diving. Some may offer snorkeling or land trips, such as with the whale sharks in Cenderawasih Bay, but this is the exception.
If you are traveling with family or non-divers, a land-based resort is a far better option. Resort islands such as Bali have a lively beach and nightlife, with plenty of topside activities. Many resorts have spa facilities and a relaxing beachfront for those looking to kick back and take some time out.
How much diving do you want to do?
Everyone has a different idea of what makes a successful dive vacation. For those looking for a full immersion experience, liveaboards offer just that. The old mantra 'eat, sleep, dive, repeat' is no exaggeration, and liveaboards are a great way to improve your experience and increase your dive number in a short period of time. Because of their remote location liveaboard itineraries to areas such as Raja Ampat and Triton Bay are often 10 nights or more, and this amount of constant diving may just be too much for some. And there's always the fear that the one dive you sit out will be the best of the trip!
Some divers prefer to dip in and out of the water as it suits, taking time to explore the local area, relax, or spend time with non-diving friends and family. This is where an Indonesian dive resort really comes into its own. Guests can choose when and how often they dive, and stay for as little or as long as suits.
If you're still struggling to decide, why not try both options? Many travelers will add a land-based extension before or after their liveaboard trip to get the most out of their vacation. Contact us at Bluewater Travel for some great itinerary ideas and advice on the best Indonesia dive vacations.