The Forgotten Islands liveaboard diving
There are many reasons why scuba divers love to dive the Forgotten Islands, which offer some of the best remote diving in Indonesia. These reasons include the gin-clear waters, coral bommies and spectacular reefs together with fabulous wall dives and drop-offs. Not to mention the abundant wildlife seen there too. With this in mind let’s take a look at scuba diving the forgotten islands by liveaboard.
Scuba diving the forgotten islands liveaboard Indonesia in 15 seconds…
The Forgotten Islands, which are also known as the Southeast Moluccas (Maluku Tenggara), are a part of Indonesia. These islands are made up of a 1,000 kilometre (625 mile) long chain of archipelagos which stretch from Flores or Timor across to West Papua on the island of New Guinea. The best and only way to dive the Forgotten Islands is by liveaboard dive boat, which will take you to this very remote and isolated chain of islands. The best time to scuba dive the Forgotten Islands is in the dry season, which is from June until November. See below for the best liveaboards for dive trips to the Forgotten Islands.
The Forgotten Islands liveaboard diving
Firstly, if you want to dive the Forgotten Islands of Indonesia you are going to have to book a liveaboard dive boat to do so. Also known as Southeast Moluccas (Maluku Tenggara), this 1,000 kilometre (625 mile ) long chain of islands is very remote. Their remoteness means they are not accessible from resort based dive boats.
The islands are so called the “Forgotten Islands” because historically they had little contact with the rest of Indonesia. There are no airports on any of these islands and they have very small populations, which includes small fishing communities. With such little human impact on the region, the marine life and coral reefs are unspoilt and pristine.
This leads on to where are the Forgotten Islands and how do you get to the Forgotten Islands?
Where are the Forgotten Islands?
The Forgotten Islands are a chain of archipelagos which stretch east of Flores or Timor to West Papua on the island of New Guinea. Maumere is one of the best ports of departure for the liveaboards, which is about 1,300 (813 miles) kilometres to the east of Bali or 2,400 kilometres (1,500 miles) to the east of Jakarta.
Darwin in Australia is around 650 kilometres (406 miles) to the south east of Wetar Island. Where Wetar Island is one of the good dive spots on many of the liveaboard dive boat trips.
So let’s now take a look at how you get to the Forgotten Islands.
How do you get to the Forgotten Islands?
As the Forgotten Islands are a part of Indonesia, you must first get yourself to Indonesia. This means that unless you already live in Indonesia, you must first get yourself to either Bali or Jakarta international airports. Most long-haul flights to both Bali and Jakarta fly via either Singapore or Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
From either of these international airports, you’ll need a connecting flight to the nearest airport. This airport is Maumere, which is on the Island of Flores. From there you can pick up one of the many liveaboard dive boats. The alternative to departing from Flores is to leave from Timor, which is an island just to the south east of Flores.
Search for your favourite Indonesian Forgotten Island Liveaboard here:
Some of the best dive sites of the Forgotten Islands
There are many great dive sitees around Indonesia’s Forgotten Islands, but here are a few great locations to wet your appetite.
Palu Island dive site
Palu Island, or should I say Palu’e Island, is located north of Flores Island and slightly west of Maumere, as per the above map. The island is in the Flores Sea and is actually part of the Lesser Sunda Islands and not part of the Forgotten Islands, but it does form part of liveaboard dive itineraries.
Due to the fact the island is volcanic, it has black sands created from the volcanic rock. Around Palu Island are stunning patch corals with shoals of coral fish,which includes fusiliers, pyramid butterflyfish and batfish. You’ll also discover beautiful eagle rays around this island together with a variety of sharks, which includes Oceanic Whitetips.
The Island itself has a population of people which is around 9,500 in eight mountain villages.
Wetar Island dive site
Wetar Island is the first island in the chain of Forgotten Islands or Maluku Islands (also known as the Moluccas or the Spice Islands). As far as a dive site, Wetar Island is noted for its beautifully rugged terrain, its very large fish including whitetip and grey reef sharks.
The other creature to be aware of in these waters is salt water crocodiles. The salt water crocodiles tend not to both scuba divers and are found in the brackish waters of the lagoons on the island. But they can also be seen at dusk on the beaches of Wetar Island too.
Video of the diving between Wetar Island and Serua
This video, along with the two other videos below is of the diving in and around the Forgotten Islands. Whilst Serua is not shown on the above map, it is located slightly north west of Dai Island about where the ‘n’ of the word island of Dai Island name on the map.
Manawoka Island dive site
Manawoka Island is a great dive spot for pelagic fish. Here you can see some of the largest shoals of barracuda in the area together with the majestic manta rays plus many giant groupers. One of the reasons for the pelgic activity around Manawoka Island is the strong currents around this island, which also attracts blacktip reef sharks and the occasional hammerhead shark too.
Nusa Laut Island
If you’re into your coral gardens, then the diving at Nusa Laut is where you can see some of the prettiest coral gardens there are. This is an example of when it’s a good idea to have a dive torch even for daylight diving. You can use your dive light bring to life all the vibrant colours of these beurtifual reefs.
The fish you’ll see here includes shoals of anthias (as per the above video), the stunning blue and black surgeonfish with their yellow tails (of Blue Tangs), pipefish and scorpionfish. But then you are also likely to see patrolling barracuda as well as the chance to see hammerheads too.
Dai Island dive site
The dive sites around Dai Island comprise steep slopes where you can dive either in the shallows or go deeper. These slopes are covered in hard corals and are inhabited by many types of coral reef fish and in particular you’ll see the many anthias here too.
There are also larger fish her too which of course includes reef sharks.
Other islands of the Forgotten Islands
Some of the other islands of the Forgotten Island chain include Romang, Nyata, Leti, Lakor and Moa. The more you go east of Maumere the greater the marine life and the more remote it gets.
Another alternative to diving from Maumere is to catch a liveaboard from Saumlaki instead. Saumlaki is on the island of Yamdena, which is the larger island in the above map which is east of Dai Island.
Search for your favourite Indonesian Saumlaki Liveaboard here:
Why are the waters around the Forgotten Islands so clear?
If you didn’t already know this, but Indonesia is a volcanic island and it still has active volcanoes. In fact most of the Forgotten Islands in this region were formed by volcanic activity as well.
Due to the nature of the island’s formation this results in very little soil erosion. As a consequence the waters around the islands are mostly very clear and are often described as gin-clear.
But in addition to the gin-clear waters, there are many incredible seascape features to discover and dive. There are deep drop offs and overhangs, plus walls to dive along. There are also swim-throughs and pinnacles to explore, which in themselves attract an abundance of marine life and coral growths. Where these coral growths and the variety of marine life is encouraged by the sometimes strong currents coming up from Australia to the south.
Video of the Forgotten Islands
Note in the beginning of the first video not just about the amazing and unusual sea creatures are, but just how crystal clear the water is. But in addition to the gin-clear waters, you’ll see creatures you almost never see anywhere else on the planet. Spectacular!
Video two of the Forgotten Islands…With the second video you’ll notice the many large schools of fish, the wall dives and the drop offs. These dives were from the Empress Liveaboard.
I hope you enjoyed this article about diving the forgotten islands liveaboard
I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your adventures of diving and snorkelling. Please use the comments section below. Please also share your photos. Either from your underwater cameras or videos from your waterproof go-pro’s!
If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions either about snorkelling or scuba diving (or specifically about diving the forgotten islands liveaboard), please comment below with your questions.
There will also be many more articles about scuba and scuba diving safety tips (and on snorkelling too) for you to read and learn about this fabulous sport.
Have fun and be safe!