Indonesia Trip Dilemma: Raja Ampat vs. Komodo / Alor
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Indonesia Trip Dilemma: Raja Ampat vs. Komodo / Alor
First time lurker, longtime poster here. I've been using this board to gather information for several years without actually posting anything. Thanks to all who have unknowingly provided me with lots of good information about Indonesia. It has been invaluable. I'd like to post my dilemma and trip ideas and see what you all think.
Background: Have dove Puerta Galera, Sipadan / Mabul, Bali, Bunaken, Lembeh and Raja Ampat out of Sorido Bay.
I'm going to be in Indonesia during the majority of the month of July (9th-ish to early August) and am having a tough time deciding on where to go. This will be a dive trip, first and foremost, and will be using Singapore as a port of entry and exit into and out of Asia. I went to Raja Ampat last summer (as well as Lembeh and Bunaken beforehand) and can attest to it's awe-inspiring and almost emotionally-driven diving. I would like to switch it up but am having trouble considering anything but Raja Ampat as the crown jewel of the trip. The dilemma is that I have been offered a great rate on a fantastic boat for either Alor or Komodo. Because Sorido Bay and this boat (even with rate) are very expensive (roughly the same price) one area will be dove this time, the other the next Indonesia trip. That is the meat of my dilemma. Would Alor or Komodo be a significant drop off from Raja Ampat? Would they be better? I read that Alor isn't required to do by LOB but Komodo is. If I dive Raja Ampat, I know as soon as I get into the water, I will have no regrets about the decision. I'm just wondering if I'd feel the same way at Alor or Komodo - or if I'd be regretting not going back to Raja Ampat.
To fill in the rest of the month with phenomenal diving (if doing Raja Ampat) - it's Indonesia, is there anything remotely close to lackluster diving? - I'm considering starting in Bali up North for roughly a week, then heading up to Lembeh to get some time with the bizarre, then on to the Putiraja LOB in Raja Ampat for about 4-5 days and finally finishing up with a week at Sorido Bay. Are Molas Molas possible to see around Nusa Penida / Nusa Lembongan this time of year? Does anyone have experience with the Putiraja?
My other option is to do Bali and then spend the rest of the time in Alor and / or Komodo. Unfortunately this probably means no muck diving (something I like adding on a dive trip). It does, however, mean I'll get to explore a new part of Indonesia that really intrigues me. Does Komodo or Alor have the same allure (or greater) as Raja Ampat to anyone? Everything I read about both is fantastic, of course.
Ugh, the pros and cons. Thanks for taking the time to read my lengthy email. This is a tough decision! Happy diving. -J
No muck diving in Alor ??? I’m surprise to read this… we are getting close to Lembeh here. Example this morning 2 rinopias, 2 pegasus, 6 or 7 robus and similar species of pipe fish, wingled pipe fish, 2 snake eel, several cow fish, zebra crab, octopus, nudi, small cuttle fish......we dive this muck every week and can follow where the critters move or when one dive site is getting better or the reverse...
In Alor distance to dive site are maximum 10 NM (20 to 30 min with our speed boat..), most of them are within 5nm. In Komodo minimum from labuhanbajo is 15 nm to a decent dive site while if you like to go south komodo the distance is 25 to 30 nm. You understand why in Komodo LOB is the way to dive it...
I guess I didn't do enough research on Alor! Thanks a lot, you just made my decision more difficult....
Thank you, though. I appreciate it. Alor sounds phenomenal. I would rather dive somewhere new over Lembeh (not that Lembeh didn't live up to the hype for me when I was there - it was great and highly recommended). To replace Lembeh with Alor and still dive Raja Ampat seems like a difficult trip with flights though I haven't looked into routes for that yet. Now that I'm looking at accommodation possibilities for Alor, it seems like there are plenty of more budget options and Alor can be done for a price similar to Lembeh.
Maybe a more modified version of my original post, Bali > Alor > Raja Ampat, is a better possibility. Is Raja Ampat that much of an upgrade over Komodo?
Yes Raja Ampat is one of the greatest dive areas in the world and so is Komodo and the only way to compare one to the other is to go see them both. Its like visiting Machu Pichu and then saying should I go to Angor Watt in Cambodia, of course you should they are both incredible. If you actually go to Komodo and say that geez I wished I would not have gone we would be very surprised and so would many others, IE your a hard man to please!As far as the Muck diving if you are just doing a liveaboard to Komodo you would have to make sure they are doing a side trip to Alor or they will probably only stop in one spot or two along the way for muck dives which is not as good.
As far as other areas in Indonesia to dive that rate up with Raja and Komodo my wife really hates for me to share this but the southern part of Borneo Indonesia around the islands of Derawan,Sangalaki and Kakaban are just awesome. For a combination of critter diving,large schools of fish,corals etc. etc it is hard to beat, we dove at times with up to 50 mantas at a time and there is a non stinging jellyfish lake that rivals the one in Palau. Really would like to keep this one quite but its just to good heres a link for some info.
As Gilles pointed out, the downside to diving Komodo if land-based in Labuanbajo is the time needed to get to a lot of the dive sites -- 2-2.5 hours isn't uncommon to the northern sites such as Cristal Rock; my opinion is that the southern Komodo sites are virtually unavailable if based in Labuanbajo. On the other hand, the central and northern sites are outstanding. I was dreading the boat rides, but actually found them to be quite bearable.
@ NotYetBent: Have been to Raja Ampat & Komodo myself, and I could not agree less to what mentioned by Kevin (ScubaduoAdventures). Try both! Can really see that you do not need to be convinced bout Raja Ampat so I'm trying to inform you bout Komodo to make the score balance:
Komodo has spread out dive sites, that's why everyone will suggest you to take Liveaboard to dive this Worlds Heritage Area. (It's granted as Worlds Heritage Sites because of its underwater biodiversity - so, it should be your other guarantee to check this place) The famous cannibal rock for the macro diving, Manta Alley & GPS Point for pelagic are only some of the dive sites that I can guarantee will make you wish for your 2nd trip, just after you finish your 1st trip.
Both Bali & Lembeh can be visited prior & subsequent to your Raja Ampat or Komodo. Bali has its famous wreck & believe it or not: muck diving (you can check my pictures as a prove) . Try Secret Bay & Puri Jati where you can see Mimic Octopus.
If you decided to go to Raja Ampat, my suggested route will be: Singapore - Manado (Lembeh) - Raja Ampat - Bali - Singapore.
While if you dare to try Komodo I would suggest: Singapore - Bali - Komodo - one night transit in Bali - Lembeh - Singapore.
It will help you safe some money that you would spend on the Indonesian domestic airtickets.
@ Kevin: I have not have chance to visit Derawan, but few years ago it was proposed to be Indonesian next World Heritage Sites, so there should be a reason why they did it. Some Liveaboards operator has listed it on their yearly routes so, maybe in couple more years, it will become popular sites just like Raja Ampat now. (Hopefully Stacey won't be upset about this )
www.AquaMarineDiving.com Diving Instructor & Travel Consultant - Explore Indonesia Through Me
Decisions, decisions! Komodo is definitely a special place to dive offering both amazing muck with rare critters and great coral reefs teeming with fishes. When it comes to Indonesia, I think the choice of the operator is more important than the location. Indonesia is so untouched yet, it will hard to be disappointed!
Thanks so much for all the input everyone. I'm thinking that in order to maximize the different stuff we see, we're (traveling with my Mother on this trip) only going to spend a few days in Bali (sorry Scubaduo, Bali can be done anytime and I've been before - but still will probably try to hit up the wreck for a couple of dives while we are there as well as hang in Ubud and fit in whatever else we can fit in) - and it's not not Mola Mola season at Nusa Penida, I don't think. After that, spend a week in Alor (sounds phenomenal) then the pain of travel over to Sorong (3 or 4 flights, uggh) and then a week at Sorido followed by just under a week on the Putiraja doing RA. I think that gives the best chance to see the most and I'm really excited to see Alor. Alor being done via land and inexpensively is my main reason for choosing it over Komodo. From what I read, you can see everything there with some fantastic muck diving and great visibility. Doing Lembeh would be easier (and can be done inexpensively as well), as far as travel is concerned...but I would like to try something new and Alor is really starting to whet my appetite...
It’s easy to make a wrong choice of Liveaboard anywhere in the world - and that goes without double for Raja Ampat. Its remoteness makes it a true ecological jewel, but it also means that you will be sailing far from any modern facilities or professional scrutiny. No place to discover you’ve made an expensive mistake.