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Liveaboard Diving in Forgotten Islands
What to Expect On a Forgotten Islands Liveaboard
A Forgotten Islands liveaboard will take you to a very remote and isolated chain of islands, roughly 1000 km long. The archipelagos stretch from Timor, in the southwest, through the Banda sea and all the way to West Papua in the northeast. These islands are only accessible by Indonesian liveaboard, and are therefore rarely visited, perfect for an adventurous dive trip.
The chain of islands form an inner and an outer arc. The inner arc have been formed by volcanic activity, while the Outer Banda consist of coralline limestone (in other words, fossilised corals) that have been thrust upwards by colliding tectonic plates. This results in a layered or terraced appearance to the rock structures.
Dry season lasts from June until November, and is definitely the best time to visit on a dive cruise. Because these islands are so rarely visited, and in some cases, not at all, the environment is absolutely unspoilt. There are a lifetime worth of dives to be had in these islands, with so many different types of dives and hundreds of species of coral and fish. A special treat are whalesharks who visit the islands to feed on the plankton that is pushed from depths by strong currents. Great, big saltwater crocodiles are also spotted sometimes, patrolling the coastlines of several of the islands.
Forgotten Islands Underwater
Many of the islands in this region were formed by volcanic activity, resulting in very little soil erosion and an incredibly featured seascape. Therefore waters are often clear here, and there are many attractive rock formations to find, such as swim-throughs, pinnacles and overhangs (most of which are now completely covered by prolific coral growths).
Dive Sites of Forgotten Islands
There are so many possible dive sites to choose from, and many more are yet to even be discovered!
Wetar is famed for its beautifully rugged terrain with coral-encrusted walls and very big fish.
Palu Island has black sands all around stunning patch corals, with shoals of fusiliers and pyramid butterflyfish hovering above. Batfish and eagle rays stay close to the sand while oceanic whitetip reef sharks patrol the spaces in between.
Manawoka is where to visit for the pelagic species. Some of the largest shoals of barracuda can be seen here, all alongside manta rays and giant groupers. The strong currents attract blacktip reef sharks, while hammerhead sharks have also been spotted lurking in the area.
The coral gardens at Nusa Laut are some of the prettiest, with lush greens and turquoise vases. It is absolutely worth bringing along a torch to shine out all the vibrant colours and inspect tucked-away corners. Shoals of anthias are joined by surgeonfish and the occasional pipefish. Scorpionfish like to find somewhere slightly sheltered, while barracuda patrol the skirts of the reef. This is another very healthy site that attracts hammerheads.
Top Tips for Divers
Many sites around the Forgotten Islands are exposed to very strong currents. Dive sites with these conditions are generally more suited to experienced divers, although there are many alternative dive sites that are very easy and relaxing to visit. In case you ascend somewhere slightly unexpected, itís a good idea to bring along an SMB and a finger spool to help ensure your location is marked.
Getting to Forgotten Islands
Liveaboard voyages will normally depart from Timor or Flores, an island just to the west. The nearest airport, Maumere, is on Flores and can be reached via Bali or Jakarta. Long-haul flights, normally connecting via Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, can be made to Bali and Jakarta.