Alor Trip Report
My Alor trip outshined all the expectations I had about this cruise… This shouldn’t have happened, since I wrote this route myself from previous experiences in the region!
The dive instructor with dry gills that I am felt a peak of excitement while boarding the plane in Bali with four of our lovely return guests. We had previously met on the Adelaar’s Komodo cruises. All of us were as anxious to land in beautiful Maumere to start the wonderful voyage. However, any domestic flight in Indonesia should be considered entirely as part of the adventure. As Indonesia is an island nation, the scenery offered from the air is absolutely stunning.
Upon arrival in Maumere, Flores, we enjoyed a complimentary pick up from the airport. Then we were welcomed onboard by smiles and welcome drinks before lifting anchor. We saw a migrating whale at our first dive stop the very next day. If this wasn’t a good omen, I don’t know what is! Here is a recap of my amazing experience onboard for this Alor trip.
Diving in Alor
The diving on this Alor trip was nothing short of extraordinary. We explored different sites around the islands of Buaya, Ternate and Pura. Each island has a very specific topography and offered something different. Although Alor is not specifically famous for big schools of fish, the reefs are not short of life! The strong currents in the Pantar Strait have shaped the reefs into a rich environment. Whip corals grow in funny shapes while colorful sponges hide in overhangs where they are slightly more protected. I truly love this dive destination because of the above, and all the reasons yet to come below…
Nearby villages, bamboo fish traps can be found resting on the reef. I have noticed that fish can easily get in but aren’t usually smart enough to figure out a way out. Maybe they just forgot which way they came in, just like Dory. But the star of the reefs on an Alor trip is the clown fish! As an experienced diver, you might no longer care for Nemo. Everyone on our trip had dived around the world in incredible locations, some that have been on my own bucket list for years. Seeing Nemo is no big deal for any of them but they didn’t expect what was to come.
Around Pura are the dive sites of “Anemone Valley” and “Anemone City”. They were named after the anemones that cover the site almost exclusively. We were greeted underwater by anemones as far as the eye can see and hundreds of clown fish that just jumped from one anemone to the next. “Anemone City” is the most covered and therefore impressive, but “Anemone Valley” has another card up its sleeve!
As we descended into the valley, I felt the cold water coming from the deep channel and
had a feeling that we would get lucky. We didn’t wait long before these usually shy fish decided to pay us a visit. Three thresher sharks approached us curiously before heading off again. We were already over the moon and dancing underwater! Maybe one of them liked our moves because it came back a few times to watch us watching it. It was heart wrenching to leave but we eventually shallowed up to find that we had visitors.
The children from the nearby village were free diving to meet us and pose for photos for our photographer guests. They often approached the boat with eyes full of curiosity and wander for these strange visitors who live a life so different from theirs. Other visitors came by from the island of Buaya on a floating market. The ikat weaving ladies sold a few unique pieces to whoever wished to purchase one.
Alor trip land tour
The Western part of Alor is home to the largest ethnic group of the island, the Abui tribe. Feared warriors until 1984, they nowadays welcome tourists in their traditional villages, the principal one being Takpala. The fierce dance these warriors perform as you enter the village remains unnerving to this day. For the ceremony, the Abui wear colorful ikats that they have hand-woven in a pattern that is specific to their tribe. You enjoy the hypnotic sound of the moko drums as the elder starts playing to open the ceremony.
As they dance the lego lego, the jingling sound of their metal anklets eerily fills the air with each step. These warm people usually invite tourists to join in this simple but meaningful dance, which they normally use to mark important life events. Return guest Nicole and myself merely joined the dance often stomping on the feet of our gracious guests who responded with a kind and understanding smile. This experience is a part of the Alor trip I always look forward to because I consider it a privilege to be allowed to witness and take part in such important and once secret traditions within a tribe of warriors who so recently would have still considered us a potential enemy.
Diving in Komba volcano
The sea is a capricious woman. When she is calm, as it is usually the case in that time of year, she will let you sail to places otherwise beyond your reach. Visiting Komba on the Alor trip greatly depends on sea conditions. We journeyed there on a mirror-like glass sea. Komba used to erupt with a bang every 30 minutes until a couple of years ago. Nowadays, the crater, which has slightly sunken, still emits a rather steady cloud of smoke throughout the day.
Diving at the foot of an active volcano is something I have always found exciting and I believe it should be on every diver’s bucket list! The underwater scape is eerie with sandy slopes and gigantic boulders that now form an interesting reef structure where coral bloomed. The colors of the corals contrast beautifully against the dark substrate offering a unique atmosphere.
The last dive at Komba proved how mysterious nature can be. Komba seemed much quieter on the surface as it used to… However, streams of bubbles seemed to be the new way the volcano was releasing pressure and we swam in an underwater jacuzzi. Not only did we have great dives… but a whale we did not recognize also came up for a loud breath meters away from the Adelaar as everyone was lunching on deck with a view on the volcano. The smiles on everyone’s faces didn’t lie, this was the perfect way to finish the trip… Or so we thought…
We expected our last dives in Maumere the next day to look bleak in comparison. But the very last dive at the wreck literally took our breaths away. Although rather small, the wreck itself is covered in coral and life and offers a lovely dive between the crustaceans and the school of trevallies we had the pleasure of encountering a bit deeper. We also knew that the seagrass in the shallows shelters a wide range of critters should we be lucky enough to find them. Lucky we were – with a juvenile ornate ghost pipefish, a seahorse and a mimic octopus to top it all off! As if this wasn’t good enough to end the cruise, upon surfacing, the crew on the dinghies excitedly shouted and pointed towards a whale shark cruising just underneath the surface!
Now I shall let you judge which part of the Alor trip was best between the Abui tribe visit, the thresher sharks, the rhinopias, the whale shark, the mimic octopus or the volcano diving because I honestly can’t decide! If you’d like to have a similar experience, email us now at email@example.com to book your Alor trip on the Adelaar.
Photos (except otherwise stated) and article by Laura, lover of all things water, passionate diver and ocean advocate