Destination Highlight: Alor Archipelago – Part One
Where in the world is this archipelago? What’s great about it? Here is everything you need to know about the Alor underwater wonders on the Adelaar’s new route starting from October 2018.
As you can see on the map, the Alor archipelago of Indonesia includes quite a lot of islands between Maumere of Flores island and the popular Strait. If you type “Alor dive map” into Google Images, you will usually get results showing maps that stop just below Pura island because that’s usually as far as land-based operators can go. On the Adelaar however, you will get to go far and wide across the Pantar Strait and explore numerous islands along the way, which you would otherwise not be able to discover. While this article focuses on the diving in the Alor archipelago, our other stops are absolutely stunning as well as you can see here in our full itinerary.
Similarly to Komodo, the sites of Alor are nestled in a Strait between the Pacific and Indian Oceans. This means more water movement thus more nutrients from deep waters thus more diversity in terms of coral and marine life. It translates to stunning sites full of colors and sea life, ideal for snorkelers as well as scuba divers. One of the most famous sites of the area is covered mostly by anemones inhabited by territorial clown fish of all sorts. Alor is also home to rocky and sandy slopes, ridges, walls and drop offs as well as muck sites.
Currents & Pelagic Life
A location in a narrow Strait between two oceans, which create a big tidal movement, translates into currents, especially around full or new moon, making Alor an advanced destination. The currents can indeed be strong on some of the sites and it is important to listen to briefings carefully and be an experienced diver. If you are not the biggest fan of current, we would still recommend joining as, along with current, comes the “big stuff”. Napoleon wrasses, thresher sharks and mola mola are some of the creatures you could see on strong current dives. That being said, there are also more laid-back dive sites which are sheltered from the tide.
If sharks aren’t for you or you also like small things, you will be happy to know that the Alor underwater wonders also include a thriving macro life. Sheltered sites inside some bays are a haven for weird critters and those who like to hunt with their cameras. To name only those, you can expect to find nudibranchs, seahorses, frogfishes and the holy grail… the Rhinopia.
Alor Fish traps
While we may not enjoy seeing fish trapped and knowing the fate that awaits them, the fish traps in Alor have become famous, especially with photographers. Local fishermen weave bamboo traps, which the fish can easily enter but, once in, they usually are unable to find their way out. Then, they deposit the traps over the reef at different depths and wait. This fishing method has proven to have little impact on the reef compared to lines or dynamite fishing and, although you will encounter eventual breakage, the reefs are still in pristine condition. When diving in Alor, it is recommended not to touch the traps or ropes. However, you can take as many photos as you want since this has become the iconic underwater photography opportunity of the region.
As you’ve probably already gathered, Alor is a paradise for photographers, whether you prefer wide-angle or macro, or even if you’re just beginning. The broad variety of sites means that it doesn’t matter if you’re after a rare rhinopia, big stuff or pretty reefs because it is all there for the (photograph-)taking. The local children will give you another great “photo op” as they often dive down with interesting-looking home-made goggles to meet scuba divers on their safety stop. These kids love posing but they enjoy even more to see the result in your camera.
You are now hopefully convinced of how incredible the Alor archipelago is and feel as much love for this region as I do. Although, you should not believe that the highlights of Alor only lie underneath the surface. Even if we all love spending time in or under the water, we must come up sometimes and there is plenty of “above water wonders” which you can learn about in Part Two of this blog.
If you haven’t yet booked your cabin with us for this wonderful itinerary, feel free to send us an email with any questions you may have about the Alor underwater wonders route at firstname.lastname@example.org. We currently have a few spaces left but you should grab them fast!
Written by Laura, lover of all things water, passionate diver and ocean advocate