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Dive Indonesia Part 1: Ambon Trip Report

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Ambon

This January The Scuba Place visited Ambon, Raja Ampat and Lembeh hosting a group of divers. They stayed at some amazing resorts and saw some amazing things. This is their trip report for the first stop in Ambon at Spice Island Divers.

It seems that I start so many trip reports with “We had a trip scheduled here, but then COVID came…” but sadly, this is true. Two plus years later, and the world has almost returned to a full normal. We had planned a trip to Ambon having heard so much about it in the past, and with two other destinations to check out we bolted on a stay at Spice Island Dive Resort.

Our journey took us from London Heathrow to Dubai, and after a three-hour leg stretch, on to Jakarta.  Immigration in Indonesia is Visa on Arrival for 500,000IDR or $35USD.  We paid in USD and only our unmarked and undamaged bills were accepted.  And we found the same to be true at the currency exchange desks in the arrivals area of the airport when we exchanged our Sterling for Rupiah. The Custom Declaration can be completed ahead of arrival and the QR code is all you need to show.

We arrived in the late afternoon, so we chose to stay the night in a local airport hotel, the FM7. The hotel is about 10 minutes away from the airport, and transfers to and from the hotel are free of charge if pre-booked.  After a full day (and night) of travelling, any hotel bed will normally do, but the FM7 has lovely clean rooms, super-comfortable beds, and showers with plenty of power – everything the tired traveller needs! The rooftop bar is the place for cocktails and snacks, and the restaurant on the ground floor has a huge menu, with Thai, Indonesian and Western offerings. Everything we ordered was super tasty, fresh, and incredibly well-priced. A two-course meal with a beer cost about £10 per person.

After a great night of sleep and a huge breakfast (buffet included in the room rate), we took the shuttle back to the terminal to catch our onward flight to Ambon with Garuda Airlines.  The 3-hour direct flight is as comfortable as any EasyJet flight and divers get an additional 23kgs of allowance for dive equipment, over and above the standard 20kgs allowance.

Descending over the mountains and rainforest was spectacular – and within just a few minutes of landing, our baggage was arriving on the conveyor belt, and we were straight out into our transport to the resort.  And just 10 minutes later, we arrived at our home for the week!

ambon

Spice Island Dive Resort is one of just two dive resorts currently operating on the island of Ambon –tourism was non-existent until recently, and many operations on Ambon suffered dramatically during and after COVID.

As one of the survivors, it is safe to say that this is an established operation, but it is still small! A handful of just nine seafront villas and a traditional longhouse with four garden view rooms make up the accommodation. All rooms are air conditioned, have desks and wardrobes, and en-suite shower rooms. They are very spacious, and accommodate two divers with kit, clothes, cameras and laptop. The rooms all have two desks and two wardrobes, a UPS/current stabiliser, and extension leads provided plus drinking water and a kettle with tea and coffee. The beds couldn’t have been more comfortable, and the air-conditioning works very well – a much needed provision for the first day or two until we became acclimatised to the heat and humidity!

Meals are served in the open-air restaurant on the water’s edge, and the food was exceptional – a solid breakfast of eggs, nasi goreng, pancakes, or oats and plenty of fruit and juice too. Lunch is three courses, beginning with a starter, followed by a main, and then fruit for pud. Dinner tended to be a bit of a bigger meal, with a delicious soup or more solid starter, followed by a main, and then a proper pud! The style is very much Indonesian – rice, noodles, spice and flavour, and the kitchen toned it both up and down for us when it came to the spicing. Each meal was freshly cooked, and the chef was very happy to accommodate requests and preferences as well as any dietary requirements. At the end of the day, it was the done thing to sit in the open-air lounge with the bar and watch the world go by with an ice cold Bintang. When in Rome…!

Ambon

The dive centre is right on site and is equipped with large rinse tanks and outdoor showers, toilets, and benches for getting ready on. There are shelves with baskets for dry stuff that you don’t take on the boat with you. NITROX was included in our package, and 15l cylinders were available to rent.  A new indoor classroom and retail shop was under construction, and we expect it will be a nice addition.

The air-conditioned camera room is next to the bar area on your way to the dive centre and has cubbies with power sockets, towels and storage for camera bags. At the dive centre there are camera rinse tanks and air guns.

Ambon

The dive boats, each of them taking only 4 guests at a time, are a short stroll down the jetty.  Wet-suited and booted up, you make your way to the boat where all your kit and cameras have already been placed – this really is valet diving! We even had to ask to analyse our own Nitrox – the staff really do look after everything for you!

And the diving?? WOW! and WOW! again!  We did two dives each morning with a surface interval on the boat where we were fed cakes and teas, and then a dive after lunch too. The dives are a blend of sand, muck and reefs made up of small coral bommies.  We didn’t hit a depth more than 25metres but could have if we had felt so inclined! There was so much to see that we didn’t need to go deep or move very far most of the time!

Ambon

The list of critters we encountered is endless, and we had a checklist of everything that we wanted to see, including Harlequin shrimp, wonderpus, mimic octopus and pygmy seahorses. We saw EVERYTHING, including two Wonderpus mating! Our photos can do the talking, but look carefully at them, especially the octopi – zoom in and you will see a female wonderpus under the stretched skin of the male in the immediate foreground!

Ambon

The afternoon dives brought on some current, so we opted for more of the reef-type offerings rather than fight currents whilst diving the muck, and we even hit one or two of the piers along the coast too – these provide some shelter, great backdrops, and home to more amazing marine life.  Here we found warty and painted frogfish, nudis galore, more octopus, snake eels, morays, ribbon eels and much more.

Ambon

The visibility throughout our stay, even with a bit of rain, was normally 15-20m and the water temperature was a balmy 29’. Our group wore 1 to 3mm full suits and had no issues in maintaining core temperatures on 70-90 minute dives!

Ambon

If you want a quiet and relaxed destination that delivers amazing diving with amazing guides, good accommodation, and great food, and you’re a critter-fan, then Ambon is for you!

Ambon

We loved it and will go back without any encouragement. We would stay happily for a week to ten days before moving on – there is so much diversity in Indonesia that it would be a shame not to make the most of the opportunity to fly on to another island.  Which is exactly what we did…. Watch this space for our trip reports on Raja Ampat and Lembeh!!!

Ambon

Key Facts:

  • Getting there :Our flights were with Emirates flying from Heathrow to Jakarta via Dubai. We spent the night in Jakarta at the FM& Hotel just down the road from the hotel for a sleep and breakfast before heading back to the airport for our 3 hour flight from Jakarta to Ambon.  We were picked up at the airport for a short 15 minute drive to the resort.
  • Air temperature : Tropical – average daily temperature throughout the year is 24-30°C. The warmest and driest months are April and May and the wettest months are usually July and August
  • Water temperature :An average of 29°C. A 1-3mm full suit or shorty will suit most.
  • Visa requirement : We purchased our Visa on Arrival at the Jakarta airport for $35USD (or 500,000IDR) The visa for an initial period of 30 days. Make sure you have pristine bank notes if paying in USD or exchanged GBP when you get to Indonesia. The bills must be unmarked and undamaged to be accepted.  The Customs Declaration must be completed online and the provided QR code is shown to the Customs officers.
  • Currency : Indonesian Rupiah(IDR) or US Dollar are accepted most places. We exchanged Sterling for Rupiah at the Jakarta airport for an attractive rate and paid our bill in Ambon with Rupiah.
  • Electricity :230V with European style (round pin) two-prong plugs. Our room and the camera room had extension leads with UK plugs so no adapter was needed.
  • Internet and Wi-Fi : There is wifi in resort and worked well in our room which was furthest from reception. We were able to email, WhatsApp and post on social media without issue.

ambon

Price Guide: Expect from £2650 per person based on two sharing a garden longhouse room for 7 nights with 6 days diving – 3 dives per day offered.  Free NITROX and full board with amazing food.  International flight. Extras : Indonesian Visa on Arrival, soft drinks and adult beverages, and tips.

Our Advice: Indonesia is an amazing destination.  We made our stay in Ambon the first stop of our three-centre trip to take advantage of the travel distance.  Go Explore!

We’re heading back to Indonesia in January 2025 and Ambon is our first stop again before Triton Bay and Lembeh.  Check out our brochure with full itinerary here.  

ambon

Packing tips :

Rechargeable fan(s) : If you’ve read any of our recent trip reports we recommend these over and over again. Perfect for warm planes, stuffy transfers and still evenings.  We can’t believe we travelled without them for so many years! Join the fan club and grab one off Amazon… you won’t regret it!

Insect repellent : We’ve made a habit of throwing some repellent in our dive bags every trip but with the lovely breezes we didn’t suffer the mozzies much at all!

Sunscreen : Don’t forget to protect yourself when you’re in the sun and on the water!!

ambon

Come Dive with Us!

The Scuba Place designs and builds custom scuba diving holidays.  With personal knowledge and experience diving in many of our destinations, there is no one better to help build your dream dive holiday.  Come Dive with Us!

Call us at 020 3515 9955 or email at reservations@thescubaplace.co.uk

Find us at https://www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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Diving Redefined: Introducing NovoScuba

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novoscubaAttention all underwater enthusiasts, mermaids, and those who just really enjoy wearing fins! Brace yourselves for the splashiest news in the industry: NovoScuba has burst onto the scuba diving scene like a seal on a beach ball!

Move over, PADI, SSI, SDI, NAUI, RAID, and whoever else is lurking in the depths, because there’s a new fish in town!

But seriously, what gives? Why does NovoScuba think they can swim with the big fish? Are they secretly training dolphins? Are their wetsuits made of magic? Stay tuned as we uncover the mysteries of this underwater revolution!

The team at NovoScuba isn’t just your average squad – we’re a crew of dive store owners, managers, trainers, and pros. We’ve danced with the sharks and wrestled with the currents, so when it comes to the diving industry’s pain points, we’re definitely no strangers. But let’s be real: while existing agencies are stuck in the stone age, we’re here to embrace the 21st century. In a world where even fish have Instagram accounts, the diving industry needs to catch up or sink like a lead weight!

It’s time to challenge a change. Leveraging technology and introducing a breakthrough business model, and digitally native platform, NovoScuba aims to become the most innovative training agency to date.

novoscuba

Here’s a snapshot of what NovoScuba has up their sleeve for dive pros, managers/owners and students alike.

Owners 

  • Pay as you certify system
  • Fully developed digital course materials in multiple languages
  • No stock required
  • Monthly or annual membership fees
  • Business support and advice FOC
  • 24/7 support. Feedback orientated. Fast response and fast adapting
  • ISO Certified
  • Pain free and low cost transition to NovoScuba
  • Your business, your choice. No exclusivity expected or required
  • Pay in your local currency
  • Our automated system keeps your admin to a minimum. Less time on paperwork cuts costs and gives you more time to focus on your business
  • Co-marketing, advertising and support

novoscuba

Pros

  • Monthly membership fees
  • Intelligent online log book that automatically updates student records
  • One click certifications
  • Flexible training – student-centric/instructor trusted
  • Easy and inexpensive crossover
  • Pause your membership when you’re not teaching
  • Pro insurance / legal support
  • Job vacancy board

novoscuba

Students

  • Modern, relevant course materials
  • Fully developed and interactive digital learning
  • Accessible across any digital platform
  • Instant community and support
  • Monthly subscription granting access to all course materials
  • Digital log book for life
  • Streamlined subscription process – minimum admin

novoscuba

What else symbolises the NovoScuba dedication to excellence?

In an era where every other company boasts about being as green as a broccoli smoothie, it’s easy to tune out the noise of eco-friendly claims. But hold your seahorses! NovoScuba isn’t just another fish in the sea of greenwashing. We’re not just dipping our toes in the sustainability pool – we’ve cannonballed straight into it! B-Corp pending, we’re not just talking the talk; we’re doing the fins-on-the-ground work. With a net zero impact that even Captain Planet would applaud, our conservation efforts aren’t some distant pipe dream. Nope, we’re getting our hands wet right in our own diving communities, because let’s face it, saving the planet is a whole lot easier when you can do it in your own backyard – or in this case, your own coral reef!

It’s time to dive into the 21st century and embrace a new, innovative and intelligent training agency. One that fully understands that your success is needed in order for us to succeed. One that is 100% committed to your needs and will grow and adapt in order to keep meeting the challenges of the industry. Welcome to the new age of training. Welcome to NovoScuba – Diving Redefined.

For more information, email info@novoscuba.com or visit www.novoscuba.com.

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Preserving Paradise: Seacology’s Island Conservation Mission

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seacology

Islands are not just pieces of land surrounded by water; they are sanctuaries of biodiversity, cradles of unique cultures, and vital components of our planet’s ecological balance. However, these paradises face numerous threats ranging from habitat destruction to climate change. Recognizing the urgency of protecting these fragile ecosystems, Seacology has emerged as a beacon of hope, championing the preservation of island habitats worldwide while empowering local communities. In this article, we are diving into Seacology’s mission, its global impact, and its generous support for key conservation initiatives in Curaçao.

The Seacology Story:

Seacology, founded in 1991 by Dr. Paul Alan Cox (American ethnobotanist), operates on a simple yet powerful principle: conservation through collaboration. Unlike traditional conservation organizations, Seacology adopts a community-driven approach, partnering directly with island communities to address their needs while safeguarding precious ecosystems.

seacology

At the heart of Seacology’s philosophy lies the belief that sustainable conservation can only be achieved by empowering those who depend on the natural resources of their islands. By working hand in hand with local stakeholders, Seacology fosters a sense of ownership and stewardship, ensuring long-term protection for vital habitats.

A Global Impact of Seacology

Since its inception, Seacology has made remarkable strides in protecting island ecosystems across the globe. Through innovative projects and strategic partnerships, the organization has conserved millions of acres of marine and terrestrial habitat, spanning more than 60 countries.

What sets Seacology apart is its holistic approach, which integrates conservation efforts with community development initiatives. By providing tangible benefits such as clean water, education, and healthcare, Seacology incentivizes local communities to actively participate in conservation efforts, forging a sustainable path towards coexistence with nature.

Curaçao: A Jewel in the Caribbean Crown

Located in the crystalline waters of the Southern Caribbean Sea, Curaçao boasts stunning coral reefs, lush mangroves, and vibrant marine life. However, like many island nations, Curaçao faces a myriad of challenges including overfishing, habitat degradation, and climate change impacts.

seacology

In 2024, Seacology’s commitment to island conservation took center stage in Curaçao, where the organization provided generous support for three key initiatives: Reef Renewal Curaçao, Sea Turtle Conservation Curaçao, and the Queen Conch Hatchery. Additionally, Seacology provided additional funding to advance sustainable fishing practices through educational programs.

Reef Renewal Curaçao

Coral reefs are the lifeblood of marine ecosystems, supporting a quarter of all marine species despite occupying less than 1% of the ocean floor. However, these invaluable ecosystems are under siege from rising sea temperatures, pollution, and destructive fishing practices.

seacology

Reef Renewal Curaçao, a flagship project supported by Seacology, aims to reverse the decline of coral reefs by implementing innovative coral propagation and restoration techniques. By engaging local communities in reef restoration efforts, Seacology is optimistic that their support will enable Reef Renewal Curaçao to continue their important work revitalizingd amaged ecosystems and fostering a sense of stewardship among residents.

Sea Turtle Conservation Curaçao

For millions of years, sea turtles have roamed the world’s oceans, serving as keystone species and indicators of ecosystem health. Yet, these ancient mariners face numerous threats including habitat loss, poaching, and accidental capture in fishing gear.

seacology

In collaboration with Sea Turtle Conservation Curaçao, Seacology is supporting their efforts to protect Curaçao’s sea turtle populations through research, monitoring, and community outreach. By raising awareness about the importance of sea turtles and implementing measures to mitigate threats, Seacology is aiding Sea Turtle Conservation Curaçao to safeguard these iconic creatures for future generations to admire.

The Queen Conch Hatchery

Conch, revered for their succulent meat and ornate shells, are a cultural and culinary staple in many island communities. However, unregulated harvesting has led to depleted populations, jeopardizing both ecological balance and traditional livelihoods.

In Curaçao, Seacology’s support for the Queen Conch Hatchery initiative aims to conserve dwindling conch populations through captive breeding and sustainable harvesting practices. By collaborating with local fishermen and authorities, Seacology is helping to ensure that conch populations thrive while preserving cultural traditions and supporting coastal communities.

The project “Conquer the Future” is investigating the mortality and growth of Queen Conch juveniles, cultured at Curacao Sea Aquarium, after they have been outplanted in the wild. These experiments with small numbers of Queen Conch will take place in both Curaçao (Spanish Water) and Bonaire (Lac Bay). WWF-Dutch Caribbean is the main sponsor of this project, Seacology is the co-sponsor.

Advancing Sustainable Fishing Practices

Fishing is an integral part of Curaçao’s economy and culture, but unsustainable practices have led to overfishing and the depletion of key fish species. Recognizing the need for change, Seacology has provided a grant to the Federation of Cooperative Production (FKUP) to support innovative educational programs aimed at promoting sustainable fishing practices.

Through this initiative, Seacology hopes to instill a sense of environmental stewardship among local fishers. The educational programs focus on teaching sustainable fishing techniques, such as selective gear use, seasonal restrictions, and size limits, which help protect juvenile fish and allow populations to recover. Additionally, the programs emphasize the importance of marine conservation, the impact of overfishing on the ecosystem, and the benefits of sustainable practices for future generations.

seacology

By supporting the FKUP, Seacology is helping to ensure that local fishers have the knowledge and resources to adopt sustainable practices. This not only helps preserve fish stocks and marine biodiversity but also secures the livelihoods of fishing communities in the long term.

WWF-Dutch Caribbean supported in 2023 the first round of the sustainable fishing training organized by FKUP in Curaçao. Due to lack of budget at WWF-DC, FKUP has been looking for another sponsor for this training. They found Seacology to fund more training.

A Beacon of Hope for Island Conservation

In a world grappling with environmental crises, Seacology stands as a shining example of what can be achieved through passion, perseverance, and partnership. By empowering island communities, Seacology not only protects precious ecosystems but also enriches lives and preserves cultural heritage.

As we navigate the uncertain waters of the 21st century, organizations like Seacology remind us that the fate of our planet lies in our hands. Through collective action and unwavering dedication, we can safeguard the treasures of our islands and ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.

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