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The allure of Alor



Diving in Alor and the surrounding islands brings rich variety to any dive trip, not only from the different types of dive sites there are to choose from but also the wealth of marine life to be found. As the nutrient-saturated currents flow through the Pantar Strait they bring with them fuel for corals and fish; enough to support an abundance of creatures and subsequently the numerous villages dotted about the islands.

Life buzzes all around, schools of fish sway in the tides and tiny odd-shaped creatures find a place to camouflage from predators. As fishermen go about their day, young children laugh and splash in the shallow water from their tiny dug-out boats and the ladies supplement the family income through ikat weaving sales. It is impossible to put a finger upon one thing that makes diving in Alor so attractive, it is the whole that comes together to bring a wondrous experience.

Critter Diving

Beangabanga small inlet bay in the south west of the Pantar Strait, offers dives along a dark sand slope dotted with soft corals, anemones and algae where all manner or odd creatures have made their homes. As we back-rolled in an instant hit of cold water raced down my 5mm wetsuit. Brrr its only 23C but in a moment this is forgotten as the critter hunt begins. Day dives brought forth frogfish in a range of colours and sizes, Ambon scorpionfish, too many snake eels to keep count, flabellina, armina, and thecacera nudibranchs, a whole host of decorator crabs, numerous crinoid shrimps and squat lobsters, Tozuma shrimp, seahorses, sea moths and harlequin crabs. During our night dive I lost count of the vast numbers of octopus we spotted scurrying about and a couple of bobbit worms poked menacingly out of the sand … if you have seen the recent Blue Planet 2 episodes you’ll understand we were a little afraid!

Pak Jan’s Villageon the north of Pura Island, is probably one of the most iconic sites within the strait itself. This is famed as a critter hotspot and it was here we eagerly anticipated seeing the delightful Rhinopias. We spotted both Weedy and Paddleflap varieties during our dives dive, along with ornate ghost pipefish, ribbon eels, crinoid cuttlefish, day octopus and squid. In the shallow, and slightly warmer water, groups of anemones were attended by clownfish, many of which had tongue parasites. Not so nice for the fish but macro photographer Annie was utterly thrilled for the opportunity to photograph this behaviour.

Mucky Mosquejust beyond the entrance to Kalabahi Bay is a classic “muck dive”. Ropes, clothing and other man-made debris can be found along the sloping reef, caught up around sponges and algae to provide homes for all manner of odd-shaped creatures. Thorny seahorses, colourful ceratasoma nudibranchs, zebra crabs, colemani shrimp, crinoid cuttlefish, squid and day octopus were among the favourite sightings. Whilst a night dive turned up a starry night octopus, frogfish and schools of razor fish. My favourite though, and a first time sighting for me, was the harlequin ghost pipefish.

Walls, Slopes & Seamounts

The coral laden walls of Pantar, Alor, Pura and Reta islands simply stun divers. Schools if triggerfish, surgeonfish and wrasse are the most common sightings but you can have the odd surprise of a manta ray or for us lucky few – a mola mola. At certain times of year schools of hammerheads can be seen cruising along the outer reefs too.

Valley of the Clowns was a definite favourite with our groups for its carpets of multi-hued anemones and resident anemone fish, porcelain crabs and commensal shrimps. Wobbegong sharks can also be found here and watching the sea apples feed is always fascinating.

Babylon Wall was quite probably my favourite of the wall dives as we found  provided an extra-special surprise when Indra found a microscopic example of the rare Rumigans Thread Pipehorse, otherwise known as the Lembeh sea-dragon, along with tiny “ladybugs” typically seen when diving southern Komodo. With a light current the many leopard anemones dotted along the walls open up to provide stunning scenery cryptic shrimps can be found amongst them but I’m still hunting for my first one of these critters.

Kal’s Dream, named after anthropologist Kal Mueller, is on the western side of Alor Kecil and is a stunning submerged seamount covered in soft corals, resembling cauliflower bulbs, as well as orange tube corals and a variety of hard coral species. The first thing to hit me was the noise. With thousands of fish all clicking away I was reminded of the sound whizzbangs make as they fizz on your tongue. Orange and purple anthias, neon-lined fusiliers and red-toothed triggerfish gathered in swarms over the reef slope, obscuring the almost crystal visibility. Become surrounded by schools of barracuda, batfish and powder blue surgeonfish as you swim down the ridges and look out for dogtooth tuna too.


Our liveaboard cruise took us from Maumere to Kupang so along the way we stopped for dives in Waiwawong. The pier here is totally laden with corals and a haven for schooling batfish and jacks, whilst the sandy slope is a great place to find short-tailed pipefish, frogfish, flying gurnards and octopus. For us nudi-spotters we spent most of the dive hunting over the fallen supports to find numerous red-lined flabellina, ceratosoma and eurobranchus species.

Beangabang also has a fabulous pier and in the year of diving the area we saw that the corals had grown and become very rich indeed, providing an ideal spot for some wide angle photography and another chance for the nudi hunters to rack up the trip tally.

Something Unique

The children in Alor, particularly those at Pak Jan’s Village, love divers – or perhaps the treats that the dive boats bring? Armed with just their homemade goggles and their wits they bravely skin dive down to where the divers, with cameras at the ready, rest on the sandy bottom. Their laughter on the surface is intoxicating and gives visitors a truly unique experience.

Getting there and Diving Options

Alor can be reached by short flight from Bali via Maumere or Kupang. There are a couple of resorts to choose from, each with highly experienced teams, particularly when it comes to hitting the right time for hammerheads. Alor can also be reached by liveaboard. Our groups dived with Damai 1 liveaboard from Maumere to Kupang, however there are a number of top quality liveaboards offering a variety of itineraries which include Alor.

When choosing sites it is very important to review tide charts and make another current check before getting in the water. You may experience upwellings or swift changes so bring a reef hook or be prepared to go with the flow.

Find out more at:

Susie has been enjoying the life of a dive instructor, travelling the world diving and teaching. Susie is somewhat of a liveaboard junkie after working as a cruise director in the Red Sea, the Philippines and Indonesia. She has also led trips to Fiji, Palau, Similans, Myanmar, East Timor, the Maldives and the Galapagos, yet she still finds time to do some shore based diving at her favourite sites in the Philippines too. Find Susie at


Palaemon Divers shortlisted for top Business Award



North West-based Dive Centre, Palaemon Divers, has been shortlisted for Leisure and Tourism Start Up of the Year with Start Up Awards 2023.

Palaemon Divers is delighted to be named a finalist in the Awards which celebrate Start Up Businesses and what they have brought to the economy within three years of their launch.

Palaemon Divers was started by Leanne Clowes in the midst of COVID lockdowns. Leanne walked out of her well paid corporate sales job with no savings after a redundancy in a previous role and spending the majority of the year before COVID to follow the dream! After the redundancy and COVID, life struck just a little differently and the pull to become a full-time dive instructor became impossible to ignore!

So with that… notice was handed in, no savings, nothing physical to start being a full time dive instructor other than personal kit at the time – oh and the fact, Leanne was actually an Assistant Instructor at the time and hadn’t attended the instruction exam at that point as there had been none going on through COVID obviously!

However, the first Instructor Exam that was happening out of COVID was booked onto – no pressure at all with no full time job, no money as a back up, mortgage and bills to pay…

Leanne started freelancing as an instructor in the North West using various outdoor locations for training, and the business snowballed and quickly gained its first physical dive centre in January 2022 along with finding their own private in-water training facility at Princes Dock in Liverpool. Since then, 100s of new people from Liverpool and further afield have been introduced to the amazing sport of scuba, and experienced the abundant life under the surface of the dock itself.

In a time of no travel to outside your area or abroad, Palaemon Divers found something new and exciting to introduce the city of Liverpool to those who spend five days a week in the office looking down at the dock and not really being able to appreciate what the dock actually means to Liverpool!

It became apparent during 2022, that although Liverpool was fantastic, more growth was on the cards which came in the form of a second location, Palaemon Divers – Warrington. The second dive centre is an ex micro brewery in Warrington with a central location close to the M6, M62 and M56, spread over two floors which includes a classroom, workshop, compressor and a floor dedicated to retail.

The efforts in building this business have not gone unnoticed with the shortlist for Startup Awards, and also another shortlist which will be announced in the next month.

For more, email or visit: 

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Gear Reviews

Gear Review: Quilted Polar Hat from Otter Watersports (Watch Video)



In a video shot exclusively for, Jeff Goodman reviews the Quilted Polar Hat from leading drysuit manufacturer Otter Watersports.

For more information, visit

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