Alor, Heaven on Earth

Author: Muljadi Pinneng Sulungbudi
Trip report on Alor Archipelago Dive Trip 2008

 

It was five years ago when I first started my diving adventure in Alor. Just my 6th(newly certified) dive when I entered the best diving spot I've ever been, “Kal's Dream” and that was also my first dive in Alor. Since that day, I always think that Alor is a slice of Heaven on Earth. The thing is, I hadn't seen the other “Top” diving places around Indonesia that people have been saying are “World Class”. Now I’ve seen many of them(no names please) and I must say that Alor diving is(in my opinion) by far the best overall location in Indonesaia for diving.

Before this August, it’s been 12 months since the last time I went to Alor, it was killing me to be away from Alor for so long, which - I think, STILL IS - the best diving destination to visit.

So, finally I had a chance to go back there with the Divemaster I have been diving with for years - Donovan Whitford along with Me, Adhi, Ali, Monty, Harfi and Edith also joined the adventure.

We started our journey from Kupang with an early morning flight to Mali, the airport of Alor. After a short stop in our nice, clean and descent hotel in Kalabahi for a quick setup up, we were onboard our boat and heading for the first dive in the trip.

The "The Fish Bowl" near the fishing village of Alor Kecil- turned out to be a very nice dive. The "not so good" visibility of about 30-40 meters and a great configuration of various corals stunned us. Ali said that “The Fish Bowl” is the best place to get wide angle coral photographs. And you know what. After every subsequent dive Ali said the same thing – “This is the best place to get wide-angle coral photographs“.

For about 30m up to the "normal" 50m visibility, with massive corals and fishes, that is common in Alor, we dove “Paradise Point”, “The Backyard”, “The Boardroom”, “Mirror Image”, “Mike's Delight”, “Kal's Dream(again, again and again)”, “The Cathedral” and a night dive at the “Pertamina Pier”.

In “Paradise Point” I met a Giant Marbled Reef Ray relaxing in his cavern and Edith got a chance to feel the nice grainy texture of a couple of Nurse shark on a cloudy afternoon.

Finally, we had a chance to dive in what Kal Muller's been dreaming about, "Kal's Dream". To dive here RIGHTLY, you need to know the best timing and directions where to go. Luckily, we have the right person to do that, the one who has been diving in and around Alor more than 4.000 times and about 300 of them at “Kal's Dream”. Holding tight to our anchor rope, we manage to go to the "center of diving heaven on earth". Not more than 3 minutes since we manage to reach to top of the seamount, the three musketeers of 2 meter Dogtooth Tuna welcomed us and then swam away. On the other side one of our group were chasing a couple of Napoleon Wrasse for photographs. After that, the show started. Pelagics were swimming and checking on us. The giant dogtooth Tunas even circled back and checked out Ali at 40m, coming close from behind him and went away when they realized he was not their kind of guy. You know straight away that this is a special spot for diving, and we did dive there 3 times in our short days of diving trip to Alor. A School of huge barracudas, Large Bump Headed Parrotfishes, Turtles, Groupers, GTs, and 100s of Horse Eyed Jacks are the artists of the show in “Kal’s dream”.

“The Cathedral” is another story. Absolutely, this is one of my favorite dives. But I never have this experience before. Starting when we went pass 5 meter, I can see the "terror" ahead, the thermocline. I knew it. Bang! Our computer told us that we are entering the 21 centigrade salt water, from the normal 26-27 we had in the other dive spots. Instead of feeling the cold, we were amused by the scenery. We swam through a cave and carried by the current for the whole dive. Drifted in a wild but beautiful place like this is always a nice way to dive.

On the last day of our diving was the Independence day of Republik Indonesia, and were very proud and privelaged to be able to participate by celebrating it under water. As always, Donovan (it ends up we were calling him Mas Dono) prepared everything way off what we were expecting. He made a flag pole from bamboo he bought from the "pasar" (market), complete with a nice white rope. We did the flag rising in a very descent way in “Mike’s Delight”. Even a sea snake joined in the occasion. Mas Dono just picked him up and introduced it to the rest of the divers. He is officially in the same flag rising occasion with us then.

Not enough Alor seduced us with it’s underwater uniqueness even from the boat. On the first day, just before our first dive as we were getting the dive brief from Donovan, a Mola-Mola made his two time splashes almost calling us to hurry up and get diving and Dolphins accompanied us on every diving day. Devin, my son, was so excited and wanted so much to see dolphins in the blue water. By the last day of our trip, he just gave a glance when we told him there were some dolphins ahead as he’d seen so many every day before.

A big blue marlin jumping out of the water on almost every afternoon in Kalabahi Bay when we were heading back to our pier. On a bright sunny morning, we were stunned with a performance of a whale passing out of the bay of Alor. The boat crews and Devin even told us that they saw it go past again when we were down there diving at “Kal's Dream”.

For sometime, I have been hearing people say Alor was "just an OK" dive destination. And I am dying to tell everyone what I fell about Alor. At last, I got it done perfectly. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. They were having their best diving time in Alor.

From the heaven underwater to the splendid type of service of the best Divemaster. Donovan does everything from knocking on your door in the morning, to making sure you have the best dinner you could have after the diving. From a nice and relaxing new dive boat(you can actually sleep on it between the dives) to the awareness of safety throughout our diving trip.

We were diving during the full moon which is the highest tidal movements of the month and creates huge currents of up to 7 knots but Donovan’s knowledge of the local diving locations ensured that we never had more than just the right amount of current to safely enjoy the unique dive locations available.

Even Benjamin(Dive Crew) was always cheerful and very experienced in equipment handling even though he can’t swim. He has been working with Donovan for the past eleven years and made our trip easy with his expertise.

It is very hard for me to write down how we really feel, you just gotta get it by yourself. Come to Alor.

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