As you know, 2021 has been a really important year for Jakaré. Despite the pandemic and its consequences on tourism, we took this time as a good opportunity to discover others seas, remote areas, and unexplored underwater places. In August, after restoring Jakaré’s beauty, we decided to explore the Flores Sea. On the 21st of August we left for Alor, East of Flores Island. Setting off from Labuan Bajo, we sailed through the night. Early the next morning we stopped at a little sand cay and made our first dive: “Pasirita” – coming from Pasir which means sand in Indonesian. It was a beautiful and easy dive with thirty metres visibility. Then, we crossed towards Pulau Raja “King Island”, a volcanic island with its top surrounded by small villages. The vegetation is dense with banana and palm trees all over. Once we arrived, we dove in as soon as we could. The underwater scene was as beautiful as a postcard. Its topography was typical for the volcanic landscape, incredible walls and steep drop offs, made even better by the crystal-clear water and stunning visibility. After having fun and a great time on Pulau Raja, we left while enjoying an amazing sunset. This magic moment, the sunset on the top of the volcano, gave us goosebumps. We continued to navigate towards the Pomana Islands.
Early morning, we discovered the reefs of Pomana Kecil and Pomana Besar – which translates as little and big Pomana. Below the surface, we can find a lot of reef fish such as red tooth triggerfish, surgeon fish and oriental sweetlips. There are loads of bommies and rocks on the sandy slope and the corals are splendid. The water was still warm and transparent, to our delight.
We spent the afternoon close by at Pangabatang, it was our first anchorage to give a bit of time for our engine to cool down! Jakaré crew prepared a little apéro on the beach with all our cushions and bean bags. We had the chance to enjoy the incredible sunset from this little paradise. Always too fast, the sun set on Flores Island, leaving a thousand shades of red in the sky.
Pangabatang Kecil Sunset
In the early morning, we crossed towards Gedong Cape, where we descended for the first dive with the sun barely breaking the horizon. On Jakaré these are our favourite dives! The colours and the behaviours of the fish are different, wilder almost, it’s a truly magical time for diving.
Near Serbete Island, we dived the so-called “Shark Plateau”, and thankfully it’s a very appropriate name! We saw may be around thirty reef sharks, blacktips and whitetips were everywhere! We also saw a few marbled stingrays, eagle rays, and our favourite, the grey reef shark.
After this amazing dive, we sailed towards Kroko. And no, it’s not what you think, there aren’t crocodiles! The characteristics of Kroko’s Island offered us plenty of overhangs, open caves and incredible swim throughs. What a great playground for big children, we had so much fun! A dive to do again and again.
That night we stayed in Laba-Laba Bay which means the Spider Bay, where we enjoyed our first night dive, interesting and quite challenging, full of surprises.
We continued our voyage towards a beautiful bay named Teluk Lewaling, we arrived there in the early morning. It’s always a unique moment when you wake to discover the landscape surrounding you. On our right you could see the Boling Volcano, and on our left, we had the splendid view of the Ape Island Volcano. On shore, we had the pleasure to see deserted black sand beaches with thousands of palm trees and to absorb the immensity of the bay. It was just like we’ve seen in our exotic dreams.
Ape Island, Teluk Lewaling
We dove all day inside Teluk Lewaling, starting with a muck dive on the black sand and we finished with the hope to see some pelagic fish, and we did! First, we saw dozens of crazy nudibranchs, leaf scorpion fish, wasp fish, frogfish and then, all the eagle rays passing by in the blue, and we could not remove our eyes from the reef because the corals are so healthy and colorful.
After five days of intense crossing, we finally arrived at our main destination: the Pantar Strait. In the province of Alor, there are three main channels: Boling, Alor and Pantar. The Boling and Alor straits are known for their really strong currents where their power depends on the moon phase. We can only cross them at certain period of the year. At the end of August, the wind is strong and coming from the south, only around September does it change direction, then the new season starts.
Boling and Alor were complicated at this time of the year for us. In the south of Pulau Lembata, there is a small village known for its culture of whale fishing. According to the legend, they would catch a whale a year which would feed the whole village for months! From this they were also able to trade food for other goods. This village with an important cultural history, we will visit it next time
Of the three, the most known for its underwater treasure is the Pantar strait. The underwater biodiversity is really rich due to the strong currents filling the water with lots of nutrients. In the north of the channel, the water is warm, between 27° and 29° Celsius, with a crystal-clear water boasting up to 50 meters visibility. However, in the south of the strait, the waters can be much colder, sometimes dropping to 18° Celsius with lots of particles as well.
For a few years now, Alor has been frequented more and more by scuba divers. And we understand why. Just one word to describe Alor: WOW. This was the first time for Jakaré and it certainly won’t be the last. What a voyage, what an experience!
Underwater walls around Pulau Pura,
Province of Alor
Alor has a really healthy reef. There are hard corals, soft corals, spectacular gorgonians and huge sponges. We didn’t imagine the corals could still be so rich. What impressed us the most, was the immensity and the deepness of the walls. All the dive sites around the islands are in the north of the channel such as Pulau Buaya, Pulau Reta and Pulau Pura.
Pulau Pantar in the West, and Pulau Alor-Kecil in the East are composed of huge, deep walls, where the visibility seems to increase the deeper you go. All the colours are present, red, orange, green, pink and purple, it’s breath-taking. Pelagic fish are passing by, we could see yellowfin tuna, dogtooth tuna, Spanish mackerels and few reef sharks such as black tip and white tip. The blue of the water called to our imaginations. With these challenging dives, Alor amazed us. When the current grew stronger, we needed to be attentive and ready to play in a rollercoaster! We spent four unforgettable days in Alor, and the night dives were spectacular as well. We had really high expectations and no one was disappointed.
Coral Garden, Pantar Straight, Province of Alor
For the macro divers, the best spot is in Kalabahi bay. We saw Rhinophias, leaf scorpion fish, frog fish, wasp fish, devil scorpion fish, star gazers and crazy twin spot lion fish. As well, we saw our old friends like bobtail squid, crinoid and dwarf cuttlefish. On the crustacean side, we encountered the majestic marbled shrimp, Coleman shrimp, emperor shrimp and the beautiful zebra crab. Not forgetting the best: pipefish and ghost pipefish were everywhere! These robust and ornate ghost pipefish were the stars of the cameras. Our photographer friends did not want to go back on the boat and we all broke our records for the longest dive! Even in this small dive site, all the rarest creatures were here, we’re so happy and grateful to meet them.
Underwater creatures, Province of Alor
The south of the strait is really good as well for all the macro life. Inside the bay of Beang Abang, there are really interesting dive sites. We dove below the big cement jetty, and along the black sand beach, amazing! Outside of the bay, we had a great surprise as well, we met our friends the hammer heads in the blue.
Beang Abang Bay, South of Pantar straight
The people from Alor-Kecil were so kind to us, they helped us to go to the market and buy more vegetables, fruits and fresh fish. We disembarked on Pura Island to taste the famous local alcohol – the Sopi. We tried it, different taste, different flavour, and we discovered the whole distillation process. Pura village is living thanks to this economy, lot of people are coming from all around to buy this excellent quality Sopi.
Degustation of artisanal Sopi, Pura Island
We gave some books and lots of pens to the remote school in this area. The children were really happy as always, and they even jumped onboard with big smiles on their faces. We were lucky to meet the women from Pulau Reta, Pulau Buaya & Alor-Kecil and we invited them aboard Jakaré to sell their artisanal sarong. An amazing experience, there were so many colours on board, so many smiles and a great atmosphere, we thought we were in “Pasar Jakaré” – the Jakaré market. Their pieces of art were full of detail, clearly making these items was a long process. All the guests were amazed and they all bought different pieces.
Artisanal Sarong market onboard, Alor-Kecil
In order to finish these amazing days spent in Alor, we admired a last sunset in the Pantar strait while opening our sails in front of Pura Island. It was an unforgettable moment!
Sails opening in front of Pura Island
We continued our way towards the famous Pulau Komba. We arrived at the last island of our expedition on the most beautiful of days. Pulau Komba is really rich for its vegetation, and just so fascinating. We crossed all night and in the early morning, while opening our eyes, we saw the incredible scene of an active volcano, surrounded by water, a few kilometres from the coastline. We had a fantastic time spending our last day there. The dives were stunning, with black sand and hot bubbles emerging from the reef. The underwater scenery was beautiful, it looks like an underwater forest; full of black corals and soft corals displaying all the colours of the rainbow, the contrast with the deep blue water was unbelievable.
We explored breath-taking unexplored dive sites full of swim-throughs, huge pinnacles, overhangs and many open caves. The reef was filled by hard corals close to the surface with thousands of red, blue and purple anthias on top of stunning table corals. All around the volcano you can find underwater ridges, with black sand and fascinating topography, where you can see lots of pelagic. The visibility was incredible at around 40 meters, and the closer you get to the crater, the warmer the water is, we registered 32° Celsius on our computers! On the East side of the volcano, you can see smoke constantly billowing from the top, however the West side shows a dense forest packed with vegetation. We stayed there to enjoy the sunset; some people were having the last “Apéro” while others enjoying the last yoga session. The sunset on the top of Komba was a magic moment for everyone.
Yoga practice while enjoying Komba’s Sunset
Finally, we navigated to Maumere, where the trip came to its end.
To summarise our expedition, Alor is an incredible destination. You cannot miss it! Oops, we forgot to say, every day we encountered a ballet of dozens of dolphins, and few whales playing around us, coming to surface to say “Hi!”. So, for Jakaré Family and guests, Alor is a real paradise, above and below the water. You should come with us to discover this amazing destination! See you soon Alor, we already miss you.