Alor Liveaboard Trip Report itinerary Maumere to Alor to Maumere
Vessel: MSY Samambaia Liveaboard
Our Alor liveaboard trip on board of the gorgeous MSY Samambaia started on the 25th of August and ended on the 5th of September 2019. Both Mike and Luca from the Underwater Tribe, together with 12 of our guests joined this trip. We had a group of 4 friends from the USA, 2 friends from Australia, 2 couples from Australia and 1 couple from Canada.
The trip focused on doing great macro dives, witnessing the captivating culture of the East Nusa Tenggara, and diving with sharks. Speaking of sharks, we encountered silver tips (Carcharhinus albimarginatus), oceanic black tips (Carcharhinus limbatus) and even schools of scalloped hammerheads (Sphyrna lewini).
Thanks to beautiful, dry weather we could enjoy the beautiful view of up to 7 volcanos at one time along the north coast. During the breaks between dives, as well as sunrise and sunset, we could enjoy this beautiful landscape. Such an experience makes cruising on a liveaboard along the East Nusa Tenggara region a delightful trip, even for non divers.
A quick recap of the itinerary and highlights
For a more detailed schedule check the itinerary at the end of this Alor Liveaboard Trip Report
We started the trip in Maumere after a direct flight from Bali. Flight time was only 1:30min. Maumere is a pretty location with a few nice accommodations along a beautiful beach. There are interesting cultural tours that can be organised in the mountains behind the town. Arriving one or two days earlier could be a nice option for people interested in a cultural experience.
Schooling Fish and Sharks
We first set our way to the island of Serbete, where we had the chance to make 4 dives. Our first dive was at Serbete Wall and the 2nd and 3rd dives were at Shark Plateau, on both the east and west sides. The first dive was a perfect dive to get into the swing of things. The other dives were good dives produced a good variety of black and white tip sharks.
A very important note to be mentioned was the outstanding service provided by the MSY Samambaia, who provided 4 guides plus the Cruise Director who was also guiding our group. Given that Mike and Luca know the area already and are experienced divers in the region, they could dive as buddies without the need of an additional guide. As one of the couples pre paid for a private guide, this left 10 divers to be divided into very small groups with the 4 guides. Beside being safe, it showed the dive service of Samambaia as going above and beyond many other boats in the liveaboard dive business.
On the early evening of the first day we had a spectacular sunset.
On the second day we moved to the Adonara region where we dived twice at one of the fishiest sites in Flores. We were not disappointed and we encountered big schools of fish and several black tip reef sharks. Some of us were very lucky to see the first big sharks of the itinerary, a large scalloped hammerhead! A few other very lucky divers also encountered a beautiful oceanic black tip shark.
South into the Indian Ocean
At the end of the second day of diving we traveled overnight to the South and entered the Indian Ocean. As we were expecting, the temperature dropped and it was 23-24C in the water. Even though it was not windy, we had some swell creating a bit of surge during the dives. Even though the dive conditions were not ideal, we had great weather on the surface. The sun was shining and we could admire the beautiful south coastline with its rugged environment featuring even more volcanoes.
While cruising late in the afternoon toward Beangabang for our night dive, we encountered a friendly group of dolphins who played and jumped at the surface during the sunset. What a great way to end our day.
A Full Day in Beangabang, the Macro Capital of Alor
Beangabang is the name of a small village located in the south of the Strait of Pantar. This site is very famous for its volcanic sand which is abundant with critter life. It’s an exceptionally good place for macro diver enthusiasts and underwater photographers. Even if on the first dive we had some crazy currents during the remaining dives we had perfect conditions. Everyone saw different kinds of frogfish, ghost pipefish, seahorses, wonderpus octopus and loads of cryptic looking shrimp. Beangabang macro delight!
Beangabang village is a very simple hamlet. The locals are very friendly. The kids of the village jump on their canoes and paddle to the boat singing songs in hopes of a Coca Cola or sweets. Samambaia is very supportive of this village and provides them with many supplies on every visit. After the third dive we jumped on land to bring some supplies to the village. Samambaia donated food and school uniforms for the children and some of the guests also brought colour pencil and other school supplies for the kids.
Early in the morning The Underwater Tribe team and the Samambaia team went to scout a site known to provide hammerhead sightings. We were lucky to see a few of them on this scout dive, so we decided to bring the entire group to the spot on the next dive. The dive itself is not one of the easiest as we had a bit of current due to the moon phase. The Alor Strait is always home to strong currents on full and new moon phases which affects most sites in the strait. Luckily enough, this particular site is actually one of the easiest to dive in the area on a strong current.
Given the splendour of this dive site, we did an early dive here each morning for three days. This gave everyone more than one chance to spot schooling hammerheads. We split the groups during theses mornings and offered other well known sites for those who preferred a different site over repeating the hammerhead dive. By utilizing two tenders we could accommodate those who wanted to try something new or repeat the amazing hammerhead experience. We particularly would like to thank the Samambaia for its flexibility in organising these days of diving in different places.
Dive Highlights of the Alor Liveaboard Trip and Fun Facts
During this trip we encountered 8 different species of sharks: Scalloped Hammerhead, Silvertip, Oceanic Black Tip, Grey Reef, Black Tip Reef, White Tip Reef, Bamboo, and a Wobbegong! This was certainly very unique for a dive trip in Indonesia.
One of the favourite dives of the trip was the Jetty Dive on the island of Pantar. We enjoyed incredible light cutting through the surface, illuminating a big school of batfish during our two dives there. We also found loads of critters underwater, including some colourful frogfish, interesting nudibranchs, and huge dragon shrimp on a wire coral. Photography enthusiasts had plenty of opportunities on that dive.
Throughout the whole itinerary, we had great macro encounters. Lots of of frogfish of different size and species, octopus were abundant as we found the wonderpus, the starry night, the coconut, the long arm, and reef octopus. We also found the rare roughsnout ghostpipefish, nudibranchs of all kind, zebra crabs, emperor shrimp, coleman shrimp, winged pipefish, thorny seahorses, and many more critters.
One incredible moment was when our friend Steve spotted a whale close to our anchored boat. Everyone could watch it surfacing and spraying water through its blowhole. We are pretty darn sure that it was the ironically named pygmy blue whale that we saw.
The People of Alor
One of the iconic attractions in Alor is to watch the daily life of the locals living in coastal villages. We had the chance to see them fishing in their small wooden canoes all during the day. When we went to “Clown Valley” dive site, we were able to watch fishermen diving down to place their fish traps on the bottom. It’s incredible to see them diving down to place their traps strategically. Another interesting event was when a boat carrying ladies selling locally produced “Ikat” (fabrics) approached our vessel to sell sarongs. They were very happy when several of our guests bought a few of these beautiful and colourful hand made fabrics.
Another highlight was our land tour to visit the Abui Tribes along the coast of Alor. The people were dressed in colourful ikats and were chanting their traditional songs while performing dances passed down over generations.
The MSY Samambaia Dive Liveaboard
The Samambaia vessel treated us like royalty. We are confident that everyone was impressed with the quality of the boat, food, and service provided onboard.
Their flexibility in accommodating different requests on board was second to none. The comfort in the cabins, the hot water pressure, and enormous deck space are all great things Samambaia offers. We are very happy to state we will be back for more trips with the Samambaia throughout the Indonesian Archipelago in the future.
Samambaia Liveaboard Itinerary for our Alor Trip August 2019