Dive Gaia: Banda Islands (3 to 14 Oct 2019)

Due to seasick.. when it comes to LOB.. I tend to be quite careful in choosing the right one. And wellz, since we changed our dive plan from Galapagos to Indonesia.. decided to make sure we dive safe and luxurious! Banda islands and Alor route was what we were intending.. so being lazy.. we decided to use the dive aggregator “All4diving” to do our comparison and booking.

After some research and checks, decided on Dive Gaia. Eh.. purely based on asethetic and reviews seemed good. But the min we landed in ambon airport, we got picked up by Geri the cruise director to getting onto the boat.. the boat was like exactly what we saw in pictures!

Dive Gaia

Omg.. we had our own camera pail…

And we were all allocated our own camera space…

Really.. it was like a hotel room.

Day 1: no dive. Seared tuna dinner! Some of the folks who arrived earlier and did their first checkout dive.

Day 2: 274, 275, 276.Banda Islands – 1st dive: tanjung noret 2nd dive: Batu Kapal 3rd dive: Mandarin dive. Well, first 2 dives nothing much. We did an interesting village walk to see nutmeg plantation and had some tea and cinnamon. But last dive to see mandarin right outside the Banda naira hotel… Was spectacular. Don’t think there would be any better spots in the world to photo or film mandarin fishes. There were loads of them and the best part was that they were not light shy! We spent like an hour snapping away. And bonus: we caught a mantis shrimp with eggs!

Meals: rendang beef for lunch, honey ginger glazed pork chop for dinner.

Day 3: Serva. 277, 278, 279. Dive 1: jackpot. Dive 2: Serva north east. 3. Serva north east. Supposed to catch hammerheads.. so far no luck from the first 2 dives. Saw a different seasnake though. A different breed from the black and white one we normally see. 3rd dive.. we saw 2 hammerheads.. but visibility was really bad. Can hardly see, needless to say video.

Nudi galore too..

Day 4: Damar islands – 280, 281, 282, 283. 1st dive: Terang Utara (north): nice morning 7am dive. Great wall.. finally some macro. Corals really good condition and most imptly.. visibility was good. 2nd dive: terang selantan (south)- it’s ok.. saw fireworm nudis. 3rd dive: terang selantan 4th dive: night dive.Terbang Utara. not sure why my GoPro 6 went cranky. Saw a small octopus trying to run away. Couldn’t get it to turn on. Missed the little frog fish shot. Spawning corals. Blue box fish.

Day 5: nyata 284, 285, 286

Dive 1: Avalanche. Nice slow dive with beautiful wall. Interesting nudis and flatworm. 5 flat worms together. Quite a lot of orang utan crabs and candied crabs.

Dive 2: Nayata wall.

Dive 3: beacon reef. Beautiful untouched walls. Slow long dives. We did almost an hr this dive. Frog fish at the end of dive. Small black one. The hairy nudi.. easily like soft corals.

Some dive sighting:

Day 6: wetar 287,288, 289.

Dive 1: reong SW. Nice cracks in the wall. Nothing much to see though.

Dive 2: tanjung totonunuake

Expected strong currents but turned out to be a false alarm. In fact no current at all. Nice nudis and worms. Big tunas swimming by. Good visibility. And a big tuna swimming around us.

Dive 3: another slow dive. Tried on my sharkfin wetsuit. It’s colder than the 4th element! Ha. Some nice active nudi.. crossing with fishes being chased by a nurse shark. Overall.. today dives are scenic.. but not much action.. off to alor!

Day 7: Alor – lesser sunda 290, 291, 292.

Dive 1 (7am): Cruxification point. 3 crosses marked the location. Downcurrent killed 24 on ferry ship some time ago. Super cold morning dive. In fact, I had to wear my 4th element plus sharkskin over it . Beautiful wall.. and good visibility. Big frog fish smacked on the wall. Big school of bumphead parrotfish. Bandit shrimps and clams around the wall.

Dive 2 (1030am): valley of the clowns. Lotsa anemone corals. A little current. Big boulders. Took some macro- crab, nudi.. tried to take a dancing shrimp.. but difficult zzz . Good viz.

In between, we did a land tour to see the tribe of alor.

Children of alor

Children of Alor

Clearing up the betel leaves

Dive 3 (630pm): mucky mosque. Really great night dive. They called it a bonfire dive coz torches were tied to the anchor line to guide the dive area. Saw lotsa stuff.. bobtail squid.. decorated crab.. a big family of nudi, dancing shrimps.. anemone shrimps.. pregnant!! Saw a dwarf scorpion fish too.

Day 8: lesser sunda 293, 294, 295.

Nice Viz 2 morning dives. Active nudis.. leaf fishes.. a lot of scorpion fish. Temperature was good. Not too cold.. 27 degree. After the 2 morning dives.. there was a section of diving with alor kids where they came by the boat for sweets and diving with divers for photos. Twilight dive at 530pm- mini market. Great night dive.. lotsa things to see. Big octopus in a hole.. cuttlefish juvenile..

Day 9: lesser sunda. 296, 297, 298, 299. 4 dives. First 2 dives to see hammerheads.. but no luck. Last 2 dives same spot but day and night really completely different. Day dive.. lotsa baby scorpion fish, frog fish, big bobtail.. night dive.. shrimps EVERYWHERE.. octopus all around.. humping nudis.. file fish.. pipefish.. great critter dive. Dive 1: gereja Tua. Dive 2: Babylon (abila). Dive 3 and 4: beangabang (just about 10m)

Day 10: lesser sunda. 300, 301, 302. 3 dives. Cold first 2 dives.. first dive ( batu bawa) was aborted 30 min into the dive as one of divers in our group got freaked by the current. It was a drift dive. Second dive (watubalu (e)) was nice. Went down to almost 30m hoping to see Mola Mola.. super cold.. 22 degree. Ended up seeing a white fern crab. Viz was really good with lotsa fish life. 3rd dive was on the other side of the 2nd dive. Lesser current but as cold. Zz . Very nice blennies popping their head out to take a peep. And lotsa active purple lined nudis. Dive 4- aborted. Waited too long. Haha.

Day 11: komba. 303, 304. 13 October. First dive at 7am right beside a volcano. Some folks in another group saw 4 hammerheads.. but no luck for our group. We were at about 29m.. oh wellz. Saw quite some nudis. Second and last dive (1030am) at the same spot hoping to catch sight of the hammerheads. Deep blue swim. Good viz no sharks. Saw a school of baby barracudas at about 10m. Tat’s about it for this dive trip!

Contrary to what we thought of a pelagic dive trip.. we saw many small stuff instead. Used 4 kg weights.

Lunches and dinners.. u really couldn’t complain. They even customised to our preferences.

On the last day.

One of those days that I didn’t wanna have the “main” menu.. and asked for a carbonara instead.

Beef sliders..and wonderfully fried French fries

Beef wellington. Just imagine.

The crew was also fantastic. Really all ready to meet all our “demands” with a big smile! Amazing.

On the last night dinner ..

in general, dive timing: 730am, 11am, 3pm and 630pm if there is a night dive.

Full dive schedule and sites, there were also on land activities included!

More dive sightings! (Eh.. a bit long)