This gallery begins in Ambon and finishes in Bali, Indonesia. We traveled to Ambon for five days of diving and then departed from Maluku Dive Resort on the Damai to explore the Banda Sea (11/4-14/17). This gallery follows my Ambon gallery from 2017. We visited multiple islands including Nusa Laut, Banda Naira, Manuk, Nils Desperandum, Pulau Terbang, Pulau Nusleur, Nyata, Reong, Pantar, Alor, Lembata, and finally Flores. Each location was unique. We saw coconut octopus in Ambon, dugong in Nusa Laut (sorry no pictures!), mandarin fish in Banda Naira, and dozens of sea snakes in Manuk. There were hammerhead sharks in Nils Desperandum and pygmy seahorses in Flores. We found multiple Rhinopius in North Alor at Pak Yan's Village. The gallery is longer than usual to include the diversity of this trip.
The Damai was quite luxurious and the food and service were excellent. The rooms were large and there were two outdoor beds on the top deck if you wanted to sleep under the stars. I especially enjoyed having my own rinse tank for my camera and gear. The camera room was great too and the crew even dried my camera between dives. The Itinerary was directed by Irene and the guides Vinda, Indra, and Ferry were fun and flexible. My thanks to Fred for another great trip!
There were several land excursions along the way. We walked through Banda Naira to visit two Dutch forts. We were treated to nutmeg jam and fried plantains by a local family on the hillside. The school children were excited to meet visitors and really "hammed it up" for my camera. Later on the trip we walked along a secluded beach on Nyata to see turtle nesting grounds. Unfortunately the lighthouse stairs were a little too rusty to climb. As you can see, I think we found Big Bird's island.
The high point of the trip for me was the children waiting for divers on the pier at Babylon in North Alor. This was a very spontaneous and unplanned moment as the children dove in from the pier to pose for pictures underwater. I separated from the group to pay a visit and was rewarded with some great shots of the children playing. Later that day I went snorkeling in Pak Yan Village to watch the boys spear fishing.
We traveled over 1200 miles during our 12 day journey. The trip finished in Maumere, Flores where we flew to Bali. I spent one extra day in Bali to visit Uluwatu and drink some Luwak coffee. Too bad my nutmeg jam was confiscated at the airport!
© Mark Etter Underwater Photography