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Dive Review of Diving 4 Images/KM Ciska in
Indonesia/Halmahera, Moluccas

May, 2005, an Instant Reader Report by Dave Van Rooy, Bali, Indonesia
Reviewer   (4 reports, with 2 Helpful votes)
Report Number 1732
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
Most major places in Pacific and Caribbean, and many places in Indonesia
(including Komodo, Alor, Banda, Bunaken, Raja Ampat, Bali)
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, cloudy, dry  
calm, currents  
Water Temp
81   to 83    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
40   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Be sensible and usually diving less than 70 minutes (to meet boat schedule)  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  4 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
3 stars  
Shore Facilities  
A couple small rinse tanks.  Tho there were about 9 UW photogs, most had
small digital setups, so room not a big problem for us.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
2 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
3 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars   
4 stars    
This was a "one-off" exploratory trip to a place where virtually
no one else dives (Halmahera is the big island between Sulawesi and Papua).
The last reported diving there was over 5 years ago, tho some reports had
been very good.  There are no dive operators around at all. Graham Abbott
of Diving 4 Images (www.diving, the trip leader, had chartered
the Ciska to do some exploring and had asked a local diving group if anyone
might be interested in joining the trip.  He had talked to some on an
earlier scientific mission in the area and had at least acquired a few good
pointers about where there was some potentially good diving and where not
to go.  After our 6-day trip he was to be the guide for another scientific
expedition in the area on the Ciska.  This was an opportunity many of us
couldnt resist.

Having done many exploratory trips, I was not expecting such overall
excellent diving as we found here.  I'd expected lots of bombed out reefs,
but actually we encountered very few. 90% of the reefs we dove were
pristine reefs with fish and coral life extremely prolific. We had some
dives with so many large schools of fish, we lost track. Sharks, usually
black tips in the 4-6 foot length, were abundant (2-10 seen on most dives),
with some gray reef and white tips and some epaulet sharks.  Other
highlights included schools of skip jack, tuna, unicorn fish, anthias (10
times more abundant than Ive ever seen), fusiliers, rainbow runners,
surgeon fish, long and short fin bannerfish, sweet lips, , bumphead
parrots, a few napoleon wrasse, red-tooth trigger fish, blue-stripe
barracuda, black-banded angelfish and lots more. We dove several sea
mounts, sometimes with strong currents and people got separated.  No real
strong up or down currents tho.

Critters, not as much as the Komodo area but still lots, for example:
ornate and robust ghost pipefish, blue ribbon eels, Saron shrimp, mantis
shrimp, bobtail squid, a few pygmy sea horses, blue ring octopus, orangutan
crabs, soft coral crabs,   And theres lots of healthy corals, both hard
and soft.
The Ciska is a 73 foot comfortable and seaworthy boat with a good crew that
is based out of Makasar, Sulawesi. We were crowding 12 divers on it, but
the price was exceptionally good. Each of us had a small bunk bed with
little storage space in the 4 rooms available (one room with 6 single beds)
Two toilets at the rear served all of us plus the 9 crew (no hot water). So
this was not luxury diving by any means nor was it billed as such (Id been
on the boat before).  The owner is Belgian so he has a well trained chef,
so the food was generally pretty good, with three large meals/day. But for
the price and where we were, I'd do it again without hesitation.  But it's
definitely not the boat for many accustomed to more space and luxury.  They
had one tender boat and a well-trained crewman who picked us up.  Most
dives were done from the tender, tho several off the Ciska itself. No
nitrox available.

We started from Ternate, the capital of Halmahera.  Note that this was one
of the major centers of the spice trading in the 15th and 16th centuries. 
Our course took us south from there to the Goraichi islands, Patinti
Straits and around Bacan and some nearby islands.   Topside scenery here is
breathtaking: most of the many islands are sparsely inhabited and the
mountainous landscape is covered with virgin rain forest, with a few
scattered palm tree plantations.  Lots of exotic bird life flying about,
including cockatoos, sea eagles, horn bills, a number of species of parrots
and related birds.  There are birds of paradise on two of the islands that
are supposedly easy to see, but unfortunately we didnt have the time on
our short trip. Volcanoes, most of the classical conic shape, are abundant.
 Just south of Ternate, we could see 4 volcanic islands in a row, the
furthest two being perfectly conical (one is pictured on the 1,000 Rupiah
note in Indonesia),with the last two having been such, but eons ago having
blown their tops.

Usually we did 4 dives/day including night dives every night.  We only had
4.5 days diving for us due to airline problems getting there and leaving. 
BTW, Grahams partner Dwi did an excellent job rebooking everyones ticket
as two airlines had cancelled all of our flights out of Ternate -- we all
managed to get off on schedule.  Graham did lots of scouting to find good
dive spots tho often the charts were not so good.  Hes truly one of the
best critter spotters around and worked very hard to find good spots with
little info to go on.  Having dove with him at Wakatobi, with Kararu, and
in Bali, I knew if anyone could find us good diving, hed be the one.

Lots of live-aboard operators in the area are VERY interested in the diving
here, as the location between Raja Ampat and Manado (Lembeh Straits and
Bunaken) is both logistically viable and opens up new diving opportunities.
 So expect this to show up on some live-aboards schedules in the near
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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