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Dive Review of Grand Komodo, Temu Kira in
Indonesia/Halmahera, Moluccas

March, 2006, an Instant Reader Report by Dave Van Rooy, Bali, Indonesia
Reviewer   (4 reports, with 2 Helpful votes)
Report Number 2868 has 1 Helpful vote
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
All over Indonesia, most regions in Pacific and Carribbean
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, dry  
calm, currents, noCurrents  
Water Temp
82   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
20   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
No deco diving, else be sensible  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
5 stars  
Large Pelagics
  4 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
The dive deck is small, but sufficient for the 8 photogs, with some large
rigs.  Crew very good with camera handling, rinsing, care, ...  Subject
matter ranged from critter spots, wrecks, to stunning wide-angle, fishy
spots, esp good in the SW around Goraici Islands
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars   
5 stars    
This was a charter, exploratory 11 night trip to search out good dive spots
around Halmahera, one of the larger but mostly unknown dive areas in the
Maluku's. Halmahera is the almost-Sulawesi-shaped island half-way between
Sulawesi and western Papua.  This trip was organized by well-known UW
photogs Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock; and, as always, it was a great
pleasure and experience to travel and dive with them. 

TemuKira is a 32m wooden phinisi boat with 6 cabins, each with AC and
ensuite bathrooms. There's no hot water but the water coming out the tap is
warm, heated by the engine. The cabins are small but large enough to get
around in. A couple people complained once or twice about a bit of diesel
smell below, but most didn't notice. Meals were very good and plentiful and
mostly Indonesian dishes with breakfast more traditional American. Much to
most of our delights, we had lots of fresh fish and shrimp. The dive deck
is not real large, but the 10 divers managed fine with having 8 -- some
very large -- cameras. Much of the diving was from the main boat. The
tender boat or the main boat would pick us up, and sometimes cameras would
be transferred from the tender. All in all, the crew operated extremely
well in getting people and gear in and out very smoothly. And the captain
was incredibly skilled at maneuvering the boat to just the right spot.  A
couple tank valve problems appeared, and there were a few complaints about
tank air smelling funny a few times, but again I and most others did not
notice. They do not offer Nitrox and they do not have storage tanks, so
tank refills could take up to 2 hours running directly from the compressor.
But that was fast enough to get in all the diving we wanted (4 per day were
usually offered unless we had to move the boat too much).

We started in Sorong, and spent one day diving around Wayag in Raja Ampat,
which is a very beautiful set of islands with loads of soft corals, fans,
and tropicals.  We then headed west to Halmahera. Generally the diving on
northeastern side had poor visibility, a lot of reef bombing, and the
corals generally not very prolific. We then went north into Kao bay. The
vis in this bay was poor (10-20'). We found and dove three Japanese cargo
ship wrecks there which were shallow (max depth about 70') and with a fair
amount of fish life around.  Each wreck did reward photographers with 2 or
3 very colorful ornate ghost pipe fish (OGPF).

Heading south from Morotai, the topside beauty in the west was very
striking. There are many conic volcanoes, mostly virgin forest/jungle
areas, and all very sparsely populated. At one spot in the south, you can
see four perfectly conic volcanic islands in a row (Makian, Moti, Tidore
and Ternate) tho the first two had blown their tops eons ago. Our next stop
on the western side was the Southern Loloda Islands. Here there were two
very large waterfalls from one of these islands going directly into the sea
as well as photogenic rock formations of some of the islands. The photogs
went crazy. Diving off one upside-down U shaped-island was very
"fishy" and had large schools of tropicals, some black tip
sharks, bumphead parrotfish, and at least one very large grouper.
Unfortunately except for a couple spot, there was a lot of bombing. 

We dove around Pilongga island, just off Tidore and found very nice corals
and lots of tropicals But at Mare Island there was a lot of bomb damage,
but still had lots of large bommies very rich in critters, soft corals,
large fans, tropicals and more.

We headed further south and dove some in the Latalata Islands west of
Bacam. The sites we dove here included some exceptionally beautiful reefs
with incredible amounts of large multi-colored soft coral, loads of
tropicals, and our first encounter with a rather strange sponge endemic in
the area which has a net-like surface and came in either white, yellow, or
purplish colors. A macro spot that was extremely silty yielded some OGPF's,
nudis, and some egg-laying squid.

The rest of our diving was in the Goraici Islands in SW Halmahera, which
proved to be the richest of all. One spot, dubbed "Reene's Rock got
everyone pumped -- incredible soft corals, fans, oriental sweet lips,
chubs, schools of bumpheads, black tip sharks, cruising mackerel and tuna,
surgeon and unicorn fish, turtles, ... A second dive there was a bit
disappointing as the currents fought us in getting to the good spots.
Another spot nearby around what we called Palau Banzai had loads of corals
and reef fish and some huge bommies, at least one inhabited by beautiful
soft corals and fans, many thousands of glassy sweepers, and a school of
about 20 very curious and friendly teira batfish. Another nearby spot had
probably the most healthy, varied, dense, pristine set of hard corals
covering many acres, that any of us had ever seen. Hopefully the bombers
don't find it.

We visited the capital of Ternate for a couple days - seeing the sultan's
crown jewels, some old Dutch forts..  Local government officials were
actively promoting the area and rolling out the red carpet for us, so we
all pitched to make the southwestern part of Halmahera a marine national
park that would be protected from the bombers. 

All in all a very rewarding exploratory trip even tho the first part of the
diving was not so great, the diving on the second part more than made up
for it.  Visiting Ternate added to it all.  Expect to see this listed on
the itineraries of some dive operators in the next year or two.
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Subscriber's Comments

By dvanrooy at Apr 29, 2012 04:58 EST  
This was a great trip and I'd do it again.  Halmahera, particularly in the
SW, is a good experience for those who've gotten Raja Ampat'ed out.
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