Disappointing Diving in Alor

Diving our way through Nusa Tenggara, I have to admit that I had high expectations for the rumored underwater treasures of Alor. Perhaps, after the spectacular U.S.S. Liberty in Bali, sunfish spotting in Nusa Lembonggan, the underwater splendor of Komodo and the quirky muck discoveries in Maumere, I had set those expectations a little too high.

Even our arrival in Alor kicked those unrealistic expectations up a notch. The unusually stunning – almost arctic – crytal blue waters around Alor simply look like they should provide the best diving in the world. As our ferry approached Kalabahi, the massive resident dolphin superpod – only the second superpod we’ve ever seen – surrounded our boat and escorted us to the island. How could this possibly be anything less than perfect?

But reality started to set in once we started looking for a dive shop. Realistically, if you are not on a liveaboard, you only have two options in Alor: the dive shop at La Petite Kepa and Alor Dive, based in Kalabahi.

The French-owned shop at La Petite Kepa has an excellent reputation for quality dives; it also has a reputation for snobby behavior, discriminating against non-French speakers, and not answering their phones or responding to emails. As I was traveling with Catherine (a native of France) and I also speak French, I was certain I would be able to penetrate the cultural barrier that surrounded the little resort island. Unfortunately, that part about their not answering the phones or responding to emails meant we didn’t even really have a chance to try. Later, in Kalabahi, a friendly local handed me their “secret” phone number. Annoyed by the games, I threw it in the garbage.

Alor Divers on Pantar

We have heard good reports about Alor Divers on Pantar Island just opposite Alor. This is another option for those looking to dive in the area.

So essentially, the decision to dive with Alor Dive was made for me. Thomas, who runs the shop, makes for a rather “subdued” first impression. I have to admit when I met him, my first thought was, “Gee, I wonder if there is another dive shop hidden on this island somewhere.” That impression turned out to be good gut instinct. He seemed uninterested or unable to answer basic questions about local highlights. I really wanted to walk out, but with few options, I decided to just go with him.

As we approached our first dive site, that superpod, which frequents the channel, was back. Hundreds if not thousands of dolphins leapt into the air around our boat – we divers were practically foaming at the mouth. Yet predictably, once we entered the water, not a single dolphin was to be seen. Oh well, that’s not the first time dolphin-teases have toyed with a boat. A disappointment, but no fault of Alor.

Under the glassy surface at Clown Valley, marvelously intact coral reefs promised fish aplenty (or so I thought). We slithered through tiny canyons lined with soft corals, glided over endless anemones filled with clownfish, and – WHOOSH – I noticed my BCD was suddenly inflating on its own. (Apparently, there was an internal leak.) I immediately started letting the air out and desperately tried to figure out what was wrong. I looked over and noticed my dive buddy Michael struggling with his BCD as well. Hmmm.

I continued to let air out of the BCD as I swam, annoyed that this would definitely shorten my dive. We searched under rocks looking for wobbegongs or other surprises. There were none. I felt uneasy, as though something was wrong. And then I suddenly realized what was missing: the fish. There were surprisingly few fish.

What I did notice were several woven rattan fish traps. From an anthropological standpoint, the tribal fish traps were fascinating. From a diver’s standpoint, they were a major bummer. Continuing the dive, we did score a couple of large barracudas, and the coral was wonderful, but the dive provided few highlights. Thomas (remember that’s the shop owner’s name, I’m not talking about my Thomas) was on autopilot throughout the dive. He seemed unaware of our equipment issues, or more likely he was very aware of the problems, but was ignoring them. After about twenty minutes, Michael surfaced alone due to his leaking BCD. Thomas proceeded through the remainder of my dive on autopilot and only pointed to the most obvious creatures.

During our surface interval, Thomas repaired Michael’s equipment which gave me hope that the first dive had been a fluke. Unfortunately, the second dive at Coconut Grove wasn’t much better. I was happy to see intact, healthy coral, but, again, the site appeared overfished and we passed several rattan fish traps. (I should add that it’s quite possible the lack of fish could be related to the enormous dolphin superpod as well as seasonal movements of fish.)

Our third dive at Amphera was a completely different story. Here, the very promising muck site offered up enormous potential and, for the first time, I started to get excited about Alor. The problem with this dive was Thomas. Again, he seemed to be diving on autopilot with the principle goal of finding the very spectacular giant orange frogfish. (Don’t get me wrong, I loved that extraordinary frogfish.) But anyone who loves muck diving will point out that if you dive with only one target in mind, you are going to miss out on A LOT. Thomas did point out a stunning broadclub cuttlefish, but he obliviously swam right over some awesome jewels including several unique pipefish and a beautiful zebra eel. He also made the upsetting decision to finish the dive after only 45 minutes. It was a shallow site and we all had plenty of air (including me with the leak in my BCD), but, apparently, Thomas was done.

Despite calling off the dive early, my curiosity was piqued by the fabulous muck potential I had seen at Amphera. I approached Thomas on the ride back to Kalabahi and asked about overfishing, other muck sites, and what other highlights might exist around Alor. My questions seemed to annoy him and his priority seemed to be to just sit in silence. From my standpoint, I saw a dive shop owner who was literally the worst salesperson I have ever met in my life. As his dives were not cheap, I decided I had just done my last dive in Alor.

Michael continued to dive with the shop for several days and enjoyed the coral, but confirmed that our first three dives were quite representative of the general dive experience with Thomas at Alor Dive.

In reality, there may be some good fish or pelagic sites between Alor and neighboring Pantar and there is certainly a great deal of muck diving potential. But with one dive shop not answering its phones and the other offering shoddy equipment and a disinterested dive guide, it’s hard to imagine a diving experience which could ever compete with some of Indonesia’s more famous dive locations. The one good thing here is that you usually have the sites to yourself.

If anyone has managed to dive with La Petite Kepa, we would love to hear about your experience with them in the comment section below.

By the way, I have not posted any dive pictures for this post because of some issues with the underwater housing for my camera. Alor’s coral is comparable to Komodo’s and Nusa Lembonggan’s.

49 responses to “Disappointing Diving in Alor”

  1. avatar Jan says:

    Hi there,
    did do many many dives with La Petit Kepa. I was there 5 times already and will be there again in a couple of weeks. I do know the owners of La Petit kepa quite good and i do know from their website that they did not do any dives up till march, 12th because of the weather conditions.
    they might even not have been in indonesia when you tried to call them and as there is no one else speaking english at the place.
    I’m sorry that you had such a bad experience with thomas.

  2. avatar Chantal says:

    Good day Tony,
    I read your article on diving in Alor, what a bubble burster (not sure if it’s a word)! As I found it while planning my trip to alor. Anyway you also mention you did some diving on the way, would you mind sharing that info (especially the DC you dived with). Unfortunately most of the feedback you get from these centers are from beginner divers or people that got certified by them so, not very helpful. And the pro only talk about liveaboards. So, I would appreciate any input if you will.
    Kind regards

  3. avatar Tony says:

    Hi Chantal,

    First, I should mention that while I found Alor disappointing, several online resources suggest that Alor has great diving. I can only comment on my personal experiences. I also never actually dove with La Petite Kepa, so it’s possible that they have some secret dive sites which might live up to the hype. If you want to book with them, start that process way in advance. If you like muck diving (which I do), I think there is a lot of potential in Alor, they just need better dive centers.

    Other areas we dove in Indonesia with links to our dive posts on these areas (dive centers are mentioned in the articles):

    Don’t underestimate Bali. For such a touristy destination, it has excellent diving. Tulamben with the USS Liberty wreck and Ahmed are great. There are several muck destinations in the north and bigger stuff off Padangbai.
    Independent Diving in Tulamben
    Diving Tulamben, Bali

    Nusa Lembonggan
    Fantastic diving and it’s close to Bali. September is sunfish season. Amazing drift dives year-round. Great manta sites with very predictable viewings.
    Celebrating my 100th Dive…Big Time!!!

    As good as it gets. Komodo has everything. Komodo’s best spots are better for more experienced divers due to strong currents. At times of the month, the currents are extremely strong. But the coral and the amount of life you see makes this a leading destination.
    Komodo, Diver’s Paradise

    Excellent macro/muck dives. Bigger stuff off of nearby islands. Great for mimic octopus. Limited dive shops, read our post below before coming here.
    Muck Diving in Maumere

    Derawan (just snorkelled)
    Interesting option but dive guides are VERY limtied. High-end resort on neighboring island if you’ve got the bucks. We dove in nearby Sipadan (Malaysia), so we didn’t dive here. Great mantas, endless turtles, good barracuda sites, much coral damaged by hot-water streams.

    Unfortunately, we didn’t dive Lembeh or Bunaken in Sulawesi, but they both get good reviews. And of course, Raja Ampat is the Holy Grail in Indonesia, although Raja is very pricey.

    I would also recommend checking out Starfish. The web site has great info on diving Indonesia.

  4. avatar Chantal says:

    It was actually all the articles I had read in the diving websites that got me all excited about Alor but it was only after I read yours that it occurs to me to compare the posted dates. Yours is actually the only recent one the rest were posted around the 90s so, it makes sense why the difference in experiences. Anyway, thank you for your help I really appreciate it
    Wish you safe travels!

  5. avatar kevin mcgovern says:

    hmmm tony cant help feeling like you shot yourself in the foot i have been diving in alor since 2004 and have seen so many amazing things there and aslo just missed some amazzing stuff example clown valley early morning we saw two mola2 up close and the previous time cedric and customer saw two thresher sharks!! but cedric never promises sightings also at mrnings there can been massive schools of fulsiers.this year also saw a pod of dolphins while diving and a huge suprise a baby whle shark wow the coral in alor is for me certianly the best no other destanations has suck a profusion of sponges soft and hard corals..but when you dive with an operator with no passion it will never be great come again and dive with cedric he is so passionate about alor and is a real funny guy to boot ok all the best kev.

  6. avatar Tony says:

    Hi Kevin,

    Glad to hear that you had a good experience at Alor. With that channel and the cold currents in Alor, I have no doubt that great things can swim by. And you are right that the coral and sponges are stunning, however…

    Cedric and La Petite Kepa have serious issues which make it very hard to recommend their establishment. I suppose as long as everything is organized through an operator or done well in advance, then that’s OK. But when multiple people call them and email them for weeks and they don’t respond, then I think it is safe to say they have issues. I have heard they are great dive guides.

    Beyond that, I did a huge amount of snorkeling in Alor and I saw multiple fish baskets at every site. That will definitely have an effect on life on the reef. The reefs were beautiful but very bare while we were there. They could have been freakishly empty, who knows?

    Don’t get me wrong, I loved Alor, but it’s a long way to go and the diving was more expensive there than in other parts of Indonesia and the equipment at Alor Dive was horrendous as of 2011-2012.

    But our experiences seem to be typical. Some rave about Alor and others are disappointed. From what I’ve heard, there doesn’t seem to be much in between.

  7. avatar Gilles says:

    hi Tony,

    sorry to hear that you had abad experience in Alor. i just wanted to point out that we also offer diving in Alor and that there is not only 2 options. Alor has definitly more fish that you experience, all is a matter of when to dive this dive site according to the current ect…it is true that Thomas is lass flexible with a slow boat from kalabahi and want to do 3 dive in a day, not much rooms for doing the best you can… but just enough to do the daly job…

    hope you can come back one day..and give Alor another chance…

    • avatar Tony says:

      Hi Gilles,

      Thanks for leaving a comment on our site. When we mentioned that there were only two dive operations on Alor we were referencing Alor island itself, rather than neighboring Pantar. But I will update the post to mention your resort because we have heard good things about you guys and, frankly, I would like to give people some options.

      If we get the opportunity, we’ll definitely try Alor again. Maybe the lack of fish was a timing issue as you suggest. I would definitely like to explore the macro sites with someone who takes a little time.

  8. avatar Donna says:

    I have also been to Petite Kepa and the owners there are very nice and very accomodating. No French speakers in our small group. We had emailed a few weeks in advance, because email and telephone is very iffy in that area, and the electricity is all solar powered. While we were there several people just showed up and booked in on the spot, so as long as he has room you are in luck. The divers every evening seemed very happy with what they did, all diving off the large boat, but as I only snorkeled I can’t comment.

    BTW, Menjangan Island also has very good diving and snorkeling.

    • avatar Tony says:

      Sounds like you had some good luck. The entire time we were in Nusa Tenggara, we encountered person after person who could not contact them. And it was not a question of electricity, they did not respond to email, phone calls, or any other form of communication for weeks on end. Even in town, they seemed to have a reputation for not picking up the phone, that’s why someone gave me their “real” telephone number (which I chose not to use). I assume that they were busy during the period when we visited and just felt picking up the phone was too much work. I have no doubt that they would pick it up if they had openings. But our experience was far too common. And there are many other comments online about how hard it is to contact them. That is simply not the way you want to run a business. Maybe your experience reflects a new direction for La Petite Kepa. I certainly hope so.

  9. avatar kevin says:

    hello again tony if you read thge first comment you will find the answer why you couldnt contact them they were not there ced and anne close from early dec till early march for diving. it quite possible they were not even in indonesia. every dive destanation has off season in alor the north west monsoon bring strong winds heavy rain and stronger than normalcurrent from the north. cedric also says that the diving at thios time is not very good. the bungalows are still open in off season just no diving happens.In regards to fish life well early morning and late afternoon are the times to see feeding fish or anytime with the right current which can be tricky to get right as many divers dont like current but want to see big fish…bit like going to the beach and not wanting to get sand in your feet haha. sorry tony your theory on the dolphins eating too much fish is just plan stupid in fact large numbers of yellowfin, big eye and bonito tuna pass thru the straights but these are pelagic fish the alomost never come to the reefs that is why there so many dolphins mate. umm if your bcd is self inflating the teach you in open water course dis connect the inflator hose> and after 100dives your bouyancy must be good so once you got to max depth you should have disconnected it pity you had bad dives with tomas i know gilles and donavan too and they adn cedric are passionate about alor and try to protect the reefs.tomas i have met many times and said hello many time only to recive a blank stare i after many time called him mr happy coz never see him smile. price wise cedric offers 1 dive for 28or 30 euro and if you do many it come down to artound 20euro plus 5 for equipment.this is cheaper than kamodo or lembongan..i hope you change you negative opinion of alor and next time choose a dive operator who cares about diving in alor good luck..bye the way i have dived over 250 different dives sites in indo and raja empat alor and kamodo are my favorites but coz of the great reefs as well as great muck alor just comes out on top for me.

    • avatar Tony says:

      Hi Kevin,

      Yes, we realize that La Petite Kepa is closed after December. Although this was posted in Feb, our visit was actually in late October to early November. We had quite a large time buffer between our actual location and the post to give us the opportunity to stay in remoter areas without internet connections. The staff of La Petite Kepa simply was not responding to phone calls or correspondence. This tendency was confirmed by numerous tourists we met in several parts of Nusa Tenggara as well as in Alor itself. As I mention several times, locals in town, who confirmed that La Petite Kepa often lets the phone ring, gave us a “special” number which would have allowed us to contact them. We also encountered two French tourists who had been attempting to contact them for weeks and were only able to get their attention by having a local boatman take them over to the island so they could physically walk in and request a bungalow. The two tourists did enjoy La Petite Kepa, but they were quite frustrated with the difficulties contacting them. As I mention in the post, we felt that not even responding to calls or emails conveyed a lack of professionalism that we did not want to deal with, so we threw the special telephone number away.

      Here are some points in response to your comment:

      1) While I gave up after the first day. Our friend did a total of 30 dives in Alor and reported a lack of fish the entire time.

      2) We dove Clown Valley early in the morning. No fish.

      3) We do not avoid currents. Quite to the contrary, we love strong currents (and the associated fish)

      4) Suggesting that a super-pod of dolphins might affect fishlife is not stupid. A thousand feeding dolphins is likely to have an impact on a site. And we spotted the dolphins off Clown Valley every day while we were there. More importantly, I made that statement (along with others) to concede that low numbers of fish might have some natural causes rather than just being a result of local fishing. I also conceded that it simply may have been timing. We are simply reporting our experience in Alor.

      5) I was able to maintain buoyancy without any problems despite Thomas’ horrendous equipment and each of my dives lasted nearly an hour despite the fact that I was losing air the entire time. The point is that dive equipment should never be in that condition. And we write our posts for everyone who wants to dive. We do not assume all of our readers have extensive dive experience. We are tired of dive shops responding to safety concerns by attacking dive skills. Safety should be the number one concern at EVERY shop. Lazy dive operators and dive guides are dangerous.

      6) It sounds like Cedric’s prices are coming down. He certainly wasn’t offering them at that price in 2011 (at least not to anyone we met who had been there)

      7) I agree that Alor has fantastic muck potential.

  10. avatar kevin says:

    hi again tony.. ok in response to your above comments first cedric has been offerring 30euro per dive since 2005 and the price comes down the more you do since 2years they offer 28euro per dive so dont know who you talked to but those are the prices.so cedric ceertianly was offering those prices in 2011. second alor does not have fantastic much potential it has fantsatic muck diving and that is well known withy people who have visited and dives there it is as good as lembeh or ambon on its day without the mass of plastic that those dives spots can have. you said in yourself after 3dives you had done your last dive in alor i felt it was a pity so tryed to open your eyes to the fact that alor is in fact one of the richest and most diverse marine eco systems not only in indo but on the planet, but you after your extensive experience of 2 reef dives in alor still say other wise. its a pity for you and anyone who reads your blog and thinks you know .lastly you have the dolphin story the wrong way around if there was no fish in alor it would be impossible to support super pods of dolphins. you obviously didnt read that in fact large number s of different tuna as well big schools of smaller pelagic fish pass through the straight these fish almost never come to the reefs as they are pelagic that is what the dolphins eat so please dont make up theorys based on what appears to be ignorance. you didnt enjoy the dives with tomas and didnt see lots of fish ok that happens sometimes but dont say there isnt any fish in alor coz it false. how you made it to clown valley early morning i dont know coz it takes tomas a hour to get out of the long bay and another 20min to get to te site and tomas usually leave town at 9am the sun rises at about 5.20 or before in oct nov .ok enough i will let you blog in peace now haha but please before you make big statements at least try to base them on fact ok. i and my freinds have thousands of dives in indo and other top dive spots in the world and still alor is probably my favorite bye 🙂

  11. Hi Tony,
    bad promotion is also promotion. We not only have customers who write after 1 day diving comments like you 🙂
    More comments from Divers who dove with us you can read here on Taucher.net or on Alor Dive. Comment 1, comment 2, comment 3, comment 4, comment 5, comment 6, comment 7.

    • avatar Tony says:

      I only dove one day with you Thomas because your operation was SO incredibly unprofessional. Frankly, if anything our review was generous because we knew you were running a family business and we were hoping you would get your act together. Your equipment was deadly, as a guide you were virtually comatose, and when I tried to discuss additional dive options with you, you seemed completely uninterested. I hope that these comments you have included reflect a change in direction for your business.

  12. avatar Nicolai says:

    I had my 5 day trip to Alor all planned, flying from Labuan bajo. unfortunatly the day before departure, one of the 3 flights flying that route smashed into 3 cows on the airfield. So no Alor trip for me /cry but cheap hamburgers in town the next few days 🙂
    Anna from la petie, was very helpfull and nice and responsive throughout our email seance and refunded my deposits no problem.

    please dont say that Bali, especially us liberty, is any good. in my opinion you need to go further east to find the real diving. which coincidentally is also the best diving in the world. Lembeh in the north is also nice but diversity in Bunaken seems to have been shattered, not sure what happened.

    • avatar Tony says:

      “Email seance” is the perfect expression because contacting them while we were there was as difficult as contacting the spirit world. Unless something has dramatically changed (which it might have), you would have to be crazy to think the U.S.S. Liberty is not any good. It is consistently ranked among the best shore dives in the world. But if you dive mid-day once the jacks and the bumpheads are gone and the the pygmy seahorses have gone into hiding from the hordes of day trippers, it would be a much less rewarding site. Bali has some amazing macro dive sites which are really worth a visit.

      Alor clearly had great macro potential as well. If I had had a better guide, I definitely would have spent more time exploring the macro sites there. In reality, good diving is far more than remoteness; it’s protection of local fishlife and coral, good guides, reasonable infrastructure, and professionally run dive establishments.

  13. avatar Anne says:

    Hello Tony,
    I am Anne, from Kepa. I’ve just been informed about your blog. I don’t want to debate about Alor underwaters life (for sure we consider it very interesting! otherwise we would not be here since so long…), but just to reply about this contact-problem.
    First, the number in Lonely planet guide book is wrong… that’s a reason why some people failed. Guests can join us to 2 phone numbers from march to december : 081339102403 (mine,I always answer to sms, and hold when I am not busy teaching my girls or other tasks!)or 081353709719 (Cedric’s one, who answers sms only, because often underwater (:/) or close to the compressor (:/) and is a bit deaf anyway (:()… Then, we have email address la_petite_kepa@hotmail.com, and if it sometimes happens that emails are “spamed”, most of the time it works.
    No “secret numbers” or so, we would be crazy to not want customers… By the way, it is funny (actually sad… because it is a personal strike, not an opinion about our business) how this guy’s comment about “snobby” and “french preference” became for you a “reputation” (well, it happens by replicating it, like in your post…). People who know us know that it is not matching with us… although we have for sure many weakness & flaws!(but hopefully they are not publically published on internet :O …)
    Sorry to give you a bad “impression” while never met, but thanks for having room for comments in your blog.

    • avatar Tony says:

      Hi Anne,

      Thanks for leaving your comment and providing the contact info, however we did have your correct numbers while we were in Alor. It was never a question of misunderstanding. In fact, when we called La Petite Kepa, somebody did pick up the phone and hung up again on more than one occasion. Other travelers who had not pre-booked with you, reported the same thing. Locals in Kalabahi, confirmed you were very difficult to contact. I referred to the “secret” phone number in quotes because that is what they called the phone number when they gave it to me. We were told by several locals that the best way to contact you was to simply drive out and take a boat over to the island to talk to you directly. There were two girls who did exactly that while we were there. Their experience interacting with you was largely why we decided not to go out there ourselves. We did not report that on our blog because we did not experience that interaction directly.

      While we heard a lot of complaints about La Petite Kepa when it comes to communicating with you, we heard very positive things about you as dive guides, especially when it comes to macro dives. I will suggest to our readers that dive locations and dive shops have good days and bad days and we realize that. We are simply writing what we experienced ourselves. Your reputation was a very real part of what we experienced. Believe it or not, we heard repeated complaints in Bali, Lombok, Komodo, and Flores about your interaction with visitors, several of these complaints were from people who had stayed with you themselves. Despite those complaints, we were attempting to dive with you to experience your operation first-hand.

      As for diving Alor, I have no doubt that diving can be good. Perhaps even excellent at more remote sites. The sites we dove were pretty with nice coral and beautifully clear waters. As we mentioned in the post, Alor has fantastic macro potential; however, Thomas was not the right guide for macro diving. While I stopped diving after three dives, I spent ten days exploring the coasts of Alor and snorkeling the reefs. Every place I explored had beautiful coral, few fish, and tons of fish baskets. My dive partner continued diving with Thomas and did approximately 30 dives. He reported similar dive conditions at every site and, although he enjoyed the coral and beautiful waters, he experienced few true highlights (he was not a macro fan). Several of the comments above suggest that there are remote sites which you and other dive guides can show visitors. For the sake of Alor, I really do hope that that is true.

      And to visitors to our blog, the best way to know if Alor is a good dive destination is to go check it our for yourselves.

  14. avatar Piotr says:

    Hi Tony, really good to read that you have realistic approach to visited places, esp. when everybody is so ecstatic about them. We really appreciate your criticism about alor as we are planning to visit it soon and now our expectations r a bit more realistic…

    anyway can you advice on where you stayed when exploring alor? We need to have a back up option if we don’t hear back from kepa…

    btw we noticed you guys were to seraya the same year as we and that you liked it a lot. we had similar feelings about this beautiful place and were really sad to learn that they r now rebuilding it into fancy resort kind of place. will be around soon and will try to check how it looks like now. but it seems that ‘our’ seraya is now long gone…

  15. avatar Irina (Russia) says:

    Dear Tony,thank you for your response. I am thinking of visit to Alor but after reading your response I have changed my mind and decided to come back to Ambon 2nd time.
    La Petit and Tomas have not already answered for 2-3 days of my email

  16. avatar Thomas says:

    I replay emails during 24 hours. I don’t got an email from you!

  17. I like this disappointing website about Alor:-)

    Here is a comment to the blog.

    To use a speed boat without any comfort for the divers, which use so mutch “eco” fuel is more flexible. This is why you have to drop an anker into the intact coral reefs on the dive sites in Alor: see picture, during you dive with your customers and your stuff can sleep on the boat.

  18. Hi all,

    I was diving Alor twice, in 2006 and 2010 and I dove it with Donovan Withford from Dive Alor.
    I must say this guy is so friendly and funny and knows all the divespots very good, he understands diving perfect.
    So know the currents and choose his divespots well.
    What you say about the fish is maybe a bit true, I saw more fish in 2006 then 2010 but it also depends on the season, month and specially on the moon.
    I saw both times very big whales, saw thousands of dolphins and Kal’s dream is an amazing spot. Water temperature can be change very quick due to upwelling currents which change the pattern of the fish, dolphins…..
    I’m going back in april 2015 with Donovan to see how things are changed and if Alor still is a topdivespot!!
    Wish you all the best and safe diving!!
    Glenn Tessens
    CMAS/NELOS 3*Instructor

    • avatar Tony says:

      Hi Glenn,

      Please let us know about your dive experience. We would love to hear an update on the situation in Alor.

  19. avatar Lena says:

    I had been to Komodo (liveaboard), Tulamben/Liberty Wreck (a few times), Nusa Penida and Lembongan (a few times) BEFORE diving in Alor with La Petite Kepa (2009), and I found La Petite Kepa diving much superior to Tulamben and Nusa Penida/Lembongan, and on par with Komodo. I am an Indonesian, and was at Petite Kepa with a bunch of other nationalities including Australians and Germans. In no ways were we ‘discriminaate against’. All emails were answered promptly that even phone calls weren’t necessary. The diving was fantastic. Cedric is very patient and knows the secret critter hangouts. Kepa has a great balance of great diving, good food, interesting crowd, and laid-back and beautiful views.

    There’s not many places I’d go to twice (given so many options in Indonesia to try) but I am considering another trip there this year.

    [Another place I go back a few times is Lumba-Lumba in Weh.]

    • avatar Thomas says:

      @Lena, it’s good to hear that you’ve had a positive experience with Petite Kepa. We seem to hear more and more positive about this operation, and it appears things have turned around and are heading into the right direction. We always appreciate diver’s input, so please tell us about your experiences diving in Alor.

  20. avatar Mumun says:

    I recently dove Alor and it was top notch! But then again, when speaking of diving, I guess luck comes into the equation. I’m pretty glad that I made it into La Petit Kepa as an Indonesian. I was also guided by a local that had a good eye. It’s a shame that there is limited amount of dive centers in Alor when in fact, it’s really good.

    I’m currently writing about my experience and was looking for reviews about Thomas. Unfortunately, I found this. Oh well.

    • avatar Tony says:

      Hey Mumun,

      We would love to see your review when it’s finished. There’s a lot of interest in Alor, but very few solid tips. Let us know which sites you recommend, highlights, etc. If you send us a link, we’ll link into it.

  21. I found your post when googling about “Why diving in Alor” – I was contemplating in between Alor versus Maluku 😀 Actually now in 2015-ish, there are more dive resorts in Alor. I found one dive resort that being recommended by numerous scuba divers in online forum, preferably not mention its name here but for sure not the two dive resorts mentioned by your blog posts. Anyway, have you been diving in Ambon/Maluku? Just wondering how the comparison between those two places. Personally I am considering Alor because my partner and I love drift diving for which Alor is famous for. Thanks for your honesty in reporting Alor dive sites condition. It won’t help especially when the diving services is disappointing, been in similar situation myself 🙂

    • avatar Tony says:

      Hey Indah,

      We have heard great things about Maluku from people on liveaboards, although I don’t know how well developed the land-based diving infrastructure is. If you do go to Alor and stay at one of the other resorts, we would love to hear about your experience when you get back. We like to think there is a lot of potential in Alor, but when we were there, we just didn’t see any evidence of it.

      The coral is nice and the macro-diving potential would be good with an experienced muck dive guide. But by Indonesian standards (which of course are some of the highest in the world), I thought it was being a bit hyped.

      We hope you have a great trip wherever you end up.

  22. avatar kevin says:

    hmmm why people ask tony about diving in indonesia is a wonder to me tony knows almost zero about diving in indonesia ..i was lucky to come back to alor in 2014 after 19mths not able to dive n i was in paradise. alor muck diving is as good as lembeh or ambon on its day it doesnt get any better.n unlike tony i have dived in ambon and lembeh as wel as the bandas ..the coral in alor is still the best of any areas i have seen in indonesia.just 12 days ago i saw a thresher shark n a mola2 on the same dive in one of the amazing aneimonie places which are unique to alor n a couple of other places..blue ring octopus bamboo sharks twany nursse sharks dog tooth tuna napoleons bumpheads groupers sometimes incerdible schools of fulisers that block out the light/ in two moths i saw 35 different frog fish. i recently saw 9different rhinopious many great nudis cerstasoma aleni n even phyldesium rudimans 1st time ever to see that one. as for dangerous diving lembongan has diving deaths everyyear n now kamodo also has had 2 deaths in the last year.plus the fees of 175000rp per day park fee n 250000rp on weekends ..

  23. avatar Thomas says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I like your comment about Tony and this website about diving in Alor!

  24. avatar Thomas says:

    once more… how looks a phyldesium rudimans? can’t find this animal on Google 🙁

  25. avatar Tony says:

    Thanks for the comments. By the way, capitalization and timing reveal a lot, Thomas. As does the timing of your comments. If you actually read my article, you will notice that I mention that Alor has great macro (muck) potential. That was never in doubt. But good macro diving requires a good, attentive guide.

  26. avatar Gilles says:

    can you contact me in private please, i lost your email

  27. avatar Elle says:

    Hey Tony. Very informative website! I’ve followed lots of,the comments (not all) about Alor and I was wondering if you had gone back? If so, what was your experience the most recent time? I will be celebrating my 100 dive this weekend in Roche Richelieu and because my monetary resources are exceedingly limited, I will have to very carefully choose my next and last dive for a while ( a long while) and a place to do my dive master course. (2 separate businesses) I’d love to have your advice as to where in Indo I should spend my last 4 dives (unfortunately, MY experience in Komodo was expensive and quite disappointing) and where in the SEA you would recommend to do PADI dive master (if you have an opinion on that) I love both, micro and macro life (not to be confused with micro and macro photography, which are essentially the same thing depends on which brand you shoot with, and not,to be confused with close-ups, which ppl do all the time 🙂 ) and I’m very interested in all this muck-diving of which I have not done much. Feel free to send me a PM by email with your feedback, and Thanks a bunch for all these very-well- put- together info!

  28. avatar Ruth says:

    You might need to return. I dived in Alor i Oct/Nov 2015 and it was the best diving Ive experienced. Better than Raja Ampat, Komodo, Sulawesi. Swam with mola mola, three days in a row, saw 5 hammerheads, healthy spectacular coral, fabulous muck and cant wait to retun in March. Go visit Max at Alami Alor. I wasn’t a fan of muck diving until I met Max who showed me some amazing critters. Great place for people who like reefs, walls and muck, Alor has everything.

    • avatar Tony says:

      Thanks, Ruth for your great comment on diving in Alor. Can you recommend any specific dive sites that you thought were highlights? We would love some recommendations. There is a chance that we will return to Indonesia in 2016 or 2017.

  29. avatar Ruth says:

    I loved the dive site Great Wall of Pantar the best, and the other dive site at Pantar cause of the hammerheads, but all very depending on tides which were very strong at times. Enjoyed Clown Valley too, I think from memory each resort names the sites differently, but if you go back check out Alami Alor. When we saw Mola Mola after dives they didnt mind me jumping in and snorkelling with them each time, nothing was too much, very relaxed vibe and nice long dives.

    • avatar Tony says:

      Thanks, Ruth, for recommending some sites you enjoyed. If anybody else has been to Alor recently, we would love to hear about your experience.

  30. avatar Ruth says:

    I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed it, you may find this info interesting.

  31. avatar John says:

    Hi there,
    I read your blog post on Alor both before and after I went there. I have to say I disagree. I didn’t do many dives there either, just a handful but they were great. We saw dolphins, several mola mola at one time, marble rays, massive schools of fish, beautiful coral gardens, and for the macro so many nudis, different types of shrimp and even a hairy octopus. I would recommend you go back and try again.

    I think the title of your blog post is misleading, at first when I read it it almost made me feel like I shouldn’t go there, but now reading it again I realize it’s not like you did that many dives in Alor or were happy with the dive operator, but again this is based on just small sample of dives.

    It’s a shame your post appears at the top in google for Alor diving because I think it influences people’s decision on where they are choosing to go for their next holiday, I feel sorry for those who decide not to go there based on your post because it is truly a special place.

    • avatar Tony says:

      Hi John, If you read the whole article, you’ll notice that we acknowledge that there were huge schools of dolphins and great macro potential. You are also right that I chose to stop diving because of the quality issues related to our dive shop. However, a friend of ours continued to dive for two weeks and continued to report a lack of fish at all the major sites. Similarly, we found very few fish (and a lot of local fish traps) at many snorkeling sites around the island. We acknowledge in our post that could have been a fluke or timing, but we can only write what we experience. We can’t write it was great if it wasn’t great for us. Alor is a long way to go for no fish. But I can’t help but wonder, if the diving is so great in Alor, why does our old blog article continue to show up in the search results. Shouldn’t the web be flooded with rave reviews of diving in Alor? Just a thought.

  32. avatar John says:

    There are many trip reports on Alor but you have to dig a little deeper or find them on scubaboard.
    I suppose you have just created so much content on your blog that it has a strong ranking in Google.
    Well sorry you didn’t see many fish, I honestly saw some of the biggest schools of fish I had ever seen before… and this is after diving raja ampat, komodo, bali, sulawesi, etc.

  33. avatar mark ford says:

    We have just returned from Alor and stayed and dived with a new resort called Alami Alor owned and run by two cracking people Lauren and Max.
    This place is a hidden treasure and we are no strangers to diving and have dived in over 40 countries.
    Now mucky divers and have dived Komodo and Lembah locally, but to us there is still such good diving here to discover with a mass of nudis and other interesting creatures.
    Yes, heaps of dolphins, hammerheads, mola mola, threshers, whales and eagle rays.
    Some if the reef diving is amazing and stunning enough to put your camera away and explore.
    As this resort is very new it takes some time for serious divers to find, and guess when you previously only have back packer type resorts that get little press then the area gets little mention.
    At the moment Alami Alor only has five bungulows so guess will get booked up pretty quick.
    Their dive boat and crew are awsome and we enjoyed it so much we made the decision to revisit early 2017.

  34. avatar Vino says:

    Hi Tony,
    Alor is wonderful. I had the chance to see the big fishes, the dolphins and the black tip reef sharks. I even spotted a sperm whale cruising between Pulau Kepa and Pulau Pura.

    By the way, thank you for writing regarding your experience in Alor. I stumbled upon this post when I was planning my trip last April.

    There goes a saying “Tidak ada asap tanpa api” or “There is no smoke without fire”. It means, if your service sucks, people will hear about it. If you treat people bad, you’ll likely get a bad reputation. So I searched for other options.

    Now there are more options. Accomodations in Pulau Kepa: Marangki Kepa resort, a one-room homestay near the pier and another one-room homestay next to Marangki Kepa. In Alor Kecil: two-rooms homestay near Tanjung Kumbang gas station. In Sebanjar (about 10 minutes drive from Alor Kecil), you can find bungalows run by the Ministry of Fishery. Dive operators: Air Dive Alor in Alor Kecil and Alor Nusa Dive in Sebanjar.

    It is easier to reach dive sites in Kalabahi Bay (muck dives), Pulau Pura, Pulau Ternate and Pulau Pantar (especially Munaseli) if you stay in Alor Kecil or Sebanjar.

    Now it is even easier to go to Alor. You do not have to spend a night in Kupang before flight to Alor. You can reach Alor from Bali or Jakarta in a day. Go to Alor!

  35. avatar Adi says:

    Raja Ampat will give u second option then 🙂

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