Ambon Liveaboard Diving, Indonesia
Ambon is one of the best critter diving locations in the world. Liveaboards visit this fantastic destination as part of an extended Banda Sea cruise in and around the Maluku Archipelago.
Ambon Liveaboard Diving can be experienced during an extended cruise in and around the Maluku Archipelago. Cruises through the remote Forgotten Islands may begin or end their trip in Ambon. You can explore the Spice Islands in the Banda Sea during a cruise that ends in Ambon. Or perhaps you will dive in Ambon at the end of a cruise that began in Raja Ampat.
Ambon is one of the best critter diving locations in the world. Ambon Bay has a vast array of weird and wonderful creatures. The dive sites here are very uncrowded. It is the perfect dive spot to begin or end a liveaboard adventure.
Divers can certainly cross off many creatures that are on their scuba diving bucket list! Living here, there is even an amazing species of frogfish seen nowhere else in the world!
Outside Ambon there are wonderful reefs to explore. There are walls covered in corals, impressive swim throughs and larger fish. So, it’s not all about muck diving! Book your liveaboard today!
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There are two very distinct diving areas close to the city of Ambon. Ambon Bay is renowned for world-class critter diving. Outside of the Bay, on the south of Ambon island, are walls, beautiful corals, swim-throughs and clear water.
Ambon Bay is a renowned muck diving destination. Muck diving is an affectionate name for diving on what might at first glance look like a desolate sandy bottom. However, this environment is full of some of the weirdest and most wonderful creatures you will have the chance to see!
There are many dive sites in Ambon Bay. Many of them are on the two shorelines that sit opposite each other at the entrance of the bay. We list the most popular sites below.
As with many muck diving destinations, the long shoreline gets divided into different dive sites. The name of the village on one section of the shore is Laha. This length of black sand beach gets divided up into several great dive spots.
Twilight Zone is under a couple of wooden jetties. Fishing boats come here to load and unload. The shadows of the docks and boats attract huge schools of scads. Big schools of fish is not a common sighting on muck dives, but here the numbers of fish are quite astonishing.
Down in the sand, there are all sorts of macro creatures. Frogfish, especially hairy froggies, like this spot. Rhinopias, moray eels, nudibranchs, snake eels, and many different types of shrimps can be seen at this brilliant dive site.
At the other side of the jetties is a load of big rocks and boulders. At dusk try looking in this area for mandarin fish. For the lucky divers, you can witness these beautiful fish’s mating ritual as the sun goes down.
Night dives here are very exciting. If you thought you saw a lot of crazy critters during the day, you should check it out at night! When it is dark, you might see coconut, starry night and long-arm octopus hunt around the sand. Moray eels can be seen swimming outside of their daytime hiding places. Reptilian snake eels, with their heads poking out of the sand, look even more eerie with torchlight! The green eyes of shrimp peer at you and crabs scurry away and bury into the sand when your light shines on them. Well worth getting that wetsuit on again for the final dive of the day!
Further up the same shoreline is Rhino City, so named for the Rhinopias found here. Divers call these beautiful scorpion fish, the holy grail of fish. Extremely difficult to find, they are almost comical with their large eyebrows and snouted noses.
Mimic octopus shares the sandy slopes with other wonderful creatures. Juvenile barramundi cods and harlequin sweetlips wiggle in among small rocks and hard corals. Many different types of nudibranchs are here too.
Be careful of the devil scorpionfish and stonefish burying themselves in the sand. Colourful fire sea urchins house Coleman shrimps and zebra crabs. Ghost pipefish camouflage themselves next to feather stars. Pretty fingered dragonets and Pegasus sea moths walk around on the sand. Ribbon eels in all colours like the shallows here.
This incredible dive site is set around the concrete posts of a large jetty. Divers interested in photography might even consider switching to a wide-angle lens for this dive site. Giant frogfish love it here and make great foreground models with the jetty posts as a backdrop.
Schools of colourful yellow and white butterflyfish feed on the algae growing on the jetty posts. All sorts of different types of pipefish slither around on the jetty posts that have fallen to the ground. Pretty flabellina nudibranchs in their numbers crawl around on the jetty structure.
On the other side of Ambon Bay is Tanjung Nama. This shoreline is named after the quiet village here. Each large section of the coastline here produces very different dive experiences.
One section of the dive area begins around a mooring line inside a sandy bay. Giant frogfish have been found sitting on the coral-encrusted rope. Down below is a sandy slope. Coconut octopus, flounders, flamboyant cuttlefish are unique critters to see here.
Further along the shore, the sandy slopes become a bit rockier, especially in the shallows. Here a rare octopus, the Mototi can be found. Seahorses, nudibranchs, ghost pipefish are just a few of the particular critters often seen here.
Finally, the topography changes dramatically. Suddenly the reef is full of elephant ear sponges of all different colours. Giant frogfish nestle inside these sponges to find personal cleaning stations. Ribbon eels, leaf fish, dragonets and shrimps all hang out at this section of the dive site.
SS Aquila Wreck
Deep inside Ambon Bay is this massive wreck. Built initially as SS Duke of Sparta in the UK, she was later named SS Aquila. The cargo ship sank in 1958 after being bombed during a covert CIA operation.
Aquila is on a slope on the seabed off Ambon City. Her stern is about 15 metres below the surface. The bow slopes down to around 35 metres. The visibility this far inside the bay is quite often not so good. However, this doesn’t distract from how beautiful the ship is with all the corals that have grown on the hull since she sunk. Fish such as fusiliers and surgeonfish are attracted to this artificial reef. Nudibranch crawl about on the wreck too.
Outside Ambon Bay
On the south of Ambon island, the diving changes dramatically. There are walls, beautiful corals, swim-throughs and clear water.
Hukurila Cave is located off the village of the same name. There is a long, colourful wall here. There a several entrances to the cave, actually a cavern. Inside the cavern, there are usually sweepers schooling inside.
Outside the cave, you can enjoy the blue water. Giant barrel sponges and whip corals host shrimps and crabs. Sea fans might house some tiny pygmy seahorses.
The meaning of Pintu Kota is ‘Door to the City’. A huge underwater arch has formed in the rock ridge here. This creates a vast swim-through. Large sea fans, soft corals and long whip corals decorate the reef. Fish school around the arch and turtles sometimes swim by this dive site.
The dive can either begin at the arch and then continue along the small wall. Big sponges are host to pink squat lobsters. Nudibranchs can be seen along the wall too.
Ambon Liveaboard Diving
Liveaboards will visit Ambon Bay as part of an extended cruise. Perhaps you will dive in Ambon at the end of a trip that began in Raja Ampat. Or maybe you will travel through the Banda Islands after starting your adventure in Ambon Bay. Forgotten Islands cruises may also start or end in Ambon.
You can read more about these fantastic destinations below.
Diving in the Banda Sea is all about deep, endless walls topped by untouched coral gardens. Crystal clear blue water and schooling fish. Best accessed by liveaboards, book your cruise to this exciting destination now!
For more information about the Banda Sea, please click on the photo.
Diving in the Forgotten Islands is the ultimate liveaboard adventure. Volcanic islands rise out of the deep blue waters and vast sea mounts are home to schooling hammerhead sharks.
For more information about the Forgotten Islands, please click on the photo.
Ambon Scuba Diving Highlights
- Common Sightings – The list of common sightings is long, and divers will be spoiled for the number of special critters that are counted as common in Ambon! Frogfish, many types of nudibranchs, leaf fish, moray eels, crabs, shrimps such as bumblebee and tiger, seahorses plus many, many more!
- Special Sightings – Rhinopias - paddleflap and weedy scorpionfish, psychedelic frogfish, mimic octopus, wunderpus octopus, harlequin shrimps, mototi octopus, flamboyant cuttlefish – too many unique creatures to mention!
- Topography – Inside Ambon Bay is muck diving with some differences such as jetties. Outside Ambon Bay are walls and swim throughs.
- Visibility – One factor that creates the fantastic life in Ambon Bay, is the number of nutrients in the water. These nutrients feed tiny crustacean and fish that in turn begin a plentiful food chain. Therefore, in excellent muck diving locations, the water is rarely blue! But it is ok because you will always be looking down for macro critters! Outside the bay is clear water diving with visibility reaching up to 20+ metres plus.
- General Information – Divers can enjoy Ambon Bay with all experience levels. Good buoyancy control is a must though, as wayward fins will create sandstorms!
- Onboard Options – Liveaboards usually begin or end their cruises in Ambon, so there are no land tours here.
Best Time to Go
You can dive all year round in Ambon, but conditions do vary. Liveaboards usually are there in March to May and again in September to November. Some liveaboards might visit at other times when cruising between other destinations such as Raja Ampat.
How to Get There
There are two main ports of entry into Indonesia - Bali (DPS) and Jakarta (CGK). From there you can take a domestic flight to Ambon. Bali does not have direct flights to Ambon so you will have to change planes in Surabaya (SUB) or Makassar (UPG). There are direct flights from/to Jakarta.
Liveaboards offer Ambon as part of an extended tour so you may join the boat or leave the ship on a different island.
To join liveaboards for a Forgotten Islands cruise that departs or arrives into Ambon, you may need to fly into Saumlaki (SXK) on the island of Tanimbar.
To join liveaboards for a cruise through the Banda Sea you may need to fly into or out of Maumere (MOF). Maumere can be reached with a short domestic flight out of Bali (DPS).
Other cruises might begin or end in Raja Ampat. For those trips, you fly into or out of Sorong (SOQ).