After a number of trips to Lembeh (the last of which was admittedly a bit underwhelming), I thought it was time to switch it up a bit. On the advice of a couple of professional underwater photographers, it was suggested that I try Ambon. Their reasoning was that it’s “critters without crowds”, which it turns out is pretty much the marketing slogan of all the dive operations in Ambon. There are still only 3-4 dive operations in Ambon at the moment, unlike the 20-30 that are operating around Lembeh. I was reliably informed the diving was supposed to be “same-same, but different” in terms of the critters, but without the dive sites being overcrowded. In all honesty, I never really found overcrowding to be an issue in Lembeh anyway – except on the evening mandarin fish dives. Perhaps it just comes down to which resort you stay at and how well they plan out the dive schedule each day?
I flew into Ambon just before New Years from Sorong after spending Christmas diving in Raja Ampat. I did this combination of destinations due to a convenient flight connection between the two on Garuda. My stay for the week in Ambon was at Maluku Divers Resort. The resort wasn’t nearly as rustic as the one at Kri, but then Ambon is certainly less remote than Raja Ampat. I deliberately scheduled the trip to dive Ambon after Raja Ampat so that I could chill out a bit more and relax in comfort (a real shower!) before heading home – with a messy flight schedule: Ambon-Makassar-Jakarta-Bali-Sydney-Brisbane-Townsville.
As mentioned previously, the diving in Ambon is largely considered to be quite similar to the diving in Lembeh (see here and here for previous Lembeh trip photos), which basically means a focus on muck diving. However, unlike Lembeh, there is actually a bit more diversity in the dive sites on offer. In addition to the muck, Ambon has a nice wreck to dive, and a number of other wide angle opportunities that Lembeh doesn’t really have.
If I’m being totally honest, the main reason I really wanted to go to Ambon was to see rhinopia and psychedelic frogfish. Everyone’s got a critter list – these two were on mine, along with a hairy octopus…One day.
I saw the rhinopia. No hairy octopus. No psychedelic frogfish – by all accounts nobody has seen one for several years, and the consensus around Ambon seems to be that scientists took them as specimens to research, and basically wiped out the entire population as a consequence. I really hope that isn’t true, because as much as I support scientific research, that just screams “ethics violation!”…
The diving itself was ok. A bit of a strong current at times, which was beyond ridiculous for muck diving. Seriously, it was as bad as Raja Ampat on occasion, and a reef hook would have come in handy – if there’d actually been anywhere to hook in to. That didn’t impress me much.
Anyway, photos below. Some better than others. I like the black and white ones I was playing with on some of the jetty dives. I might even frame one.