Although not known internationally as a dive destination, the long rugged island of Flores is actually a hidden jewel ignored by most people. Due to its geographic position at the junction of the Australasian and Asian submarine ridges, the waters around Flores yields impressive marine life. The coral reefs of the Flores Sea are amongst the oldest and most of them are in pristine condition, such as the one in Maumere. Known for its endemic species and bio-diversity, diving in Maumere is considered as a real muck diving paradise.
Maumere is the capital of the Sikka District and the largest town in Flores. It is located on the north coast of the island. Having the largest airport on the island of Flores, Maumere became the main gate area for visitors who wanted to travel the eastern part of the island. The airport connects to Bali and a few other major airports in Indonesia. From here, it is not far to most of the resorts or Maumere town centre. Maumere is also connected by a series of bus routes to Ende and a few other points on the island. There is also a ferry service that can take you to Maumere, though it is not recommended due to overload and time consuming. Maumere itself is very picturesque, surrounded by volcanoes and rugged mountain peaks draped in a lush tropical rainforest. The bay of Maumere is relatively calm due to the two magnificent outlying islands of Palau Besar and Dambilah that act as a natural barrier that offer great views and calm waters. This town is also known for its word-famous colorful weaved fabrics.
This little haven once considered as the best muck diving site in the world before the tsunami struck the area in December 12th 1992. An earthquake of 7.8 magnitudes, with the epicenter located only a few kilometers from pulau Babi, has caused a series of large tsunami waves. 1690 Flores islanders died and the tsunami destroyed approximately 18,000 houses on land.
Despite being damaged from the 1992 tsunamis and reckless dynamite fishing, the underwater world of Maumere is recovering nicely. With the joined effort of local community and government, the promotion of Maumere tourism is heavily prioritized. This is initiated with an annual cultural event entitled” Maumere in Love”, fostering both local and international tourism interest in the region around Maumere.
There are many popular dive sites near Maumere, one of them is Wairterang which lies just to the East of the town. Here you will find a Japanese shipwreck that lies at 12m–32m depth, where some of its body is overgrown with hard and soft corals. Schools of trevallys, mackerels, groupers and batfish can be seen swim around its surface and the wreck is a perfect hiding place for all kinds of marine animals.
There are also some nice dives on the east coast of Palau Besar, with beautiful coral gardens & plenty of interesting marine life such as Trevally, Mackeral, Flatworms and Shrimps. South-east of Palau Besar is a current-washed channel with the chance to see Sharks & Eagle Rays.
Palau Babi also has excellent diving, with abundant soft corals and crevices hiding macro delights such as Frogfish and Pygmy Seahorses with occasional Sharks and Eagles Rays.
Despite the damage it has sustained, Maumere is still host to several world-class dive sites. The immense wealth of macro life and possible encounters with dolphins and whales in its water is sure to keep any diver fascinated for hours.