Tag Archives: Diving Destinations

Eco Rustic | La P’tite Kepa Homestay, Kepa Island, Sumba, Indonesia

By Dian Hasan | July 29, 2010


Nature at its best. Resplendent and abundant. La P’tite Founder, Cedric swimming in the azure waters with his daughter Lila [R]

Your closest brush with castaway tropical island life a la Robinson Crusoe may probably await you at this little gem of accommodation in the least known regions of Eastern Indonesia.

La P’tite Kepa Homestay is located on a small idyllic island called Kepa (Pulau Kepa in Indonesian), in the middle of Pantar Strait, the heart of Alor archipelago. Just 5-minutes by boat from Alor Kecil village, on Alor main island west coast, this is a central place to explore Alor Islands and the dive sites.

If the first thing that struck you was the hotel’s decidedly Euro-skewed name, you paid attention well.

La P’tite Kepa Homestay is the brainchild of Cedric & Anne Lechat, a French couple who became smitten with Alor Islands when they traveled there in the late 1980s. The eco-friendly homestay is a vision of that love, built in stages over the years, and involving the immediate community every step of the way. Fred & Anne had been practicing eco- and sustainable-tourism principles long before it became the buzzworthy catchphrase it is today.


La P’tite Founder Cedric and a big catch of the day (Marlin) [R]


Upstairs sleeping area of the Lopo traditional Alor house. The sleeping quarters are in the attic, the only enclosed area of this open-air pavilion.

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Divine Diving | Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia

By Dian Hasan | July 22, 2010


Raja Ampat means “four kings”, referring to the islands Salawati, Batanta, Waigeo and Misool. This region on the north-western tip of New Guinea comprises about 610 islands spread over 50,000 sq km of spectacular scenery. Here we also find the remote islands of Misool a scenic range of majestic limestone structures with precipitous cliffs and craggy spires.

According to Conservation International, marine surveys suggest that the marine life diversity in the Raja Ampat area is the highest recorded on Earth. Diversity is considerably greater than any other area sampled in the Coral Triangle composed of Indonesia, Philippines and Papua New Guinea. The Coral Triangle is the heart of the world’s coral reef biodiversity, making Raja Ampat quite possibly the richest coral reef ecosystems in the world.

  • Over 1,000 species of fish
  • Over 700 molluscs
  • Over 540 species of scleractinian (hard) corals = 75% of the world total
  • 4.6 million hectares of reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves and rocky coastline
  • Scarcely populated and minimal industrial development

No wonder that this ecosystem attracts more and more divers and is earmarked by the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and Culture for future eco-tourism development. With this in mind, the Government of Indonesia is looking to nominate the archipelago as a World Heritage Site.

Some of the highlights include the great dives and under as well as above water caves of Misool, the blue water mangroves, the reefs of the Fam Islands, the fish and manta rays of the Dampier straight, the pearl farm at Aljui Bay and the great karst islands of the Wayag Archipelago. Then there are the extensive mangrove forests and the many deserted beaches. Some excellent diving can be found in the “blue water mangroves” just west of the Island of Misool. In the north there is some superb critter diving at Waigeo Island and great coral and fish dives in Dampier Straight.


Kri Island_W Papua_iIrian_Kri_Resort_2
Kri Island_W Papua_infinitypool

The underwater world is enchanting with the greatest and healthiest coral reef biodiversity of its size in the world, nearly 1,200 species of fish and 540 species of coral have been recorded, 70% of the world’s total number of coral species.

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Divine Diving | Komodo National Park, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia

By Dian Hasan | July 22, 2010

Komodo National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site situated in the straits between Sumba and Flores and consists of the three larger islands of Komodo, Rinca and Padar, as well as numerous smaller ones. Because of its unique geology, the islands have developed equally unique wildlife. With dragons on land and a utopia underwater, you will find an array of dive sites and hiking trails to suit every level of experience.

From pristine corals, mantas, sharks, turtles, dolphins, dugong and giant pelagics to tiny pygmy seahorses, nudibranchs and frog fish, you’ll find the diversity of marine life inspiring if not mind boggling. The islands feature a dramatic wild savannah landscape with patches of forest especially on the southern hills of Komodo and Rinca. White and red sand beaches, blue lagoons teeming with fish and some of the most spectacular underwater scenery in the world entice divers and guests from around the world.

The underwater topography is as varied as the marine life it homes. Dive sites vary from gentle coral slopes to sheer cliff walls, channels, flat bottoms, pinnacles, caves, swim-throughs and a host of hard and soft corals. From the Flores Sea in the north, the warm waters gradually become cooler as you travel southwards into the Indian Ocean.

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Sleek & Chic Afloat | Archipelago Adventurer II, Luxury Phinisi Schooner, Indonesia

By Dian Hasan | July 21, 2010

Unbeknown to many visitors who are familiar with Bali, that the island has evolved into a cruise center, from where cruises carrying divers and surfers ply the oceans east of Bali to explore Lesser Sunda Islands of Sumba, Sumbawa, Flores and West Timor. The leading attraction in these waters is of course the Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis) giant monitor lizard that inhabits the island that forms the Komodo National Park.

Unlike the cruise industry in Alaska, Florida, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean, that are centered on large-scale cruise liners, Bali’s are mostly the smaller, human-scale live-aboard ships fashioned from the traditional Phinisi schooners and converted into modern ocean-plying sail boats. Venturing into Indonesia’s many diving and surfing sites in Derawan (East Borneo/Kalimantan), Wakatobi (Southeastern Sulawesi/Celebes), LembehGangga, Sangihe, Talaud (all four in North Sulawesi), Banda (in the Moluccas), and everyone’s ultimate destination: Raja Ampat in West Papua.

Most of them are just that – traditional – offering a rustic experience, not too dissimilar from the way the Bugis people built the original Phinisis. Now finally a sense of design that brings a level of sophistication unseen before, is emerging.

Archipelago Adventurer II represents this new breed of cruise ships. Luxuriously appointed, with clean modern lines, gourmet food, tasteful amenities and furnishing incorporating good design. A breath of fresh air indeed.

An excellent example of fusing the historical and the modern. The hull and exterior are made of traditional Indonesian wood and give the boat a sleek classic feel; unabashedly modern featuring a brushed-metal alloy finish, and contemporary furnishings.

Being such a large vessel at 35 meters with additional interior space, there is an abundance of lounging area both inside and out, whether in the large air-conditioned lounge equipped with full entertainment facilities, the dedicated dining room, relaxing with cocktails on the shaded upper deck, or tanning on the expansive sundeck.

With 10 beautifully finished en-suite cabins and an emphasis on fine dining, a trip on the Adventurer II through the Banda Sea is an experience in relaxation and luxury living, coupled with days full of world class diving. If you’re enriched air certified, then why not take advantage of the free nitrox usage onboard.


Just like in the Caribbean, Banda and the surrounding islands are home to some of the best preserved European forts in Asia. Fort Belgica, built by the Portuguese, Banda Island. Photo: Tony Ferndez

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Eco Rustic | Bajo Komodo Eco Lodge, Komodo Island, East Indonesia

By Dian Hasan | July 15, 2010


Komodo, the world’s largest monitor lizard, can grow up to 3m long. One dragon can bring down a buffalo with a single, poisonous bite.  They can run up to 18 km an hour, and have anything for dinner (incl. humans! Tourists beware! There have been missing tourists in the past).

Arguably, Indonesia’s tourism industry might not be as well developed as some of her Southeast Asian neighbors, and that is of course not due to a lack of attractions. After all, Indonesia is home to Bali, her crown jewel tourism magnet. Indonesia’s entire modern tourism industry seemingly is centered on Bali, leaving other areas relatively undeveloped.

In the past, such condition may have been considered to be behind the times, but in the advent of raised awareness regarding sustainability and eco-consciousness, this is Indonesia’s blessing. For this vast archipelago, with the world’s second richest rainforest biodiversity after the Amazonis most probably the world’s last eden! An endangered eden that is fast disappearing. And it’s up to us all to strive for a sustainable development that champions economic progress without compromising natural resources for future generations.

It is outside Bali, in the unexplored corners of Sumatra, Borneo and Eastern Indonesia, where Indonesia’s greatest gift to mankind is being conserved – her fauna and flora. The Komodo “dragon” monitor lizardOrangutanJava RhinoSumatran Elephant, Rhino and Tiger are just some of the more famous residents – whose habitat can only be found in Indonesia. The fate and survival of these endangered species depend on the global community coming together with the right initiatives.

And while Indonesia is not immune from a tug-o-war between economic growth and conservation and sustainable efforts, it is a balancing act that Indonesia is starting to take seriously, with the help of various international organizations.

Ecotourism is one way, in which these efforts are executed, raising awareness of the animals’ plight, and helping generate much-needed revenue to help with conservation efforts, while practicing responsible tourism.

Eco Lodges Indonesia (ELI) is a pioneering, ecotourism provider operating in an emerging economy, with a focus on biodiversity conservation and enhancement of local community livelihoods. Eco Lodges Indonesia runs four ecolodges in Indonesia’s major National Parks, and partakes in the protection of these endangered animals. The other objective is to improve the livelihoods of local communities where the properties are located.

Eco Lodges Indonesia is one of the first to pursue international sustainable tourism certification in Indonesia, and is committed to achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals through their ecotourism investments and operations.

Bajo Komodo Eco Lodge, Komodo National Park, Komodo Island, East Indonesia

Bajo Komodo Eco Lodge is situated near Labuan Bajo on Flores Island. It is the only hotel of its type close to the Komodo National Park, a World Heritage Site.

Alternative accommodation is available in simple wooden beach bungalows on Seraya Island and Kanawa Island,  just off of Komodo Island. Both of them are charming, offering a back-to-nature getaway, although food options at the latter is rather limited.

Bajo Komodo Eco Lodge combines good accommodation, service and cuisine with the ideal opportunity to view the Komodo Dragon giant monitor lizard, and dive, snorkel or view birds in one of the most beautiful coral and island areas on the globe. The Lodge has mosquito proof rooms with AC, en-suite bathrooms with hot water, IDD phone and a desk with chairs.

It also has a swimming pool, bar and restaurant here you can view magnificent sunsets. The staff are all local people giving it a special atmosphere. Room rates include airport or port transfers, breakfast and daily laundry. We also have a vehicle hire service for local or Trans Flores safaris.

The lodge features the island’s best amenities, including: 8 rooms with AC, fan, hot water and phone, complimentary breakfast, swimming pool, free airport transfers, free daily laundry, a restaurant serving three meals per day at reasonable prices, a bar, bottled drinking water supplied.

Also includes information, books and binoculars for bird and butterfly watching, affordable vehicle hire with modern vehicles and experienced drivers, masks/snorkels for hire (no fins), storage area for diving gear, tour information to Komodo National Park, boat pick-up from the beach for snorkelling, diving or river safari.

Eco Lodge Indonesia operates all their properties in accordance to the “six pillars of eco tourism” as suggested by The University of Western Sydney:

1. Depends on the natural environment
2. Ecologically sustainable
3. Proven to contribute to conservation
4. Features an environmental training program
5. Incorporates cultural considerations
6. Provides a net economic return to the local community. Continue reading

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Eco Heroes ~ Andrew & Marit Miners, Misool Eco Resort, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia

By Dian Hasan | July 12, 2010

In the era where the entire world seems to have been swept by a “Green Fever”, where “eco-consciousness”, “sustainability”, and “giving back” are increasingly entering our daily vocabulary, I thought it’d be interesting to zoom in on the street-level to see first-hand a very special group of people who are “living a green life” across the world.

Now that’s a pretty wide net to cast! So rather than being stuck in a myriad of terminology and areas, arguing about what sustainable, green or eco-oriented means, I’ve chosen to narrow it down to the business world.

One approach that is gaining popularity is the “3Ps” of 1. Profit, 2. People, and 3. Planet, a business model that focuses on doing well (read: be profitable first), and positively impacting the immediate community and environment (read: empower and engage internal customers/staff, all stakeholders and the community, while maintaining low carbon footprint on the environment). This special group of entrepreneurs are now often referred to as Social-Entrepreneurs.

Social entrepreneurship is the work of a social entrepreneur. A social entrepreneur is someone who recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create, and manage a venture to make social change (a social venture). Whereas a business entrepreneur typically measures performance in profit and return, a social entrepreneur focuses on creating social capital. ~ Wikipedia

And I choose to focus on tourism, specifically on the hospitality and travel industry, to see not only how green efforts are put into practice, but more importantly to meet the special group of people who are making a difference. A small but growing community of men and women from all walks of life and backgrounds, for whom the call to take on a responsible cause is pursued with nothing short of a passion and fervor!

Who:

Andrew Miners (UK) and Marit Miners (Sweden), husband and wife team, founders of Misool Eco Resort. Andrew, avid diver, adventure traveler, and old Asia hand, has been involved in diving operations in the region for over 20 years. Marit, Columbia University anthropologist, diver, and yoga practicioner, met Andrew while vacationing in Thailand in 2000.

What:

Misool Eco Resort, Batbitim Island, in Raja Ampat. Built at the epicenter of Raja Ampat, a remote area previously only accessible through boat-based “Liveaboard” diving expeditions. Misool is one of the few resorts in Raja Ampat area, and considered the chicest with the clearest Responsible Tourism mission.

Where:

Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia. An area that forms part of The Coral Triangle, home to the world’s richest marine biodiversity. Raja Ampat is widely regarded as the crown jewel of The Coral Triangle, and ranks as among the world’s best diving areas, boasting the greatest concentration of coral and fish species on earth.


Use of driftwood and other sustainable wood during construction of the resort’s bungalow.


Transporting driftwood and bamboo from neighboring islands, used for building materials [L]. Skilled Javanese carpenters working on a tree trunk slice, turning it into a coffee table.

The arduous construction process, lead by Misool’s own Thorbin Nieman [top left], German-born master carpenter and dive master. The hoisting of wooden beams in place had to take advantage of high tides. Dive Center, under construction [bottom picture].


The finished product. Above water bungalow [L], and coffee table [R]. The very embodiment of eco-chic!


Misool Eco Resort is fashioned from natural building materials, from driftwood to bamboo and rattan [L]. The pristine waters of immediate area around Misool Eco Resort. Photo: Jones/Shimlock [R].


Volunteers Paul and Francis from Darwin, Australia, donating 1,200 glasses to the local community at Misool Eco Resort.


The environs of Misool Eco Resort are picture-postcard perfect. Just another day in paradise!


Side table made of drift wood collected around the Misool Eco Resort area.

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Preshistoric petroglyph rock paintings in Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia

By Dian Hasan | July 10, 2010

It is no secret that Indonesia holds many wonders that attract visitors from far and wide. An ancient land with stunning natural beauty, the world’s largest archipelago has witnessed many a travelers traipsing through, while migrating to other places. Many of whom, of course, stayed on to form the multiethnic mozaic that makes up Indonesia today.

Among those earlier visitors who “stopped by” Indonesia must have included ancient tribes – most probably Aborigines from Australia – who ventured as far as Papua and left their markings in the form of rock paintings (or “Petroglyphs“) in and around Misool Island in Raja Ampat.


Local guide, Merdeka, showing the rock painting site. Photo: Marit Miners

This is the known lore of people around Raja Ampat, and much is to be learned still, with further scientific and archeological studies, on how these well-preserved rock paintings ended up there. They are mostly done in ochre depicting various human figures, fish, flowers and plants, tools and vessels, and occasional hand. It is estimated that they are anywhere between 3,000 to 5,000 years old.

And adds yet another fascinating fact about Indonesia’s offering to the world. And while Raja Ampat is by no means the only area in Indonesia with ancient rock artwork, one could argue that Raja Ampat is Indonesia’s answer to France’s famed Lascaux Paleolithic cave paintings. These are of course much older, estimated at around 17,000 years old.

The following is a first-person account on the Misool petroglyphs, from Marit Miners, co-founder of Misool Eco Resort, arguably Indonesia’s most chic and eco-sensitive dive resort. Swedish-born Marit is the better-half of Brit Andrew Miners, and together the couple created Misool Eco Resort. Here’s Marit’s excerpt from her blog post:


Some of the amazing paintings are as clear as the day they were painted. Makes you think of graffiti adorning major urban areas! All photos: Marit Miners


Marit Miners entering the cave in a boat. The remote location, accessible only by boat may explain the well preserved condition of the ancient rock paintings. Photos: Underwater Austrasia (L), Marit Miners (R)


One of the rock paintings that appears to resemble a ball bearing of sort. Photo: Marit Miners Continue reading

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