Ambon is the capital city of Maluku Province (Indonesia) and located on Ambon Island. Maluku has gained its popularity in scuba diving industry after several diving companies shifted its diving destination to this region. The region is still unknown to majority travelers. The problem is the province consisted of tens of islands that spread around a vast sea and it only has limited transports option to travel from island to island.
Ferry and small airplanes that go from Ambon to other islands are only available on weekly basis. Their schedule is unreliable due to unpredictable weather condition, and rough sea. Special for the airplane’s schedules, a traveler should be aware of particular demand from the ‘so-called-very-important Indonesians’ who thought themselves more important than people who spent money in their country and most likely they also feel more important than their voters. I read a story about a traveler whose flight from a small island called Banda in Maluku to Ambon being postponed because the seat was given to a VIP person in Indonesia. The traveler had three days delay returning to home country. If I were the traveler being treated like that, I would be furious, and it was certainly not giving a good impression on Indonesia’s tourism.
Then I was angry and sad at the same time when scuba diving around one of Maluku’s uninhabited islands: Pombo Island. The Island is located in between of Ambon Island and Haruku Island. It took us around 45 minutes boat ride from Ambon to the island that has been known for its white beaches. Indonesia Tourism Agency in its website described the island with a very inviting paragraph:
“Pombo Island Marine Recreation Park encompasses an area of 1,000 hectares of nothing more than a stretch of sandy, white beaches and chunks of coral, sheltered by lush, green foliage. Flocks of exotic birds of all shape, size and color perch in the trees’ branches, while rare fishes and mollusks roam freely about the coral-studded ocean floor. The far-out location of the island, coupled with its protected state only enhance the allure of this natural, virgin environment.”
The agency forgets to add that there were garbage to be found along the shore of the island and its surrounding sea. The marine debris in Pombo Island was a sorrowful view. The sight made me upset as the marine debris were not only found on the Island’s beaches but also underwater during my scuba diving. My diving jacket pockets were full with garbage that I collected during my diving in Pombo Island!
I have read that very often small uninhabited islands were suffered most of the marine debris compared to the main island where the humans live. There was no doubts that the marine debris came from the bigger islands around Pombo Island. Oh well, enough rants over the marine debris in Pombo Island..
Moving on to the quality of scuba diving around Pombo Island itself: impressive (if only there were no marine debris then I will say it as super amazing and stunning – hah!). The water temperature was cold – it was below 26 degree Celcius (78 degree Fahrenheit). My favorite part was when I found two Emperor shrimps on top of Nudibranch. An image was posted immediately on my Instagram. I had so much fun observing the shrimps and the nudibranch. It looked to me the nudibranch was annoyed by the shrimps.
Emperor Shrimp on top of Nudibranch #scubadiving #Maluku Day 1: Pombo Island – Maluku. A long wait until this emperor shrimp was finally on the right spot for photography. I did not set up the position thus during my observation, I was guessing the nudi was annoyed by the shrimp 😕 Taken by #indahs_photography
We did not see big size marine species. However we spotted plenty of small critters – they were just everywhere, healthy corals and colorful fishes. It was good diving experience and I will return soon with posts of other diving spots in Ambon. Stay tuned!
Practical Information on diving in Pombo Island
- The island can be reached easily via Ambon, only 30 to 45 minutes by speed boat
- Be prepared for possible cold water temperature – 24 to 28 degree Celsius (75 to 82 degree Fahrenheit)
- Diving season is March to May, and September to December. Avoid January to February, and June to August.