The Forgotten Islands (South Moluccas) of Indonesia are not just one destination or location. Instead, the name refers to hundreds of islands from Timor in the south up to West Papua. The islands are diverse in their human culture, wildlife and marine life. Several liveaboard cruises visit The Forgotten Islands, but very few spend the whole trip there. This is because the islands are so small and numerous. Instead, the liveaboard diving trips will include The Forgotten Islands as part of a ‘crossing trip’ or ‘biodiversity adventure trip.’
Such is the number, small size and remote location of these islands, it is impossible to sum up the liveaboard diving on one page. Also, very little is known about the lands, reefs and peoples.This makes it all the more exciting for adventurous scuba divers who are on the lookout for something new, big or special. The Forgotten Islands make up the eastern part of Indonesia’s Ring of Fire, and larger and better-known islands.
The area is made up of almost-parallel arcs, with the inner arc part of The Banda Sea and the outer arc the edge of The Arafaru Sea. Inner-arc islands are mountainous with lush rainforests, and diverse coral reefs below the surface, excellent for Muck Diving. Most of these islands were created by volcanic activity. The outer arc's islands are mostly limestone and flatter with reefs that tend to be steps of corals surrounded by deep seawater. There are plenty of exciting dive sites, including swim-throughs, walls & drop-offs. Here, there's always the chance of large pelagic species swimming past.
Scuba diving areas and islands of Forgotten Islands include the following.
For 2-3 months early and towards the end of the year are the two best periods to dive at The Forgotten Islands. Luckily, this also coincides with the timing that some liveaboard boats are offering crossing trips. However, there are one or two boats which make special trips during these months, because that's when the seas are calmest. Water temperature, currents and visibility don't change too much during the year.
Most of the liveaboard diving at The Forgotten Islands is around unexplored coral reefs, plus some Muck Diving. There are so many islands and reefs that it's impossible to summarise in a few sentences. In fact, because there is still so much undiscovered and unexplored there, that nobody knows the full story!
The Forgotten Islands stretch over 1,000 kilometres from Timor to Papua. The island chain separates The Banda Sea and The Arafura Seas, in the heart of the Coral Triangle. The northern tip of Australia is less than 400 kilometres away. The islands make up the southeast corner of Indonesia.
Realistically, the only way to dive at Indonesia's Forgotten Islands is on a diving liveaboard safari that comes from or returns to Maumere, Alor, Tual, Saumlaki or Sorong. Some other ports are used, but please check the schedule and itinerary carefully before booking flights.
Although there are some easy dive sites in the region, the boats offering diving at The Forgotten Islands will mainly only have experienced divers on board. Therefore these boats will mostly visit more-exciting dive sites, and buddy groups & dive profiles will involve diving to 30 metres when possible and in currents at times. Therefore, you need to be certified to PADI Advanced or equivalent and have at least 50 logged dives to properly enjoy this area.
You can see just about anything when diving at The Forgotten Islands in Indonesia. This is because the area is vast, and surrounded but deep tropical seas and oceans. From the smallest critters to whales & whale sharks, look out for everything all the time.
This area is still being explored for scuba diving, but for sure it holds some amazing secrets. It's only really possible to dive on a liveaboard trip that will sail northeast or southwest through the island chain, or some parts of it. Dive sites are far away from each other, and you may even be the first to dive at some new diving locations. Remember that when sailing around The Forgotten Islands, you will be very far away from developed civilisation for several days.