Freshly back from a trip to Alor, our colleague Stephane Griveau gives us his thoughts.
"For many years now Alor has made me dream. Also for years I have heard so many photographers speaking of the same destination with such enthusiasm. They all seemed so amazed, dazzled, even obsessed with this part of Indonesia, and their photo harvests seemed so complete. It was all too much really and I needed to get there and see it for myself.
Leaving from Maumere, in the East of Flores, WAOW took us towards Adonara, Pantar and onto Alor, before finishing the circuit at the base of Komba, an active volcano. While of course all the passengers were there to discover the legendary riches of this zone, I think everyone underestimated the festival level of colours and emotions that were offered during this voyage.
The diving is without compromise. The quality of the reefs is exceptional, with dense coral in perfect health, mixed with numerous sponges and other flowered-animals, not forgetting to mention the mazes of anemones, so numerous that the clown fishes don't defend territories anymore. The fresher waters of the Indian Ocean bring so many nutrients that we find a very varied underwater landscape. The site of Watu Balu at Palua Rusa is a perfect example. There is a feeling of being the first person to dive the site because the reef is so intact and beautiful. This feeling has unfortunately become too rare in other parts of the world.
Fish life is everywhere yet also hides what needs a sharper eye. In the middle of the clouds of anthias and blue trigger fish our job is also to discover the rare specimens such as rhinopias, wonderpuss, nudibranchs (lots of nudibranchs) orangutan porcelain and decorator crabs, shrimps, ghost pipe fishes, and ribbon eels. I now start to understand the shine in the eyes of the photographers.
I understand further as the night falls, with the muck (no rubbish) night dives being magical. A notable example being at Beang Abang. It's hard to get out of the water without seeing a hairy frog fish, a bobtail squid, a blue ring octopus and many juvenile fishes. The macro life is king in this area and comes out to play almost without prudence.
The deep blue also reserved some surprises with enormous tuna, barracuda, ocean sun fish (mola-mola) and a thresher shark. A great hammerhead shark also graced us with a pass-by to put the icing on the cake.
The above water experience was also fairly intense and wonderful. Between the kids singing in Beang Abang, the water games of those at Pantar, the explosions of lava at Komba under a clear moon, we felt humble, small, and very privileged.