Wow. That one word is certainly an apt description of the coral reef environments surrounding Alor. Of all the regions within the Coral Triangle, this may be the overall healthiest in regards to its corals. That says a lot. Coral Triangle Adventures just concluded its third exploration of Alor and the nearby islands westward towards Flores. As always, CTA strives to offer snorkeling in as many different underwater habitats as we can in any locale and our Alor trip offers a range of perfect snorkel sites.
After flying from Bali to Maumere on Flores with our group of intrepid snorkelers, we boarded the Pindito, our wonderful home for this exploration. Our first snorkeling foray brought us to the wide strait between Andonara and Solor Islands where we observed mixtures of corals, volcanic sands, and many fish, including a few juvenile Pinnate spadefish, juvenile Yellow boxfish, and the fascinating juvenile Barramundi cod. Next, we headed to an incredible reef area along the massive island of Pantar. With a beautiful white sand beach to one side, we drifted along a fringing reef that has to be seen to be believed. Millions of vibrant anthias, along with a myriad of other multicolored fish, fluttered in the current. Subsequently, our itinerary brought our group to the fascinating Beang-beang Bay on the southeastern coast of Pantar. This unique area is a blend of volcanic rocks and boulders, soft corals, and black sand where just about any type of critter could be expected. We spotted plenty of scorpionfish, a Pegasus sea moth, octopus, lots of juvenile Oriental sweetlips, and were also rewarded with rarely found Painted and Giant frogfish.
Bird’s eye view of Alor
In the midst of our trip we took one morning off from the wonderful snorkels to visit the mountain tribe of Abui near Kalabahi on Alor. This unique cultural opportunity gave us insights into at least one of the small, local societies that continue to thrive in this remote area. Afterwards, the Pindito brought us into the narrow Pantar straight separating Alor and Pantar. Here, several dramatic volcanoes rise from the seascape and provide plenty of underwater surface area for corals, fish, and dolphins to thrive. We spent several days investigating the assorted soft and hard coral reefs, which were among the healthiest CTA has seen on Earth. Ribbon eels, four different species of lionfish, five different moray eel species, Peacock mantis shrimp, Blacktip reef sharks, turtles, and clouds upon clouds of planktivorous anthias and damselfish highlighted the reefs here.
Eventually our time began to dwindle, as it always does, and we began our westward journey back towards Flores. But, we had time to spend a couple of days, as well as one night, snorkeling in the shadow of the impressive Ile Api volcano. The bay near this living part of the Ring of Fire contains dramatic reef dropoffs, fringing reefs, black sand, seagrass meadows, and even extensive mangroves. The bay provided us with views of Reef octopus, Fire dartfish, Robust ghost pipefish, Shortfin lionfish, small reef sharks, baby barracuda, and even a few individuals of a rare sea snake that we have yet to identify.
All in all, we had a fantastic time exploring this exotic region of islands. In part, CTA trips are so successful due to the gorgeous environments that we travel to, but the success also comes from the wonderful travelers who snorkel with us. Thank you goes to both the top notch crew of the Pindito as well as our CTA guests who made this another superlative adventure that we can look back upon and think ‘wow.’