The Seven Seas News - March 2015
What is an East of Flores cruise? Where do we go and what do we see?
We still get that question a lot. And although we have lots of information and trip reports with images and videos on the website (on the East of Flores destination page, on the articles page and in the newsletter archive), here's an overview of what to expect.
Your East of Flores cruise will normally begin and end in Maumere, and depending on weather and other conditions at the time, first stop after cruising East will probably be at a new area on the North Eastern corner of Adunara Island. Here we have found a great anchorage with some very cool diving over a ridge which has large numbers of blacktip reefsharks and some white tips as well. Easy drift over this ridge and stopping to sit in the sand will get you some very good encounters with the blacktips and there are some very nice coral heads and other fish and turtles too.
Nearby is a drop-off dive with some big fish and sharks down deep. A very nice lagoon dive as well, with heaps of blue spotted rays and critters. Stunning little white sand island for cocktails and nearby mangrove island holding HUGE colony of fruitbats to watch fly off into the sunset at about 6pm. Good fishing spot also just across the channel on the North West corner of Lembata. Wahoo, yellowfin tuna and sailfish there. Magnificent view on some of the great volcanoes in this area, what a beautiful day!
Next would be West or North Lembata Island, several options there. Cruise director will decide based on weather and other conditions, together with your own preferences. One would be critter diving in West Lembata, which is really excellent and can include also a very good night dive of course. The other would be Teluk Lewaling with an excellent deep drop off dive worth doing twice and a great new dive over a white sandy slope (coming off a coral reef) full of interesting and unusual life. Other options to explore in this bay include a reef full of different species of cardinal fish or exploring the mangroves deeper in this bay. Last year several blue whales hung out inside this bay for a number of days.
After this, depending on weather and wishes, move along the North or the South route Eastwards. North route would be a full day at Komba volcano where we have discovered a number of brilliant dives along the reefs that surround the volcano. Great massive coral formations, huge swarms of small fish, hunting dogtooth tuna and other goodies. Some excellent fishing also now and then and we have seen whales around this volcano too. Of course sunset time below the crater and watching the eruptions over dinner on the upper deck.
If your cruise ends up taking the South route you could opt to visit the traditional whaling village of Lamalera on the South of Lembata Island. We have also found an excellent anchorage across the bay, East of the whaling village, in a stunning landscape and with some very nice new dives all around there.
After this (or at other time during your itinerary) explore the Pulau Rusa & Pulau Kambing area. All new dive sites, very fishy & pristine reefs. Very exciting and beautiful diving at sites that we only found in the last couple of years and which have really "made" this itinerary for us. Beautiful anchorage in front of an empty white sand beach. Some of the best diving you can have and we never seen any other boat here yet! They might show up after this newsletter though… Some of the dives can be a bit challenging and need to be timed very well with the currents.
Then Southwest Pantar. Jaws and Alcatraz (note that we're not including coordinates!): beautiful reefs & really fishy dives, all brand new too. Unbelievable experience inside the Jaws cave, if the conditions allow for this dive. Amazing dives also around Alcatraz and all newly discovered with lots more around waiting to be explored!
Somewhere around this time I would certainly include one day of critter diving in the little bay of Beangabang on the South East side of Pantar. Probably the most productive critter diving I have ever seen personally and all very easy, shallow and with decent visibility. Everything is here!
Across from Beangabang is and Island called Srewek which also has an excellent fish dive with great hard coral formations on the South West side.
Srewek is the Island furthers South in the Strait between Pantar and Alor. Strait South from here, around the 2000-3000 meter depth contour is an area that has been extremely productive for us for spotting sperm whales and many other species of cetaceans. This area extends along the 2000 meter depth contour to the East into the Eastern part of the Savu Sea, along the South coast of Alor. We have also seen blue whales and even orcas here (last year on my own trip there) and of course many pods of smaller cetaceans. I think it is worth to give this at least one and easily 2 days of cruising around to find the sperm whales. Once you find them, the captain will slowly bring the big boat closer to them until they seem relaxed. Then take your snorkel gear into the kayak and paddle up to them. Slip in quietly when you get close. One paddler and one snorkeler on each kayak, taking turns. Others stay on deck keeping an eye out for where the whales are going. Don't bother trying to get close with the speedboats, it does not work. They don't like the outboard engines.
After whale watching consider a day around Pulau Pura. Some of the most brilliant wall diving in the region, the great anemone fields and very often a huge pod of mellon headed "whales" mixed with spinners and other dolphins hang out around this island somewhere. Once you find them, paddle up in the kayaks and get in with snorkel. Amazing experience in very clear water (usually more clear than the Savu Sea where the sperm whales area). Just around this same island we have also had many encounters with large blue whales cruising by right close to shore. Some good wahoo fishing too at a spot nearby which the crew will know (around Kall's Dream). Optional village visit also at North Pura.
Additional options in the area (in Kalebahi Bay) include a visit to the Atlas Pearl Farm & Showroom (new attraction in this area) or to the Aboi tribe, or both, possibly combined with Kalabahi market & museum, and critter diving in the Bay.
Further up North in the Pantar Strait there is a great dive on the reef in front of Northeast Pantar and wall dives around Reta and Ternate Islands. This is where we would be visited by locals selling their traditional ikat weavings.
After you have done all or even just some of the above, you need to be heading back to Maumere and your cruise director will discuss route with you which will depend on what you have already done out of the above, what you still want to do or what you want to do again...
Final dives would probably be around Pulau Babi or North of Maumere Bay at the great atoll reef there which has some excellent drop off diving. Great beach at Pulau Babi for late afternoon cocktails and BBQ with a most excellent view towards the setting sun. Other options would include the Wodong wreck and a cultural tour to Watubelapi ikat-weaving village.
The owners spent 3 weeks doing all the above on a cruise last year, and we left with the feeling we could have added another 2 easy! Your regular 12 night cruise may not be long enough to do everything of course but based on conditions at the time the cruise director will pick the cherries depending also on the interests and skills and experience of the group that your are travelling with. One of our own favorite cruises by now, and we keep on adding great stuff to the options here!