Banda Sea & Ring of fire

Diving Banda sea & Ring of fire

From September through to December and also between April & May each year it is possible to embark upon once in a lifetime voyages across the Banda sea, visiting the famed ‘Spice Islands’ to discover diving nirvana in the ‘Ring of Fire.’ This is diving as it was meant to be enjoyed, true exploration, away from the crowds, discovering dive sites that very few divers will get a chance to explore; discover unique and spectacular scenery both above and below the waves where volcanic activity has created a remote island paradise, only accessible to divers via liveaboard. With our unmatched experience in this area, we can show you just what an incredible destination this is and take you to our ‘Hammerhead hot spots’ where at certain times of the year (Sep-Nov is best) schools of more than 200 Hammerheads have been witnessed.

Besides the possibility of Hammerhead sharks, you will find pristine coral reefs, unique local seaman in Alor, tons of sea snakes in Manuk and a visit to one or more of the villages in the spice islands. 

The remoteness of these islands along with the low levels of human population, have meant less fishing and pollution pressures resulting in a vibrant, natural and healthy reef system. You can expect reefs bursting with life, huge sea fans and sponges, some monumental hard corals, and more fish than your mask can cope with, there is an extraordinary variety and volume of fish life, both in terms of large and small marine life.

Beyond providing some of the best diving in the region the islands also have had a long and fascinating history. Spices, foreign traders, colonial conflicts, wars and earthquakes have all featured heavily in their checkered past. Up until the middle of the 19th century this was the only place on Earth where the spices nutmeg and mace could be found and as a result they were crucial hub for the spice trade, for a taste of the historic atmosphere of this region we will often visit local villages & communities that still rely on these very spices for their day to day living.

  • Water Temp; Generally, 26-28 degrees Celsius however deep water upwellings & thermoclines especially in Sept-Nov can mean temps as low as 25C Alor can have temps in low to mid 20’s it is therefore advisable to bring along an adequate exposure suit.
Air Temp; 22-31 degrees Celsius,

  • Visibility; 20-30 meters, Currents; medium to strong,
  • Level; intermediate to advanced.
Best Time to Dive; March, April, & mid-September to December.

How to get there

There are several different embarkation & disembarkation points four our Banda sea diving safaris. While some trips that visit the region begin or end in Raja Ampat (Sorong) and others in Flores (Maumere) and Halmahera (Ternate) the most common access is from Ambon. Please check your trip itinerary and confirm your start / end points before booking any flights.

Embarkation & disembarkation points

Please check your trips itinerary before booking flights, for trips starting or ending in Raja Ampat see our Raja Ampat Fact Sheet & for trips starting or ending in Halmahera see our Celebes Sea Fact Sheet

Ambon (AMQ)

Our departures from Ambon are scheduled for no later than 2pm, trip departure day. Morning arrivals are therefore best. Do not worry we will be there to collect you! If your flight arrives to Ambon after mid-day then we request you arrive the day before NOT on trip departure day. If arriving later then you will need to stay in an Ambon Hotel for the night prior to departure. Please see Ambon Hotel section below for recommendations / available pick up locations.

Ambon Hotels

Trip Departures are from Laha Bay, Ambon. We only include local hotel/ airport pickups as Ambon is vast. If you wish to extend your stay in Ambon in Laha Bay we recommend Spice Island Divers who offer comfortable accommodation within our pickup / drop off zone as well as the chance for local diving before or after your trip. If staying at Spice Island Divers, Blue Rose Divers, OYO 1300 Crecia Guest House, Grand Tawiri Hotel Ambon, OYO 1006 Azzahra Guest House Syariah then these are local and we will pick you & included. However, if staying in any of the hotels located on North Eastern side (i.e Dive into Ambon) or on the Southern side of Ambon (i.e Swiss Belhotel Ambon) then these are NOT local and we ask you to make your own way via resort transfer / taxi to Pattimura Airport (AMQ) where we will collect you.

If you wish to stay ‘not local’ to where we depart; Laha Bay, then a local taxi or resort transfer, can be organized by your hotel, & should only cost around USD20-USD30 one way. It is because the logistics & distance/ time concerned we have limited our pickups & drop offs to Laha Bay area & Airport. So we would add; don’t let where you stay be put off by this transfer. Many of our guests have chosen to stay at Maluku Resort & Spa or The Natsepa and dive with Dive into Ambon. Then on Trip Departure take resort transfer or taxi to Laha Bay where we will meet you.

Flight details

  • How to get to Ambon (AMQ); Batik Air, Lion Air & Citilink all offer direct, early morning flights from Jakarta or Makassar (UPG) to Ambon
  • How to get from Ambon (AMQ); Batik Air, & Citilink offer morning flights from Ambon to Jakarta that should allow you to make international connections same day. Lion Air and Garuda Indonesia offer morning flights to Makassar (UPG).
  • Jakarta (CGK) If you are travelling via Jakarta some International & Domestic flights do not always arrive/depart from same terminal building. If yours is one here is a useful Transfer link. Note; If taking Garuda International flight to Jakarta and connecting directly to port of departure we recommend to double check the luggage belt in Jakarta incase your luggage is offloaded in error.

How to book your flights

  • Book online directly; With carriers; Batik AirLion AirCitilink and Garuda Indonesia
  • Other airline carriers; you may need an Indonesian credit card. For this reason we cannot book for you but we DO recommend Indonesian agent; Come2Indonesia Contact; Rendy at
  • Flight Schedules; Please check the current schedule with your chosen operator before booking flights as schedules and prices are subject to change. WMD or recommended agents cannot be held responsible for any flight delays, cancellation, or changes in schedules.

During our visits to the Banda Sea & Ring of Fire White Manta Diving have made continued efforts to forge strong links with the local communities and remote villages who have very little access to regional infrastructure or Government assistance. To help us in these efforts we encourage our guests to think about bringing along some small gifts / presents for the local communities that will be very much appreciated; un-used or second hand clothes, colour pencils & colouring books for kids, even sweets have proved highly popular in the past. If you have space in your luggage & are able to contribute we, and the local communities, would be very grateful for your contribution.

KM Blue Manta Crew presenting Solar Panels to provide access to electricity to members of jerili village in Serua

A Message from the White Manta Diving Crew;

Dear Guests

We are very much looking forward to welcoming you onboard for your Banda Sea adventures, it is a privilege to welcome you to the Ring of Fire, a very special destination which has so much to offer & constantly amazes our guests from season to season. We take dive planning, safety, & of course your enjoyment very seriously and work hard to ensure you will enjoy the best this region has to offer. For this reason we wanted to explain a few things about our trips in Banda Sea before you join us on board. 

1. The number of dives in the sample itinerary is meant as a guide only, we will plan each day’s schedule to prioritise the best diving possible; weather, sea conditions & sailing times may impact on actual number of dives.

2. Each day in the Banda Sea we will complete 3 dives during the daylight hours. If present we will focus on the highlight species of the Banda Sea (which we don't like to name out of superstition!) When the boat is not moving & staying the night under anchor, guests may conduct a short, shallow unguided night dive in buddy teams for 45mins. Night dives are not a highlight in this area.

3. Why only 3 day dives? Diving in the Banda Sea is a deep average depth, because what we are looking for will be just under the 'thermocline'. The depth of this phenomenon varies but is quite often at 25-30m when sightings are good. We have max. depth 35m, and guests are urged to dive about 20-25m, always shallower than their guide. You need to save gas and avoid decompression. We operate a no decompression diving policy and do insist that all divers wear a dive computer during their dives. We also advise that you need to understand your computer comprehensively, if you are unsure about anything we recommend you take the time to go over the computers manual & even bring along with you on the trip. Once onboard the dive crew are of course here to help! Please also note longer surface intervals and more space between dive groups is necessary for dive safety and best experience.

4. Every diver should have an SMB (surface marker buoy) please do let us know if you do not feel comfortable to operate it, we can of course help and advise on when /where & how to use if necessary. We do have spare available on the boat.(subject to availability) 

5. Every diver will need a reef hook and familiarity with its use. We have spare on the boat (subject to availability) and again are here to help & advise those who may never have used before 

6. We strive to encourage all divers to practice good behaviour underwater. We want everyone to enjoy the magnificent diving available & the best way to ensure this is to please listen carefully to dive briefings, dive crew advice & instructions. Some of the highlight species we hope to enjoy are very sensitive to unwarranted commotion underwater. For dives where we look for the highlight species diving deeper than your guide, chasing or use of flash photography will result in camera and diving penalties. In a time when the health of our oceans & their inhabitants are under serious threat we are very concerned with protecting the natural phenomenon we hope to share with you. Bad underwater behaviour can potentially spoil the experience for other divers in a group, other groups and even other trips.  

7. I would like to reassure & remind you that safety is a priority. For this reason we cannot allow divers to conduct solo dives, repeat decompression dives or return very low on air consistently. We do have a few large tanks available for those that consume more gas underwater. (Subject to availability) Our dive crew are here to help you both above & below the waves, should you have any concerns during the trip we welcome you to discuss with us. If you struggle with buoyancy, air consumption, or you are just generally unsure about any aspect of diving please feel free to approach any of the crew, we are here to help!

We are looking forward to Welcoming you onboard

The White Manta Diving Team