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Alor and Pantar

Alor belongs to one of the more remote areas in Indonesia. It is located 30 km north of Timor-Leste and about 1000 km east of Denpasar (Bali), and yet it has remained, until recently, a less easy place to visit. Some new roads have opened parts of the interior, but because of its rugged surface many parts of the island still are hard to access. The region near its main town Kalabahi is one of the few flat areas on the island. The island has many different tribes that until recently lived separately from each other. This has resulted in 15 different indigenous languages on the island. Its total population is 170,000. Administratively Alor belongs together with the neighbouring island Pantar to Alor District.

Alor is 90 km in length and has an area of about 2800 km², making it the largest island of the Alor archipelago. The island Pantar is about 50 km across. Kalabahi is the only town of importance on the island of Alor, with a population of about 60,000. In spite of its size and location the variety of goods available in Kalabahi is reasonable high.

One reason Alor is famous is for is its bronze drums called ‘Moko’. They are hourglass shaped and have four ear-shaped handles and stand about 0.5m high. It is said that the Alorese found them buried in the ground. There are theories that these drums origin from the Vietnam area and in the past were brought to the island by traders.

The seas around the island offer 40 world class dive sites of which many still completely unspoiled. The area offers pristine coral gardens, overhangs and caves, abundant fish life, and big fish like Giant Groupers, Manta Rays and a variety of reef Shark. Because of possible strong currents it is recommended for advanced divers and important to go with a reliable guide who knows the dive spots. All the boats and resorts we feature who run trips to these areas are experienced in diving in Alor, the diving here can be pretty spectacular. A lot of cold water passes through narrow straits between the islands causing strong currents and eddies.

They also attract big fish that come in to feed such as barracuda, schooling big-eye jacks, dog-toothed tuna, monster groupers, and lots of sharks.

Superb macro life, coral and benthic diversity, and schooling fish are the main attractions. An unusual and excellent bonus of diving here is the likelihood of spotting pilot whales and dolphins from your dive boat. Alor diving tends to be by liveaboard charter and is suitable primarily for experienced divers due to the strong currents and eddies and this remote location.

Alor coral

Additionally, Alor is well known for its muck diving which means conditions and the seasonal movement of creatures do not really affect the diving. Pegasus sea moths, mimic octopus and sea horses don’t travel very far. Larger animals that might put in an appearance include orcas (killer whales) and sunfish (aka mola mola). September is the best time to spot mola mola.

The best time to dive the stunning Alor is May to September and in November whales are known to migrate through the area, but diving is possible all year round.

Coming from Jakarta, Surabaya or Denpasar (Bali) you can reach Alor via Kupang (West Timor). Daily flights to Kupang are operated by several airline companies (among others Merpati, Batavia Air, Lion Air and Sriwijaya Air). There are as well flights between Darwin (Australia) and Kupang. TransNusa Trigana Air and Merpati offer flights from Kupang to Alor 5 x weekly.