Head to the eastern end of the world's longest archipelago for some of the most pristine sites in the world, but you've got Bali and dragons to check out first Indonesia has impressive numbers – it's the fourth-largest country on earth by population, with more than 17,000 islands, and a full 54,716 kilometres of coastline in all. At 5,000 kilometres tip to tip, the country is the world's largest archipelago. Some of the country's best diving is found around the Raja Ampat region and the seas in the very east of Indonesia. You'll find traditional phinisi schooners plying the waters with sails unfurled as though they were hurrying from Holland to their spice-island colony in the Far East to pick up another load of priceless nutmeg. Heading west, the islands of Komodo and Flores are visited on liveaboards exploring the reefs of the Komodo National Park, where you can find the famous Komodo dragons on land and also some dazzling diving under the waves. To reach Komodo, you'll like start in Bali, the heart of the nation's tourism industry. Nearby, the Gili Islands and Lombok are slower-paced but increasingly popular. They're all extremely family friendly spots where kids can swim and paddle safely, while for divers, the waters in the Lombok Strait are as deep as you can go. The size of Indonesia makes it tricky to navigate. Bali is typically the launching pad for liveaboards heading east. Bali also has excellent diving of its own. It has one of Asia's best wreck dives at Tulamben, where the Liberty, a U.S. cargo ship torpedoed in World War II, was first beached and then pushed into the water by a volcano. The top is close enough to the surface to be reached by snorkellers, and with a beach entry, the dive is a great one for wreck novices to try. There are dive sites dotted around Bali's coast, from Amuk Bay near Candidasa north to Amed and over to Menjangan, a marine park in the northwest of Bali with a view of Java. In the Lombok Strait, the islands of Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida offer great drift diving, mantas and mola molas, or sunfish, which surface in the dry season, especially July and August. Lombok is already evolving into a "mini-bali," with an increasing number of villa developments and resorts. There are some challenging dive sites off its south shore, and the promise of hammerheads if you're there at the right time. On a much more relaxed note, the three Gili Islands off Lombok's northwest coast have long been a favourite hangout for courses and fun diving alike. Horse-drawn carts ferry you around. There are no cars. Off Sulawesi, in Manado Bay, Bunaken National Marine Park was one of the country's first marine parks and includes five main islands, good bases for exploring its deep dive sites. The coast of Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo, is famous for its mantas and has several dive operators around Derawan and Sangalaki.
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