Fishing boats await whale sharks off Kapoposang in the Spermonde islands.

Diving the Spermonde Islands


Diving in the Spermonde islands has been hit hard by dynamite fishing, cyanide fishing and the aquarium trade – although, as of September 2015, the new chief of police in Pangkep (a diver) is working hard to eliminate destructive fishing. The single largest attraction for the diver is, of course, whale sharks.

Whale shark cruising off Kapoposang in the Spermonde islands.
Whale sharks are sacred to the people of these islands, and come through around mid-September until early October, following schools of tiny fish.

Makassar Diving Centre can arrange both snorkelling and dive trips to see these mighty creatures, although snorkelling is better as they don’t like bubbles: island fishing fleets also know their location.

Your first choice for diving the Spermonde islands should be Kapoposang. This has great diving, and a resort owned by Makassar Diving Centre, with its own compressors: you’ll need to arrange everything in Makassar.

The fringing reef, a 200-metre wall, offers dazzling soft corals, sharks, turtles, barracuda, trevally and plenty of macro, despite some dynamite damage to higher elevations.

Turtle resting in a cave near Kapoposang Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Signature sites include Shark Point, a high-current dive at 35 metres that attracts big pelagics (we wimped out of this one); Caves is a beautiful wall dive with very pretty caves that attract both turtles and sharks; Turtle Point does what it says on the tin and delivers plenty of turtles as well as great wall.

Aquarium is a coral garden that’s good for beginners. There are twelve named dive sites here and we didn’t really scratch the surface.

We’re told there are several divable wrecks in the Spermonde islands. A WWII Japanese fighter plane rests on sand near Bonebaku; there’s a 50-metre long Japanese ship off Kodingareng Keke; and a 40-metre long Japanese ship off Samalona.

Nudibranch off Kapoposang.
Samalona is sand not reef, and still beset by dynamite fishing, yet there are interesting macro and soft corals that are woth exploring, as well as the wreck. Kodingareng Keke has an underwater garden with giant statues of Greek gods, a sunken jetski and a minibus. Lanjukang, we understand, has been decimated.

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