Indonesias “Forgotten Islands”, also known as the Southeast Moluccas (Maluku Tenggara), are not a single destination, but rather a 1,000 km long chain of archipelagos stretching from Timor to West Papua on the island of New Guinea. Undeveloped, distant from population centers and far off any beaten path, these “Forgotten Islands” have been largely isolated from the rest of Indonesia and the world.
The terrain of these islands varies from forested mountainous peaks in the Inner Banda Arc of islands (Wetar, Damar, Nila), with peaks that goes as high as 868 meters / 2,848 feet to essentially flat islands of the easternmost Aru and Kei island groups, dominated by savannah, mangroves and broadleaf forests. The Inner Arc islands are volcanic, while the island groups in the Outer Banda Arc (Leti, Luang, Sermata, Babar and Tanimbar islands) are mostly up thrust coralline limestone, often characterized by terracing resulting from periodic uplift and changes in sea level.
Diving the Forgotten Islands, one can expect long walls with extremely healthy coral life and immaculate, untouched seamounts. Look for the giant barrel sponges and immense sea fans. In the shallows the hard coral gardens are decorated with colorful anthias. Big stuff can include schooling hammerheads, silver, white and black tip reef sharks, napoleon wrasse, mobula rays, bumphead parrotfish, eagle rays, turtles, thresher sharks along with schooling jacks, barracuda, surgeonfish and fusiliers. Small stuff includes pygmy seahorses, nudibranchs, ghost pipefish, octopus, triggerfish, lionfish, moray eels, scorpionfish and dragon shrimps.
Indonesia is not greatly affected by seasons that prohibit diving, so instead it is more important to factor in the weather and the calmness of the seas in terms of enjoying the crossings, when planning a trip to this remote archipelago.