Diving Kupang

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Kupang, Indonesia

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Country: Indonesia  Area: Indonesia

Water Temp: 26 - 28°C (79 - 82°F)

Visibility: 10 - 25m (33 - 82 ft)

Depth Range: 5 - 40m (16 - 131 ft)

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Kupang is located on Timor Island and is the capital city of the East Nusa Tenggara province (more commonly know in Bahasa Indonesia as Nusa Tenggara Timur or NTT) which consists of over 550 islands.

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NTT province is most famous for Komodo Island and it’s aboriginal inhabitants the Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis) and the Three Coloured Lakes of Mount Kelimutu on Flores Island.

Another international spectacle within NTT includes the annual “Pasola” festival of Sumba Island which is a ritualistic horse-ridden battle between different tribes or clans with spear throwing and eventual blood shed.

Nusa Tenggara Timur also is home to two of only a few International Whaling Commission (IWC) sanctioned whaling villages in the whole world. One is the village of Lamelera on Lembata Island, the other Lamakera on neighbouring Solor Island.

In and around Kupang City area and throughout Nusa Tenggara Timur as a whole, most of the islands have kilometres of white sandy beaches perfect for holiday makers with water sports in their veins.

With Kupang being the provincial capital, some of these tourist destinations can only be accessed by first coming (flying) to Kupang.

With most world-travelled divers already knowing NTT via Komodo Island and Alor Island for “World Class” diving, Kupang itself has been quietly accommodating a diverse range of divers for more than 24 years (since 1989) without the spotlight of the more promoted diving destinations.

Kupang offers a unique blend of pristine reefs, amazing critters, heaps of fish with walls, slopes, drifts and great visibility.

Kupang snorkelling is perfect with calm seas, clear water and shallow fringing reefs. Kupang island tours to Monkey and Semau Islands mix diving, snorkelling, dolphin watching, beachcombing, meeting the locals and light trekking tours inland to natural freshwater springs.

Common daily sightings for divers and even some lucky snorkelers include turtles, small spotted sting rays, giant napoleon and bump head wrasse, schools of jacks, trevallies and fusiliers, frog fishes, giant reef cuttlefishes, moray eels, lobsters, pipe fishes, box and puffer fishes, sea horses, octopus and mantis shrimps just to name a few.

As Kupang is geographically located within the “Coral Triangle” with more than 3,000 species of fish and 500 species of coral, be expected to be amazed by the richness that abounds within the waters surrounding Kupang and neighbouring Monkey and Semau Islands which are both accessible by a short 20-30 minute boat ride from the harbour.

Kupang also offers a unique Freshwater Cave Diving experience that can only be done on a handful of diving locations around the world. The opportunity to dive and snorkel within the labyrinths of multiple individual locations just 30 mins drive from Kupang City. With stalactites, walls of fossilised shells, haloclines, inner air chambers and crystal clear 28 degree Celsius water, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime for even a novice diver to experience.

Fully arranged and accompanied by a 20 year veteran of these caves, a Western PADI Divemaster/Instructor will be with you every step of the way ensuring your complete safety during the whole adventure.

Marine Conservation

Marine conservation throughout the Nusa Tenggara Timur region has been taken very seriously over the last 20-25 years with numerous NGOs (including The Nature Conservancy, aka TNC) working together with the local and federal governments to continually collect data, educate the local population and encourage sustainable fishing practises while creating appropriate zoning laws and regulations.

As a whole, Indonesia was quick to react to the threats posed by such disastrous fishing techniques like long lining, bombing, cyanide and commercial drag netting.

Seeing the devastation of other South East Asia countries marine habitats, Indonesia was quick to enforce strict fishing laws both federally and more importantly locally.

The fact that the reefs and marine life in and around Kupang, Money and Semau Islands are still alive and thriving is a testament to Indonesian’s and the international community’s commitment to protect Indonesia’s marine environment.


Kupang’s climate is particularly dry for nine months of the year with blue skies, a hot tropical sun which is perfect for diving and other water and beach related activities.

Monsoon season officially starts mid-January to mid-March and is only 2 months long.

Although the monsoon season provides more rain, the sea conditions for diving remain safe and comfortable for even beginner divers. There is a small period (+- one week normally around Chinese New Year) during the monsoon at which time wind and waves make the diving a little more challenging for novice divers while on the surface. Once underwater, diving conditions are perfect.

The crystal clear water of the Fresh Water Caves is totally unaffected by the monsoon season.

Kupang dive operators remain open for business 365 days a year. There is no off season.

Kupang water temperature ranges from 26-28 degrees Celsius all year long and is the same for the fresh water cave’s water temperature as well.


Information kindly provided by: Dive Kupang Dive

Photo Credits

Liz Rodgers isan Australian cave diver, with a particular interest in lugging large amount of camera equipment into beautiful underwater caves. By taking photos of these unique areas, she hopes to have a reply to the eternal question: You do what? Why??

Based in Melbourne, She did her cave diving courses with the Cave Diver’s Association of Australia in the Mt Gambier region. A 5 hour drive west from Melbourne, regular weekend trips provide perfect opportunities for underwater cave photography in crystal clear freshwater. She’s taken photos in the caves of the Nullarbor and Roe Plains in Western Australia, the justifiably famous Jenolan Caves in NSW, a volcanic diatreme in far north Queensland and the chilly river caves of Tasmania. Pre-camera, trips to Florida and Mexico’s caves have made her determined to get back there and capture some images.

When the winds and swell co-operate, she enjoys diving in the salty stuff out of Queenscliff, Portsea, Phillip Island and Torquay. And living near a temperate ocean means the occasional winter trip to the tropics is practically mandatory.

 After finishing his Open Water Diving Course in 2003, he did his 1st dive at a very famous diving spot in Alor called “Kal’s Dream” and that was when heI knew I had fallen in love with underwater beauty.A couple of months later, he bought his first underwater camera and have since never left it behind when he  goes diving.
Exploring the beautiful waters of Indonesia, from the East as in Nabire-Papua to the far Western point of Indonesia: PulauWeh, the North as in Sangihe to the Southern point: Rote, he always try to record the underwater beauty of Indonesia in frames and photographs. But he also realizes that mere photos can never capture faithfully the true paradise that Indonesia has.
Being both a National and International winner of multiple Underwater Photographic Competitions, and as an in-house underwater photographer for DiveMag Indonesia, he is always striving to bend the rules of underwater photography allowing everyone to view Indonesia’s uniqueness in new and inspiring ways.

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Shore Diving

Because most of our boat dives are only 10 minutes by boat from the harbour, beach diving has not been developed fully for normal diving trips.

The beach dives done are primarily for two purposes only. One is for training dives for new student divers (including children diving experience opportunities). The other shore diving activity we conduct is night dives because the shallow calm conditions for both these activities is perfect and also full of interesting things for either new divers, underwater photographers or strange critter seekers. ANY experience level is suitable for all shore diving.

Shore day dives often allow us to see the normal reef corals with pipefishes, ribbon eels, flounders, lobsters, mantis shrimps, clown fishes and a myriad of different colourful reef fishes.

Shore night dives also offer the above sightings with the added bonus of seeing a range of strange nocturnal critters including snake eels, hairy frog fishes, bob tailed squid, flying gurnards, devil fishes, ghost pipe fishes, Pegasus sea moths and much more.

Boat Diving

All the diving in and around Kupang, Monkey and Semau Islands is accessed by day dive boats with 90% of the dive spots just a short 10-25 minute trip.

Because of the short distances, a normal two dive day will have you back on terra firma enjoying a smorgasbord lunch (included) at one of Kupang’s beachside bars, restaurants or bistros after diving. Snacks, cold soft drinks and bottled water is provided free on board the dive boat between dives to keep your energy level at 100%.

Kupang dive operators provide fully personalised diving programs that guests can tailor to there own needs including three or four dive days, night dives, where a packed lunch can be enjoyed on one of the deserted white sandy beaches of either Monkey or Semau Islands between dives.

Diving around Kupang caters for all levels of diver from beginners to experienced and there is a range of dive sites from shallow slope dives such as “Pertamina Cliffs” to deeper wall sites like “Donovan’s Delight”. Every single dive site is suitable for beginners as currents are not strong and with over 20 different dive sites to choose from, there is something for everyone. 

With Kupang being resident to hundreds of coral species and thousands of fish species be prepare to see (on any of the 20 plus dive sites) giant gorgonians and black coral trees, several different types of pipefishes, giant frog fishes, ribbon eels, flounders, turtles, lobsters, box and puffer fishes, mantis shrimps, giant napoleon and bump head wrasse, moray eels, giant barrel sponges, spotted sting rays, clown fishes, giant reef cuttlefish and a myriad of different colourful reef fishes.

Also commonly seen are snake eels, hairy frog fishes, giant trevally, schooling fusiliers and jacks, bob tailed squid, flying gurnards, devil fishes, ghost pipe fishes, Pegasus sea moths, sea horses, octopus, crocodile fishes, lion fishes, scorpion fishes and much more.

Sea and weather conditions for 300 days of the year are hot, sunny, smooth seas with 26-28 degrees Celsius water temp and 15-25 meter visibility. Air temp is between 28-33 degrees Celcius all year so don’t forget your sun cream.

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How to Get There

Kupang is incredibly easy to get to.

Enter Indonesia via Bali’s international airport.

Bali to Kupang has 3-4 daily flights with half of the flights being direct jet planes with under an hour and a half flying time.

Kupang is also the required transit point for travellers wishing to visit some of the other unique tourist destinations in NTT.

Indonesia has a one month visa upon arrival for most countries but it is best to double check in advance with the embassy.

Do not purchase your Indonesian domestic flights from outside Indonesia. Ask your Kupang dive operator to book and purchase these for you and then send them to you via email. You will save a lot of money this way.

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Where to Eat and Drink

Kupang itself has hundreds of places to eat. For the international tourist the choices vary from beachside bars, seafood restaurants, Chinese and Indonesian cuisine, steakhouses, International beachside hotels, full seafood menus are a specialty.

In the heart of Kupang, a fantastic street food location (dedicated area called “Pasar Malam” or “Night Market” in English) will make your mouth water with a full seafood selection including fresh BBQ fish, tiger prawns, mud crab, lobster, clams (mussels), squid aka calamari cooked and prepare any number of ways (grilled, fried, boiled, sautéed) with side dished of fresh locally grown vegetables. All the seafood is produced locally and is freshly caught everyday. 95% of the “Pasar Malam” clientele are Indonesians so you know the food is cheap and fresh.

Kupang has a selection of nightclubs, disco and bars with live bands, DJs and even Karaoke inspired venues where guests are encouraged to sing along with the local band.

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Other Activities

Other related activities in and around Kupang include:

▪ Snorkelling off the beach

▪ Island tours

▪ Light or heavy trekking

▪ Freshwater springs

▪ Monkey Cave tours

▪ Waterfalls

▪ Exploring deserted white sandy beaches

▪ Kupang Water Park

▪ Sasando Musical Instrument tours

▪ Unique traditional weaving, handicrafts and carvings

▪ Traditional village tours

▪ World Class surfing off Rote Island

▪ Children diving experience opportunities with PADI Australian Instructor/Divemaster

▪ Bird watching tours

▪ Fishing tours

▪ Beachcombing/swimming/relaxing at any of the local white sandy beaches

Photo by: MuljadiPinnengSulungbudi - Family Snorkeling Tours 

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Prior booking and confirmation of travel and diving dates with a dive operator is essential.

Every Kupang diving day is arranged, prepared and conducted by a Western PADI Divemaster/Instructor who accompanies every single dive.

Kupang residents and vendors are extremely friendly and will NEVER approach you with goods to buy or try to persuade you to enter their shops or restaurants. If someone approaches you on the street attempting to make conversation, it is NOT a scam but simply because they only wish to practice their English.

Kupang has often been described as Bali during the 1970’s when western tourists were still an enigma to the locals.

Although there are NO metered taxi servicing Kupang, there are hundreds of private unmarked mini-van taxis stationed at all hotels, bars and restaurants. Always agree on a price before getting into your taxi.

It is NOT a scam, but most disagreements about taxi fare costs are due to the drivers(and therefore yours too) misunderstanding of the agreed destination or agreed price because of the language barrier.

Do not purchase your Indonesian domestic flights from outside Indonesia. Ask your Kupang dive operator to book and purchase these for you and then send them to you via email. You will save a lot of money this way.

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