Weda Bay Resort (http://www.wedaresort.com/) has been on our bucket list ever since they opened about 5 years ago. Weda Bay is on the reasonably large island of Halmahera in Indonesia which, despite being in the famous Coral Triangle, has very little tourist infrastructure and almost no dive resorts. Getting there takes time, starting with a flight to Ternate (from Ambon or Manado) followed by a short car ride, a speedboat and then a longer car ride on progressively more dodgy roads (total time from the airport is about 4 hours).
The lodge has only 5 rooms and is set overlooking the bay surrounded by spectacular forest on land that Rob and Linda have bought and turned into a conservation area. Rooms are large and very comfortable and there is plenty of delicious Indonesian food. It is the sister resort of Divers Lodge Lembeh, which is an amazing place to stay to experience the world’s best muck diving in the Lembeh straight and many people seem to do a combined trip (http://www.diverslodgelembeh.com/)
The main highlights of Weda Bay diving are the sheer diversity of untouched coral and thousands of brightly colored reef fish on the aquarium-like wall dives situated in the middle of the bay. There is a bit of a shortage of larger creatures although we did see a handful of turtles and the odd reef shark. There are also a number of dive sites (coral, muck and mangrove) along the shore, with worse visibility but an excellent variety of small creatures. The area has an endemic species of the rare walking shark but we didn’t manage to find it. The Weda guides are all excellent (and remembered us from our Lembeh trip 5 years ago) and the lodge uses small but very comfortable boats with not more than four divers to a guide.
Weda Bay’s other main attraction is birdlife and many birders visit exclusively for birding. The most famous inhabitant is Wallace’s bird of paradise (aka the standard wing) which is Wallace’s equivalent of Darwin’s finches. Read about Wallace and his contribution to the theory of evolution here. There is an astounding variety of birds on the island including raptors, parrots, cockatoos and giant hornbills, including many endemic species. Weda have a dedicated birding guide and provide all the gear you need to enjoy them. We did an early morning trip to see the standard wing, which involved a short drive and a bit of a hike to the “lek” where the birds gather to display at sunrise. Unlike our previous attempt to see Wilson’s bird of paradise in Raja Ampat, the birds were easy to see and very active.
Weda was a great, relaxed place to end off our Indonesian diving adventures.
Next stop: India, after a visa-run back to SA.