The majority of our guests travel a really long way to dive with us, and they do that to experience some of the very best diving in the world.
Many have dived with us before and liked the overall experience, while many others hear about us through word of mouth. And from time to time, people turn up simply because our schedules have worked for them or they like the way we price our packages.
All of which tells us that our reputation is strong, and we think of that reputation as our #1 asset and something we have worked really hard to establish and maintain. Plus in many ways, after our crews and the systems that support them, our reputation is also our #2 advantage – here’s why…
How We Dive
The places we dive in Indonesia are some of the most vibrant and biodiverse underwater locations in the world. The marine life and seascapes to be seen there are just simply amazing.
And the reason for that biodiversity are the incredible currents that sweep through the Indonesian archipelago, rich in nutrients from the deep oceanic basins to the north, and laden with the eggs and larvae of the area’s marine life.
Those currents are basically the life-force of the Indonesian archipelago and the greater Coral Triangle. But (and there’s always a but), they are also strong and potentially dangerous, so how we dive in them is incredibly important to the overall safety and comfort of our guests.
When Ricard Buxo arrived in Indonesia in late 1999, he brought with him 5 years of experience of the Red Sea working in German-run operations. His plan was to replicate what he had learned there, as it had been both safe and efficient. But the Red Sea did not have the strong and difficult to predict tidal currents of the archipelago, or the potential for dangerous downdrafts. Similarly, there are no monsoonal weather patterns in the Red Sea or the rapidly changing conditions of Indonesia, where the same site can look different within hours!
A Highly Evolved System…
Ondina’s first full year of operation was in 2002. It was a steep learning curve and we owe a sincere debt of gratitude to those true explorers who were our guests that year – virtually all of them being highly experienced divers wanting to explore the remote corners of Indonesia.
For it was their feedback and comments, overlaid on Ricard’s first-hand operational experience in the Red Sea, that allowed us to develop our system of diving.
We have made minor adjustments and tweaks to it over the years based on additional guest feedback, and as we have introduced new technology such as nitrox, but the basic points gleaned that first year have really stood the test of time. So much so that we have never had an accident in our 20 years of operation – something we are incredibly proud of!
But we are also equally proud of our flexibility around the needs of our guests, whether they are new divers, highly experienced dives, keen photographers, big fish junkies or critter lovers. We know one size does not fit all, so we strive to adapt to the situation, while staying within the overall safety envelope that is essential to dive Indonesia.
How We Do It
- We know the sites really well and our crew system makes sure that first-hand knowledge is made available when new Cruise Directors join our team.
- While we know those sites well, we also know how unpredictable conditions are and how rapidly things can change, so we always check the site before we allow guests to dive.
- That means sending either the Cruise Director, or their backup, down on to the site to check the strength and direction of the current underwater, as it is not always the same as the surface current.
- The check provides us with a real-time indicator of what the currents are doing and allows the surface support crew to be in the right place as divers start to surface.
- We always have enough dive crew in the water with the divers to monitor and help if there is a problem, with a maximum ratio of 4-5 divers per guide.
- We always have two tenders in the water and always keep one on top of the site while there are divers underwater, so divers never surface without a tender being nearby to pick them up – this is possibly one of the most frequently and positively commented upon aspects of how we dive!
- Our dive and surface crews are trained to be very vigilant… We call this “proactive monitoring” so that we can identify potential problems early.
Three Basic Rules
Taking guests to some of most remote parts of Indonesia so that they can experience the incredible underwater world of the archipelago is one of those things that is much easier said than done… A huge amount of support, training and logistics goes in to making it all happen – but that all goes on in the background and it’s our job to make it all appear completely seamless to our guests.
We believe we do a really good job of that, and the high number of “repeaters” is our primary indicator of success. Feedback from those repeaters tells us they really like how we operate, how flexible we are, how safe we are, and basically how good we are!
They also tell us they like our three basic rules which are logical and make common sense:
- Do not break coral or harass marine life
- Do not dive deeper than 40 metres
- Always come back with gas in your tank
What this all means to you is that you can be sure that if you book a trip on either of our boats you will experience some of the very best diving in the world, you will do that safely and we will do everything possible to ensure you truly enjoy your experience!