Singapore might be best known for its dazzling skyscrapers and squeaky-clean streets, yet there is so much more than meets the eye. With four official languages - Mandarin, Malay, Tamil and English - Singapore pails its neighbours in terms of cultural and religious diversity. This confluence of cultures, visible from the streets to the kitchen, has permeated into this city's identity; visiting Singapore not only gives an insight into this small island nation, but the whole of Asia. Indonesia, on the other hand, is the most biodiverse marine region in the world. This chain of 17,000 islands sits atop the Coral Triangle, boasting world-class diving across the archipelago - however, a few islands, in particular, stand out. For travellers looking to combine a city escape with true bucket-list diving, a Singapore and Indonesia combo holiday ticks all the boxes. Read on to find out why these two destinations are a match made in heaven…
Don't be fooled by Singapore's small size - this sky-scraper city packs a serious punch. In Singapore, food takes centre stage (shopping a close second), and there's no better way to sample this than by exploring the different ethnic neighbourhoods. Eat your way from Little India to Chinatown to the Arab Street District (to name but a few) and sample the full flavours of Asia. No trip to Singapore is complete without taking a few laps in Marina Bay Sands infinity pool which offers the best panoramas of Singapore's dazzling skyline from its 55-stories-up perch. Need a break from the concrete jungle? With its 'Green City' nickname, it should come as no surprise that the city boasts some pretty patches of nature - 350 parks and 450 nature reserves to be exact - which cover 56% of the island. And then there's the shopping. Head to Orchard Road, where designer brands mingle with street brands - this small island nation offers everything.
After the full-throttle excitement of Singapore, nothing beats a serene stay in Indonesia. And as far as diving holidays go, you really can't beat this Asian archipelago. There has been little coral bleaching here, meaning healthy kaleidoscopic reefs and blizzards of marine life are a given throughout the archipelago. Yet Indonesia is far from a one-trick pony. Different regions cater to different diving tastes, with world-class muck diving, big animal action, dramatic walls and wrecks. All you need to do is decide where to go…
As the main entry point into Indonesia, you will inevitably pass through Bali, making it an easy option for a Singapore and Indonesia combo. Head to the north and you'll find Bali has retained its authentic charm - think forested volcanoes, lush rice paddies and moon-crescent beaches - with a fraction of the crowds. When it comes to diving, Bali is one of the few places in the world where you are virtually guaranteed to see giant mola mola (sunfish) and manta rays. For those looking to learn to dive, Bali offers top-notch conditions, with warm, balmy water, crystal-clear visibility and a slew of shore dives - including the world's most famous WWII wreck, the USAT Liberty.
Wakatobi, located in southeastern Sulawesi, has been marine protected since 1996 and a National Park since 2002. All this to say, you know diving will be good. Diving in Wakatobi National Park is a mix of world-class pristine reefs, wall dives and plentiful marine life - from tropical fish and turtles to sharks and rays. Visibility is excellent year-round, and the currents are generally mild, catering to divers and snorkelers alike. As for accommodation, Wakatobi Dive Resort's house reef is a few fin kicks from the shore. During your stay, make sure to dive the reef at night to see the mating ritual of mandarinfish.
Komodo's main claim to fame lies in the prehistoric Komodo dragons. But venture below the waves and equally extraordinary reefs await. Komodo National Park is renowned for strong, nutrient-rich currents which have allowed marine life to flourish. The park boasts over 260 coral species and over 1,000 species of fish across myriad sites, from dramatic walls and canyons to deep channels and tranquil bays. The marine life is just as varied, from pygmy seahorses and cuttlefish to manta rays and wobbegong sharks (or walking sharks). The best way to explore is by liveaboard, and Komodo has some of the most luxurious phinisis (traditional sailing yacht) in the archipelago.
Raja Ampat is continually touted as the crown jewel in Indonesia's diving crown so it's well worth working this archipelago into a Singapore and Indonesia combo trip. From boasting the best reef diving in the world to breaking the world's record for the most fish counted on a single dive (374 different species), Raja Ampat's accolades are endless. The best way to explore Raja Ampat is by liveaboard, however, for those with a penchant for private islands, Misool Eco Resort is just the ticket. This eco luxury resort enjoys a prime position in Misool Eco Reserve, with 60 dive sites - including world-famous Boo Windows - within an hour of the island.
For those looking to get off the beaten path, Alor is just the ticket. Located to the east of Komodo and Flores, Alor's diving is characterised by gin-clear water and currents, kaleidoscopic reefs, dramatic walls and critter-filled muck sites. Yet, despite boasting a huge array of world-class sites, Alor is rarely visited by divers, meaning you'll likely have sites all to yourself. Due to strong currents, this island is best left to experienced divers, but those who make the journey can tick off mola mola, scalloped hammerheads, dolphins, melon-headed whales and, if you're very lucky, the occasional blue whale. However, one of the largest draws to Alor is its weird and wonderful critters. Some of our favourite finds: Shawn the Sheep nudibranch, psychedelic frogfish, porcelain crabs and the bobbit worm - to name but a few.