Best house coral reefs for snorkeling in Indonesia
Aerial view of snorkeling site with coral reef and island lagoon

What is a House Reef?

This is the term we give to reefs that lie in front of resorts, off the jetty or beach that can be accessed directly or by a short swim, usually not requiring a boat ride.

house reef and pier at komodo resort

Why we love House Reefs?

Unlike reefs that can only be access by boat, having a good house reef provides us with the option of getting into the water when ever we want to, rather than at some pre-arranged time. And means that we can spend as long in the water as we choose. Also, very often one can go for an evening or night time snorkel more easily on a house reef as it’s close, often sheltered in a bay,

Being close to the shore also provides stunning opportunities for photographers to get interesting split-shots. More about that here.

Wakatobi is one of Indonesia’s most beautiful snorkeling areas. The reefs here are in impeccable condition as very few boats/resorts have access to the area, which is a well managed marine park. The house reef offers stunning shallow water ideal for snorkeling. The resort staff will gladly give you a ride on a small boat if you want to explore a section of reef a little further away from the entry point, otherwise you can just bumble in, under the watchful gaze of the lookout staff. More than 400 fish and 700 coral species have been recorded on this house reef, pretty amazing really. Because visiting Wakatobi involves a 2.5 hour charter flight from Bali, you are unlikely to encounter many other people on this reef, which covers a huge expanse so one could spend days snorkeling only the house reef without getting bored. Turtles, crocodile fish, rays, leaf fishes and more await discovery.

aerial view of wakatobi resort

Misool Resort, located in southern Raja Ampat, is a private island resort, hidden in an otherwise uninhabited archipelago. The resort island boasts bright white beaches surrounded by stunning reef in warm turquoise water. The house reef here offers miles of pristine coral and great chances of seeing schooling jacks, turtles, octopus and large schools of bumphead parrot fish. There are also lots of baby black tip sharks to be found in the shallows. The famed “walking shark” can also often be spotted on the shallows on a night snorkel.Misool resort bungalow with baby sharks in the shallow water

Komodo Resort, located on a small island on the outskirts of Komodo National Park, has a beautiful house reef running along its beach. Accessible from the jetty (as not to trample the coral) or by small rib, this reef has brightly coloured hard corals in the shallows sloping gently onto a slightly deeper sandy area alive with schools of fish like snappers and jacks. The jetty itself has become a hub of marine life, offering shade and shelter for large schools of fish, and many crabs and shrimp. The sandy part of the reef is home to loads of various sea stars and rays. We have spotted many an eagle ray “flying” over this reef.

Split shot of Komodo resort and its house reef

Nunukan Island Resort, located on a tiny private island off the coast of Indonesian Borneo, has a 4KM long house reef along its shores. Accessable from the jetty or from small boats this reef starts in the very shallow water and leads all the way down to 40m. Here we always see turtles, often encounter sharks and various rays, and commonly see other interesting fish like leaf fish, loads of nudibranchs, octopus, various schools of brightly coloured fish and a wide array of healthy corals.

Aerial view of Nunukan Island and reef

Alami Alor is an intimate resort situated on the rocky shores of Alor Island, and has a stunning house reef directly in front of it. Accessible from the jetty or boat drop off, this reef is a treasure trove. We often see small schools of juvenile reef sharks in the mornings, and for the evenings entertainment we can watch Mandarin fish mating in the shallows. The time in between is filled with lively schools of fish, octopus, nudibranchs, eels, crabs, shrimps and more. Under the jetty we usually find huge schools of fish, and lots of juveniles like trumpet fish and bat fish looking for refuge.

Giant frogfish on jetty in Alor












About Author

Alex Lindbloom
Alex is a Snorkel Venture and Dive Safari Asia guide as well as the video and photo pros for both companies. Alex is also a field editor for a popular underwater photography magazine. Prior to joining Snorkel Venture in 2018 Alex lived and worked all over the world working as an underwater cameraman, with five of those years living/working on a yacht in Indonesia. Alex's images and videos have garnered many international awards such as Underwater Photographer of the Year and can be seen on NatGeo, Discovery Channel, the UN Building, and various magazines.