Anyone who has ever donned a wetsuit, weights and a mask, and slipped under the depths anywhere along the archipelago—from Pulau Weh to Raja Ampat—has surfaced, eyed the empty shore on the horizon and silently dreamed of opening up their own dive resort.
But Gilles Brignardello, a tanned, thin-haired Frenchman and his lovely wife, Neya are among that small, defining club of divers who saw their dreams grow from laughable grandeur to baffling, life-altering fruition.
Pantar, where Gilles and Neya built their dream resort, is just one of a handful of volcanic isles in a chain of capless, jade slopes that slip into some of the clearest water in the world along the east end of the lesser Sunda, an hour by plane from Kupang in Timor.
From the moment the plane makes its final approach along Alor’s tiny airstrip in Kalabahi, your eyes move down from green hills that slope like the small of a woman’s back toward the beach and the pristine reef that seemingly rises up, providing guests with a real life screensaver.
Once you land at Alor, it’s a 30-minute trek through the tiny streets lined with pink houses and banana trees, women whose smiles reveal betelnut-stained gums, Indonesian toddlers sans pants and proud roosters.
Then from the dock it’s 25 minutes in the boat through glass waters soaked with anticipation to Lamhule and Alor Divers.
As the boat approaches Gilles’s island it’s easy to differentiate first-time guests from Alor Divers’ old-timers. Jaws drop on newbies and smiles rise to full-mast on the resort’s veterans.
The clarity of the water is deceiving. Gilles explains that the reef is three meters below the hull, but rookie divers still worry about it scrapping.
Full article by Zack Petersen