diving-komodo

Unforgettable Diving at Komodo National Park

The Komodo National Park in East Nusa Tenggara, Flores Island, Indonesia is a famous tourist destination and is home to the world’s largest lizard, the Komodo dragon.

Famous for its diverse marine life and exotic beaches and attracts adventure-seekers from all over the world. It is also a dream destination for scuba divers.

The Komodo National park covers an area of more than 4,800 km2 of the ocean and the islands of Komodo, Rinca island, Padar island, Gili Motang, Flores, and a few smaller ones.

The national park was founded in 1980 to protect the Komodo dragon, the world’s largest lizard. Later it was dedicated to protecting other species, including marine species. In 1991 the national park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Best time to dive Komodo Island

The best time is between April and September while the dry season. The diving conditions are great in this period. The waters are warm and it is the time when the water currents are not strong. The average visibility is 30 meters and the average water temperature is 27 degrees Celsius.

Diving Conditions

Diving conditions are the factors that affect scuba diving. Some factors can change during a dive, so a diver must be aware of conditions at all times and adjust accordingly. Conditions are also affected by the profiles of the dive itself, which include the water temperature, water type, weather, and time of day.

Most of the time, water temperatures are moderate, range from 19C – 28C. This allows you to enjoy your dives without the need to wear a lot of extra warm clothes. The temperature changes more based on location, than on the time of the year. The north side is always warm, but the south side is often colder.

Visibility: averages 15 – 40m
Depth Range: 3 – 40m

Typical Komodo Dive

Depending on whether you use Liveaboard diving or on a day trip, you will usually be escorted by boat to the dive site. Usually, we go down to normal conditions, but sometimes it requires negative entry if the dive site we visit is over a submerged pinnacle. The boat usually waits for you near your dive location and will pick you up when you surface.

Komodo has a well-deserved reputation for strong currents. There is a saying among divers that once you face the current in komodo, you are not a “virgin” anymore. But there are some dive sites that have fairly quiet currents.

Also, if you are diving on a steep drop-off, sometimes you can get caught in a down current. A down current is a horizontal current that flows in the opposite direction of the way you are swimming. This is a danger for any diver, but it is especially dangerous for inexperienced divers. (The more experience you have, the more likely you are to recognize a dangerous current and be able to avoid it.)

Dive Site Location

Because the location is quite wide, the location of the Komodo dive site is usually divided into several parts. North, Central, and South

The north

In the north, the water is usually warm and very clear. Average visibility 30 m. The average water temperature is around 27C.

Stronger currents make this site more suitable for the experienced diver. The strong currents make this northern dive adventurous with some fairly fast drift dives. Adequate diving experience and good buoyancy are a must.
Northside diving is very famous because of the pelagic fishes, because of the uniqueness of the location and the beauty of the site, the richness of the marine biodiversity, and the easy accessibility.

You will find a variety of marine life, which include, white tip sharks, blacktip reef sharks, manta rays, bump head parrotfish, giant moray, giant trevallies.

In the rainy season, between December and March, the site may be inaccessible due to northwest winds.

Central Komodo

In the central, the water is usually warm. Average visibility 15 m. The average water temperature is around 27C.

Because the location is the easiest to reach from Labuan Bajo Port, Central Komodo is the most famous place to dive in Komodo. Daily trip ships and liveaboard take turns visiting the dive site in the middle of the Komodo dragon. One of the advantages of a dive trip with a liveaboard is that we can be more flexible with time, so you can dive earlier before the daily trip ships arrive

The dive sites in the center are ideal for diving all year round, although some dive sites do better between April and November.

The south

In the southern sites, the water is a little colder, getting to the south it gets colder, an average of 20 – 23C. It is recommended to use a 5mm dive suit. Visibility is also not very good ranging from 7 to 15 m.

Because the location is quite far, and also cold, there are not too many dive trips to the south. Some liveaboard to the south usually brings guests who have visited Komodo several times and want to have the best experience of diving with mantas on manta alley.

The best season for diving in the south is from October to April. because you often get clearer, warmer water.

Marine life in Komodo

Komodo National Park is one of the most incredible places on Earth. The waters surrounding the two islands that comprise the park are home to more than 1,000 species of tropical fish, some 260 species of reef-building coral, and 70 species of sponges. Dugong, sharks, manta rays, at least 14 species of whales, dolphins, and sea turtles also make Komodo National Park their home.

With water that is so clear, and with such an abundance of marine life, it’s no surprise that Komodo National Park is a popular scuba diving destination. If you lucky maybe you can spot pygmy seahorse while you stroll around the dive site.

Experience level for diving Komodo

Because of strong currents and shifting tides, we recommended an advanced scuba diving certification with at least 20 dive logs if you want to enjoy the fullest while diving at Komodo National Park.

So if you still open water qualification with under 20 dive logs, you can discuss with your dive guide, and they usually will separate the group that matches your experience level.

What you need for diving in Komodo

Equipment brought when diving into the Komodo dragon:

  • SMB (surface marker buoy) or so-called sausage. Is a tool used to show the diver’s position to people on the surface when the diver is underwater. Usually used when doing a safety stop so that the boat crew can find out the pick-up position of the diver. It is also useful to signal that there are divers underwater so that boats are more careful when passing.
    SMB is also useful when we are separated from the group so that it can be a marker for our location.
  • Safety devices such as whistles or small mirrors indicate our location if we are far apart due to the current.
  • diving equipment (BCD, Regulator, Mask, Fin)
    It is advisable to bring your own diving equipment because we are used to it. But if you don’t bring it, usually from a dive center or liveaboard it provides rental. First, make sure everything is according to the standard and comfortable for us to use before leaving for the dive location.
  • wet suit.
    If your dive area is in the middle and north of Komodo, we only need to use a 3mm wet suit. But if there are diving plans in the south Komodo, we recommend using at least a 5mm wet suit.
underwater-camera
  • A camera
    It can be a pocket camera, action cam, or a camera set with an underwater casing. Don’t forget to also bring light or strobe to get the best photos
  • Flashlight for night diving.

Diving Safety

Diving is a dangerous sport, and even seemingly minor mistakes can have fatal results. While there are many preventative measures you can take to help avoid mistakes, the best course of action is to always dive with a buddy and never dive alone.

Before starting, usually, the dive guide will provide an initial briefing about the dive plan and location of the dive, how the currents are, what can we find, and where we can get off and get back together. What should we do if we are separated from the group. Ask if there is something we don’t understand.

Since 2019 there is a decompression chamber in Siloam Hospital in Labuan Bajo.

Dive Insurance

It is important to have insurance when traveling, especially if you engage in risky adventure activities. If you need evacuation or decompression treatment, it can be very expensive. Though dive insurance is often a requirement for divers undertaking certain dives, it is not a legal requirement in most countries.

The dive insurance market is segmented by the type of policy purchased and by the type of diving covered. The most common coverage available for policies is search and rescue, emergency medical coverage, death and dismemberment insurance, equipment loss, trip cancellations, and special dive excursions.

How to Dive at Komodo National Park

Because the locations are spread out from north to south, diving in Komodo National Park can only be reached by boat. There are several options for diving in Komodo, by Liveaboard or by daily boat departing from Labuan Bajo pier.

Why dive Komodo National Park from a liveaboard?

There are many reasons why you should consider diving Komodo National Park from a liveaboard.

  • Time effectiveness. Because the locations are far from one dive site to another, the most effective way to explore more dive sites in Komodo dragons is to use a liveaboard.
  • We can also more freely set the schedule and dive site location. With daily trips, we stick with the schedules they have arranged.
  • In addition, with a liveaboard, you will usually spend the night in a location that is not far from the next dive site. So when the daily boats leave around 7-8 in the morning, we already have finished diving in our favorite places and ready to go to another location.
  • Komodo has several interesting locations to see marine life activities at night. And with the liveaboard we can do night dive in places that we might not be able to get if we use a daily trip boat.
  • The liveaboard also usually has a service standard similar to that of a star hotel. Including the presentation of food and also a more varied food menu compared to those served on daily trip ships.
  • As passengers on a live-aboard dive boat, you can expect to get the most out of your scuba diving experience at Komodo National Park. The best liveaboards have private decks, spacious air-conditioned cabins, and large sundecks that feature comfortable seating areas and awesome views of the ocean. Meals are included and served in an air-conditioned dining room, or on the sundeck, depending on the weather.
  • Because together for several days, from morning to night. There was a fairly close bond between the participants and the crew and dive guide. One experience that is definitely memorable and a pity to miss.

But indeed with the liveaboard, we issue a larger budget compared to following daily trips. The average liveaboard on Komodo costs around $ 180 / day, while daily trips are $ 90 / day. But if you calculate the cost of lodging on land, it may not be too far apart. Especially when we compare it with all the advantages and experience we get from the liveaboard.

Budget Liveaboard Komodo National Park Tour – Day Trips

sometimes we only have a limited budget but also want to experience diving in the Komodo dragon. An alternative that we can use is to use a daily boat service.

Along the main road in Labuan Bajo, we can find daily dive trip offers. Usually, the destination for diving is in the middle of the Komodo dragon and often the schedule is not much different from other places.

If you only have 1-3 days and a limited budget, a daily trip seems like enough to make you fall in love with the underwater Komodo dragons, and someday come back again to enjoy other amazing places.

Getting there:

You can start your adventure from Labuan Bajo. Unfortunately for now there are still no international flights that land directly at Labuan Bajo airport. We still have to transit from Jakarta or Bali.

In addition, we can also use boats from Bali that cross to Labuan Bajo and usually stop at several places during the trip.

Labuan Bajo is the entrance to the Komodo National Park. Ships will usually depart from the Labuan Bajo dock.

For Komodo liveaboard it is usually ordered in advance through the online booking facility. And usually, they will be picked up at the airport to be taken directly to the liveaboard or the hotel that we are book.

During holidays, most of the favorite boats are fully booked and it will be difficult to find them directly. Although maybe you can also look for sharing costs for liveaboard which are usually offered along the main road in Labuan Bajo.

We also easily find daily dive boats there. Lined up with black chalkboards containing the schedule of destination for the next day

Accommodation in Labuanbajo

Lodging in Labuan Bajo is available ranging from budget to luxury. For the budget, it is usually a dorm room. Meanwhile, there are many five-star hotels and resorts to suit your desires.

But the best option to feel the natural beauty of the Komodo is to stay on a liveaboard which usually stays overnight in favorite places around Komodo archipelago.

Non-diving activities around Labuanbajo and Komodo

If you still have free time after enjoying a few days of Komodo diving, it doesn’t hurt to do other activities besides diving while in Flores.

  • Currently, visitors can only see Komodo dragons in the wild on the islands of Komodo and Rinca. Because the Komodo dragon is a dangerous animal, visitors must be accompanied by a ranger.
  • See the sun rising from the hill on Padar Island. The hike usually starts around 5 in the morning so that we can watch the sunrise from the top of the hill while enjoying the surrounding scenery.
  • Watching thousands of flying foxes while accompanied by a reddish twilight sky around the island of Kalong.
  • Snorkeling at several places around Komodo island
  • Splash around and relax on Pink Beach
  • Take a trip to visit waterfalls scattered around Manggarai.
  • Watch the sunrise against the foreground of three different colored lakes in Kelimutu National Park
  • trekking down the trails and spend the night accompanied by thousands of stars in the Unesco traditional heritage village of Waerebo

Best Dive Sites in Komodo National Park

Manta Alley

Location: South
Current: Medium
Depth: 25 meters
Visibility: 10-20m
POI: manta rays, if you’re lucky, Mola mola
Diving type: reef hook
Camera: Yes
Temperature: 21C

Located in the southwest and far enough away so not too many divers have tried the cold water at Manta Alley. But the dream of diving with the dozens of manta rays that line up during the dive should be enough to make some people make manta alley a diving destination in Komodo.

Although of course there is no 100 percent guarantee that you can dive with dozens of mantas because they are in the wild. And if you are lucky you can get a bonus meeting with sunfish, mola-mola in the depths.

Prepare a 5 mm wetsuit because the temperature in the south averages around 20C

Batu Bolong

Location: Central
Current: Calm – medium
Depth: 30 meters
Visibility: 10-20 meters
POIs: big fish, anthias, coral reefs, reef sharks, clown fish, moray eel
Type of diving: zig-zag in a protected area
Camera: Yes
Temperature: 26-27C

Diving in Batu Bolong depending on the tides and currents. We usually dive on one of the protected sides. When approaching one end we can see a strong current flowing from the front. Sometimes the down current is clearly visible, and for safety, we will turn around and do zig zag diving around the protected area.

As soon as we dive, we were greeted by hundreds of colorful reef fish swimming randomly. We found a gray reef shark leaning against one of the slopes near the wall. Every now and then a huge yellow napoleon wrasse passed us as if he didn’t care. Giant trevally lined up in groups, while in the distance large barracudas alone watched our group.

Siaba Besar

Location: Central
Current: Calm
Depth: 15 meters
Visibility: 10-20 meters
POI: turtle, coral reef
Type of diving: relax, sandy bottom, hard coral
Camera: Yes
Temperature: 26-27C

Siaba Besar which is in the form of a bay, protected from currents, is a home for turtles. Every now and then when we are on a ship, we can see their heads sticking out of the surface to get some air.

Because the place is protected and has calm currents, it is usually a favorite for those who want to dive while relaxing

Crystal Rock

Location: North
Current: Calm
Depth: 30 meters
Visibility: 10-20 meters
POI: reef sharks, giant trevally, school of fusiliers
Type of diving: slope, hook,
Camera: Yes
Temperature: 27C

Usually, we go down in the split area by using a negative entry. In the area where these currents meet, usually large fish hunt. Gray Reef Shark, Black Tips Reef Shark, and Giant Trevally around looking for prey.

Shotgun / Cauldron

Location: North
Current: Medium – Toned
Depth: 15 meters
Visibility: 10-15 meters
POI: reef shark, giant trevally, manta ray
Type of diving: drift dive
Recommended camera: GoPro, pocket camera
Temperature: 27C

The shotgun located between Gili Lawa Darat and Gili Lawa Laut, around the gap that separates the two islands. Actually, the shotgun itself is only one narrow gap. In the middle is a bowl that is wide enough with a depth of around 20 meters.

If strong current, we usually fly straight into a narrow gap, which with a strong blow will carry us as if floating through the canyons below us.
But if slow current we can explore the bowl and look around. And if there’s no current we call this dive spot Cauldron.

Manta Point / Makassar Reef

Location: Central
Current: Medium
Depth: 10-15 meters
Visibility: 10-15 meters
POIs: manta ray, shark, eagle ray, crocodile fish
Type of diving: drift dive
Camera: Yes
Temperature: 27C

This area of ‚Äč‚Äčabout 2 km stretches from north to south. The current flowing from the Flores Sea carries a lot of plankton to the Pacific Ocean.

The base in the form of ruble coral seemed to carry my imagination to an alien planet. Especially when you meet a 2-3 meter manta ray below, which floats gracefully in front of us. If we are lucky, we can enjoy the manta ray dance around the cleaning point.

But often we just wandered around aimlessly looking for the whereabouts of manta rays that seemed to disappear without a trace. The limited visibility, the current is the reason why we sometimes don’t see manta rays when diving in Makassar Reef.

Tatawa Besar

Location: Central
Current: Medium
Depth: 25 meters
Visibility: 10-20 meters
POI: reef shark, soft coral, turtle, frogfish
Type of diving: drift dive
Camera: Yes
Temperature: 27C

As soon as we get off the boat, we will immediately be swept away by the current. While drifting at Tatawa Besar we can find many soft corals and sometimes big turtles swimming around.

At the end of the dive, the current weakens and we can spend the rest of the diving time looking for small things around the dive spot

Siaba Kecil

Location: North
Current: medium
Depth: 25 meters
Visibility: 10 meters
POI: giant trevally, turtle
Type of diving: drift dive
Recommended camera: GoPro, pocket camera
Temperature: 27C

Flow and adrenaline. That’s what describes diving in Siaba Kecil. From one end of the island to the other, we only took 7 minutes.

Castle Rock

Location: North
Current: Medium
Depth: 30 meters
Visibility: 10-20 meters
POI: white tip reef shark, giant trevally, school of fusilier
Type of diving: slope, hook,
Recommendations camera: GoPro, pocket camera
Temperature: 27C

Castle Rock is similar to Crystal Rock. The difference is that in Crystal rock we still have a place to take shelter while safety stops because the rock is sticking out of the surface. In Castle Rock, the top of the rock is still under the sea, about 7-6 meters. Be careful at the safety stop, because usually, the current is quite fast around the rocks.

Mawan

Location: Central
Current: Calm – Medium
Depth: 25 meters
Visibility: 10-20 meters
POI: reef shark, manta ray,
Type of diving: drift dive
Camera: Yes
Temperature: 27C

Mawan is also known as the second manta point on Komodo. Often we will find manta rays cleaning close to the sandy bottom. Sometimes we encounter manta rays floating around and then disappearing away.
We just follow the current while trying to find the manta rays.

Can Beginners Dive at Komodo?

Yes, but limited. Usually, the dive guide will choose a place that suits your experience. One of them is in Siaba Besar. The current is calm, and we can dive with big turtles.

How Much Does Diving Komodo Actually Cost?

The cost of diving for one day with a daily trip ranges from $ 110/3 dives/day with the daily trip. And start from $ 180 / day for a liveaboard. The fee does not include admission to Komodo National Park

Are Komodo liveaboard expensive?

more expensive than a daily tour, but worth the facilities and experience you get.

Why Komodo National Park is a great Liveaboard destination?

Remote locations and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enjoy the underwater beauty of Komodo. When will you?

So what are the dives in Komodo National Park like?

strong current, uncertain, full of challenges, and definitely want to come back again

Who To Dive With In Komodo?

There are many professional dive operator and liveaboards ready to give you the best experience while on Komodo. I recommend my best friend, Sahril.

He is divemaster from Flores and lives at Labuan Bajo. PM me if you interest.

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