KOMODO ARCHIPELAGO, DIVE AND SAIL BETWEEN TWO OCEANS
Diving is one of the main activities in the Komodo National Park, a "Biosphere Reserve" since 1977 and a "World Heritage Site" since 1991; a unique marine sanctuary, created by strong currents carrying nutrient-rich waters that can support an incredible array of marine life. The park consists of three main islands Komodo, Padar and Rinca, as well as many smaller ones, making 80 in total. They are situated between the large islands of Sumbawa and Flores, right in the middle of an obligatory passage for the currents and tides that join the Pacific and Indian oceans. The dives are legendary in Komodo.
KOMODO NATIONAL PARK
1. DIVE AND SAIL KOMODO
Komodo boast stunning sceneries both above and below water due to its unique volcanic geology. The Komodo archipelago is a dramatic hilly landscape of wild savannah and some patches of forest, blue lagoons, and pink sandy beaches that host some of the most spectacular dive sites in the world. Established in 1980, Komodo National Park was designated a Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO and became World Heritage Site in 1991. Komodo islands offer stunning dive and sail opportunities.
Komodo National Park offers stunning dive and sail opportunities, contact now a Liveaboard Specialist
The Komodo Dragon
The Komodo monitor is the largest existing lizard, reaching a length of 3 meters. It can be safely said that they are the last living dinosaurs, in fact the monitor lizards come directly from prehistoric times, even if science has discovered them recently, only in 1912. Carnivorous animals, feed on the abundant game present in the park, mice, wild boars, goats, deer, buffalo. The large prey are captured by ambushes in the tall grass, a small wound is enough and the saliva of the monitor lizards, loaded with bacteria beyond belief, causes the victim to die from setticemia in a few hours. Monitor lizards are very voracious animals.
Trekking and excursions to the Komodo Islands
Each cruise includes short treks to Komodo or Rinca to observe monitor lizards and island wildlife, as well as an excursion to Kalong Island to see the spectacular departure of thousands of fruit bats, also known as flying foxes, which at sunset leave their mangrove shelters to go in search of food.
2. BEST DIVE SITES OF KOMODO
Komodo has a reputation for being a diving area for experienced divers. This is true, especially if you want to visit on Komodo by liveaboard. Komodo has many dive sites with strong and sometimes unpredictable currents. Water temperatures change often and are sometimes far below the usual 28°C you will find in other parts of the Indonesian archipelago. In the southern area of Komodo National Park water temperatures may be as low as 19°C. We advise a 5-mm wetsuit before diving Komodo to avoid any cold dives!
Map of Komodo Archipelago
Northern Komodo Dive Sites
Batu Bolong is a rock pinnacle that lies between the islands of Tatawa and Komodo. For many divers, Batu Bolong is Komodo's signature dive site. The reef is in superb condition and has not been targeted by fishermen due to the rock's topography and exposure to strong and in some points, down-welling currents. The top of the Batu Bolong reef is covered with colourful hard corals, whilst the walls and slopes are covered by large sponges. Always be on the lookout for some of the impressive amount of invertebrate life and thousand of reef fishes living in the coral gardens; and for the large fish like giant trevally, sharks, napoleon wrasses, dogtooth tunas along the step walls. Strong currents around Batu Bolong ensure an awesome volume of fish including schools of fusiliers and surgeons.
Castle Rock is a huge underwater formation in the middle of the sea, with several pinnacles rising from a shelf 20-24 metres deep to 4 meters below the surface. Because Castle Rock is in open water the visibility is excellent, and as you have already guessed, is prone to very strong currents. As the current is generally much stronger at the surface than in the deeper waters, Castle Rock is recommended for experienced divers in conditions of strong current. Otherwise, fish action is guaranteed with giant trevally, spanish mackarels, and giant jacks attracted by schools of fusilier and surgeon. Not to mention the dolphins; eagle and manta rays; and white tip and black tip reefs sharks.
Crystal Rock is a fine example of how Komodo truly represents diving diversity. Sitting about 300 meters from Castle Rock, Crystal Rock is a pinnacle that becomes exposed at low tide.
Like Castle Rock, the currents can be pretty strong, though shelter from the current can be found in the shade of the big rock, where a beautiful coral garden rich in fan corals hides the tiny pigmy seahorse - perfectly camouflaged to blend in with his surroundings (but not enough for the expert eyes of a local dive guide).
As the name might suggest, The Cauldron looks like the top of a boiling pot. The Cauldron is a drift dive along the channel between Gili Lawa Laut and Gili Lawa Darat offering a nice opportunity to watch the predator/prey action: as schools of smaller fish are threatened by reefs sharks and other larger pelagic species. The Cauldron is for seasoned divers only!
Diving with a mobula squadron in "The Cauldron" at Komodo National Park
Karang Makassar is snorkelling only, as diving will disturb the Manta Rays that come here for cleaning. Please do not dive here to not disturb manta rays. The reef does not have much in the way of corals or fish life, this location is manta rays aggregation site. The best way to find mantas is to cruise along the eastern face of the reef until you see them on surface. The best time to spot Manta Rays here is during rising tide. There can be as many as 40-50 mantas together here.
Batu Tiga is an excellent "big fish" dive. Large boulders in deeper water to the west offer habitat for grouper, mantas, giant trevally and other pelagic species. Most of the coral at Batu Tiga is stunted due to the strong prevailing currents.
The main attraction of Wainilu is undoubtedly the amazing mandarin fish - surely one of the most colourful animals every to share our planet. Photographers get your equipment at the ready!
Southern Komodo Dive Sites
Pillarsteen is a rock pinnacle off the shores of Padar Island. It is an amazing reef covered with an head-spinning variety of soft corals, frequented by large schools of fusiliers found along the reef slope. It is not unusual to encounter sharks and turtles at Pillarsteen. As well as a fascinating landscape, Pillarsteen offers an array of interesting dives that will take you through caves, chimney stacks and rocky outcrops at different depths.
The Three Sisters
In close proximity to Pillarsteen, The Three Sisters are three large submerged rocks, sitting on a sandy bottom in about 20 meters of water, rising to 3 - 5 meters from the surface. The Three Sisters is a very pristine site covered in coral growth and rich in marine life.
Langkoi Rock can be a real adrenalin rush at the right time. From July to September many sharks such as grey reefs, white-tip reef sharks, hammerhead and bronze whalers aggregate around this site.
Manta Alley is another of Komodo big attractions, and the main location to find mantas. Mantas can usually be seen feeding here between September and January. Manta Alley is also noted for very large giant trevallies, sharks, beautiful corals and a high diversity of invertebrate life in relatively shallow waters (between 5-20m of depth). The waters can also be cool and affected by currents. Due to the low temperatures experienced in the southern dive sites of Komodo (22°-24° C), it is highly recommended to wear a 3-5mm full wet suit.
From September to January high densities of plankton attract many large manta rays that can normally be seen swimming on the surface along the shores and rocks of Southern Komodo Island. The shallow waters around the shores (5-20m deep) are littered with large rocks and boulders that shelter huge grouper, potato cod, napoleon wrasse, schools of surgeon fishes and red snappers.
Komodo's Yellow Wall is great place to take in the invertebrate diversity of Indonesia, especially during night dives. The walls are packed with a mind boggling array of marine life and color - stunning soft corals, Spanish dancer nudibranchs, colourful sea urchins, bright red sea apples as well as a huge variety of tunicates. Crevices in the walls are home to sleeping fish, spiny and slipper lobsters, cleaner shrimps and decorator crabs. Nocturnal marine life at Yellow Wall includes sleeping coral trout, cat sharks, all kinds of cardinal fishes and parrot fishes in their mucus cocoon.
Crinoid Corner is a small cove just outside the island of Nusa Kode, almost directly opposite Yellow Wall. A lot of small invertebrate sea life can be found on and in the crevices of a very colourful wall. The angle of the morning sun makes Crinoid Corner is a great place to dive early in the morning. The lack of current makes the dive nice and easy, ideal for all levels of diver.
This dive site is famous for its variety and colourful invertebrates. Cannibal Rock is awash with rich soft corals as well as sea apples and others sea cucumbers species. Among the surprises are fire urchins with Coleman shrimps. The fish life can also be good at Cannibal Rock with an array of scorpion fish, schools of red snappers and surgeon fish. Unusual fish such as the pigmy seahorse and frogfish can also be spotted.
3. KOMODO DIVING SEASON
Diving season: From April to November. Though diving is possible in Komodo year-round. Rainy season: November to April. Water temperature: Water temperature: 19-28°C. In the most dive points of Komodo a 3mm shorty should be sufficient. If you feel the cold easily a 5mm shorty is advisable. Around Southern Komodo and Rinca Islands the water temperature drops drastically 24-21°C, then a 5mm long suit is advised and hood and booties are strongly recommended. Visibility: 5-30m. Depths: 5- >40m. Currents: Can be very strong - up to 8 knots. Surface conditions: Can be rough. Dive conditions vary with the tides, throughout the day. Experience level: Intermediate – advanced. Dive sites: >40. Length of stay: Recommended 7-11 days
How does the diving season take place in Komodo? From June to September it is the dry season in Indonesia, but with constant wind from the southeast, it is therefore difficult to operate in the open sea; the season is ideal for Komodo, well protected by the mountains, and Alor, with the same characteristics. However you can dive Komodo without problems from April to December, and with much less people between October and December, what is a real bonus! Oceanic Liveaboard is based in Komodo from April to December, and Adelaar Liveaboard for the most part of the year!
Oceanic Liveaboard is based in Komodo from April to December
Adelaar Liveaboard is based in Komodo for the most part of the year
Komodo's Northern waters generally provide better visibility year round. Fish is abundant everywhere but the rocks and reefs in areas of stronger current provide the best chances of spotting the bigger fish, especially sharks and other pelagic species. Komodo's Southern waters generally provide better visibility from December through April. Lower visibility occurs in the South during the dry season when oceanic up-welling and plankton blooms, attracts a wealth of marine life to Komodo, especially invertebrates. Highest temperatures in the south are during the rainy season.
4. WHERE TO STAY TO DIVE KOMODO
There are few structures that can be considered as diving resorts in the vicinity of Komodo National Park: Komodo Resort on Sebayur Island, Angel Island Eco Resort on Bidadari Island and Kalimaya Dive Resort in the cost of Sape; and all these dive resorts operate year round. Follow the link to book or see details of each resort.
Komodo Resort, Sebayur Island
Komodo Resort is ideally located in Sebayur Island next to Komodo National Park and open to diving year round
Angel Island Eco Resort, Bidadari Island
Angel Island Eco Resort is on a private island on the edge of Komodo National Park and open to diving year round
Kalimaya Dive Resort, West Komodo
Kalimaya Dive Resort on Sape is open to diving year round
5. HOW TO GET TO KOMODO ISLANDS
Airport: Divers generally enter the Komodo region via the airport of Labuan Bajo, once an small fishing village in Flores Island, now a busy town on the indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara. International flights reach Jakarta or Bali, and from there a domestic flight will take you to Labuanbajo. Depending of your liveaboard itinerary considering Bima or Maumere airport via Jakarta or Bali. Weather: 27-32°C. Indonesia has two seasons: wet and dry. In most of Indonesia the wet season is from October to April and the dry from May to September. Nusa Tenggara’s climate is relatively dry with a light rainy season from November to April. Time zone: Lesser Sunda Islands GMT +8.
6. PARK ENTRANCE FEE AND LOCAL TAX
- National Park Entrance: 150,000 Rupiah (working days) 225,000 Rupiah (On Sundays)
- Local Tax: Additional 100,000 Rupiah per day
- Drone fee use inside Komodo National Park: 1 million Rupiah for 2 weeks
Komodo New Local Tax - How the new local tax applies?
Starting November 9th, 2018 will be effective a new tax to be paid directly at your operator of tourism (liveaboard, resort, dive center), with the final bill.
This new tax has been issued from Dinas Pariwisata (Tourism Official Office), according to this office, the new tax description is the following:
- Name of tax: Local Tax – Retribusi Daerah
- Amount: 100,000 Rupiah per day per person
- Subjects: divers will need to pay this tax every day. Tourists going to Rinca or Komodo will need to pay this tax. Snorkelers are excluded.
This means that all the divers for each diving day, will need to pay this extra 100,000 Rupiah per day.
- A diver which is going to Rinca or Komodo in the same day of diving will need to pay 100,000 Rupiah + 100,000 Rupiah (on top of the current extra fees around 150,000 to be paid in Rinca/Komodo).
- Snorkelers which are going out with the boat to snorkeling will not pay for this tax.
- Snorkelers going to Rinca or Komodo will need to pay 100,000 Rupiah on top of the current extra fees.
Drone regulation inside Komodo National Park
Use of drones must be reported to the Balai TN Komodo and therefore must obtain a permit. The liveaboard must send an application by the guest.The price for using drone inside the Park is 1 million rupiah for 2 weeks. The use of drones is forbidden in some areas such as Kalong island.
7. SCUBA DIVING DEALS
Follow the link and find special offers with the best liveaboards and resorts in Komodo.
Cruising Indonesia offers some last minutes and liveaboard deals on Komodo low season, contact now a Liveaboard Specialist