Now the most exciting part of Komodo: its world-class diving sites!!! Komodo National Park is one of the most biological diverse habitats on the planet, both above and below the water surface. This still largely unexplored pristine underwater life is unbelievably remarkable, offering a mixture of different diving choices to even most experienced divers. Komodo seas offer spectacular biodiversity, magnificent macro opportunities, abundance of massive pelagic organisms, excellent walls, large open water pinnacles, crystal clear and warm waters, and often with raging ocean currents. Macro to massive, this is absolutely one of best diving sites on earth for sheer diversity of underwater life.
Diving variety in Komodo is amazing, offering every type of possible tropical diving. Some dive places are calm and relatively shallow, enabling you to crawl on the bottom looking at macro creatures such as tiny frogfish, pygmy seahorses, rare invertebrates and nudibranches. In the next place, you can be in a wide open water pinnacle with strong sea currents, watching big fish passing by like manta rays, sharks and dolphins. And in some other places, you can dive in caves and a live volcano.
Given the large size of the marine park and this much diversity of underwater life, there is so much to see in Komodo waters. There are many excellent dive sites around Komodo (between the main islands of Sumbawa and Flores), but distances between these dive sites can be quite far. So, the best way to explore Komodo seas is by liveaboard. Liveaboard diving trip to Komodo can range from days to weeks, leaving from different places such as Bali, Sumbawa, and Flores. One benefit of liveaboard is the opportunity to dive at remote and inaccessible areas. Liveaboard diving in Komodo is all year round, with best diving conditions from April to November (dry season).
We could not go for liveaboard diving since we brought our daughter together with us. We therefore opted for daily diving for four days from Labuan Bajo, the nearest town in Flores. Our daughter, S, stayed at the hotel with her nanny while we were diving all day. Our selection of dive shop was Lagona Divers located inside our hotel (i.e., Hotel Bintang Flores). The dive shop is owned and managed by Germans. We’re satisfied with the professionalism and friendliness of their dive staff. Every early morning, we departed from Labuan Bajo harbor to dive sites around surrounding islands in the marine park. The time for each boat trip from Labuan Bajo to different dive sites varies, ranging from 1 to 3 hours, which is not bad at all. Each day consisted of 2-3 dives. We normally returned back to the hotel at around 5 PM, just in time for playing with my lil S in the hotel’s pool, and for shower and dinner.
Selection of the dive sites depends on the divers’ passions and experiences. There are places for easy diving, where the waters are calm, shallow and ideal for macro diving. Also, diving in the waters of Komodo can be challenging. One example is that seeing sharks and manta rays in Komodo typically involves diving with high sea currents. The fast currents are caused by the higher tidal waters of the Pacific Ocean in the north flowing through the seas between Flores and Komodo into the Indian Ocean in the south. These ocean currents bring nutrients and planktons to keep the marine life in Komodo rich and very well fed. I actually enjoy drift diving very much because I’m a lazy diver. Haha… I just need to glide along with the ocean current flow without exerting any significant power for swimming. The sea current does the work, while I simply focus on enjoying the underwater beauty. It’s really relaxing.
Batu Bolong (meaning Hollow Rock) is my favorite dive site in Komodo. It has a small rock outcrop with a hole through it (i.e., the first picture above). Below the sea surface are massive steep walls and fascinating drop offs that disappear into depths. It is a view to behold. It is one of Komodo’s signature dive sites and a must visit for divers. The coral reef is healthy and in a superb condition, and the volume of fish here is amazing. The reef has not been targeted by fishermen, thanks to the rock’s topography and the strong sea currents. This dive site is also good to see large marine life as it’s patrolled by a variety of sharks, large groupers, giant trevally, napoleon wrasse and tunas. My dive master said that Batu Bolong always impressed every diver he took there.
My most favorite site for diving is Manta Point, which is an aggregation site for manta rays. Manta rays can be easily spotted at this place. We saw manta rays just on the surface even before the dive. During the dive, we spotted more than ten manta rays swimming in groups and patrolling the area. Manta Point is a relatively flat and shallow channel covered with rubbles and only with a few small coral blocks. This dive site often has strong sea currents. Divers can hang onto rocks at the bottom and wait for manta rays to pass by. Divers can go very close to observe the manta rays. Manta rays are A’s most favorite fish. He said that closely seeing these majestic giant sea creatures gently gliding through the water gives him an inexplicably peaceful feeling that can last for a long time. He said diving at Manta Point was his most memorable moment in Komodo. Manta rays’ gathering is typically a seasonal event, but NOT at Manta Point. It’s almost guaranteed that you will see manta rays at Manta Point all year round. This is what makes Manta Point a very special dive location.
Our diving in Komodo was truly an amazing experience. We both agree Bunaken certainly has more superb macro diving than Komodo. But due to overfishing in Bunaken that has destroyed its large fish population, Komodo is definitely better for seeing large reef fish. The diversity of marine life in Komodo from macro to massive is simply awesome. Swimming with manta rays in Komodo was unforgettable. We swam very closely to the manta rays. Equipped with our own underwater camera (not rental/loan anymore hehehe…), we managed to take some good pictures.
A German avid diver who had a record of more than 500 dives and had traveled around the world for diving said that dive spots could not be better than Komodo. That made us realize that we’re fortunate to have this natural treasure in our country. It’s heart breaking to witness the sea pollution and underwater destruction caused by irresponsible Indonesians who don’t realize the true values of Komodo’s beautiful nature. It’s good that protection of Komodo’s nature now is getting better as more tourists are coming there for sightseeing and diving. Four days of diving was too short, considering the high number of excellent dive sites in Komodo and some are accessible only by liveaboard. We will certainly revisit Komodo for more diving.