The Komodo Islands have some of the best diving in the world. They also have slightly better transportation infrastructure than the North or South Pole. To say it is not especially easy to get around the Komodos using ferries and roads is somewhat of an understatement.
While that might seem discouraging initially, it is actually a great thing for divers, if you can scrape together the budget for a liveaboard trip. So what is the upside? Because it is difficult to access, those who dig deep and cough up the cash for Komodo liveaboard diving are richly rewarded for their efforts. The difficult and stressful problem of transportation vanishes when you choose the relaxed comfort of a luxury yacht. It is an investment you will not regret. Ultimately our experiences, not our objects, are what we truly cherish most, and diving the Komodos is a priceless experience.
Traveling on one of the few liveaboard dive boats serving the Komodos, you can go where almost no one else can. Consequently, you will not encounter crowds at the pristine and unspoiled dive sites. There are over 50 “popular” yet uncrowded sites in the area and exploration routinely yields new surprises and delights. Macro life and strong currents are notable highlights. The logistics ensure relatively few tourists will be there, and the sprawling marine sanctuary protects the area from the ravages of commercial fishing.
Species You Can See Diving In Komodo
The robust protected marine ecosystem of the Komodo Islands supports incredible bio-diversity – literally thousands of species. Some of the more common yet exciting sights in these waters include: spanish mackerel, tuna, mantas, napoleons, dugongs, bumphead parrotfish, fusiliers, surgeon fish, turtles, and many varieties of sharks and cetaceans. Smaller species include coleman shrimps, crinoid shrimps and other shrimps, ghost pipefish, zebra crabs, decorator crabs and many other crab species, moray eels, cuttlefish, feather stars, scorpion fish, frogfish, various species of octopus, flatworms, sea snakes, nudibranches, seahorses, frogfish, cephalopods, ghostpipefish, waspfish, indian walkman, and more. There are also around 250 species of coral to be found in the Komodos.
Komodo Liveaboard Diving Sites
There are 50 named sites known to liveaboard captains here in the Komodo Islands, and every captain has a few secret spots too. We’ll save the secrets for our guests and just discuss a few of the more famous Komodo dive sites here.
Batu Bolong means “hollow rock” in Indonesian. The massive pinnacle rises from a depth of around 75 meters, covered in hard corals and sponges. Fed by currents carrying plankton rich waters from deeper seas, the fish life at this famous Komodo dive site is amazing in both diversity and sheer numbers. In the shallows you’ll find fish of assorted reef-dwelling species numbering in the thousands. The deeper water reveals big napoleons and whitetip reef sharks. Hawksbill turtles feed here on the ample buffet of tunicates and sponges. The action is concentrated in the relatively small area around the pinnacle, so whereas on some sites, the conveyor belt of current provides a welcome tour, we aim to dive this site at slack tide when the current is minimal.
Pillarsteen’s topography is an interesting mix of walls, pinnacles, chimneys and caves. Massive soft brown leather corals contrast with bright yellow sea cucumbers. Soft corals in hues of green, yellow and orange, sea fans, squirts and sponges round out the underwater flora. Strong currents run across the long sloping reef. The depth varies from 5 to 40 meters. Reef fish such as angelfish, butterfly fish, and snapper mingle with schools of fusiliers and surgeonfish while scorpionfish, lionfish, and moray eels hide in the reef.
Giant trevally, schools of fusiliers, turtles, whitetip sharks, and really big jack feed here. But as you might guess, the concentration of manta rays here is the main attraction. Sometimes you can see as many as 20 on a single dive. We frequently see juveniles in the shallows, as little as five meters deep. Three deeper underwater channels attract schools of bumphead parrotfish and put the “Alley” in the name. Currents carry colder water here and it can get a little chilly in the deepest parts of the site, around 30 meters. This is one of the most popular dives in the Komodos, so you will likely spot some humans here too, but there is plenty of the “Alley” to go around.
Divers who venture to Cannibal Rock discover a world class assortment of macro life. Bizarre nudibranches, whimsical frogfish and undeniably cute pygmy seahorses delight underwater adventurers here. Blue and green anemones wave among the enormous 2 meter tall gorgonian fans and vibrant maroon sea apples extending their tentacles to filter plankton. Feather stars of just about every color and bright blue tunicates join colorful soft corals to complete the underwater rainbow of marine flora.
Komodo Liveaboard Diving Season
Conditions for Komodo diving are best in May through October. During this time you can expect visibility of 25 to 35 meters. Water temperatures are around 27 C (80 F).
How to Get to Komodo
Komodo is, as noted, a bit remote. Our Komodo liveaboard diving trips sail out of the port of Labuan Bajo on the island of Flores. You can get there by ferry, but we recommend flying to Labuan Bajo from Bali. You can see more details on how to get to Komodo at the link. We’ll cover some more Komdo dive sites in a future article in our Mantra Chronicles series.