Komodo Archipelago: an amazing variety of dive sites and marine life.
Established in 1980, Komodo National Park was designated a Biosphere Reserve under the UNESCO Man & Biosphere Program and became a World Heritage Site in 1991 and offers stunning dive opportunities.
The Komodo National Park is composed by the two larger islands - Komodo and Rinca; and about 80 smaller islets. The park hosts one of the richest marine environments including coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, seamounts and semi-enclosed bays where has been registered more than 1,000 species of fish, 260 species of reef-building coral and 70 species of sponges. Sea turtles and marine mammals live in the waters of Komodo, and passing whales are also spotted. If Komodo's underwater delights were not enough, there is also the 3 meters long lizard walking around Rinca, Kode and Komodo and looking like something coming straight from the age of the dinosaurs. For many divers Komodo offers the best diving in Indonesia and right up there with the leading dive destinations in the world.
Komodo boast stunning scenery 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 white, pink and red sandy beaches that host some of the most spectacular underwater scenery in the world.
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!
The 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.
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.
There are only two structures that can be properly considered as resort in Komodo region and those are Komodo Resort and Angel Island Resort and Cruising Indonesia is partner of both of them.
Dive Trip Highlights
Swept by fierce currents rich in nutrients, the waters of Komodo are a unique sanctuary of marine life offering fantastic underwater experiences for divers. There is nearly a guarantee to see big pelagic species (manta rays, sharks). Komodo offers world class diving with an amazing variety of sites that include pinnacles, caves, wall diving, coral gardens, and quiet bays ideals for macro photographers looking for rare marine life.
The islands host a large amount of wild animals including buffalo, deer, wild pigs, flying lizards, tropical birds, sea eagles and of course the world-famous Komodo dragon (VaranusKomodoensis), the biggest existing lizard on the planet, reaching a staggering 3 meters in length and 200 kilos in weight and looking just like it has just walked straight from the age of the dinosaurs. It is a true sign of the remoteness of Komodo National Park that the Komodo dragon only became known to the western world in 1912. All cruises include a short trek inland to spot the dragons.
Another must is flying fox spectacle that occurs at the sunset. You will see thousands of Kalong, the giant bat of the fruit, emerging from the mangrove island of Kalong in Flores before flying towards the island of Rinca in the Komodo Archipelago.
Komodo Dives Sites
BatuBolong is a rock pinnacle that lies between the islands of Tatawa and Komodo. For many divers, BatuBolong 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 BatuBolong reef is covered with colorful 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 BatuBolong 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, spanishmackarels, 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 GiliLawaLaut and GiliLawaDarat 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!
Karang Makassar is snorkeling 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.
BatuTiga 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 BatuTiga 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!
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 alarge 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, whitetip reef sharks, hammerhead and bronze whalers aggregate around this site.
Manta Alley is another of Komodos 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 forvery 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, colorful 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 colorful 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 colorful 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.
Useful Information To Komodo in Nusa Tenggara
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 on liveaboard cruise.
Airport: Labuan Bajo. International flights reach Bali, then domestic flight to Labuan Bajo. 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.