The best thing about Indonesia is definitely, scuba diving Komodo Islands. You can pretty much dive off any beach in the area and find gorgeous coral and an impressive array of every type of tropical underwater life. The diversified marine life that you can see in Komodo, rivals the world’s best dive destinations. This is close to the world’s epicenter for marine diversity and you’ll see loads of marine life here on a liveaboard diving cruise.
Scuba Diving Komodo Islands is just a dream come true! From sunfish, mantas, dolphins and eagle rays to pygmy seahorses, ornate ghost pipefish, clown frogfish, nudibranchs and blue-ringed octopus, all are at home amongst a spectacular range of colorful sponges, sea squirts, tunicates, and corals; Komodo is a macro enthusiast’s heaven.
Guide to Scuba Diving Komodo
Komodo Island and Rinca are part of Flores, separated from Sumbawa to the west by the Sape Strait. In the middle of the strait, the bottom drops to almost 300 meters. Small islands and relatively shallow seas between Flores and Komodo’s west coast mean very fast currents at tidal changes, especially when the higher tidal waters of the Pacific Ocean in the north flow through into the Indian Ocean to the south. The streams from the deep surrounding seas bring nutrients and plankton to keep these waters rich and well-fed, which makes perfect conditions for some spectacular scuba diving.
Komodo Island is also famous for its Komodo dragon monitor lizards, the largest lizard in the world. An alert and agile predator and scavenger that can reach 2.5 meters in length and 125 kg, they are known locally as ‘Ora’ and now about 1,100 inhabit the island and about half that lives on nearby Rinca Island.
How to get to Komodo
In order to reach Komodo island, you’ll have to first make your way to the coastal town of Labuan Bajo in West Flores, where you can transfer to a boat ride to Komodo island. This town is also a base from which travelers usually book their accommodation and travel out to surrounding islands such as Rinca and Padar.
You can travel all the way from Bali to Labuan Bajo with a stopover at Komodo/Rinca for a bit of dragon spotting. I actually did the reverse trip last April. Flying to Labuan Bajo is the easiest way if it is within your budget.
Best dive sites around Komodo
• Batu Bolong: ‘Hollow Rock’ is a pinnacle that lies in 75 meters of water between Tatawa to the east and Komodo main island to the west. It is one of northern region’s signature dive sites as the fish life there is always a full-on festival. The rock’s topography and exposure to strong currents is the reason that the reef has not been targeted by fishermen and is in superb condition. Hard corals and sponges cover the walls and slopes, but the main beneficiary here must be the fish life.
The volume of fish here is large, right from the deeper water areas where Napoleon wrasse and whitetip reef sharks cruise, to the shallow where thousands of smaller reef fish battle it out for territorial and feeding rights. Hawksbill turtles feed on the sponges and tunicates, giant sweetlips lurk in the gullies and overhangs, palette surgeonfish dance across the current swept upper reaches of the rock. I stayed here longer as this dive site is really a great place to educate yourself and witness the full gamut of what being a reef fish is all about from mating, laying eggs, fish hunting, feeding, here it’s all on display.
• Langkoi Rock: This dive site is the most extreme of the Komodo National Park! It is a submerged pinnacle located southeast of Langkoi Island. Many of grey reef sharks, whitetip and blacktip sharks, hammerhead sharks and bronze whales congregate there! When diving, I went down directly to the pinnacle and grabbed it to watch the action all around me!
• Castle Rock: Castle Rock is an amazing site for scuba diving Komodo Islands! It is a huge pinnacle underwater with a top at 4m be very careful to the strong current deep. You can pretty much see everything on this dive site, from Manta rays to grey reef sharks, giant trevallies to schools of tuna and maybe even dolphins.
• End of the World: Tala is a tiny, angular island in Langkoi Bay, south of the southernmost part of Komodo, offering some excellent dive sites. The inner passage between Tala and Komodo proper is shallow and has ripping currents, but the southern tip has The End Of The World to the west in very deep water. Here is a sheer wall of rock, broken up by some nice cuts, overhangs, and sandy shelves down to about 40 meters, and from there on a flat, black plane. There are white-tip sharks, rays, morays and rich coral growth in the cuts and shelves. The flat areas of the wall are covered with extensive fields of marigold cup corals, a beautiful and vivid effect against the dark rock.
• Manta Alley: This signature dive is the main location in Komodo to find manta rays – often as many as 10 or 20. It’s a rock islet that just punctures the sea’s surface in a small craggy chain, inside the bay along the south coast of Komodo Island.
What to expect while scuba diving in Komodo
Currents are usually very strong on every dive site and scuba diving in Komodo is mostly reserved to experienced divers with confidence in drift diving! There are however some quieter dive spots for those beginners but you may miss the incredible action of big fishes swimming into the current. The current sometimes reach 8 knots in some places. It is driven by tides so choose your dive site carefully which you can plan depending on the conditions.
Other things to do and see in Komodo
There’s a lot of options to see and do in the Komodo Islands. Not only are there tons of coral reefs in its waters, and various beautiful beaches and scenic hikes as well. I didn’t dream that I was going to see one of the most incredible views I’ve ever seen on a hike before, nor did I ever expect that I’d get the chance to swim with Manta Rays equal to my size!
At the end of your hike, when you reach the top of Padar Island, you’ll get an enchanting view of its three different colored beaches. You’ll be able to see a pink sand beach, a black sand beach, and a white sand beach, separated only by land ridges and sparkling blue water. The hike is really easy. There are different “Manta Points” in the Komodo Islands, named appropriately so because that’s where your best chance of spotting a Manta Ray is! I accidentally spotted a whole freaking pod of Manta Rays on our way to Padar Island, and my lovely, elderly boat driver was nice enough to stop and let us jump in with the snorkels. I was informed that the area where I jumped in was called “Manta 2”, but I believe the best bet for seeing them is to just keep an eye out for their fins as they graze the surface.
One of the best things to do in the Komodo Islands is to go to the actual Komodo Island National Park. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s one of the New 7 World Wonders of Nature too!
If you have a non-boat tour day and are looking for interesting adventures near Labuan Bajo, Cunca waterfall may be of interest to you. It’s close to the main town area, and it’s a nice change of scenery to see a lush jungle as opposed to the dry Komodo Islands.
What better place to try some authentic Indonesian food than at a place called Atlantis! It’ a short drive from the main area of Labuan Bajo, but I promise you it’s worth it. Not only is the food fantastic, but the entire restaurant is made out of a giant, old-fashioned, pirate ship and I found that quite amusing.
Best times to visit Komodo
The months of June and July is the ideal time to visit for scuba diving in Komodo Islands. While the skies and water may be calmer, the winds are present, but not very strong, making the days very pleasant and the nights slightly cool. They are open year round and even if scuba diving in Komodo Islands is affected by weather in one section of the park, travelers are usually able to visit other parts.