Trevallies with Sambal Goreng and a dash of Qigong
Komodo has the most vicious currents I’ve ever experienced in my 300+ dives. This place is definitely NOT recommended for novices. The currents change by the second and a reef hook was necessary on some of the dives. We even had to abort one dive as we were practically being stirred about by the currents at the aptly-named Cauldron!
However the reward for braving these ferocious currents is, of course, the spectacular diving. The big fish action here is superb, and there are no words to describe the exhilaration of being in the middle of a school of rainbow runners being hunted by whitetip sharks, black trevallies and bluefin mackerel. You will get to see whitetip sharks, napoleon wrasses, jacks, mackeral, turtles, schooling snapper/fusilier/rainbow runners on almost every dive, and we even saw a grey reef shark at Castle Rock. I spotted an eagle ray at Crystal Rock but it was too near the surface for a good shot (we were at about 20m at the time). There was only 1 manta at Manta Point, although we did see some on the surface. Unfortunately, they swam away when we tried to chase them in our snorkels and fins. The crew even saw a dugong on the surface but I wasn’t quick enough to catch that.
The best time to dive North Komodo is May-Sep, and South Komodo is good in Feb-Jun. We didn’t get to visit South Komodo on this trip as it was only 6 days.
The Ambasi, a traditional schooner, is a cosy (8 pax) and basic LOB. The major downside is that the engine is not powerful – indeed, we had to give GPS point a miss as it was too far north. Also, the ensuite bathrooms only have a shower curtain as a door, which is a little awkward if you haven’t already reached a certain comfort level with your roommate! On the upside, the crew is excellent, the food is beyond fantastic, and the dive guide (code name: Nero) is tremendously experienced with 20 diving years under his belt. Overall, I think it was fine for the price we paid (USD1k each for 6 nights). Most Komodo LOBs cost USD250-350 a night and I don’t need that much luxury. Just great diving!
Would I visit Komodo again? Definitely. Perhaps South Komodo next time. My favourite still remains Sipadan of course, but Komodo is pretty awesome even to a jaded diver.
Trip Date: 16 Oct 2009 – 24 Oct 2009
Diving days: 6 (18 Oct 2009 – 23 Oct 2009)
Accommodation: Phinisi Ambasi (LOB)
Temperature: 24-28 degrees Celsius
Currents: Strong (reef hook necessary)
Central / North Komodo
- Angel Island
- Red Beach (Pantai Merah)
- Batu Bulong
- Tatawa Kecil
- Tatawa Besar
- Siaba Island (Snapper Point)
- Castle Rock
- Crystal Rock
- Gili Lawa Channel (Cauldron)
- Makassar Island (Manta Point)
- Penga Kecil
- Wainilu (Muck diving)
Must-dive sites: Castle Rock, Crystal Rock, Red Beach
Day 0: SIN-DPS.
Day 1: DPS-LBJ. Transfer to Phinisi Ambasi. Checkout dive near LBJ.
Day 2: Visit to Komodo Island to see Komodo dragons. 2 day dives.
Day 3-6: 3 day dives (+ night dive when possible)
Day 7: LBJ-DPS. DPS-SIN.