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Your Guide to Diving in Komodo

The World Heritage Site

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...Highlights: shark action, dolphins, manta rays, turtles, dugongs, schooling fish & big pelagics, great macro life/ marine diversity, non-diving activities...
...Diving environment: healthy reefs, wall dives, drift diving, advanced divers, very popular...

The national park reserve of Komodo Island offers the liveaboard diver just about every type of tropical scuba diving imaginable - from warm, calm and colourful shallow reefs alive with hundreds of colourful reef fishes and crammed with invertebrates, to current-swept deep cool water sea mounts, walls and pinnacles patrolled by sharks, tuna and other big fish.

Pygmy seahorse - photo courtesy of Indo Aggressor
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The variety of marine life that you can see in Komodo rivals the world's best dive destinations. This is close to the world's epicentre for marine diversity and you'll see loads of stuff here on a liveaboard diving cruise that you just won't see anywhere else in the world.

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 colourful sponges, sea squirts, tunicates and corals; Komodo is a macro diving enthusiast's heaven.

Geologically, 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 metres. The many 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 upwellings 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.

Dive Site Descriptions

Batu Bolong

'Hollow Rock' is a pinnacle that lies in 75 metres 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 here is always a full-on festival. Due to the rock's topography and exposure to strong currents 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 awesome, 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 are frequent feeders 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. Stay a while here if you can 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. Fish mating, fish laying and guarding eggs, fish hunting, fish hiding, fish fighting, fish feeding - it's all here on display from dawn 'til dusk.
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How to Dive Komodo

Although there are now a few resorts beginning to pop up around the area, the dive sites are well spaced out and the only way for divers to truly see all that Komodo Island has to offer and get a good picture of the surrounding area is by liveaboard safari. There are plenty of trips and you should be able to find something for every budget.

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 metres in length and 125 kg, they are known locally as 'Ora' and now about 1,100 inhabit the island and about half that live on nearby Rinca Island. Most cruises include a visit to see the dragons.

For more information on the tour routes and durations, and all the other travel information you might need to visit Indonesia, check out our Komodo liveaboard section. For those without time to join a cruise, you can visit Komodo on a dive day trip from Labuan Bajo in Flores.

The Diving Season

You can go liveaboard diving in Komodo all year round. The charters here do not close for an off-season because every month of the year promises top quality action. Some boats operate here every month, others visit for a few months. Availability peaks with the highest number of tours in Komodo being between April and August, while some visiting liveaboards stay as late as November.

The April to November period is considered dry season when the weather is at its best. November to March is rainy season. April, just after rainy season, is often considered the best month. For more useful information on Komodo’s climate, visit the MeteoblueOpens in a new window website.

Normally the water is cooler (average 20 to 25°C) in the south and warmer and clearer in the north (average 25 to 28°C), but this can change. The absolute best time for good visibility in Komodo is from November to January when 30+m is common. July and August, having cooler seas and being more nutrient-rich, have lower visibility but have blooming marine life.

January to March can have rough surface conditions at the northern dive sites. July and August can have rough seas in the south and Rinca. But these conditions rarely interfere with the liveaboard schedules to any great extent.

As far as seasonal patterns for big marine life go, the best time for manta sightings is December to February (though they are seen all year round), and for Mola Mola the best month is generally August.

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Where is Komodo and How Do I Get There?

Review our maps below of Komodo Island and its host country Indonesia. Here, you will find information on how to get to the various departure points for Komodo.

Map of Komodo (click to enlarge in a new window) Map of Indonesia (click to enlarge in a new window)

Reef Summary

Depth: 5 - >40m
Visibility: 5 - 30m
Currents: Can be very strong
Surface conditions: Can be rough
Water temperature: 20 - 28°C
Experience level: Intermediate - advanced
Number of dive sites: >35
Distance: ~490 km east of Bali (24 hours), 20 km west of Labuan Bajo (Flores, 2 hours), 90 km east southeast of Bima (Sumbawa, 8 hours)
Recommended length of stay: 6 - 11 days

Useful References

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