Komodo was my school as a dive guide and Cruise Director at Liveaboards, so it’s definitely one of my favourite spots and I know it as the back of my hand.
Located in the heart of the Coral Triangle, Komodo National Park has one of the richest marine environment in Indonesia. The tidal current runs this place changing every 6 hours from North to South or South to North. The different temperature from North to South and the current hitting the reefs all day long, brings lots of nutrients and life blooms magically, making Komodo National Park an Underwater Paradise.
BEST TIME TO GO
You can go to Komodo National Park all year round. From October to May there is the Southeast Monsoon and from December till March, the Northwest Monsoon.
Due the Monsoons the best time to dive Central and North is usually from March to November and the best time to dive South is usually from October to April.
As we are talking about the weather and it’s not like math, please be aware that from year to year it changes and sometimes the monsoon comes earlier or later. We never know!
WHAT TO SEE UNDERWATER
It’s for all sort of tastes, from the ones who love the little weird creatures to those who love big stuff and lot of action.
Schooling fish and huge aggregations are the highlights. Jacks, Barracudas, Napoleon Wrasse, Fusiliers, Snappers are usual suspects. Huge Manta Ray aggregations are often seen. Many different types of reef sharks like White Tip, Black Tip, Grey and Bamboo are residents. If you are lucky enough you may have a magical encounter with Dolphins and Whale Sharks.
Even for those not familiar with a SCUBA tank, no problem! You can see all from the surface, just snorkeling. There are many spots very shallow where you can see the colorful reefs, lots of fish, turtles and even sharks and manta rays.
Although Komodo is well known for strong current, it’s for all levels of divers, free divers or snorkelers. Just make sure you choose a reliable operator who will take you to the right spot according to your level.
There are different dive sites for different levels. There are even some sheltered dive sites where we can teach Open Water students. But there are also dive sites that can be very challenging even for divers with more than thousand dives under the belt.
Obviously, more experienced you are, more you can enjoy all the dive sites. Usually the big stuff and huge concentration of fish are in the strong currents and not recommended for beginners.
Note that some Liveaboards ask for a minimum of 50 or 100 dives experience and at least Advanced Open Water level. If you don’t have the minimum experience, in some boats you should hire a private guide. I highly recommend that.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST
As a dive guide and Cruise Director I experienced from budget to expensive luxury Liveaboards. Komodo is for all kind of pockets, either if you are in a budget or not.
You gonna get what you pay for, talking about service and installations, but the dive sites are there for all type of boats and operators.
Just to have an idea:
A Liveaboard can cost from 150 USD to “the sky is the limit” per night. A luxury 5 stars can be around 600 USD per night.
A day trip for 2 or 3 dives ranges from 1.100.000 IDR to 2.200.000 IDR. Depends of how many dives, how far and how fast the boat goes.
The accommodation in Labuan Bajo you can find from 150.000 IDR (hostel) to 60 USD (4 stars Hotel) per night or even a Villa for around 300USD per night.
LIVEABOARD OR DAY TRIP
The only reasons I wouldn’t recommend a Liveaboard trip is of you can’t stand in a boat (sea sicknesses) or you are on a budget.
All dive sites in Komodo National Park are ruled by current – intensity and direction – but it doesn’t always follow the tide tables. Dive Guides and Cruise Directors are constantly watching the current and very often changing plans, to get the best from each site.
GENERAL ADVICES TO DIVE IN KOMODO
Komodo is an amazing place and even better if you come prepared.
Dive Insurance: Make sure your travel insurance covers dive activities or you have a dive insurance. The closest hyperbaric chamber is in Bali and you need to fly to get there. I mean, you might need a special airplane just for you. My Dive Holiday has a partnership with DAN Asia Pacific which has a reputation over 30 years of dive accident management. It’s possible to get a DAN short term dive accident insurance . It costs 40 USD for 10 days or 50 USD for 30 days. Check the coverage description here.
Dive Computer: Make sure you have your own dive computer. If you don’t have one and don’t want to buy one, rent it. Although it’s not mandatory, I highly recommend. Buddy separation is quite common in strong current. If it happens to you, better you have your own dive computer, right? Also maybe you are not diving every day with the same dive guide. If so, how can you keep track of your no decompression limits?
Wetsuit: it’s hard to tell, it’s more about you, very personal. Sometimes I have guests diving only with lycra and guests in a full 7mm in the same dive site. And both are ok. Anyways, the temperature ranges from 22 – 27 Celsius. Not often, but possible in some dive sites get to 20 C due the currents.
Gloves: not prohibited or required but can be useful in few dive sites. If you wear gloves please be conscious about were you put your hands. Make sure it’s a dead substrate, not a coral or any other live animal.
Reef hook: not required but can be useful in few dive sites. If you don’t have previous experience using it, better don’t try it in Komodo, in the strong currents for the first time.
Surface marker buoy: not mandatory but highly recommended (mandatory in some boats). In strong current group separation can happen and also you can easily drift couple miles in less than one hour. It will be easier to find you if you have one.
Protecting the reef: divers are embassadors of the sea, it’s our mission the protect it. Good practices like not touching, not moving subjects and not kicking the reef are very welcome. Komodo is a National Park and it’s not allowed to take a shell or corals away. Even if they are dead.
Very important: listen to the briefings, follow the instructions and follow your guide, always! Maybe you feel like you are diving in a aquarium, with absolutely no currents, but just few meters away there are life threatening strong down or up currents. Your guide knows where they are, you don’t. So stay behind.