Greetings everyone! I just spent three days on a scuba diving liveaboard in the Komodo Island National Park, one of the top scuba destinations in the world! 🐠🐙🐟
The national park encompasses three major islands: Komodo, Rinca, and Padar, as well as, 26 smaller islands. The islands are volcanic in origin, and are characterized by their rounded hills. The national park currently protects the endemic komodo dragon on land, as well as, the rich marine life in its surrounding waters. 🦈Notable marine life includes reef sharks, manta rays, clownfish, eels, squirrelfish, frogfish, gropers, batfish, butterflyfish, angelfish, pufferfish, lionfish, wrasse, fusiliers, parrotfish, nudibranches, and much, much more. Frogfish are the masters of camouflage. The are covered in bumpy thorns and have the ability to change color, making it easy for them to hide from predators.Batfish play a large role in reef conservation, since they eat seaweed which might otherwise overtake the reef.Moray eels live in small rock crevices. They are one of the top ocean predators, and use an element of surprise to lunge out and grab their prey. Fun fact: Eels constantly open and close their mouth to force water over their gills allowing them to breathe. It is not a scare tactic!Puffer fish are known for their ability to ingest a large amount of water, which turns them into a round ball and scares off predators. This is because they are slow swimmers and cannot easily escape. Their tissues also contains a deadly toxin that is potent enough to kill 30 men! Sharks are the only species immune to this toxin. Fun fact: Many trained chefs prepare pufferfish for their clients, but if they serve the wrong tissue, they could end up serving a deadly meal. Lionfish are actually an invasive species, because they eliminate much of the native marine life. They also have venomous spikes on their body, which they use for self-defense. Nudibranches, commonly called “sea slugs” are soft-bodied molluscs. The variety in Komodo is absolutely spectacular! Fun fact: You are what you eat. Nudibranches are so colorful, because of the colorful sponges and corals they eat. Green sea turtles and hawksbills can often be found in these waters. Both species are endangered, and their biggest threats include pollution and human interference. 😢Manta rays have a wingspan of up to 25 feet and can weigh up to 3,000 pounds. They are also filter feeders and don’t have a venomous spike in their tail, making them practically harmless.
The marine ecosystems here are also spectacular! I loved the variety of hard and soft coral at each dive site. Here we have some plate coral with staghorn coral beneath it. Here’s some brain coral surrounded by branching coral. Here’s some soft coral gracefully flowing with the current. There was honestly so much variety though, I didn’t know where to look next! 😮
Budget Scuba Liveaboard: Komodo National Park
To do the liveaboard, I first had to fly to Labuan Bajo on the island of Flores, Indonesia. The flight took an hour and cost about 100 USD. Worth it just for that view! 😲Labuan Bajo is a small fishing village that is slowly becoming a tourist hot spot. Although it’s still growing, they already have plenty of restaurants, grocery shops, ATMs and tour operators to make your trip flow easily.While in Labuan Bajo, I stayed at Dragon Dive Hostel. They offer diving courses, liveaboards, and day trips in the Komodo National Park.Cost: 10 USD/ night (poor WiFi and nothing else included, but they had a nice pool)
At the end of my diving trip, I did stay at a spectacular place called Ciao Hostel. They had a dorm room with an incredible view for only 8 USD per night. They also offer free shuttles to town and the airport. Highly recommended! ❤
As for Dragon Dive Hostel, they offered liveaboards for either a three-day, four-day, or seven-day diving trip. I chose the three-day budget liveaboard, which cost 350 USD, and included two nights of accommodation on the boat, three days worth of meals, and 10 dives. Such a good deal! It also included a day of trekking for Komodo dragons, which I’ll talk about in my next post.🐉 It did not include the scuba gear rental for 17 USD per day or the national park fees, which were 15 USD per day.On day one, myself and ten other divers departed from the hostel, walked two minutes to the harbor and hopped on our home for the next three days. ❤I was incredibly impressed with the boat facilities, considering it was a budget liveaboard. Single divers had their own bunk in a dorm, while couples had their own room. The rooms had multiple outlets for charging phones and cameras as well.
We also had own our bathroom with a shower, towel, and toiletries.The boat had three levels. On the first level we had our rooms, the second level was the dining area, and the third level had a nice deck for tanning during the day. 😀In terms of food, the cook offered a variety of local and international fare. Breakfasts included banana chocolate crepes, an egg sandwich, as well as, heaps of fresh fruit, dried dates, toast and jam, and unlimited tea and coffee. Lunches included a veggie salad, omelet, fried egg, veggie curry, chicken wings, fried calamari, fresh fruit, and rice.Dinners included BBQ tofu, fish, fried tempeh, veggies, and more white rice.
We also had an incredible crew! We had a lovely cook, a trustworthy captain, and plenty of helpful deck hands to prepare our gear each day. Our divemasters included a Brazilian and German instructor, as well as, a local Indonesian with over 1,000 dives under his belt. The divers themselves were a bunch of cigarette-smoking Frenchies and I couldn’t imagine diving after smoking so much. 🚬 They were all super lovely otherwise! 😀Anyway, our itinerary for the three days was as follows:
- Day 1: Four dives at Sabayor, Mini Wall, Police Corner, and a night dive
- Day 2: Three dives at Manta Point, Batu Bolong, and the Golden Passage
- Day 3: Three dives at Crystal Rock, Castle Rock, and the Cauldron
Here’s also a map with some of the dive sites pictured:Some of the dives were easy, and without current, while others had some of the strongest currents I’ve encountered yet! My biggest problem came at Castle Rock, where the currents were pushing me so far from the group, I felt like I was kicking without progress, and sucking down all of my oxygen way too fast. Luckily, two of my buddies were there to grab my hand and we could kick down together. Once we got down to the bottom, our guide secured a hook to the reef and we just clung on for our dear lives! Hah! 😛My favorite part about this company was how much they educated us on each dive site. Before each dive, we would have a briefing to discuss all the components of the dive, what problems we may encounter, and the marine life we might find. Our guides really knew how the use the changing tides and currents to know exactly how and where we should enter the water. With such strong currents and without a knowledgeable guide, you could easily go floating into the open ocean and you would definitely be swimming far away from the most beautiful parts of the reef.
Essentially, for each dive, we would put on our wet suit and mask, then hop into a smaller boat. On that boat, the dive crew would have our oxygen tanks with flotation devices ready to go. Once in the smaller boat, we would check that our tanks were functioning properly and strap ourselves in. Then, once the smaller boat got to the dive site, we would put on our flippers, sit on the edge of the boat, and do a backward roll into the water. This was honestly the hardest part for me, since the tank and gear was so heavy. Luckily, the staff was super helpful at assisting me while on the edge. 😀Once underwater, we would communicate with each other using hand signals to let our group know if we were low on air or having problems equalizing, and we would also use signals to communicate if we saw some interesting marine life. Each marine animal has its own signal (shown below). Overall, an incredibly successful scuba trip, and highly recommended for anyone looking for some epic, once-in-a-lifetime underwater memories. Anyway, here’s a video I made of the scuba diving trip. Hope you enjoy! 😀
Anyway, stay tuned for my last Indonesian adventure: trekking for Komodo dragons on Rinca Island! Until then! 😀