Diving Komodo and Labuan Bajo

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Komodo and Labuan Bajo, Indonesia

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Country: Indonesia  Area: Indonesia

Water Temp: 18 - 28°C (64 - 82°F)

Visibility: 15 - 40m (49 - 131 ft)

Depth Range: 3 - 40m (10 - 131 ft)

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Komodo, located in the Lesser Sunda chain of Indonesia islands, is home to the famous Komodo Dragon, notably the largest lizard on earth. Oh, and there is some pretty spectacular diving too!

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This island also contains one of only seven worldwide pink sandy beaches which is a mixture of white and red sand formed from Foraminifera. The rarity of this island’s features led the government to establish the Komodo National Park in order to protect its biodiversity, both above and below the water. This park has since earned recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Man and Biosphere Reserve.

Although many dive sites are around Komodo islands, the Dive Centres themselves are located in Labuan Bajo as world heritage sites have building and business restrictions.

Nudi, Komodo, Credit

Komodo National park has one of the richest marine environments in the world, accessible to divers and snorkelers alike. The waters of the park are home to schools of snapper, tuna, napoleon wrasse and giant trevallies. The cold, nutrient rich currents that rise up around the island attract whales, manta rays and whale sharks.


Komodo Dragon! Credit

Colourful micro-life along with an abundance of hard and soft corals makes for ideal photographic opportunities. Divers may enjoy staying on island while organizing trips through the Komodo Dive Centre or opt for one of the several liveaboard operators from the surrounding islands.

Beautiful! Credit

Climate

Like many Indonesian islands, Komodo has a tropical climate but the seasons do make a difference and you can expect some rain and bad weather in the monsoon season.

The monsoon season runs from October to April with the worse months affected being December and January. During this time dive trips can be cancelled due to weather conditions and the visibility will also be at its lowest, but most days are sunny and clear and it’s still a great time to visit.

Over the course of a season (March-December) many Dive Centers move dive sites due to changes in currents and water temperatures.

October-December divers are found mostly in the south of the park where cooler waters prevail and the reefs are markedly different.

From Mach – October trips tend to head to the Northern part of the park.

Water Temperatures are relatively warm year round and vary from the mid 20°C’s to low 30°C’s.

Marine Conservation

As a UNESCO world heritage site the local dive centres do not need to set up their own programs as rules and regulations are in place for conservation and caring for the environment, but there are still some small beach cleaning and buoy line projects run locals to help the cause.

Big & Small  fishes! Credit

Other Year round Marine life

All can be seen all year round but high season in Komodo due to weather and visibility conditions is May and then July to Oct/Nov.

Kyonemichthys Rumengani, Juvenile Spadefish, Denise's Pygmy Seahorse, Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse, Thorny Seahorse, Zebra crab, Mimic Octopus, Wunderpus, Coleman shrimps, Bobbit Worm, Coral catsharks, Dragon sea moth, Variety of Crab species, Napoleon wrasse, Great barracuda, Giant trevally, Big eye trevally, Dogtooth tuna, Barramundi cod, Ribbon sweetlips, Oriental sweetlips, Coral grouper, Moorish idol, Red snapper, Crocodile fish, Giant trigger fish, Peacock razor fish, Longnose hawk fish, Reef needle fish, lobsters, anemone fish, Pipefish, Eels and many more!

 
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The Diving

The Komodo National Park is known as one of the world’s most pristine diving areas. Made up of Three main islands and a plethora of smaller islands, the park is one of the richest marine environments in the world and home to more than 1000 fish species, from giant palagics, sharks, whales, and mantas to the tiniest of pipefish.

Nemo in Komodo, Credit

Within two hours most Dive Centers from Labuan Bajo can reach all the top sites in the national park like Batu Bolong, Castle Rock, Lighthouse, Three Sisters, Manta Point and more.

The area known as Batu Mandi is an option but it depends on the experience level of the individual diver as conditions may be a little more difficult at times.


Diving in Komodo, Credit

If you have enough experience the channels between the main islands (the Lintah Strait) are famous for their currents. This is where the Indian and Pacific meet, the entire tidal flow of an ocean pass through each day.

This may sound dangerous but it is also exciting as it offering a convenient place for migratory species to move between the seas. A large number of Whales have been seen here, 5 of the 6 species of sea turtles pass through, plus a multitude of other species.

These currents also mean the water is clean and fresh bringing rich plankton from the Indian ocean keeping the corals and reef fish alive and healthy.

Komodo fishes, Credit

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How to Get there

Labuan Bajo airport is the departure point for any visit to Komodo and most Center offer pick-ups and drop-offs from the terminal. Easily accessed by several daily flights from Bali (DPS) or Mataram (in Lombok) the town is easy and affordable.

The Komodo national park is a mere 20 minutes away from Labuan Bajo, accessible by boat.

Touchdown Komodo, Credit

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Going out

The town of Labuan Bajo offers a multitude of bars, restaurants and mild nightlife. 

It's not really for party goers but a relaxing atmosphere for those looking to dive, explore and take it all in.

Fish silhouette, Credit

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Other Activities

Aside from diving the main attraction in the Komodo island is the opportunity to see the world’s largest lizard, The Komodo Dragon. Aside from the Dragons, the scenery is beautiful but due to dangerous terrain, guides are mandatory.

Komodo Island, Credit

The national park offering some impressive snorkeling sites that are accessible to all.

And finally Kayaking in the bays and beaches is a great way to explore the beautiful landscape that has been featured is many Indonesian travel guides and promotional materials.

Another Paradise, Labuan Bajo, Credit

Family Friendly

Activities include beach based sports and games, resorts offer entertainment and nurseries and boat trips or tours cater for all ages.

Don’t let the Komodo Dragons eat your children.

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Tips

You need to buy the appropriate fees and permits at one of the park headquarters when you arrive. They are supposed to be valid for three days, even though the ticket might state otherwise. For foreign visitors, these are as follows:

  • Entrance fee 20,000 IDR
  • Area Tax 50,000 IDR
  • Photo camera fee: 50,000 IDR
  • Video camera fee: 150,000 IDR
  • Ranger/guide: 80,000 IDR (per group)

Komodo Dragons are dangerous and have been known to attack humans, do not treat Komodo island as a holiday resort as the animals are wild and can be unpredictable.

Sunset in Labuan Bajo, Credit

Dive Reports

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Rating 10/10

Komodo report

Komodo and Labuan Bajo1 Oct 2017 - 8 Oct 2017

Just coming back from a liveaboard in Komodo.

Overall it's been awesome. Great diving, lots of fish, beautiful corals very well conserved, lots of fish, good for macro (nudibranchs) and larger fish as well (lots of turtles, black tip/white tip, 1 manta).

The visibility was pretty good all over, around 15m. Very few trash in the ocean, a couple of plastic peices that was picked by DMs.

Regarding the season:

The High Season for Mantas is November to March (don't follow the chart). It is also the wet season though.

The dry season runs from March to November. We had a few patches of rain though on October.

Dolphins are there but very shy. It is very unlikely you will bump into one.

As there are more and more dive operators and boats (about 100 apparently) it's getting more more busy and noisy and the dolphins will just avoid the crowd...

in terms of dive sites:

My favorites were The Cauldron and Castle Rock. This is were you will use a reef hook to have the chance to enjoy the show.

Try to dive there when it's either full or new moon so you will experience the strongest current.

Follow the instructions of the guide, stay close to the reef, at the same level and it will be fine. The operator (Komodo dive center) provided us hooks but it's a good idea to have your own. You will definitely use it!

Most of the dives were drift dives.

Finally as there is a large choices of dive center, choose wisely. Personally I prefer a small amount of divers (we were 9) than a more luxury boat which can carry 20 people. Komodo dive center always tried to beat the crowd by being the first group down at dawn.

Enjoy your stay

Rating 8/10

Manta rays spot @ labuan bajo

Komodo and Labuan Bajo24 Nov 2013 - 25 Nov 2013

Here you can find many of manta ray fishes in many size.. but no corals or colourful sea fishes here

mediving

Vandra Allison

Sounds good!

Rating 10/10

The ultimate in luxury live-aboards?

Komodo and Labuan Bajo12 Apr 2014 - 23 May 2014

These days I write books about underwater photography and have the great joy of teaching the skill for a living. But I could not have anticipated what would happen a few weeks ago, when a third party recommended a photography client to me. Initially it was to teach the basics of underwater photography at the client's London home. But it went so well that I was invited to join my client on an fabulous expenses-paid trip to Komodo in Indonesia, sailing on the beautiful live-aboard Silolona, as one of only 5 guests with 17 crew to look after us.

It's difficult to capture the spirit of such a trip in the attached 5 images, because they cannot really explain the essence of travelling, sleeping, dining and diving in formidable style. I reflect now on my outrageously-good fortune, because of the incredible service that characterised the trip. 2 days into the trip, the crew of the Silolona had worked out my predictable routine and had everything ready at exactly the right time, from my kick-start morning coffee to post-dive assistance with my cameras.

Although my fellow travelers were not really experienced enough to take safe advantage of the many high-energy dive sites in Komodo, the gentler diving on the shallow reefs was nevertheless spectacular with a variety of macro life that you can only dream of. My first encounter with a flamboyant cuttlefish is something to remember. And I had the great joy of photographing my client learning to free dive, sometimes right under the ship, which was a spectacular backdrop. What an amazing trip.

I wish everybody who dives similar good fortune at least once in your life! But absent that, go to Komodo anyway; it is, to use an over-worked adjective, just awesome...

Komodo 5 Komodo 12 Komodo 21 Komodo 26 Komodo 32

Scarlett Noble

Sounds amazing and beautiful photos!

2

Mike Bednarz

I want to dive Komodo. Maybe on my next holiday. Great pictures, looks as awesome as it sounds.

Lisa Paiman

I have just returned home from a dive trip to Komodo...3 day dive trips followed by a 3night/4day liveaboard trip all with Wicked Diving...I loved every moment & can hear the magic in your words....overwhelming, yes....magical, yes....great to read your report 8-)

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