Our experience diving in the Komodo National Park, Indonesia
The Komodo National Park just off the Flores island in Indonesia was some of the best scuba diving we’ve ever experienced. After learning to dive Koh Tao in Thailand, fun diving in Thoddoo island in the Maldives, Okinawa in Japan and in Palawan in the Philippines, we had very high expectations.
WARNING: you will be spoilt rotten diving here and everything afterwards will pale into comparison.
WHAT’S SO GOOD ABOUT DIVING IN THE KOMODO NATIONAL PARK?
The waters surrounding the Komodo National Park form part of the Coral Triangle, which contains one of the richest marine biodiversity on earth: a paradise for divers. It was even selected as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature in 2011.
The Coral Triangle is the global centre of marine biodiversity, holding 75% of the world’s coral species, 6 of the world’s 7 marine turtle species and 3000 marine fish species.
The Komodo National Park is located at the Southern end of the Coral Triangle, forming part of the Lesser Sunda chain of Indonesian islands:
Labuan Bajo on Flores island is the transport hub into the Komodo National Park. It has a brand new airport built in 2014 with flights to other international destinations in Indonesia like Bali.
The Komodo National Park is also the meeting point of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The Pacific Ocean towards the Northeast has a sea level of 150 millimetres above average, whilst neighbouring Indian Ocean in the South is 150 millimetres below. This 30cm difference causes a tidal flow from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean, bringing with it nutrients and plankton to keep these waters rich and well fed.
The result is a plethora of wildlife but with strong currents, making the diving more suitable (and fun) for advanced/experienced divers.
THE DIVE SITES IN KOMODO NATIONAL PARK
The dive sites are typically affected by the seasons. The Northern dives sites around Castle Rock are rougher and not easy to dive between December to March, but the South diving sites are smoother during this time.
The Pacific waters keep the Northern dive sites warmer, with an average of 26 degrees celsius (79 Fahrenheit). The South is affected by the colder Indian ocean, with an average temperate of 24 degrees celsius (75 Fahrenheit).
We visited in September and with 30 dives under our belt, we were experienced enough to tackle the more remote dive sites around Castle Rock.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT TO SEE
After a few dives, you’ll become so blasé about seeing another reef shark and another turtle. Not to mention schools of tropical fish everywhere, moray eels, giant trevallies and so much more.
Here’s a few of our favourite friends and highlights whilst diving in the Komodo National Park:
#1 Shakira the black tip reef shark
We saw sharks in nearly every single dive in the Komodo National Park, mainly black tip reef sharks and at one point a large grey reef.
At the Crystal Rock reef, Stefan found Shakira the white tip reef shark and they bonded. Shakira usually grows up to Stefan’s height of 170cm (5ft 7), sometimes more.
#2 Tatiana the Turtle
Tatiana the Turtle insisted on following us around the Komodo National Park during every dive. We just couldn’t get rid of her! Well, who are we to complain?
#3 Moray eels fighting
The moray eels we saw were not really ones you’d want to befriend too quickly. They were a mean pair and quite angry at something. In all our dives to date, we’d only seen moray eels popping their mouth out from the rocks. But during our dive at the Crystal Rock reef, we saw these 2 moray eels out in the open fighting.
We thought they were mating or courting with each other at first, but their behaviour was too aggressive (in a manner not too dissimilar to when Sebastien tries to steal Stefan’s food…)
#4 Just existing within this tropical underwater paradise
At the end of the day, this is what it’s all about, just “existing” alongside this incredible underwater heaven and watching it swim by around you…
But let’s be honest, spotting the occasional big fish does make it that little bit more exciting.
CHOOSING A GOOD DIVING COMPANY
We chose to dive with Blue Marlin Komodo, a well established diving company, who we found on Tripadvisor and has over 25 years diving experience in Indonesia. They have an excellent reputation with diving schools on Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and at Senggigi on Lombok island.
Their equipment is all new and what we liked most of all is they don’t pack their boats with people.
We also liked that Blue Marlin were one of the few dive companies with a speedboat, so you reach the remote dive sites quicker then them and have the site all to yourself.
Dives with Blue Marlin are very competitive, offering 2 fun dives with an outrigger for $85 or 3 dives with a speedboat for $190. The speedboat option means you can go further and quicker. They also offer Open Water and Advanced courses for $420.
WHERE TO STAY IN LABUAN BAJO
The diving schools will usually offer discounted accommodation if you choose one of their packages.
We chose to stay with the accommodation packaged offered by Blue Marlin Komodo because they offer excellent rooms, modern, comfortable, with a delicious breakfast and a beautiful view from our private balcony every evening:
Blue Marlin is the only PADI 5 Star Resort in Labuan Bajo and they also offer a liveaboard option on their Bajo Baji sailboat.
As we warned at the start, diving in the Komodo National Park will set your scuba bar very high and will be very very hard to beat!
Read more about our scuba diving experience in the Komodo National Park on Mr Hudson Explores.