Few places enjoy the reputation for being a remote and inspiring place as Komodo and diving here in the surrounding area evokes the same feelings. These small, brown scorched-earth islands fringed with sandy beaches are lapped by the clear waves of the national park, where you may even see the dragons patrolling the beach or viewing you from a high rocky outcrop.
Unlike other parts of Indonesia, the reefs around the south of the islands have suffered relatively little damage from dynamite fishing. Much of the area now lies within the protection of the national park. The shallow reefs between Flores and the northern region however, were bombed in the past but are now recovering their former splendour. The affected area covers around 15% of the archipelago, and even here steep drop-offs and current-swept points offer excellent Komodo diving.
Besides the sheer excitement of simply being somewhere like Komodo, you are also cruising over some of the most exciting dive sites in Indonesia. The water is not always warm, in fact it can be decidedly cool. The seas are not always calm, in fact the currents can rage. But the abundance of pelagics, more critters and interesting macro-action than you could imagine, the dazzling colours and diversity, make scuba diving here truly the stuff of legend.
GPS Point is often heralded as a highlight of the park and is often visited ob Komodo liveaboard cruises. Topographically, it is a sea mount that rises to a few metres from the surface where converging current can make the first few metres of descent quite interesting!
Currents normally mean fish and this site is blessed with large numbers and plenty of action. The sea seems thick with barracuda, dog-toothed tuna and surgeonfish. Napoleon wrasse and an array of sharks, maybe even including hammerheads, can also join the fray. The shallows are full of macro life living among the soft corals and staghorns, which you can check out when conditions are calm.
Yellow Wall of Texas is one of the Komodo National Park's signature dive sites, so called because of the proliferation of robust sea cucumbers - they are all over the place and their bright yellow hue dominates the vista. The wall is located on the east of Nusa Kode and is best dived in the afternoon when the natural light can best illuminate the scene.
You can also feast your eyes of clown triggerfish cruising around the reef among the thousands of fork-tailed fairy basslets and butterflyfish. Not only does the wall itself promise much in the way of entertainment but sharks, manta rays and turtles are all frequent passers-by.
Cannibal Rock is unlike many of the other Komodo diving sites, in that there is little heart-stopping action here. However in terms of colour and activity there are few better spots. There is just so much going on around this sea mount: purple gorgonians, anemones, yellow and white spiral corals and sea apples that together create a riot of colour. In and around this vibrant sessile tableau live all sorts of sea-life, making night diving here simply awesome. All the while rays, snappers, sweetlips and turtles cruise around the rock. Night or day, Cannibal Rock inspires.
Pillarsteen is another site atypical of the usual riot of colour and fish action that is often found at Komodo's sites. In the right conditions this dive is an exercise in drifting in and around an ever-changing seascape. You will explore rocky outcrops, caves, caverns and chimneys.
Sections of the reef are bedecked with thousands of yellow and white sea squirts, and, more usually for Komodo, tiny bright yellow sea cucumbers. Other creatures to capture your attention as you move around the reef include midnight snappers, 6-banded angelfish and huge boxfish and purple fire urchins.
There are multiple dive sites around Gili Lawa Laut and Gili Lawa Darat. Crystal Bommie is a submerged pinnacle with great schooling action. Castle Rock is another exposed site with sharks, trevally and even dolphins regularly spotted. The Passage can be a great site for manta rays and mobula rays and also makes a stunning night dive. These are not the most regularly visited sites in Komodo, but when the conditions are right, they can showcase some of what makes scuba diving here so special.
Dive The World Indonesia's Recommendations: GPS Point, Gili Lawa, Cannibal Rock and Pillarsteen.
More detailed information available on the Komodo dive sites (on our www.dive-the-world.com website).
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The scuba season is year round at Komodo with November to January seeing the best conditions as far as visibility is concerned. The seas can kick up a little in different areas, such as the northern sites during January to March and the southern sites during July and August, although these rarely interfere with the liveaboard schedules to any great extent.
The most common route is to fly from Bali or Jakarta to the point of departure, which is usually Labuan Bajo, Maumere (both on the island of Flores) or Bima (on Sumbawa). Some Komodo trips depart and/or return to Benoa harbour in Bali.
Great for: Large animals, small animals, wall dives, underwater photography, drift diving, reef life and health, and advanced divers
Not so great for: Wrecks and beginner divers
Depth: 5 - >40m
Visibility: 5 - 30m
Currents: Can be very strong - up to 8 knots
Surface Conditions: Can be rough
Water Temperature: 20 - 27°C
Experience Level: Intermediate - advanced
Number of dive sites: >35
Distance: ~490 km east of Bali (24 hours)
Access: Liveaboard cruises from Bali, Sumbawa and Flores
Recommended length of stay: 6 - 11 days
Other sites that can be visited as part of a Komodo liveaboard cruise: