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More Dive Trips

Budget Live-aboard Diving around Komodo Island, Indonesia

 

Komodo, the islands and the waters around it are part of a national park, located in the strait between Sumbawa and Flores, east of Bali in the Indonesian archipelago, as shown on the map below.

The islands are relatively arid, and hence not heavily populated, and two of them Komodo and Rinca, are home to the famed Komodo dragon, the largest lizard in the world. Around the many islands, the sea in places has strong currents and tides, due to the presence of the north / south Indonesian thoroughfare. This movement of water carries nutrients and promotes coral growth and fish life, including manta rays, whales, sharks and many pelagic fish such as tuna, trevally, and barracuda in addition to much reef life. The mantas in particular have been recognised and are protected.

To get to Komodo, I flew with Air Asia from Perth to Bali, which is served from many destinations including by budget airlines. Depending on flight times it may be possible to transfer from Bali direct to Labuan Bajo (LB), on the west coast of Flores which is the starting point for most Komodo diving either live-aboard or day trips, although I had to overnight on the way over. I flew Lion Air (Wings) to LB where a flash new airport terminal is being built and although only a small town, there is a variety of accomodation available from backpacker to upmarket resorts and it boasts about 15 dive shops!

 

 

I chose one named Wicked Diving who offered a budget deal which they call a ?flexible live-aboard?, where you can book for only one night / two days and extend the trip on a daily basis for only US$90 per day, which Includes 3 dives, 3 meals and a bed. Each day the live-aboard boat is serviced by the day boat and people can get on and off. It is backpacker style, not 5 star, but I shared a twin room, which had air con and en-suite shower and toilet. The food was plentiful and pretty reasonable, the staff friendly and professional, with an emphasis on safety, and the diving really good, so I ended up staying six nights / seven days. The diving was from a dive boat in small groups, and the sites quite varied including names like crystal rock, the cauldron, castle rock, manta point, bulong batu, all of which are in the northern section of the park.

 

 

For me the highlights were the many close up manta rays, a shark dive where they were feeding, and some exciting drift dives. Although the boat only moved around a few times, and we dived most of the sites twice (on different days), it was never boring. There were also very few other dive boats around, as early December is the low season, and the start of the wet, although it only rained at the end of the trip. Visibility was rather variable, about 10m, occasionally better at times, and a full moon promoted strong tides and the presence of mantas. I even saw a coral spawning for the first time.

 

Return air fares $650
4 nights land accommodation $200
6 nights / 7 days live-aboard $1000
Extras, taxes etc $150
The overall cost of my trip was about $2,000

December 2014