Komodo Diving

Komodo National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its dragons and rare pink sand beach. Komodo truly lives up to its reputation as a world-class dive destination. Experience thrilling drift dives, coral-covered sea mounts, plenty of pelagic action and the chance to swim with huge Mola mola.

 

Diving in Komodo

Komodo, Padar and Rinca along with 26 smaller islands make up Komodo National Park located within the Lesser Sunda Islands. Originally founded to conserve the Komodo dragon, it is now dedicated as a World Heritage Site to protect the surrounding waters, which are home to world-class diving sites. Komodo diving promises adventure, with exhilarating drift dives, flourishing multicoloured reefs and elaborate sea mounts, walls and pinnacles. Each site is jam-packed with life, from the very big to the very small. Keen-eyed divers can search for blue-ringed octopus and frogfish while spending time looking out into the blue for sunfish, manta rays and dolphins.
 
To access the park you can fly into Labuan Bajo and take a daily trip with one of the many dive centres or dive resorts. If you plan on taking a dive course, this will be the perfect option for you, where you can practice skills in the calmer seas of Central Komodo. Yet, often dive centres and dive resorts only visit Central and North Komodo so liveaboards are suggested for those wanting to reach dive sites further out. Many liveaboards offer the chance to combine scuba diving in Komodo with a visit to see the famous Komodo dragons. For those only wanting to dive, exploring the remote sites in South and West Komodo will uncover many extraordinary underwater secrets.

Best time to dive

Komodo diving is best during the dry season, from April through to November, and for dive courses these months are recommended. However, the best time to spot manta rays happens to be in the rainy season, from December to February. During those months you are likely to see manta rays in large squadrons enjoying the currents in the likes of Makassar Reef.
 
Liveaboard diving in Komodo happens all year round. Although January through to March can have rough conditions at northern dive sites and July and August in the south, these rarely interfere with liveaboard schedules. In South Komodo, the water is usually cooler which provides the best conditions to spot Mola Mola, with the best month to spot them being August.

Types of diving

Dive into warm, calm and colourful shallow reefs abundant with hundreds of colourful reef fish at sites like Siaba Besar in Central Komodo or drift dive at Makassar Reef among droves of manta ray. Komodo diving has current in almost every dive site although they range in intensity. Head to Northern dive sites, such as Crystal and Castle Rock to see shark frenzies hunting small fusilier in the nutrient dense waters while diving in South and West Komodo often will find you shadowed by towering walls and overlooking drop-offs into the plummeting abyss.
 
Novice dive courses can be held in shallow sites while experienced divers wanting to improve their buoyancy and trim will find Komodo’s ripping currents a trying challenge. In South and West Komodo, you’ll mainly find people diving from liveaboards where it’s also possible to explore other prodigious dive locations in the Lesser Sunda Islands such as Sumbawa and Moyo Island.

What to see

The marine life in Komodo is incredible. The exposure of the islands to strong currents keep the water nutrient dense as nutrients flow in from the nearby Pacific and Indian oceans. The constant water movement also means that the coral reefs here are some of the healthiest in the world - with some areas covered almost completely in coral.
 
Among the stunning corals, you will find sea turtles resting on make-shift beds and some of the largest reef fish in the world, such as the Napoleon wrasse, patrolling the water. Many dive sites allow you to spot rare nudibranch and minuscule pygmy seahorse clinging to their pink gorgonian sea fan homes while blue ringed octopus, ornate ghost pipefish and frogfish can be seen hiding on sandy seabeds.
 
At sites exposed to strong current, many pelagic fish await discovery. As the nutrient rich waters attract huge schools of batfish, surgeon fish and fusilier, larger pelagics such as dogtooth tuna, giant trevallies and barracuda are drawn to the area to feed. You can also spot a number of shark species, from black-tip and white-tip to the grey-reef shark. Very lucky visitors to Komodo’s magical underwater world may even see a hammerhead shark.
 
If you head South, colder waters will give you the opportunity to gaze in awe at the fascinating sunfish while in all regions of the National Park there is a chance to witness a graceful manta ray gliding past. If it’s a good day, all of this will happen while listening to the sound of dolphins playing somewhere deep in the blue.

Best places to dive

In Central Komodo, ensure you take a visit to one of Komodo’s most acclaimed dive sites, Batu Bolong. With a name that translates from Bahasa Indonesian to ‘hole in the rock’ the top of the island features, you guessed it, a hole in the rock. Descending down into this 40-metre wall dive you will be surrounded by thousands of anthias flitting about the rocky surface and hawksbill turtles searching for their next crustacean meal. The currents here can be tricky, with up and down currents coming out of nowhere, reserving this dive site for the more experienced. Carpeted with soft corals, spot vivid nudibranch attached to the wall as scorpionfish hide in the rocks many crevices. Looking out in the blue, expect sharks, dogtooth tuna and even a potential manta ray as giant trevallies mark the current lines above to keep you safe.
 
Located in the strong currents of the Lintah Strait lies Tatawa Kecil. In this fantastic dive site find yourself drift diving at high speeds along the west coast of Little Tatawa. Even with strong currents it is possible to explore the large caves, drops offs and brilliant swim-throughs that the island has to offer. Explore vibrant shallow coral gardens full of anthias while large grouper and pygmy seahorse harbour in the depths of rocky caves. While you are pushed along by the ocean’s force giant trevallies, bumphead parrotfish and reef sharks will all join you for the ride.
 
For the best macro diving in Komodo National Park head to Cannibal Rock, located in the south region of the marine reserve. If you have come to Komodo with the hope of seeing unusual marine life, you won’t be disappointed here. The seamount is home to frogfish, pygmy seahorse and coleman shrimp. If you are an underwater photographer or you simply want a break from the strong current, the sheltered dive site will give you a well-earned break. Descend onto the south of the seamount where sea apples are abundant or make your way to the east where you’ll be astounded by the size of pink gorgonian sea fans which are home to knobbled pygmy seahorse. Frequent visitors to this dive site are giant sea turtles and the endemic yellow-ribbon sweetlips, all adding colour to this stunning sea mount.
 
Located in the South-West of Komodo National Park, you’ll find one of the parks main locations to spot manta rays, Manta Alley. This dive site is one the most requested sites for liveaboards to visit with the possibility of spotting as many as twenty mantas on one dive. Drop down into the sites eastern slope and follow the slope down to where giant trevally, white-tip and black-tip reef sharks roam in search for food. After watching the hunt, make your way to the north of the site where you’ll arrive at a series of underwater channels where mantas circle in squadrons. Make your way through these channels and then make your safety stop while watching manta rays dance in the shallow waters - you’re sure to leave this dive site enchanted.
 
While visiting Komodo on a liveaboard delve into the waters at GPS Point. Located off the north east point of Gili Banta, only visiting liveaboards and guests staying on the resorts of Sumbawa will have access to this remote dive site. The seamount houses snowflake moray eels, cowries, spider and hermit crabs, nudibranchs, scorpion fish and cuttlefish. Almost entirely covered with soft corals, GPS Point attracts a lot of fish from huge schools of dogtooth tuna and barracudas to tiny gold anthias. In deeper waters, you have the opportunity to encounter hammerhead sharks, napoleon wrasse and the more common snappers, white-tip and grey reef sharks.