Leaving Bali at 9am, your first day is spent travelling and relaxing on board. The following day we dive the Moyo and Santonda area before moving on to the western outskirts of the Komodo National Park to dive at Bima, Sangeang and Gili Banta. The rest of the trip is spent entirely in northern, central and southern areas the park diving the best sites available. On the final morning guests depart at Labuhanbajo in Flores for the quick trip to the airport to fly back to Bali.
Day 1: Arrival and boarding the Komodo Dancer.
Labuhanabajo Harbour, West Flores.
Welcome aboard the Komodo Dancer. Lunch will be served shortly after boarding followed by vessel and diving orientation briefings. Dive equipment and camera systems can then be set up while the boat slowly makes its way to Sebayor Island on the outskirts of the Komodo National Park. Time permitting we will start diving here with a check dive in a protected sandy bay flanked by coral reefs and mini walls.
Day 2: Sea Mounts & Dazzling Reef - Hill Walking & Drift Dives
Gili Lawah Laut & Gili Lawah Darat, North Komodo
Located on the northern edge of the Komodo National Park the Gili Lawah area comprises of two bays on north Komodo and two islands, Gili Lawah Laut and Gili Lawah Darat. The terrain here is rocky hilly savannah and the two islands support big herds of goats as well as the ubiquitous sea eagles and blackbirds. There are some very scenic hikes up onto the tops of the hills here and the climber is rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding islands and waterways, especially at sunrise and sunset.
The diving here is some of the very best in the area, if not the world. Spectacular sea mounts, glittering reefs, current swept channels all in a relatively small area make diving here a must on every visit. Recently on two of the sites we have watched hunting dolphins with an entourage of grey reef sharks and giant travelley. On other sites here there are families of manta rays and even a rare dugong was spotted on one dive site in this area.
Day 3: Dive on a Volcano
Sangeang Island, North Sumbawa
We wake up under the gaze of Sangeang Api, a huge twin peaked volcano thrusting out of the ocean and one of the most active volcanoes in the Lesser Sunda Islands. Two large volcanic cones, 1,949m/6500ft - high Doro Api and 1,795m/5980ft - high Doro Mantoi, are in the centre and on the eastern rim, respectively, of an older, largely obscured caldera. Aside from the stunning mountainous scenery it is possible to see some evidence of agricultural work on the flatter land close to shore. Wild horses and domestic buffalo can sometimes be seen on the beaches here too.
The underwater world of Sangeang is every bit as impressive as the island itself with caves, canyons and mysterious reefs bubbling like champagne due to the volcanic activity below. The island has some great black sand critter sites too to keep the photographers happy. Here is another paragraph from the same press-release mentioned above:
"Black Magic" is located on the northern tip of Sangeang, west of the lighthouse, and is marked out by two large rocks on the shore, left and right. The deeply shelving topography in this bay consists of black sand with coral reefs east and west, is relatively easy to dive and has produced seahorses, pygmy seahorses, Ambon scorpionfish, ghostpipefish, frogfish, inimicus, snake eels, stargazers, dragonets, sawblade shrimp, candy crabs and a whole host of rare nudibranchs.
Day 4: Critter Capers
Bima Inlet, Sumbawa
A day spent in the calm waters of the Bima Inlet. There are a variety of dives here from teeming coral reefs as well as prolific critter dives to search out some of the more bizzare marine creatures. Below is an excerpt taken from one of our recent press releases:
Most scuba divers already know about the stunning diversity, spectacular marine life and exciting dive and land adventures to be encountered in the Komodo National Park, Indonesia. What we are discovering now are some incredible critter, muck and sand sites that we visit to the west of the park.
Many of our guests are avid photographers who like nothing more than hunting out weird and wonderful critters on the reef, sand or silt. A lot of our divers have told us about the fascinating muck diving of the Lembeh Strait. Our divemasters already have experience in Lembeh so we set out to find our own macro mecca closer to home and the Bima Inlet provided us with just what we needed.
"Fuzzy Bottom" is one of the sites that we found here. Looking fairly nondescript from the surface and not much better once you descend this place comes alive once you get to the bottom. Fairly shallow and gently sloping the sand here provides shelter and a hunting ground to some of the rarest cephalopods on the planet. Five of the "Octopus Holy Grails" are here. Of the long arm variety Mimic's, White V and Wonderpus are fairly common and Blue Rings and Veiny have been seen on a regular basis too.
Apart from our eight tentacled friends there are zebra crab and Coleman shrimp in fire urchins, thorny seahorses, various ghost pipefishes, frogfish and strange looking puffers and porcupine fish too. Night dives here are a trip - battling crabs and shrimp fight it out on the bottom while trying to avoid the attentions of the other hunters.
Day 5: Little & Large
Gili Banta, The Sape Strait
The imposing and impressively desolate island of Gili Banta sits in the Flores Sea at the top of the Sape Strait, the current washed channel that separates the islands of Komodo and Sumbawa. When waking up here after a voyage from the west the rugged dry terrain and towering north facing cliffs come as a bit of a shock for those used to the lush tropical landscapes of the Indonesian islands they have just left.There is little in the way of vegetation on Banta save for a few sparse trees and bushes growing on the rocky slopes and ledges above the beaches. Majestic sea eagles have made their homes on the vertical rock faces that plunge into the deep blue sea and are frequently seen soaring, swooping and even fighting with each other while hunting for a meal.
Gili Banta's main dive sites are situated in and around this north facing bay close to the edges of what is almost certainly the caldera of a massive but long extinct volcano. There are two points on the east and west ends of the bay; one a picturesque and teeming coral reef underneath a rocky peninsula, Starwars, the other a current swept promontory with breathtaking marine architecture called Rollercoaster.
For divers wanting a more sedate time there are some pretty white sand and coral reef sites such as The Circus and K2. These two sites are inside the bay and regularly come up with unusual marine critters and are ideal for underwater photography and night dives in easy calm conditions.
The main attraction at Gili Banta however is the infamous GPS Point, a high voltage coral covered underwater mountain and one of the most unpredictable and demanding dives in the Komodo area; but so rewarding when dived in the right conditions at the right time.
Enter the Dragon
Imagine a 150kg, three metre long, armour clad monster with serrated ripping teeth set in immensely powerful jaws, four sets of razor sharp claws on the feet of each stocky leg. Add to this a wickedly whipping tail capable of knocking a full grown man to the ground and the ability to inject toxic saliva into its victims with each bite. This all sounds like something straight out of a horror movie, your worst nightmare, or so you may think. Living on the islands of Komodo and Rinca, and nowhere else in the world, this mythical creature is no bad dream; this is the awesome Komodo Dragon!
Many times during an expedition we get hair raising opportunities to get up close and personal with these animals while on treks on the islands - just make sure that you keep a close eye on the bushes, around the trees and even on the beach, this apex predator takes no prisoners.
So fasten your weightbelts and let's begin our epic journey around one of the most diverse and unique areas of the natural world, to a land of dragons and dramatic landscapes, fierce currents and sparkling corals in seas teeming with more marine life than almost anywhere else on the planet, a real life "Jurassic Park" above and below the surface of the sea. Whether you are ripping along the top of a sea mount on One of the park's friendly crows snatches yet another meal A Komodo Dragons sniffs the air with it's forked tongue an electrifying current dive, poking around in the shallows late in the day or visiting the islands on a topside adventure, Komodo is calling!
Day 6: Islands in the Stream
Tatawa, The Linta Strait
Located in the middle of the Komodo National Park, the Tatawa area - sometimes called "Current City" - consists of a group of small islands, rocky outcrops and sea mounts that are constantly buffeted with the strong currents sweeping up and down the Linta Strait that separates Komodo from Rinca.
Topside the larger islands of Tatawa Besar, Siaba and Sebayor are rocky and grassy, great for hiking with some striking views of the park from their highest points. There is little wildlife but they do support a number of birds in the shape of sea eagles, cormorants, pelicans and ravens.
Current City is home to some of the most thrilling dives in Komodo. Spectacular coral reefs can be drifted over, sometimes at high speed, guided by friendly turtles. The sea mounts, when dived at the correct tide and sea states are among the very best in the world, teeming with some of the park's larger residents. The dramatic slopes, walls, pinnacles and caverns of these dives are covered with marine life and are a photographers dream in the normally great visibility.
There is even a manta cleaning station in very shallow water at the island of Mauan that provides thrilling close encounters with these gentle giants.
Day 7: Mysterious Forests & Cannibal Rock
Nusa Kode, South Rinca
Nusa Kode is the name of a small island that sits in the lower claw of the island of Rinca. Another name for this part of the Komodo National Park is Horseshoe Bay. The island of Nusa Kode creates a calm waterway, much like a very wide river that has two mouths to the open sea and sometimes on an early morning entry into this area the low cloud hangs on the hills creating a very spooky atmosphere.
There is very dramatic scenery with the high hills of southern Rinca towering over the water. Wildlife of all kinds can be seen on the small beaches, pigs, monkeys, deer, sea eagles etc. This is also a great spot to observe Komodo dragons marching up and down the beaches and rummaging in the forests surrounding the waterway. There are some fascinating, and sometimes hair raising, land excursions to be had here.
Diving here has been written about in magazines, books and journals all over the world. It is sometimes cold, it is sometimes difficult to see in the plankton blooms but what awaits the diver here is nothing short of incredible; vibrant rocky reefs, sheer walls and dramatic sea mounts pulsate with marine life. There is even a critter/sand dive to match anything in the area. One of the sites here, Cannibal Rock, was once described as being one of the top five on the planet.
Day 8: The Flying Circus
Langkoi, South Komodo
Situated across the extreme southern edge of Komodo Island and facing the open Indian Ocean is Langkoi Bay. This huge area has one large island inside it, Tala, and is dotted with smaller islets and rocks. Great ocean swells break on the palm fringed beaches and impressive sheer cliffs and many large boulders can be seen hanging here during a century's long journey to the sea. Looking along the cliff base it is also possible to spot several yet to be explored caves. The high cliffs surrounding the bay to the north but these are a haven for sea eagles, particularly on the outer rocks.
There are several stunning dives here with a list of marine life that would shame other parts of the world, however, the main attraction of Langkoi is the manta rays. Whether these majestic creatures are feeding in the current swept channels, cleaning themselves at their stations or just flapping around on the surface in the late afternoon sun, they are always one of the most exciting sights a diver can see in the ocean.
Day 9: Critters, Seamounts & Pink Beaches
Padar, Between Komodo & Rinca
Padar Island is situated in the main channel running between Komodo and Rinca Islands connecting the Indian Ocean to the Java Sea. The Komodo Dancer's mooring is inside a southern bay protected by another smaller island, Padar Kecil. Although no Komodo dragons live on Padar the island does support a lot of other wildlife, including: sea eagles, deers, goats and some gigantic spiders.
Padar's dive sites offer a lot of variety too. Choose between teeming seamounts, sheers wave blasted wall or serene and prolific critters dives.
A spectacular feature of a Padar land excursion is a short hike across a ridge to the islands west facing bay. This bay looks across the Linta Strait over to Komodo island. The sand here shares the same characteristics as the sand on Komodo's Pink Beach and is mixed with the crushed remains of bright red/purple organpipe coral. Because this coral does not lose its colour when it dies the particles mix with the sand to give the impression that the beach is ringed in pink. This becomes all the more of a stunning sight when the sun starts to set giving fantastic photo opportunities.
Day 10: Chasing Dragons & Dancing in the Dark
Loh Liang, Central Komodo
Loh Liang is the bay on Komodo island where the new ranger station is located. It is from the jetty here that we begin our land tours to see the Komodo Dragon and the other wildlife living on this fascinating island. The Dragons can be seen around the ranger station offices and the museum. On the longer treks it is possible to see more dragons, many deer, wild pig, snakes, insects and birds, particularly the noisy sulphur crested cockatoos.
There is a particular night dive at Loh Liang that is fast becoming a favourite - Pink Beach. A mixture of sand and rocky reef this dive is comes alive after dark with interesting marine life, including the impressive Spanish Dancer.
Day 11: Disembarkation
Labuhanbajo, West Flores
After a short cruise back to West Flores we will disembark at the pretty harbour town of Labuhanbajo for the short ride to the airport and the flight back to Bali.
Please note: This itinerary is only an example and we may at times visit different areas than those shown in this document and we always operate with a keen eye on weather and sea conditions as well as marine life expectations.