Komodo National Park
Liveaboard Diving in Komodo
Komodo National Park is located within a region known as the Lesser Sunda Islands. The main islands of Komodo National Park are Rinca, Padar and Komodo with dozens of smaller islands comprising the rest of the park area. Komodo National Park has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. This is the only place in the world where Komodo dragons are found in the wild. Conservation efforts continue to protect the endemic Komodo Dragons as well as countless terrestrial and marine creatures.
Topside excursions within Komodo National Park are a major tourist draw. Many liveaboards offers a break from diving to explore Komodo by land as well. Click here to see some of the excursions that can be seen while traveling by Komodo dive liveaboard.
What is the diving like in Komodo?
Komodo is best known for its ripping currents, healthy reefs and diving with manta rays. The variety of diving is one of the best parts of diving this region. Dive sites including walls dives, pinnacles, patch coral reefs, swift drifts and muck diving. Komodo National Park is bordered by the Flores Sea to the North and the Savu Sea to the South, which are respectively fed by the Pacific and Indian Ocean. These converging currents are the driving force behind Komodo’s rich marine life and biodiversity.
Komodo is one of the top destinations in the world for diving with manta rays. The converging currents in Komodo deliver plankton rich water resulting in feeding stations for manta rays at dive sites like Manta Alley or Makassar Reef (Manta Point).
If your primary goal when visiting Komodo is to dive with mantas make sure to join a liveaboard that will combine both North and South Komodo. Manta rays are in greater concentration in South Komodo which is not typically visited aboard liveaboards offering trips less than 3 nights in duration.
Best time of year to dive Komodo - Water Temperatures
Divers can visit Komodo year round, but certain times of year may provide a better chance for seeing certain species or offer better weather conditions. Most liveaboards operate in Komodo from May-October. However, some liveaboards have chosen to stay in Komodo year round as each season offers something special.
North Komodo maintains water temperatures between 79-83°F (26-28°C). A 3mm wetsuit is recommended or at minimum a full length dive skin. The conditions in Northern Komodo are best from May-October. Visibility in Northern Komodo averages 65ft.
South Komodo averages around 75°F (24°C) but can be as cool as 70°F (21°C). A 5mm wetsuit is recommended for diving in South Komodo and some divers even prefer a hood. Conditions from November-March can bring warmer waters, better visibility and calmer seas keeping some liveaboards here year-round. Visibility in Southern Komodo averages 45ft.
What's the best way to experience Komodo?
Komodo can be enjoyed by liveaboard or dive resort, but to best experience all Komodo has to offer we strongly encourage joining a liveaboard. Komodo offers a variety of liveaboard options from budget to luxury and itineraries ranging from 3 to 9 nights.
The best diving Komodo has to offer is located to the South off Rinca and South Komodo. This region provides the best chance to see manta rays and pelagics.
Best Komodo Dive Liveaboards
Mimic Wunderpus Liveboard is an ultra-budget liveaboard with dormitory style accommodations on the upper deck being. The space converted into a sleeping area with mattresses, pillows and blankets.
Panunee Yacht offers private cabins with shared bathrooms. Accommodates 22 passengers in 12 cabins. She is a 42m liveaboard with spacious accommodations and large camera room but at a more budget friendly price.
Moana was designed for small group charters accommodating 10 guests in 5 cabins with en suite bath.
Top Dive Sites in Komodo
Easily one of the most well-known dives in Komodo, Manta Alley is located south of Komodo island. As its name implies the site is one of the best spots around the world to dive with manta rays. Divers descend to around 60ft. to a sandy patch before resting on the bottom to watch manta rays gliding above. At times there will be over a dozen manta rays circling above. Guides will monitor air supply and around 1500 PSI/100 Bar will direct you back to the reef swimming between “the alley” which can be filled with giant trevally, sweetlips and whitetip reef sharks.
Manta Alley is one of the colder sites you will visit. A 5mm wetsuit is recommended and remember that you will be kneeling on the bottom so you will want to be negatively buoyant.
Batu Bolong is a small rock island located in the Lintah Strait between Komodo Island and Tatawa Besar/Tatawa Kecil. This is not only one of the best dives in Komodo but one of the best dives in the world! Experienced operators will time the dive to start during slack tide allowing divers to spend more time exploring along the walls and pinnacle. Upon entering it is best to drop down to depth and stay close to the wall to avoid whirlpools (up/down currents).
Batu Bolong is a site with some of the strongest currents in Komodo. This site has everything! Turtles feeding on sponges, napoleon wrasse, whitetip and grey reef sharks, eels, frogfish, vibrant corals and magnificent macro.
The shallows are blanketed with anthias and chromis darting above the reef, the perfect spot to do your safety stop. The worst part about the diving is it coming to an end.
Tatawa Kecil & Tatawa Besar
Tatawa Kecil and Tatawa Besar are neighboring to Batu Bolong and a good alternative if other liveaboards are already lined up to dive Batu Bolong. It is a bit further from the Lintah Strait lending to better visibility and calmer conditions.
Tatawa Kecil is a similar dive to Batu Bolong with sloping walls covered in coral, ledges and caves providing protection for bamboo sharks or whitetip reef sharks and schools of pelagics off the reef. Swift currents can bring in manta rays.
Tatawa Besar is a shallower reef (15-60ft.) offered as a slower drift then Batu Bolong or Tatawa Kecil. The reef is covered in vibrant orange soft corals with schools of barruca and bumphead parrotfish above. Several cleaning stations provide a stopover for hawksbill turtles and grouper. The site is also a great spot for macro lovers. Take a moment to search for decorator crabs, porcelain crabs or mantis shrimp hiding in the crevices of the reef.
Most sites in Komodo are focused on manta rays and the megafauna, but Wainilu is one of the best sites for macro and makes a fabulous night dive. The reef is primarily patch coral and ruble in 25-40ft. of water. With an experienced dive guide or a little patience and a keen eye you can spot ghost pipefish, frogfish, nudibranchs, zebra crabs, mimic octopus and bobtail squid. Macro lovers will want to come back again and again!
The Cauldron aka Shotgun
The dive typically originates on the west of Gili Lawa Laut and Gili Lawa Darat passing through the channel which narrows creating a shotgun effect. The current here can reach up to 8 knots. Be sure to keep an eye out to the middle of the channel as manta rays, sharks and pelagics can be seen swimming into the current. As you exit the shotgun you will wrap around to a shallow reef full of sponges, sea fans and soft coral that thrive with the higher currents.
Castle Rock is considered one of the best dives sites in Komodo and perfect for macro-lovers or those that like to sit back and watch the action. Castle Rock is a sea mount starting as shallow as 12ft and dropping off to around 65ft. Visibility is generally very good here and if you enter at slack tide or just before you can sit back and watch dogtooth tuna, schools of barracuda, giant trevally and sometimes dolphins in a feeding frenzy. Those looking for macro can take their time and zigzag down the reef inspecting gorgonians for pygmy seahorses or nudibranchs and crustaceans hiding inside the reef.
Visit Komodo Dragons and other land excursions
If taking a liveaboard to Komodo National Park then an excursion to see the Komodo dragons is a must on your itinerary. Komodo dragons are concentrated on the islands of Komodo and Rinca. They are the largest lizard on earth growing to a length of 10ft! One of the primary food sources of these monitor lizards is the Timor Deer but they also feed on other mammals, birds and crustaceans. Visiting the Komodo dragons can be done with a visit to the ranger stations and where a guide can be arranged. There is also the chance to see them on the beach, just ask your boat driver to stop by for a photo-op after one of your dives or during your surface interval.
Pink Sand Beach
Pink Beach (Pantai Merah) is one of only 7 pink beaches in the world. The beach’s pink color comes from foraminifera, a microorganism that gives coral its red color. The pink sand beach is located on Komodo Island and is the perfect break from diving and makes a spectacular photo opportunity at sunset. Have a drone? This is definitely a place to take it for a flight as you can capture some amazing aerial photos. Visitors to the beach can enjoy the stunning landscapes, snorkel in the shallow cove or kayak and paddle board if your boat is equipped with water toys. Those interested in wildlife photography should keep an eye out for Timor Deer, Crab-eating macaques and endemic bird species like the yellow-crested cockatoo which is listed as critically endangered.
Padar Island has some amazing landscapes and is a popular spot for tourists to hike up for a 360° view of Komodo National Park. Sunset produces a beautiful orange glow over the savannah covered landscape and turquoise colored waters. Deer are often seen running on island or wading into the water.
How to get to Komodo
Most Komodo itinaries originate in Labuan Bajo (IATA: LBJ). Labuan Bajo has frequent flights from both Bali/Denpasar (IATA: DPS) and Jakarta (IATA: CGK).
The easiest flight option is from Denpasar to Labuan Bajo as the flight time is just over an hour. Many guests opt to spend some extra time in Bali before or after their trip.