Komodo can only be described as one of the most amazing places on earth. Its spectacular setting is bathed in natural beauty, making it a premier holiday destination packed with nature and adventure thrills.
Not surprisingly, Komodo is one of the most famous islands in Indonesia. It’s part of the Lesser Sunda chain of islands and forms part of the world-famous Komodo National Park. The healthy reefs attract marine species of all colour hues, and scuba diving in Komodo is a diver’s dream come true. The protected ecosystem is second to none, with some of the world’s rarest species found here, including manta rays and, on land, the mighty Komodo dragon.
Scuba Diving in Komodo
The marine life in Komodo National Park is so rich and diverse that it’s easy to see why it’s one of the world’s most famous diving destinations. From manta rays to reef sharks and a spectacular selection of colourful sponges and corals, you’ll be begging for more dives. Which is just as well, because there are many amazing dive sites to explore for a mind-expanding experience that will last you a lifetime.
Because many dive sites have different scenery and topography, they attract different micro and macro life, giving most dive sites a unique ecosystem. With over 1’000 species of fish and 260 species of corals, you never know what you’re going to see!
Most dive sites are affected by mild-strong currents, so scuba diving in Komodo is usually reserved for experienced divers. Nevertheless, there are also sheltered diving spots ideal for beginners. Either way, there are daily boat trips to Komodo National Park.
To guide you on your diving adventure, reputable dive shops offer a full range of PADI, SSI, TDI, CMAS diving courses, from beginner to professional level. The dive team is usually as multicultural as the islands’ visitors and can offer courses in English, French, Spanish and German.
Best Dive Sites in Komodo
Manta Point is the place to be if you want to be almost guaranteed to see manta rays. Manta Point is a sanctuary for these gentle giants, giving you’re the chance to turn your diving dreams into reality. The dive site serves as a feeding ground and a cleaning station, and you just have to drop down just 10-15 metres to see dozens of manta rays elegantly gliding through the water.
Batu Balong is one of the best dive sites in Komodo, and it won’t fail to give you an adrenaline rush. The huge pinnacle covered with large numbers of hard and soft corals sets the scene for dense shoals of reef fish. The dive site goes down to 70m, but you can see most of the action between 35-40m. The deeper you go, the more pelagics you’ll see. Watch out for Napoleon wrasse, big tuna and white tip sharks. Please note that currents can be strong here, so Batu Balog is only accessible to divers with some decent amount of experience.
Castle Rock has so much going on that you won’t know where to look! Between 24 and 4 metres, there are is a current-swept seamount frequented by batfish and many other species of reef fish. If you go deeper, between 25-35m, you’re also likely to spot grey reef sharks, white tip sharks, giant trevallies, and other schooling pelagics. Castle Rock is also a heaven for micro life, with shrimps, eels, and nudibranchs, including the beautiful blue dragon. As the currents can be strong, this dive site is best suited for advanced divers.
The Cauldron is for advanced diving junkies looking for an adrenaline fix. The dive site is aptly named, as it does indeed look like the top of a boiling pot, and its contents are world-class, from pygmy seahorses to manta rays. But that’s not all. At the end of the cauldron, there is a narrow passage with very strong currents that “spits” you out of the cauldron. For this reason, locals also call this dive site “shotgun”. It’s an iconic drift dive, making it one of the most requested dive sites in Komodo.
When to Visit Komodo
The thrilling adventures of Komodo are accessible all-year-round. However, the rainy season might impact daily diving operations. So, is there a best time to visit Komodo? In short, yes.
As a tropical region, Komodo has two seasons, a dry and a wet one. There are only a few months of rain each year (Dec-Feb), however, these bring heavy rainfalls, strong winds and choppy waters. If you plan to visit Komodo during the wet season, it’s a good idea to contact the dive school to check that they’re open.
Like any passionate diver, you’ll want to see manta rays, whale sharks, dolphins, turtles, and sharks – everything that makes Komodo National Park stand out in the diving world. In which case, visit Komodo between Mar-Oct. If you travel to Komodo in the Summer, know that it’s going to be very warm, sunny and more crowded, so make sure you book your flight and diving trip in advance.
Getting to Komodo
Getting to Komodo takes some planning, but it’s totally worth the extra effort! First off, you need to get to Indonesia. Fly to Jakarta or Bali, and then to catch a domestic flight or a boat to Labuan Bajo (Flores Island), which is the closest island to Komodo National Park. Ferries are cheap but extremely slow, so the fastest and easiest way of getting to Komodo is by plane.
Labuan Bajo is the gateway to Komodo Island and Komodo National Park. From here, you can book excursions to explore the spectacular marine reserve with one of the many diving operators.
The small fishing town of Labuan Bajo is pretty small, with most places within walking distance, including accommodation, restaurants, and of course, dive shops. If you want to discover Flores Island, you can do so by local bus, but for more comfort, rent a private car with a driver, or hire a car to see things at your own pace.
When it comes to discovering Komodo National Park, there are many dive schools and travel agencies that arrange daily or weekly snorkelling, hiking and diving trips. To visit the park, you have to pay an entrance fee. Usually, this is included in your booking but always ask about it, as there are different fees depending on the islands you visit and the activities you do.
Eat, Sleep & Drink
Labuan Bajo is where to eat, sleep & drink. The tiny town has a lot of accommodation options, from hostel to luxury resorts and some mid-range hotels too. By Indonesian standards, however, hotels are not as cheap as in other parts of the country and soon fill up. To secure your place on the doorstep of Komodo National Park, book your holiday in advance.
The Komodo Islands have no real nightlife to speak of. The laidback atmosphere is perfect to bear witness to the beauty of nature. But if you still fancy a drink after a day in the sun, there are a few bars with live music. Despite being a small place, Labuan Bajo in a small international hub that caters for all tourists. You’ll find restaurants that serve international and local food.
Without any doubt, scuba diving qualifies as one of the top things to do in Komodo National Park. However, there are many more amazing non-diving activities! You can actually combine some of these activities in a one-day trip or, to take things nice and slow, over a few days.
A major attraction in Komodo are the Komodo dragons. They’re the largest species of lizard existent, growing up to 3 metres in length, and can only be found in Komodo National Park! To marvel at their sheer size and dragon-like features will get your heart beating just a little bit faster. You can see the Komodo dragons on guided tours on Komodo Island or Rinca Island.
Once you’ve seen the beaches in Komodo National Park, all the others will pale in comparison. We’re talking about crystal water, stunning scenery, and pink sand. Yes, pink! This rare colour hue is due to the fragments of red coral mixed into the sand. To see what we’re talking about, head to Pink Beach on Komodo Island.
To pack your camera with more incredible photos, don’t miss Padar island. There is an easy hike trail that will take you to breathtaking panoramic views. It will be one of the best views you’ve ever laid eyes on!
Whether you’re a seasoned diver or just starting out, book your dive trip with a trusted dive operator. The dive sites are well-known to have strong currents, but a reputable dive guide will safely guide you to the best dive spots.
With so much wildlife, inevitably, there will also be potentially dangerous animals, such as blue-ringed octopuses and frogfish. By practising good judgement and following local regulations and guidance, you can see these beautiful animals in all safety in their natural habitat, and enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime holiday experience!