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Do also check out my Komodo Islands Travel Guide here & My Komodo Islands Flights & Accomodation Guide here
It has been a hectic week. Yet, I’m fervent to tell you all about Diving in the Komodo Islands.
I first started diving in September 2016, when my university held a diving trip to Pulau Tioman in Malaysia. I obtained my Basic Open Water Licence there. It was my first close encounter with the underwater world and I loved EVERY second of it.
From then on, I had been dreaming of getting my Advanced Open Water Licence in order to dive deeper and more skilfully , hopefully getting to see bigger and more amazing marine life. Against my parents’ wishes, I ventured out alone to the Komodo Islands and did my Advanced Open Water course here. I was a little apprehensive at first, as I had only done 5 dives beforehand. However, the dive shop I chose, Dive Komodo, reassured me that their trained divemasters would make the course a safe and enjoyable one. I have to say, I was NOT disappointed at all. In fact, amongst all the other reputable dive shops, I was attracted to this particular one, as their hospitality was really sublime.
However, as I was still not very confident of my diving ability, I opted to do a day trip (3 dives) with my current Basic Open Water certification before doing my Advanced Course. I highly recommend this route for new or amateur divers who require some warm-ups before doing more intensive advanced diving.
In total, I spent 3 days diving in Komodo Islands (lack of time) which was enough to quench my thirst for diving at that time. I met many other travellers who were spending a week or more diving! They also went on liveaboards, which allow to explore distant islands that day trips can not afford to.
Tip: Do try to purchase a good red filter for diving in deep waters, and a magenta filter for diving in murky waters. This helps to saturate/bring back color into your diving photos. I brought a low-quality red filter and it didnt help as it turned my entire photo red. I suggest that you get one of good quality, preferably from an established seller.
Above is a video showcasing the amazing marine life in the waters surrounding the Komodo Islands.
As an amateur diver, what I saw really fascinated me. It might appear normal to more experienced divers like you guys out there, but what I saw really blew my mind.
1. Lionfish (so many of them)
3. Sharks (pity they move fast though)
4. Nudibranches (my guide saw some, but I was not so observant :P)
7. Moray Eels
8. Small Squids? (Pity my video was little blur for this one)
10. MANTAS (6 at one cleaning station, lucky me!)
Advanced Open Water Dive Course
With the Advanced Open Water, there is much less theory involved and more diving! (Yey) You have to do 5 dives in total, 2 of them being the Peak Performance Buoyancy Dive (where you learn to better manage your buoyancy as to observe marine life closely without damaging them) and the Deep Dive which goes up to 30m in depth. For the other 3 dives, I opted for the Fish Identification Dive (where they teach you to identify fish not by their species, but as a family), Drift Dive (where I saw the awesome Mantas) and Underwater Navigation (A useful one to make sure you know your coordinates well)
Tip: It might be better to do your Basic Open Water in somewhere more tame (Tioman maybe? 🙂 ), as most of the dives you do train you on your basic skills (releasing air into your mask, how to deal with a detached regulator etc.)
Below is a short video that I took while drift diving at Manta Point. Look at the corals! (And how theyre being blown to one side haha)
The prices I am about to show are those of the more reputable dive shops in Labuan Bajo. These are the main prices that divers look for. A more comprehensive price list from Divine Diving that I took a picture of is down below. Most price lists can be obtained in the actual websites of the dive shops that I listed at the end of the post.
Basic Open Water Course: IDR 550000
Advanced Open Water Course: IDR 450000
Day Trip (3 Dives): IDR 150000
Day Trip (2 Dives + Rinca Island): IDR 150000
You can do these courses and day trips for cheaper prices at lesser-known dive shops. I took this picture of this Dive Shop : Divers Paradise Komodo. They just opened and as such had lower prices to incentivise prospective divers to try out their services. However, as I wanted to do my course, I wanted to book a package (Course + Fun Dives) with the same company. This way, it would be more straightforward for me.
Tip: Booking a course and a day trip with the same dive company usually gives you a discount (10-15%) off your day trip
Tip: If I had already gotten my Advanced Open Water, I would actually be quite content to opt for fun dives (Day trips) with a less reputed company as it was cheaper and there was no evidence of them having any dangerous incidents or bad equipment.
Typical Day Trip Program (3 Dives)
1. Report to your dive shop between 7.15-7.30am.
Be there on time , you don’t want to make your fellow divers/ and companions for the rest of the day wait. You would probably be introduced to your divemaster on your first day. They’re usually really friendly and enthusiastic 🙂 I had Rian from Dive Komodo for my dive trip and he was amazing. He had a really calm and relaxed attitude, and he was great at identifying various marine species for us.
2. Walk to the jetty with your divemaster and check out your boat.
Different dive shops have different day trip boats. However, depending on the season, they might group all the day trip divers from the different dive shops into one boat for that day. This might come as a blessing in disguise. I was packed on Divine Diving’s day trip boat , “Naring”, for my first 2 days. The boat turned out to be better than Dive Komodo’s day trip boat, with a better 2nd level deck, more beanbags and a proper lunch area.
3. Head to the first dive spot of the day and have fun! (9-10am )
4. Head to the second dive spot of the day and have more fun! (11-12pm)
5. Lunch break (1-2pm)
I cant even tell you how AMAZING the lunch on board was. It was freshly prepared by the chef on board, and the menu changed every day. There was fish (SNAPPER) on one day, then beef on the other, then chicken. And they were ALL SO GOOD. It’s really important to have decent food, especially after a hard morning of diving. The exhaustion you feel compounds the feeling of hunger, making the food taste even better :p
6. Head to the third and last dive spot of the day! (3-4pm)
Timings are adjusted to exclude travelling time between one dive spot to another.
There are numerous dive spots throughout the Komodo Islands. These include deep dive spots, drift dive spots and various others. Dive Komodo’s website offers a comprehensive of dive spots and what they offer here
Dive Spots I went to
Fun Dive Day: Sebayur Kecil, Siaba Bay, Mawan (no mantas here when I was there unfortunately)
Advanced Diving Course Day 1 : Sebayur Kecil, Siaba Bay
Advanced Diving Course Day 2: Batu Bolong, Manta Point, Tatawa Besar
If you do have enough time, most people do liveaboards which allow you to stay on aboard a dive boat. The boats offer a variety of different accommodations, they include rooms with en-suite bathrooms, shared rooms etc. However, these are much more expensive. (See prices above). The websites of the dive shops (see below) also list the schedules of the liveaboards. It would be wise to plan your holiday together with these dates if you are considering a liveaboard.
Pros: You will get to explore dive sites further away. Larger distances mean fewer day trippers, and thus fewer divers (you guys might be the only ones there!)
Cons: Part of the reason why I did not choose to go for a liveaboard was because of its exorbitant price tag. I felt that, as an amateur diver & budget solo traveller, there was no need to pay that much for a liveaboard, when I could have more day trips and view great marine life as well.
Dive Shops & Links
Here are various reputable dive shops that I found while doing my research online. This list is non-exhaustible! You might want to give the newer players a chance too! I also provided the links to their tripadvisor review pages. The price lists are also shown in their actual websites that I have linked below.
Dive Komodo (The dive shop I used!)
Website link: http://divekomodo.com/
Tripadvisor link here
UberScuba Diving (Some of my friends used Uberscuba and were really impressed by their service!)
Website Link http://uberscubakomodo.com/
Tripadvisor link here
Manta Rhei Diving
Website Link http://www.mantarhei.com/
Tripadvisor link here
Blue Marlin Komodo (The only dive shop which provides accommodation as well 🙂 you get discounts on dives as a resident 🙂
Website Link http://www.bluemarlinkomodo.com/
Tripadvisor link here
Good luck diving and have fun!