In this budget guide to diving in Komodo National Park we discuss the best dive sites (we dived 10 different sites), the prices, operators, live aboard diving and options to dive from Flores, marine life in the park, best season for divers and Labuanbajo accommodation, food and things to do. The park is accessed by most from Labuanbajo on Flores Island.
Indonesia is probably the best country in the world for diving and Komodo National Park is definitely one of the dive highlights in this underwater paradise. The amount and variety of fish is unreal, millions of reef fish of all shapes, colors and sizes, plenty of massive pelagic fish and sharks hunting in crystal clear water on the pristine coral reefs. The highlights for most that visit the park are the massive manta rays gliding around underwater and the Komodo Dragons walking on Komodo and Rinca islands. Komodo is mainly about the big stuff, but do not underestimate the macro life in the park, we saw some amazing things; blue ringed octopus, sea horse, crocodile fish and more.
- KOMODO DIVE OPTIONS
- WHAT IS THE DIFFICULTY LEVEL OF DIVING IN KOMODO?
- DIVE KOMODO PRICES AND OPERATORS
- KOMODO DIVE SITES (DIVE LOG)
KOMODO DIVE OPTIONS
The Komodo National Park is located within the Lesser Sunda Islands and includes Komodo, Rinca, Padar and 26 small islands. There are many live aboard boats diving in the park, all the same sites can however be done by day diving from Labuanbajo, this option is cheaper. The main advantage of the live aboard boats is that you will be at the dive sites first. Diving is however often dictated by current and tides and sometimes being there first won’t matter.
WHAT IS THE DIFFICULTY LEVEL OF DIVING IN KOMODO?
There are many sites with varying experience required. Some sites do have strong currents and down currents do sometimes occur. Experience is essential to dive here. You can dive some beautiful spots and see incredible things with an openwater qualification (18m max), look at my dive log for Komodo below. Your dive operator should only take you on dives suited for your experience level. They will look at this and place you in a suitable dive group. Don’t be shy to discuss issues around this and group size with them before you go on the dive.
DIVE KOMODO PRICES AND OPERATORS
There are many dive operators in Labuanbajo, several well-known franchise operators also present elsewhere in South East Asia, e.g. Blue Marlin Dive Center and Scuba Junkie.
I dived with the well-known Komodo Dive Center during my first visit, the service was excellent, dive leaders great and I had a fantastic time.
Upon my return to Labuanbajo I shopped around and found lower pricing and a schedule that suited us better with Divers Paradise Komodo. All aspects of diving; the boats, dive leaders and overall experience was similar to what I had with Komodo Dive Center. It was great that Divers Paradise had a schedule that we could plan according to. I know conditions change, but it was nice that the daily dive schedule was set out a week before, conditions depending and not dictated by which sites were previously dived by divers in the group.
There are plenty of live aboard boats that operate in Komodo National Park and this is an awesome way of exploring the dive sites in the park, check out this Live Aboard Guide for Diving in Komodo.
Prices for 3 dive day from Labuanbajo all inclusive (gear, lunch etc.)
- Komodo Dive Center Rp. 1.500.000/ US$113
- Blue Marlin Komodo Rp. 2.000.000/ US$151
- Divers Paradise Komodo Rp. 1.100 000/ US$83
The prices above do not include the park fees; week day IDR 175,000 Sunday and public holidays IDR 250,000. Komodo Dive Center and Divers Paradise Komodo both used slow boats, I enjoyed the long dive days on the boat, we had unlimited free coffee and tea and snacks, fruit and a very nice lunch everyday. Blue Marlin uses speed boats with obvious advantages of getting to the dive sites first.
It was Alya’s first visit to the park and she opted to visit Rinca island and see the dragons on the last day replacing one dive, additional fee for the park guide IDR 65 000.
KOMODO DIVE SITES (DIVE LOG)
BATU BOLONG (rock with a hole in it)
Max Depth 30m, Avg Depth 14m, viz 25m, temp 27C
This was our favourite dive in Komodo National Park. Descending in the crystal clear water next to this rock it feels like you are in an aquarium.
Massive schools of small zebra fish and a variety of colorful fish swims close to the surface. We saw massive greater barracuda, giant trevally, schools of blue spot trevally, tuna and a variety of pelagics hunting around the rock.
Looking closer to the rock there were turtles, moray eels, stone fish and a variety of nudibranches. The rock drops down to 70m in at about 30m when looking down there were reef sharks and a variety of big wrasse, including a massive napoleon swimming around.
Max Depth 15m, Avg Depth 10m, viz 20m, temp 27C
One of the most dived sites in the park. Your best chance to dive with manta rays, sometimes schooling in the area! We saw two eagle rays majestically flying over the reef, for me the most graceful of all rays.
You can see them here all year round, but the best season for mantas is from December to February when you can have 20 or 30 of these giants circling you! It is a very flat, shallow site with small rocks covering the bottom. Current here can be very strong and some groups use reef hooks to remain in one position, hovering in the current while looking at the mantas. We were very unlucky, in August it was not season but many groups saw 4 or 5 mantas. We had zero current and saw only one manta for a short while.
Max Depth 28m, Avg Depth 17m, viz 20m, temp 28C
Our favorite site in the north. Large see mound, beautiful soft corals. Many black tip reef sharks. Huge dog tooth tuna.
Site with the most huge trevallies, came very close. Big Napoleon wrasse, many sweetlips, batfish, butterfly fish and blue spot trevallies.
Max Depth 19m, Avg Depth 14m, viZ 8m, temp 27C
Close to Rinca Island, usually dived as an alternative to the Rinca dragon hike. Classic muck diving site, flat sandy bottom some awesome unique things to discover, a good guide helps. We saw a sea horse and my first blue ring octopus!
Max Depth 27m, Avg Depth 13.9m, viz 20m, temp 27C
Sea mound, good viz, lots of fish, big trevallies
Max Depth 29m, Avg Depth 11.2m, viz 20m, temp 27C
Amazing Dive! Greeted by large manta ray! Sloping reef, sand patch followed by nice drift dive through a channel. Nice fish life, Giant Trevallies, sweetlips, schools of batfish, large groupers, one or two turtles
Max Depth 19m, Avg Depth 11.2m, viz 20m, temp 28C
Awesome drift dive, beautiful hard and soft corals. Amazing reef covered in fish at 10-20m depth, Great dive, Big GT’s, huge Napoleon wrasse, snappers, breams, Bluefin trevallies, many damsel fish, sweetlips, white tip reef sharks, large cuttlefish, blue spotted stingray, leafy scorpion fish.
Max Depth 16m, Avg Depth 9m, viz 20m, temp 28C
Drift dive in the channel Gili Lawa Darat and Komodo Island. Nice chilled out drift dive in slow current. Beautiful corals. Big turtle, many sweetlips, a white and a green leafy scorpion fish, blue spotted stingrays. Many small reef fish.
Max Depth 22m, Avg Depth 13m, viz 20m, temp 28C
Nice reef, slow current. Nice macro stuff; frogfish, leafy scorpionfish, nudis, scorpionfish. Some blue spotted trevallies, blue spotted stingray, small reef fish.
GETTING TO LABUANBAJO
Getting from Lombok to Labuanbajo flying in is the easiest and costs about $50, we came by bus and ferry this is the cheapest way at $23/IDR310 000. Taking a 3 day boat trip is popular, I did this 3 years ago it was a lot of fun and really beautiful and costs about IDR 1 500 000/$115. For exact details and costs of transport options see HOW TO GET FROM LOMBOK/BALI TO FLORES.
FOOD AND BUDGET ACCOMODATION IN LABUANBAJO
The most popular budget place is Gardina guest house though not the cheapest one, prices from IDR 240 000/$18 for a double with fan. I stayed here during my previous visit it is nice and has a restaurant and garden. In season it is always full and hard to get a room.
We stayed at Kampung Bule hostel, clean spacious dorms with AC, lockers, free tea/coffee, wifi for IDR 80 000/$6 per person, double with fan for IDR 150 000/$11.
For a complete guide to budget accommodation options see FLORES AND KOMODO BACKPACKER’S GUIDE
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