Perhaps one of the most well known and sought after dive regions of the world, Komodo National Park is the ultimate tropical diving destination in the heart of the coral triangle. As Komodo is a national park you can not stay on the island. Our recommendation if you want to be land based is to stay on the nearby island of Flores (East Nusa Tenggara). If you want to maximise your time here then a liveaboard is the best way to go, as it will allow you to stay in the surrounding protected marine park for longer, and access a greater range of amazing dive sites
The region is located in the very middle of the Indonesian archipelago. The area was given protected park status in the 1980s to conserve the habitat of the Komodo Dragon. As time has gone on this protected status has expanded to provide a safe haven for native flora and fauna, both above and below the surface. As a result of these protections the area has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The island is of volcanic origin, its terrain is rugged and dry. In fact Komodo is one of the driest areas in the whole of Indonesia. Vegetation is similar to what you would find in a savanna, with very few trees. Rocky slopes frame picturesque beaches that line glistening blue bays.
Komodo National Park is located in the centre of the Indonesian archipelago, between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores in the Lesser Sunda Islands. Roughly 200 nautical miles east of Bali, it includes three major islands: Komodo, Rinca and Padar, as well as some eighty smaller islands creating a total surface area (marine and land) of 1,817 kilometres.
Komodo National Park was established in 1980. Initially the main purpose of the Park was to conserve the unique Komodo Dragon and its habitat. However, over the years, the goals for the Park have expanded to protecting its entire biodiversity, both terrestrial and marine. In 1986, the Park was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and later, a Man and Biosphere Reserve.
The islands of Komodo National Park are volcanic in origin surrounded by fringing and patch coral reefs. The terrain is rugged and dry, consisting of barren sun scorched rolling hills and savannah vegetation with very few trees. Komodo is one of the driest regions of Indonesia. The picturesque beaches of Komodo are mostly deserted with a background of rocks and hills.
The main gateway to Komodo is from the small fishing town of Labuan Bajo on the western tip of the island of Flores.
Average year round temperature is around 30, dropping to around 21 at night. Some days it can reach into the 40s.
Dry Season: May to October
Wet Season: December to March. January and February are the wettest months.
April and November are transitional months.
Komodo’s marine environment is one of the richest in the world, boasting over 1,000 species of fish, 260 species of reef building corals and 70 species of sponges. This diversity provides the perfect home for larger marine species, such as dugong, sharks, manta, 14 species of whales, dolphins and turtles.
The north side of Komodo has warm flowing water coming in from the Banda sea, these tropical currents are the perfect habitat for a vast array of hard coral reefs. Water is warm and visibility is exquisite. In the south a cooler current runs from the Indian Ocean, these cooler currents are very nutrient rich and feed a vast swathe of life, from tiny coral polyps all the way up to filter feeding manta rays. As expected, these nutrient rich waters often cause a dip in visibility which can be very variable from one dive to the next.
Marine topography is varied, you can expect rock pinnacles, walls, dense coral gardens, seamounts and channels. All of which are absolutely teeming with life. Although the areas currents are the cause of Komodos spectacular marine ecosystems they can also cause some rather challenging conditions – including some rather rapid drift dives at times. Which is why it is only recommended for experienced and advanced divers.
The Flores Sea has water temperatures of approx 26-28°C (79-82°F) – a 3-5 mm shorty is sufficient for most divers. Diving in the the Sumba Sea around Southern Komodo and Rinca Islands, the water temperature drops to an average temperature of approx 24°C (75°F) and can go as low as 21°C (70°F) – a 5mm long suit is advised. Hood and booties are strongly recommended for these cooler waters.
Diving can be conducted year round.
The best diving in the North is during the Southeast Monsoon (May – October). Visibility is good in the North year round and the water temperature in the North is generally higher than in the South. Water temperature is highest in the North during the dry season.
The best diving in the South is during the Northwest Monsoon (December – March) when visibility will be better. During the dry season in the South, the visibility is lower due to oceanic up-welling and increased plankton. However, this also makes the area richer in marine life during this time. Water temperature is highest in the South during the wet season.
A very colourful dive with excellent soft coral coverage. Clouds of anthias and schools of yellow-ribbon sweetlips are almost always encountered while frogfish, moray eels and scorpionfish are commonly seen. There is a small mound northwest of the rock where different species of fish school seasonally including tuna, mackerel, giant trevally and bluefin trevally.
The top of the reef is covered in colourful corals, invertebrate life and thousands of brilliant reef fish. Along the steep walls in deeper water many larger fish including sharks, napoleon wrasse, giant trevally, dogtooth tuna, and large schools of rainbow runners can be observed on almost every occasion.
Cannibal Rock/ Batu Buas
Rich soft corals abound as well as sea apples and other sea cucumber species. Among many surprises are flamboyantly coloured nudibranchs, and fire urchins with Coleman shrimp. The fish life can also be quite good with an array of scorpion fish, schools of red snappers and surgeon fishes. Pygmy seahorses and frogfish may also be seen.
Darat Passage North, Gililawa Darat Island
The reef slope is very rich in marine life and the sandy bottom at 15m depth is covered in garden eels. On the approach to the channel, turtles may be seen as well as a school of giant sweetlips that live in a grotto near the surface of the water. Around the southwest corner of the island, the shallow reefs are extremely rich and full of fish life. Bumphead parrotfish are commonly seen and aggregate here to spawn annually around the month of April. Sharks and schools of batfish also reside in the passage. A large coral head about two thirds of the way through the dive teems with life and activity.
This area is marked with very large giant trevally, sharks and a high diversity of other invertebrate life in relatively shallow water between 5-20m depth. Manta rays are regularly sighted at the cleaning stations often lined up in the current.
Komodo is extremely rich in biodiversity both above and below the water. Be sure to visit Komodo Island to visit the dragons, deer, wild boar, water buffalo and the mischievous crab eating macaque. Whilst there be sure to stop off at Pink Beach which is famous for its beautiful pink sand, formed by a mixture of sand from white calcium carbonate and the bright red skeletons of organ pipe corals which do not lose their pigments when they die.
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