The Komodo National Park is located in Indonesia, and comprises three large islands, Komodo, Padar and Rinca, and 26 smaller islands. The park is located between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores. Perhaps the most famous resident of the Komodo National Park is the Komodo Dragon, but the marine life in the region is almost unparalleled.
As such, Komodo diving is an absolute must if you love marine life and are a keen diver. The species diversity is huge in the Komodo National Park; thousands of species of fish, hundreds of corals, and the chance to see amazing world-renowned species such as Manta Rays.
In this article we will give a brief overview of diving in the Komodo National Park, the dives sites that are found there, and the best ways of exploring this magnificent underwater world.
IN THIS ARTICLE
Diving in Komodo National Park
Komodo National Park gives the opportunity to not only explore the stunning underwater world that is found there, but also the chance to go on land and see the fascinating flora and fauna found there as well.
There are more than 1000 species of fish, 260 species of coral, and many endemic and rare marine mammals and land animals to be found in the Komodo National Park. The Komodo National Park lies in the “Coral Triangle”, a region which boasts huge marine and coral biodiversity; covering only 1.6% of the planet’s oceanic area, the Coral Triangle is home to 76% of all known coral species.
Strong daily tidal flows combined with strong upwelling currents from the bottom of the Indian Ocean also drive this huge biodiversity. These currents bring a huge amount of nutrients up from the sea floor, creating perfect conditions for a huge number of species to thrive.
The species that can be seen in the Komodo National Park include manta rays, eagle rays, sunfish, frogfish like the giant frogfish, seahorses, octopuses, nudibranchs, whale sharks, dolphins, sperm whales, and even blue whales. Dugongs are found in the Park as well, and on land the famous Komodo dragon is found.
Komodo diving offers some truly magical scenes and the chance to see some of the most colorful and fascinating species found anywhere in the world.
Komodo Diving Sites
In this section we will run through some of the most famous of the Komodo diving sites, so you know what to expect.
Manta Alley is perhaps the most well known of the Komodo diving sites. It is maybe the best site in the Komodo National Park to see and dive with the magnificent manta rays. Manta rays can reach 23 feet in width!
Located at the southern end of Komodo Island, Manta Alleys consists of a series of small rocky islands that act as a magnet for manta rays.
Manta rays can be found at this dive site all year round, but perhaps the best time of year to dive here is from September to January, as is it not unusual to see in excess of 20 manta rays each dive!
Most dive operators will run the same route through the Manta Alley dive site, starting at the south west side of the rocks. In this area is the cleaning station, where manta rays line up to get a cleaning from cleaner wrasses and butterfly fish. These cleaner fish feed on the parasites found on the skin of the manta rays.
Usually divers take their time at the cleaning station, before heading to the alley of Manta Alley. This is so called because it is a narrow and deep crevice between two bodies of rock. The current is reasonably strong here, so mantas swim and glide in this current, often feeding on the plankton brought through on the current.
Keep your eyes peeled as you will often see different species of reef shark as well!
The video below is a great example of what you can expect from the Manta Alley dive site.
Batu Bolong is another iconic dive site in the Komodo National Park. The dive site is located between Komodo Island and Tatawa Island, and is stunning in it’s biodiversity and untouched reef ecosystem.
Due to the strong currents found around the reef and dive site, it has been left alone by fishermen. This has allowed the reef to absolutely thrive, and the numbers of fish alone are well worth seeing.
At the surface only a small rock formation protrudes, but below the water line is where the magic begins. Averaging 10 metres deep, the Batu Bolong dive site extends down as far as 70 metres into the ocean.
The strong upwelling currents provide food for the huge number and variety of coral and sponge species. Many hundreds of fish species can be seen as well. In the upper levels of the reef smaller fish are more common, with thousands of species including small colorful wrasses and angelfish. At the lower levels of the reef larger fish such as tuna, giant trevallies, Napoleon wrasses, barracudas, and whitetip reef sharks are more common. Hawksbill sea turtles are also common visitors to this dive site, feeding on the sponges found here.
The Batu Bolong dive site is recommended for experienced and comfortable divers as the current is very strong. Visibility is incredible, often extending to 35 metres!
Yellow Wall of Texas
Yet another famous Komodo diving site, the Yellow Wall of Texas is a wall dive between the islands of Rinca and Nusa Code. It is so called because of the numerous colorful feather stars and sea cucumbers as well as coral and sponges, giving the reef a yellow coloration.
The steep dropoff falls to around 30 metres depth and many species of coral, sponge, and majestic seafans allows for beautiful views.
Visibility is normally around 20 metres at this dive site, and while the current is fairly strong as in all Komodo dives, the dive itself is normally a peaceful drift dive.
Moray eels are often spotted with their head poking out of the hiding places, so keep an eye out! If you are lucky you may even see one swimming openly in the water column.
Reef sharks such as the white tip are often seen, and green turtles can be spotted feeding along the reef wall.
Small fish are extremely numerous, with huge schools forming. Fish such as gobies, frogfish, hawkfish, scorpionfish, leaffish, and seahorses can be spotted. Large fish are often seen lower on the reef.
Invertebrates such as spanish dancers can also be seen, making the Yellow Wall of Texas a dive site not to be missed!
Komodo National Park Diving General Information
Before you decide to go diving in the Komodo National Park, there are a few things to be aware of.
First, Komodo diving is for experienced and confident divers. The reason that Komodo National Park is so diverse and offers the chance to experience huge amounts of marine life is the strong currents. These strong currents mean that many dives are drift dives, and that you should have at least the advanced open water dive certificate to dive here.
While it could be possible to gain certifications in Komodo, if you aren’t already a confident diver you could spend most of the time concentrating on the diving itself and not on looking at the creatures around you!
There are a couple of ways that you can experience the joy of diving in the Komodo National Park.
Komodo National Park is a protected area, so no diving schools or resorts are allowed to be based on the islands comprising the park. This allows the islands and waters surrounding them to remain pristine, as there is no infrastructure or waste.
However there are many diving schools, resorts, and hostels found on islands neighboring the Park, such as the town of Labuan Bajo on the island of Flores. Staying in one of the diving resorts here allows you the comfort of a bed on dry land. The main downside is that it takes a couple of hours to reach the Komodo National Park dive sites by boat. This long boat journey twice a day can take its toll, but the views on the journey are stunning!
In our view, perhaps the best way to fully experience Komodo diving is by staying on a liveaboard.
By choosing this option you will stay on a boat, normally for a week or two, in the Komodo National Park itself. Through this you will have direct access to even the remote dive sites, and there is virtually no travel time. Many liveaboards will also take you to other dive sites on neighboring island chains as well. While you might think this sounds expensive, there are various options available, from luxury yachts offering premium travel, to basic liveaboards focused on the diving.
Hopefully this article has given you a brief overview on diving in the Komodo National Park.
If you are an experienced and keen diver then visiting the Komodo National Park should be firmly on your bucket list.
The coral reefs are pristine and untouched, and you have a good chance of seeing amazing rare species up close.