Komodo National Park and its marine reserve became one the most popular location for scuba diving trips. Whether you access the park on a day trip or on a liveaboard (REF 5 ADVANTAGES FOR LIVEABOARD), the Komodo’s marine reserve is a large and fantastic playground for scuba divers with an extensive variety of dive sites among the most thrilling in the world.
Even if we can’t objectively make a ranking of “the bests dive sites” in any area (every diver having their own preferences) some sites in Komodo just can’t be missed. These sites became popular for different reasons: species encountered, unique topography or just incredible ambiance…
Here are our 6 favorites sites:
1. Manta Alley
This is not the only site where manta rays can be seen in Komodo but remains the most popular. Located in a bay of South Komodo Island, a couple of rocks at the surface indicate the spot. This place is a cleaning station for manta rays that comes hanging around to get their parasites eaten by cleaner wrasses. Therefore, you have a big chance to meet up with these gorgeous creatures, sometimes a couple and sometimes dozens for the luckiest. A “no entry zone” has been defined with small rocks in the deepest section preventing, us, divers to disturb the rays. Just kneel down and enjoy the show!
Notes: this dive site being far away from Labuan Bajo might be only accessible with liveaboard.
2. Crystal Rock and Castle Rock
These two pinnacles are located on the North of Komodo Island and due to their proximity (few hundred meters from each other) and similarities, you will get two for the price of one. As well as many dive sites in Komodo, the current can be surprising by their strength and directions.
Good point about the current: it attracts fishes and fishes attract… bigger fish! You may have to do a negative entry and hook yourself somewhere to enjoy the majesty of the show: schools of jack, batfish, some big size napoleon wrasses and hopefully some reef sharks or giant trevallies hunting them. The visibility is usually good for the full enjoyment of these two sea-mounts.
3. Batu Bolong
In Indonesian, “batu” means rock and “bolong” means hole so “batu bolong” is the “pierced rock”. Komodo pierced rock is located in the channel between Komodo and the island of Tatawa Besar on the North-West. Below that rock hides one of the most fantastic dive site of the park. Rising from 70m of depth, this rocky column host an incredible number of marine species. On the 20 to 40m area you may observe some hunting action by reef sharks, giant trevallies, dogtooth tuna or barracudas whereas in the shallow part you will simply be amazed by the variety of coral. A dense and colorful cloud of anthias is always there in shallow water for an unforgettable safety stop. As the current is often strong, you will most of the time hide in the non-exposed side of the site
4. Yellow Wall
Named after the big amount of yellow soft coral, feather stars and sea cucumbers covering it, this wall is waiting for you on the South of Rinca Island in the “horse-shoe bay”. Very well known for its macro life, the yellow wall is a paradise for underwater photographer. We are talking here about many sorts of nudibranchs, shrimps, soft coral crabs, nudibranchs (I know I said it already but there are lot of them), funky scorpion fishes, pigmy sea horse and a lot more. For those of you who are not especially fond of macro life, dont worry, the ambiance remains fantastic and you may see some cool stuff in the blue.
5. The Cauldron
Also known as “shotgun”, the very unique topography of this dive site will literally amaze you. Located in the channel between the islands Gili Lawa Darat and Gili Lawa Laut in Northern Komodo,. Its odd topography makes it a very popular dive site. Starting in the channel in quite shallow water, you suddenly find yourself at the edge of a large underwater cauldron. At its bottom around 25m depth, you will be on a sandy/rocky area surrounded by walls with giant gorgonian sea-fans. The fun part comes at its end when the cauldron gets narrower and end up like a bottleneck: the current swallow you and SHOOT you out. At that point you may be able to see mantas or reef sharks playing in the current. The dive finishes on a sloppy reef with incredible coral.
6. Tatawa Besar
Located among a group of small islands between North-East Komodo and Flores, this famous dive site is a must do for the drift dive lovers. Starting in shallow water, the current takes you for a flight aside this stunning fringing reef. Orange soft corals are everywhere and makes it like a fairy world. This place is really an “ambiance dive” so even without fish this would be a great site. Luckily for us, tons of marine species are found there: reef sharks, napoleons, barracudas, eagle rays, cuttle-fishes, turtles and sometime mantas.