Famed for the giant lizards that inhabit its parched grasslands, Komodo National Park in Indonesia is also home to one of the world’s richest marine environments and a plethora of spectacular dive sites.
Encompassing the three islands of Komodo, Rinca and Padar along with scores of islands, islets and barren rocks, the Komodo National Park was originally set up to protect the Komodo Dragon. But the conversation zone has now expanded into its crystal clear, tropical waters.
Home to over 1,000 species of fish and more than 350 reef building corals, Komodo offers a huge variety of dive sites. Divers can swim through monumental boulders, drop down onto seamounts, venture into caves or simply search out the weird and wonderful in protected bays and islets.
Even the most experienced divers won’t be disappointed with the national park’s fascinating underwater world so, here, we round up five of the best dive sites in Komodo to help you plan your yacht charter to Indonesia.
1. Crystal Rock
An open water pinnacle located to the north of Komodo Island, Crystal Rock takes its name from the strikingly clear waters that surround it, yet it is widely celebrated for its dazzling multi-coloured marine life.
Formed by a huge seamount, the site is frequented by rainbow-hued fish such as yellow-ribbon sweetlips, surgeonfish, damselfish and pyramid butterfly fish, and covered in red, blue and orange coral, rust coloured sponges and large fans with protruding fingers.
Captivating nudibranchs and flatworm species call the rock home, and intriguing rockfish species such a grouper and barramundi can be found under table corals. White tip sharks, grey reef sharks and red octopuses can be spotted here too.
2. Castle Rock
Situated to the north of Crystal Rock, Castle Rock plays hosts to an abundance of big fish rarely seen elsewhere in the world. Many of the creatures come here to take shelter from the strong currents and, likewise, divers can use the seamount to seek protection.
Pigmy seahorses swim in the soft coral growth, and enormous schools of fusiliers, unicorn fish and bannerfish attract big predators such as grey reef sharks, tunas, barracudas and dolphins.
Micro life abounds here too. Look out for the Blue Dragon, a nudibranch with a giant feathering mane stretching in rows down its back as well as a variety of shrimp, morays, sea snakes and crabs.
3. Manta Point
Also known as Kurang Makassar, Manta Point is a small island located off the east coast of Komodo where a series of long current-swept reefs run north to south, creating a highway and feeding ground for manta rays.
The graceful giants frequent the spot in heavy currents, using the large coral bommies and interspersed reef for shelter. Watch them as they glide along with their mouths wide open to feed on plankton.
Those lucky divers may even be surrounded by large packs but, if not, reefs nearby are resplendent with creatures such as turtles, eagle rays, giant trevallies and huge clams, making your visit worthwhile.
Plus, for those who don’t dive, this makes a fantastic snorkelling site.
4. Batu Balong
A small island located between Komodo and Tatawa Besar, Batu Bolong is swept by the strong currents that run from north and south between the Pacific and Indian Ocean, and is thus teaming with marine life.
Defined by a giant hole in the south side of the rock, the site also features large walls and crevices where giant grouper, moray eels, Indian lionfish and the occasional turtle hide.
When the tide rises, divers can access the north side where a giant wall descends some 35 metres alongside a series of spurs peppered with giant table corals and incredible formations of barrel sponges. Also watch out for vibrant silver and yellow sweet lips, grouper, bass and coral trout.
A large wall also runs along the southern side beyond which is a large coral garden where a huge variety of tropical fish seek shelter and feed.
5. Sebayur Kecil
For a relaxing dive free of currents, head to Sebayur Kecil in the north of Komodo. Among the different sites located here is a coral slope that runs into a pristine sandy bottom visited by garden eels, goat fish and commensal shrimp.
Sea cucumbers and other types of echinoderms and octopus can be found here too, while a series of spurs with amazing coral formations, including bright white lace coral, Gregorian sea fans and fantastically coloured tables faces the beach.
For the more daring, the final spur juts out 100 metres and provides a great wall dive teaming with healthy coral. Beyond this are two seamounts and a valley that sometimes get swept by strong currents, where sweetlips, giant trevally and tuna swim.