Liveaboard Diving Komodo to Flores
Liveaboard Diving from Komodo to Flores
I guess the crew didn’t know what was going on when nine Vikings from Sweden, two guests from Germany one person each from England, Norway, Spain and Japan boarded the Indo Siren in Bima, Indonesia. A very European culture meets an Indonesian culture on a traditional Indonesian yacht. Everyone’s expectations were succeeded when they got introduced to their cabins and to the whole ship in the first briefing on the luxury dining area and the saloon, which has a very good library and a state of the art entertainment system incl. a huge flat TV, surround system and a linux file server system with tons of music and movies on board. Of course some of the people were watching a lot of videos between the dives – is this European or even international culture – unfortunately I cannot answer this particular question.
Everyone had a very long trip to arrive in Bima struggling with the jetlag and some of them had a “couple” of days of deep Indonesian cultural experiences on their back. After a nice refreshment and settle down in the cabins everyone was getting excited with the dive equipment and the little toys and gadgets they had brought along. Huge camera sets out of bulky luggage got assembled and batteries charged getting ready for the first dive. For me it was funny to watch them on the special camera tables with dozens of plugs where everyone has a change to charge their batteries. I felt rather stupid when I put my little snapshot camera with a tiny housing on the table. Of course it didn’t matter and nobody cared! Size isn’t everything afterall….
Many of the divers were very experienced having up to 500 dives logged and their expectations were pretty high because they were already diving all around the world like Cocos Island, Galapagos and Palau. They call their second home the Red Sea, which means two things. One thing is that it must be cold in the northern European hemisphere and the second thing is they like to live underwater and breathe some compressed air. After a long day of arrival we had a very delicious dinner that Gun and Ismail prepared for us and went bed excited having our first day of diving in front planned for the following day starting on 7:30 AM, which was way too early for me!
Our first dive site was at the Techno Reef – everyone was so excited about getting wet and wanted to dive after the detailed briefing by our cruise director Eva. Sponges, table corals, elk horn corals and all kinds of little reef inhabitants looked like they were playing in their home. We were diving in two groups and our dive masters were very well known of all the species and reef animals you could find. Immediately they were showing us little creatures that I have never experienced before. I didn’t even know that something like it exists. There were hundreds of kinds of colorful nudibranchs and tiny crabs that I would be never able to find but for their keen eyes. Absolutely amazing! Every day there we were offered three day dives and one night dive. Can you imagine that actually our nine Swedish Vikings, which formally live underwater, felt hectic and tired after the first three dives and skipped the night dive? Of course, the rest of them went down during the evening to the so called “The Circus” and experienced the coral reef at night, octopus, squid, nudibranchs and the coral formations that look different under artificial light conditions, showing their own real beauty at night.
Next day we went to experience some action with big animals at the dive sites of Coral Garden, Castle Rock, Crystal Rock and GLL Reef for the night dive. Even though, everyone wanted to see all the big stuff the diving in Indonesia is much more than that to see thousand kinds of special underwater creatures that you’ll never experience somewhere else in the world. I truly must say you can fall in love with all the little colorful nudibranchs, mandarin fishes and harlequin crabs. OK, back to the big fish. Crystal and Castle Rock are two of the best dive sites in the Komodo National Marine Park. We went down to these sites several times and every time it looked different due to the high and low tides as well as the slack times. You can imagine the currents down there can be quite strong so that you need a reef hook to hold on something and watch the big animals. School of tuna, sergeant fishes, sharks, eagle rays and Napoleon wrasses were passing by and you were sitting in the front row like in a movie theatre just 20m deep in the open Indo-Pacific Ocean. It was just gorgeous.
One of the next days we went into the heart of Komodo to so called “The Current City” including the dive sites “Batu Bolong” and the “Makassar Reef”. Both dive sites are known for heavy currents and even our Indo Siren was hovering into the current to stay on the same place. The first dive took us down behind the little island on the shelter site to a beautiful coral reef including some turtles, Napoleon fishes and sharks. As soon as we went down to 20m a beautiful eagle ray was cruising around and made his patrol around the reef as he wanted to protect his reef. It was very beautiful to see all the corals including lobsters, clown fishes hiding in their anemones and majestic lion fishes hovering into the barrel sponges. It was just gorgeous. After it we were heading towards the highway of Komodo to see the big birds flying to the Indo-Pacific Ocean like cars driving on a German Autobahn. We went down to about 8m and were drifting fast with the current to see Manta Rays passing by. First there was an eagle ray taking lunch and a shark just doing a little rest. We went to a place which looked like a Greek theatre and we were hiding as an audience in it. One Manta Ray was circling around as doing a little show especially for us. It was absolutely amazing and I saw never so many flashing lights deep down under water like this time. After this scenario we went down a several times to see the lovely big birds again.
Our ship was continuing going to south of Komodo heading towards Dragon City to see the Komodo dragons. We went up early in the morning and took the dinghy`s to the Komodo Dragon National Park and there are, lying in the sun and have a peaceful rest. Everyone took out their cameras and starting shooting and more and more dragons were coming. We ended up with about ten of them. Actually I was happy that we had guardians they were protecting us from it. We made a nice hike in the park where a Buffalo and two dragons, one of them a one year old baby dragon, crossed our path – again photo shooting time a` la first class. Off one of our next dive sites we found three dragons again on the beach waiting for tourist divers to show off to. They were fighting amongst themselves like you can see on the TV reports. We were hiding in the dinghy daring not to get our feet on land – too close for my comfort!
After leaving the Komodo Island we went for a very beautiful dive site to make one of the best night dives on the “Pinisi Wreck”. I think it was the best night dive from the whole trip and it looked totally different during the day on the second dive. During the night dive we were exposed to the ship wreck that was turning into a beautiful artificial reef with a lot of sponges and nice corral formations. The ship was from the 19th century and it seems that it has delivered supplies and medicine to the island. Where should I know this? Actually the formation of the wreck looks historically Indonesian like a smaller version of our Indo Siren. And we were able to find some small relicts of little bottles with liquids inside, which points into medical supplies or into a research expedition where samples were taken. But the marine life surrounding it and the coral reef was simply breathtaking. We were able to see all kinds of nudibranchs, punching crabs, harlequin crabs, octopuses and frog fish. During the day all the colors came out and the visibility seemed endless. We had the best conditions for our photographers to take some gorgeous pictures. Some ended up with just a series of frog fish and you could make almost a movie out of it. Others were hanging on a turtle to see exactly what it had been eating. It was so much fun to see all of it and when we were ascending I passed a field of anemones where I have never seen so many clown fish in my life. I just couldn’t figure out, which of them was Nemo – just outstanding.
The whole trip was a blast for all of us and I was able to do thirty dives. I have the feeling that I saw almost the whole almanac of the Indo-Pacific Ocean starting from the big fishes like sharks, manta rays, eagle rays, Napoleon fish & sea turtles down to the smallest creatures like ghost pipe fish, mandarin fish, all kinds of groupers, squid, tiny, tiny crabs, lobster, frog fish and so on. And I`m confident that I didn`t see the whole almanac of the Indo-Pacific Ocean. We were able to swim in fish swarms where tunas were hunting for lunch. I never experience it before in my life. It looks like the variety of the species and creatures are endless underwater compared to those on land, which you have never seen.
In addition, the amenity and the special hostility on board of the Indo Siren with a small group of very beloved people the trip was absolutely special and one of my best experience in life. The memory will last for a long time and I hope it will keep it for life. Furthermore, if you will get such a kind of experience and have the possibility to see those reefs in a way we did please keep it protected and sustainable for the future divers and dive generation. Thank you very much for such an enjoyable vacation.
Photos by Mikael Eriksson