The last trip of the Komodo diving season
The last trip of the Komodo diving season
For the Indo Siren’s final cruise of the Komodo season, we welcomed aboard 16 divers from Minnesota. Our guests arrived wearing light clothing, but their footwear (heavy boots, thick socks) made it clear that they had begun their journey in a far less hospitable climate. A refreshing welcome drink, however, ensured that our snowbirds would make a speedy adjustment.
After a delicious lunch and a few briefings from the Cruise Director, the guests made their way to the spacious dive deck where the crew assisted with gear setup. There is something about the unpacking of dive gear that gets my adrenaline up, and this group obviously felt the same way. So, with anticipation building, we began to steam towards the volcanic island of Sangeang, where we would do our first dives of the trip.
We did our first dive at Bonto Reef, Sangeang. Wow! We spotted a tremendous number of nudibranchs, shrimps and a host of other critter. After breakfast, we moved around Sangeang to Techno Reef for a similar dark sand diving experience. Again, it proved a macro-lover’s dream. After moving from Sangeang to Gili Banta, we did our third dive at K2 and everyone marveled at the coral coverage. And the sense of wonder remained firmly intact during the night dive at Stargazer beach, aka Circus. Stargazers! Got ‘em. (And plenty more to boot.)
The following morning, we reached Komodo and did our first dive at Coral Garden where the corals are stunning. Everyone fitted in wide angle for their cameras and snapped away at the bommies and the clouds of fish that cover them. We moved to Gili Lawa Laut to do our second dive of the day at Crystal Rock. As always, there was plenty to see (e.g., bargibanti pygmy seahorse). We also got our first, but not last, taste of current. Whoosh! Then, we dove in Shotgun for the third dive and were not disappointed as the guests enjoyed the wild ride through the channel between Gili Lawa Laut and Gili Lawa Darat. Finally, to finish the day, we went to Gili Lawa Darat to hike up the hills and enjoy the sunset.
The following day, we enjoyed a classic drift dive at Tatawa Besar. Huge cuttlefish, turtles galore, even a painted frogfish in the coral garden at the end of the dive. Happy divers all around. The smiles grew even wider at the sight of 25-30 mantas at the cleaning stations of Makassar Reef. A shark-turtle-tunatastic dive at Batu Bolong and a mandarin fish dive at Wainiloo wrapped up another brilliant day of diving.
Next day, the sun was bright and up high. We didn’t start with diving instead we went to Komodo Island to watch the dragons. Everybody was amazed by these mysterious reptiles. After that beautiful scenery walk we dove at the front of Pink Beach to see micros creatures. Since it was morning, the beach was actually glowed with beautiful pink color. Then we cruised down to Padar and Nusa Kode.
After spotting two frogfish and a pandemonium of devil rays in Padar’s Secret Garden, we cruised to Nusa Kode, south of Rinca, which is playground for small creatures. At the famed Cannibal Rock, we spotted multiple frog fish, nembrothas, bumblebee shrimp, orangutan crabs. You name it, our guides found it. For our night dive, we went to Torpedo Alley. There were many nudibranches such as T-bar, Nembrothas and such. Many bob-tail squids too. An abundance of bioluminescent zooplankton made the atmosphere even more magical.
On the way back to Bima, we stopped at some new sites (e.g., Tatawa Kecil, Castle Rock and Tiga Dara) and went back to a few old favorites (e.g., Batu Bolong). After a few chilly dives down south, the guests were happy to be back in warmer waters. And happy indeed to see such an abundance of fish life. Huge schools of surgeonfish at Castle Rock, a curious manta at Tatawa Kecil, a wonderful combination of large and small creatures at Tiga Dara. By the time the Indo Siren liveaboard arrived in Bima, our Minnesotans could truly say they had seen the best that Komodo has to offer.
Many thanks to guests and crew alike for a wonderful trip. Hope to see you all again soon. Next stop….Raja Ampat!!!