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A Guide to Scuba Diving in Komodo, Indonesia

Updated: Jun 27


In this guide to scuba diving in Komodo National Park, we will cover everything you need to know to plan your trip to dive in this amazing region in the heart of the coral triangle.


So you’re a scuba diver? Wicked! You already know the paradise that awaits us underwater.


You’ve never dived? Not an issue. You can get certified in three days with a PADI Open Water Course. You can even get certified on location, in some of the best dive sites in the world in Komodo National Park.



CONTENTS




 

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Where is Komodo?


Komodo National Park is in Indonesia, situated between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores (two islands to the east of Bali). The three main islands of Komodo NP; Komodo, Rinca and Padar, plus many smaller ones, are home to the famous Komodo dragons.


The rugged green hills outlined with white sandy beaches jutting out of the brilliant blue water are a sight to behold as you fly over to Labuan Bajo, the main entry point to Komodo National Park.


But it is what's underwater that interests us the most...



Airplane wing over tropical islands near Bali
The view out the plane window Bali to LBJ

 


The Highlights of Scuba Diving in Komodo National Park


Some say Indonesia has the best scuba diving sites in the world, and if you've ever dived Raja Ampat or Komodo it would be hard to disagree.


The marine ecosystems surrounding the Komodo islands are known for their colourful reefs teeming with wildlife, perhaps most famously the majestic Manta Rays that call them home. Being in a very remote location means only the most intrepid divers make it this far, so you and your dive buddy often have the site to yourselves.


Komodo is famous for its fierce currents, riptides, and whirlpools which bring in rich nutrients from the depths of the Indian Ocean to create ideal conditions for thousands of species of tropical fish and corals to flourish. Not to mention all the bigger species that come swinging by; sharks, turtles, rays, whales and even dugongs!


If people tell you the currents are too crazy in Komodo for green divers, it's simply not true. There are plenty of milder dive sites where you can learn the skills needed to dive safely, surrounded by perhaps the world's most beautiful coral and fascinating marine life.



Pretty colours underwater
Pretty colours underwater

 

FOR TRAVEL INSURANCE I normally have a browse on Travel Supermarket and choose a cheap policy from a UK provider with a high Defaqto rating.


On diving trips, I supplement this with a short-term DAN policy. This can be arranged directly or normally via your dive shop.


 


The Best Dive Sites in Komodo


There are many dive sites to choose from, and I have not experienced all of them, so in this guide to scuba diving in Komodo, I am going to tell you about my 4 favourites...



BATU BALONG


Often hailed as the most spectacular dive site in Komodo, Batu Balong is a rocky island host to a myriad of marine life. You can expect to drop into a strong current, but staying close to the rock gives you some protection. Thousands of fish including Wrasse, Sweetlips, Parrotfish and rabbitfish, as well as an abundance of reef sharks and rays await.



THE CAULDRON


This is the drift dive everyone remembers. Starting in a beautiful coral garden, moving through 'the cauldron', a 30-meter bowl-shaped hollow, and then exiting by blasting through the Komodo 'shotgun'.


If you aim yourself right, you may be able to hook onto a small rocky plateau and feel the full force of those Komodo currents, watching schools of fish, reef sharks and turtles pass by in what can only be described as a washing machine!



CRYSTAL ROCK


This was my favourite dive, as when we dropped into the blue we were immediately surrounded by colourful fish, grey reef sharks, and devil rays. It was hard to concentrate on the quick descent required to manage the current as there were so many beautiful things to look at, including a very friendly cuttlefish.


Watch out for the Triggerfish and Damselfish, otherwise known as the dickheads of the ocean! These cute little fishies are very territorial and will think nothing of taking a small chunk out of you.



MAWAN


Mawan is also known as 'Manta Point'. Any guesses why? It's home to Manta cleaning stations, which are large coral patches where the 4-5m wide Manta rays come to get regular hygiene checks by cleaner wrasses that remove parasites from their skin, gills and teeth.


You can chill with your knees down on the rubble and watch groups of up to 25 Manta rays majestically gliding all around you. This manta community know that divers mean them no harm, in fact, they are very friendly and curious and often played with our bubbles!




It is super important to never chase or harass wildlife, all interactions should be passive and the animal should come to you.


 


When to Go to Komodo


As with any travel plans, seasonality is important. So this travel guide to scuba diving in Komodo would not be complete without a mention of the weather!


April to November is the dry season - and this is when weather and underwater visibility are at their best. This is also the main liveaboard season, so you can expect the water to be busier, with perhaps 4 or 5 dive boats at each dive site.


November to March is the wet season - which is very unpredictable. You could have glorious weather or constant rain. Many dive shops close up, so you could be the only group in the water, and Feb/March is peak Manta Ray season.


I have been to Komodo twice, and both times I chose to go in February. I would take quieter waters over a few more meters of visibility any day. The rain/sun ratio was about half-half, which I didn't mind. The landscape is at its most spectacular after the heavier monsoons of December, and the chances of seeing Mantas are very high.



A dive briefing on the boat in Komodo
A dive briefing - super important especially when managing currents!

 


How to Get to Komodo



LABUAN BAJO


The main gateway to Komodo National Park is the harbour town of Labuan Bajo.


When I first visited in 2019 it was a little run-down place with very few foreigners. In a mere 4 years, the place has completely revamped as Komodo diving has become a bit more mainstream. LBJ even has a cocktail bar and sourdough pizza joint!


FLY

LBJ is a domestic airport, you can reach there via Bali or Jakarta. Always compare prices on Skyscanner and then book directly with the airline.



BOAT


If you're feeling more adventurous, you can take the 3-night backpacker's boat from Lombok, filled with activities along the way and nights sleeping on the deck. I have heard great things about Wanua Adventures - but I would avoid this option in the monsoon season, as most sensible boat companies stop running, so you'll be left with the cowboys!


From LBJ airport it's just a 20-minute taxi ride to the harbour. The next leg of the journey depends on which dive company you have chosen.



 

Not sure what to pack for your trip to Indonesia? Check out the I Dream of Mangoes article:



 


Choosing a Dive Shop


IMO the best of the best when it comes to dive companies is Scuba Junkie.


I stumbled across these guys in Kota Kinabalu in Malaysian Borneo in 2016, and from there I chose to do my PADI Open Water with them in Mabul. They are extremely professional, they understand hospitality, and they only employ super cool people who are really passionate about diving.


When I heard they were opening a resort in Komodo I jumped at the chance to do a solo trip fun-diving there in 2019, as a short stopover between New Zealand and India. My experience was so special and perfect that I was keen to bring Joe back here one day, so naturally, we added it as a stop on our trip around the world.


Scuba Junkie Komodo Resort sits on the most westerly peninsula of Flores, away from the hustle and bustle of LBJ and as close as you can get to the dive sites without being on a liveaboard.


As part of their dive package, they offer 3x dives per day, all equipment, 3x meals per day, a variety of accommodations, unlimited tea, coffee and drinking water, and transfers to and from LBJ. The boat transfer takes about 90 minutes, which you can spend on a beanbag on the top deck taking in the scenery.


And what a sight it is pulling up to the jetty! Aside from a small village to the side where a lot of the dive masters hail from, it’s just blue seas and small green islands as far as the eye can see. It really is a treat to behold.



The jetty at scuba junkie Komodo
The jetty at Scuba Junkie Komodo

Each day the planned dive sites are printed on the board for you to ogle... along with your allocated dive group, boat and crew. There is no internet here, nor should there be. A couple of beers and a stunning sunset is all you need.


Their operation is flawless, I am not an advanced diver by any means, but I always felt very safe in the zippy currents with the staff at Scuba Junkie. I could not recommend them enough!



A sunset from Scuba Junkie Komodo
One of many stunning sunsets whilst waiting for the bats at Scuba Junkie


 


DIVING COMMUNITIES


Diving people are class! It’s not the most glamorous sport, with all the spit, snot, blubber and messy hair, so it feels like there is little room for ego. Everyone is just genuinely excited about looking at stuff underwater.

Diving communities are normally super ethical and do a lot for the marine ecosystems they are enjoying. By visiting a place like this, you’re not just 'taking'... your park fees are going towards conservation, and your interest is proving that the life in the reef is more valuable alive than dead.



 


Other Things to Do Around Komodo


BATS


Every sunset at Kalong Island, hundreds of thousands of fruit bats leave their home in the mangroves and go... somewhere else. It's quite a sight! Scuba Junkie will charge you £6 to take you out on the boat to watch the bats do their thing at sunset.



DRAGONS


Very recently the 'Dragon Park' on Rinca Island was revamped and it's now rather tacky. If you want to see the Komodo dragons I suggest you instead head to Komodo Island, where after paying for and picking up your tour guide you will be escorted along the trail of your choice (30 mins - 4 hours in length).


You will probably only see the odd pig or a cockatoo along the trail, as all of the dragons stay down by the beach, near the humans, where it's likely where they get fed. The signs say they only feed the dragons when they are too old to hunt, but I'm not so sure...



I Dream of Mangoes sitting too close to a Komodo Dragon
My sister and I with a Komodo Dragon


PINK BEACH


20 minutes by boat from the dragons, still on Komodo island, is Pink Beach. We stopped here for lunch and some snorkelling and had the place to ourselves.


You have to stretch your imagination a little bit to see the pink - as after so many years of tourists taking a bottle of pink sand home with them, most of the colourful sand from red coral particles is gone.


The beach is pretty though, and the snorkelling is ace.



PADAR ISLAND HIKING


This is only open before 10am and for a very good reason. The 800 steps to the viewpoint at Padar Island offer gorgeous panoramic shots, but by George it's hot. Even at 8am when I attempted the hike I was feeling very, err, trembly. Well worth it though!


For long-term travelling, I do not go anywhere without this sunblock. It is a little pricey, but it lasts forever, and as it is made of zinc it is the only sun protection that doesn't make me sweat! It is in solid form, so ideal for hand-luggage-only backpackers, and most importantly, it is reef-safe. I love it!



The view from the top of the 800 steps of Padar Island
The view from the top of the 800 steps of Padar Island

 


A Budget for Scuba Diving in Komodo


  • Return domestic flight Bali - Labuan Bajo ~ £100

  • Return taxi from LBJ to the port ~ 60,000IDR (£3)

  • Marine park fees per day ~ 275,000IDR (£15)

  • N7D Package with Scuba Junkie incl. 15 dives ~ 12,520,000IDR (£675)

  • Beers ~ 30,000IDR per beer (£1.50)

  • One night in a hostel in LBJ ~ 120,000IDR (£6)

  • Bat Tour ~ 120,000IDR (£6)

  • Komodo Dragon Tour ~ 350,000IDR (£20)

  • Private boat hire for one day for Komodo Dragons, Pink Beach, and Padar, to be split between the group ~2,000,000IDR (£100)



 


All in all


Considering how much the diving scene at Komodo has changed in the last four years alone, if I could give you one piece of advice in this travel guide for scuba diving in Komodo - it is to reach there before it becomes too popular!


The two times I have dived in Komodo have been up there with my most special and memorable experiences in life, I hope that you make it there and feel the same way!



A female scuba diver and a manta at Mawan
Aimee & The Manta at Mawan

 


Thank you for reading my guide to scuba diving in Komodo. If you enjoyed the read, please consider subscribing to my blog where I post articles every week about my travels around the world.


If you're thinking of combining your trip to Komodo with another Asian destination, check out my article on the state of Bali in 2024.


If you have any questions please hit the comments! Happy Travels

xx



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Disclosure:
I Dream of Mangoes is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. That being said, I only link to products I use and love.

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