An Exhilirating Diving Safari In Komodo National Park
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Komodo National Park is renowned for the world’s largest lizards, the Komodo dragons. It is also a place where pygmy elephants and Hobbit – like humans had once coexisted with the Komodo dragons.

In underwater as it is on land, Komodo’s marine fauna also consists of both pygmies and giants. In addition, Its strong currents and cold water are responsible for Komodo’s extraordinary abundance of marine life.

But anyone diving in Komodo should be prepared for the unexpected. First, its water temperatures fluctuate widely within  the Park. Secondly, strong underwater currents can be expected when crossing a channel or a pinnacle. And worst of all, the calm water on the surface can become a raging whirlpool underneath!


(A) Introduction

The Komodo National Park consists of a group of islands nestled between Sumbawa on the west and Flores on the east.

Two main islands, Komodo east of Sumbawa Island and Rinca west of Flores Island with myriad of small islands and islets in between them form the Komodo National Park, which was established in 1980. This marine park was declared a World Heritage Site to protect the Komodo dragons and their environment as well as the high diversity of marine life in the waters surrounding the islands.


Komodo dragons are the world's largest lizards. They can grow to reach a length of 3 meters. They are considered an endangered species as there are only about 3,000 of them left on the islands of Komodo, Rinca and on the western part of Flores Island.

The islands in the Komodo National Park and Flores Island have been known as a "lost world" where dwarfs and over-sized creatures had coexisted. Thirty-five years ago, the bones of an extinct pygmy elephant called Stegoton were found. And only recently, the bones of a Hobbit-like human, not more than one meter tall were discovered in Flores Island. The tiny humans, who had skulls about the size of grape fruits, had apparently lived with pygmy elephants and giant Komodo dragons on these islands more than 18,000 years ago.

With these discoveries on land it be would exciting to find out what lies in the abyss of the deep.

A group of seven Malaysian scuba divers did just that when they embarked on a weeklong diving safari in the Komodo National Park in a liveaboard boat in November 2004.


(B) Dive itineraries

Day One (11/11/04)

  • Boarded the 25-meter MV Tarata with 6 air-cond cabins in Sape, a small harbour in the eastern tip of Sumbawa Island.
  • Sailed to Gili Banta, an island northwest of Komodo Island and just outside the National Park where we had our check dive.

Day Two (12/11/04)

  • Sailed westward over the Komodo Island and across Flores Sea to Labuan Bajo, an island off the coast of Flores where we got our ample supply of "Bintang".
  • On the way dived in northern Gili Banta, an outcrop north of Komodo Island, Sabolan Kecil Island in the Flores Sea and Labuan Bajo. Did a night dive in Labuan Bajo.


Day Three (13/11/04)

  • Sailed into the Komodo National Park.
  • First westward from Labuan Bajo and dived in Current City, Batu Bolong, a tiny rocky between Tatawa and Komodo.
  • Then sailed S-W to Pantai Merah near the mid-western coast of Komodo. Did noon dive in Pantai Merah.
  • Went ashore in Loh Liang where the Park's headquarters is located and trekked to Bananggulung see the Komodo dragons in the wild.
  • Sailed south and reached the southern tip of Komodo. Did a night dive in south komodo.

Day Four (14/11/04)

  • Dived twice in Manta Alley to look for the huge Manta rays.
  • Sailed across Selat Lintah and reached the southern tip of Rinca Island in the late afternoon. Did a late afternoon dive in Yellow Wall and a night dive near there as well.

Day Five (15/11/04)

  • Dived twice in Cannibal Rock.
  • Sailed north and arrived at Tatawa Island, west of northern Komodo in late afternoon. Did a dive in Tatawa Besar and a night dive nearby.

Day Six (16/11/04)

  • Dived in Tatawa Kecil and then proceeded to Current City in Batu Bolong. Dived in Current City.
  • Sailed to Gililawa Luat in the north of Komodo. Did an afternoon dive near the lighthouse and a night dive nearby.

Day Seven (17/11/04)

  • Did last two dives in Castle Rock, on the northern tip of Komodo.
  • Returned to Sape harbour in the late afternoon.

The dive locations are:
Komodo Island - 1. Tatawa Besar - 2. Tatawa Kechil - 3. Batu Bolong or Current City - 4. Pantai Merah/Pink Beach - 5. Manta Valley - 6. Crystal Bommie - 7. Gili Lawa Luat - 8. Castle Rock./ Banta Island - 9. Gallery Rock - 10. GPS Point./ Flores Sea - 11. Sabolan Kent./ Rinca Island - 12. Yellow Wall - 13. Cannibal Rock.


(C) Seascape of Dragon's kingdom

There are numerous islands, some big and some small, in the Komodo National Park. As we sailed from one dive site to another, we had never lost sight of some islands in our path. No other experience has put Malaysian islands so desolate and remote.

However, the Park seems lifeless from the boat. There is never a flower to be seen and rarely a bird. But in one sandy beach in southern Rinca where our boat was anchored nearby for the night, we saw early the next morning a Komodo dragon crawling slowing from the water edge to the shady bushes nearby. Also there were two deer and a couple of wild boars frolicking on the beach. Otherwise, we had the silent sea to ourselves.

This silence was unexpectedly shattered when on our return voyage from southern Rinca and near Batu Bolong, a tiny outcrop in the straits between Tatawa and Komodo, we suddenly saw a few helicopters circulating in the air and many speed boats combing the surrounding waters. A marine police boat accosted our boat and we were informed that a diver had disappeared a day earlier while diving in Current City in Batu Bolong!

The islands in the Komodo National Park are odd islands. They are dry, hot and relatively barren compared to the lush and green islands to the east and west of the Park. These islands are composed of a silica-rich rock.

Because the mountains are barren there are no sunrise and sunset behind a forest, which is topped by a black design of palm trees and the height and intensity of the vegetation we see in Malaysia

The sea too looks different; they are no waves but only ripples. However, in places around the islands currents are swift running in every direction. They are totally unpredictable. Tons of opposing water collide frequently and form spectacular surface whirlpools that look like a massive washing machine!

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