After my diving in the gili’s (which turned out to be a bit dissapointing) I headed to Labuan Bajo, Flores by taking a 1.15’ flight. There is almost nothing going on in this small town but it has many diveshops and with good reason.. Located next to Komodo National Park it is the entry gate to wordclass diving. I stayed here about 3 weeks and did 30 dives giving me quite some insight about diving in this magical place.
Chosing a divecenter
Just like in the gilis, there are plenty divecenters all around. What all shops have in common is that you apart from the diving also have to pay a marine park fee/tax of about 18€ a day. It’s a quite high fee and my guts tells me (based on seeing fisherman in the park, a lot of plastic waste on beaches,…) a lot of this money goes lost in not so marine park loving pockets… Guess asia will be asia right?
I picked uberscuba for the simple reason their tripadvisor rating was quite high and they offer nice package deals if you dive a bit more. Turned out to be a great choice.. They have two awesome daytrip boats (designed by dive people) and organised everything very smoothly. Their office might be one of the smallest in town, their diving organisation and boat make more than up for that..
Daytrips versus liveaboard
The next question was if I was going for daytrips or a liveaboard. Both have advantages and disadvantages so it is a bit what you find important. Following table gives the comparison I made to help me with this decision:
|Long days to get to the spots||Waking up at the spot|
|On shore in the evening||Always on the water|
|Many divers on the spot possible||Going to the spots early and get them alone|
|North and central area||Nord/Central and south area (depending on your trip)|
Most of the liveabaords in October 2019 only went to the north and the central area, the same as the day trips. This, together with me preferring not to spend too much time in a small place all the time (like a liveabaord) and the price difference, I made the decisions to go for the day trips.
How the diving works
The day trips leave quite early in the morning (7am) and you are only back around 4/5 pm. So it is quite a long day, but for that you got 3 dives/day. Special about Komodo is the current.. While some places have no current at all, most depend on the tides. The divecrew will pick the spots in function of current and time of the day. But even then most of your dives will be current dives, going from small currents to flying… I improved my reefhook skills a lot during this period.
To give you an idea, I made this small video about a dive at mantapoint, one of the famous manta dive sites. It is a drift drive where we go along with the current. The moment a manta is spotted, we turn around, kick against the current and hold on to a reefhook or a rock to enjoy the show. The manta makes swimming against the current so easy, but there were times I really felt I was flying.. Mind the direction of the bubbles!
What to see
In contrary to the gilis, where dead coral graveyards are just everywhere, the corals here are quite healthy. There are so many fish around and the colors are just stunning.
There is both a lot of big and macro stuff to see during the dives, but I tend to say the focus is more on big stuff. The main attraction for me were the mantas…On 40% of my diving I saw mantas, a crazy number of 69 mantas over 30 dives. Which was simply amazing.
Apart from mantas we also spotted other rays like big marble rays, eagly rays, tons of blue stingrays..
There are also quite some sharks around. Mostly white tips (45 over 30 dives to be exact), but I saw some blacktips too and even the occasional grey reef shark. And if you look under coral terraces, you can find small baby reefsharks hiding in so called shark nurseries:
For the macro lovers, there are also quite some nice nudibranches around. I saw multiple frogfish, leaf fish, different kind of shrimps,..
If you haven’t been there yet, add Komodo to your list of must go dive destination. I can honestly say this is the best diving region I have been so far!