We have just returned from one of our best trip ever in Komodo National Park and we can’t wait to do it again in 2020.
For this year adventure we were on board of the MSY Samambaia Liveaboard on a journey that took us from Bali to Komodo National Park over a 11 nights period. This trip was set to let us explore the beautiful island of Sumbawa, the island volcano of Sangeang and various little islands within Komodo National Park including Komodo and Rinca. During this is incredible itinerary we planned to dive with Whalesharks in Saleh Bay -Sumbawa, look for the incredible macro at Sangeang volcano off the island of Sumbawa as well as in Horseshoe Bay by Rinca island and Nusa Kode and dive with large group of Manta Rays at Manta Alley in the South of Komodo Island. Additionally we were not going to miss those great sites in Komodo National Park such us Castle and Crystal Rock, Shotgun and Batu Bolong. We were very blessed by having a beautiful blue sky and sunshine pretty much during the whole trip, which is one of the great advantage of traveling this time of the year to Komodo National Park.
The JAcks and fusiliers of Castle Rock
The Whalesharks of Sumbawa and Saleh Bay
View from Padar at sunset
Sunset in Horseshoe Bay – MSY Samambaia
Sunrise from the boat
Manta Rays of Manta Alley – South Komodo
Many Fish of Castle Rock
View Point from Padar
The Sunset behind the Volcano of Bali
The Black Water Night Dive
We have started on this liveaboard trip to make more and more black water night dive. On this itinerary we decided to do them as bonfire style which mean to have a line attach to a buoy “anchored to the sandy bottom with our powerful light hanging about 5m/18ft below the surface. The light attracted lots of interesting critters that would be normally floating the water column. We had several encounters through out the itinerary with Fronoma crustaceans going for the salp. Several baby squids, male paper nautilus, tiny bluering octopuses, interesting jellyfish and many more interesting tiny critters.
In conclusion we had one of the best trip ever and we cannot wait until next year, when we will be repeating all of this once again. On the strip we could see Whalesharks, Mantas, Sharks, Rare Nudibranchs and other interesting macro organism as well as some of the most healthy coral reef and sites with abundant marine life. The MSY Samambaia treated us very well, with incredible food and comfort on the boat as well as kept safe all the time. The incredible cruising speed of this ship, made possible to have 4 dives all during the days we were doing the crossing. We cannot speak highly enough of the whole operation and we are thrilled that we have already booked one more trip with them in 2020.
Detailed Itinerary Komodo Trip 2019 below
Leaving Bali Harbor
We all boarded the beautiful MSY Samambaia Liveaboard at the harbour of Serangan in Bali. We arrive on the boat at 9 :00 Am and we departed short after. This was going to be a full day and night journey to the island of Moyo where we were set to dive the following day. Around Sunset time we were about to leave the coast of Bali and had a great view of the MT Agung Volcano at horizon. We were all excited about our adventure ahead and had all the time to prepare our underwater cameras, dive equipment and receive the boat orientation to get us all into dive holiday mode. Even though we had some swell, thanks to the nice stability of the MSY Samambaia, the ride went smooth.
We arrived early in the morning to the region of Sumbawa and dived at Angel Reef by Moyo Island. Angel Reef is a beautiful sea mount that at low tide emerge and break the water surface revealing a white sandbank. Beside being a very good and easy dive site to start with, Angel Reef’s dive is home of a beautiful healthy coral reef and huge sponges. The fish life is abundant, it is possible to see black tip reef sharks and pelagic fish like tunas. One of our favourite critter to be discovered here is the decorated Dartfish. This lovely purple fish is one of the least common of the dart fish family. We have made two dives in Angel Reef , entering the water in two different spots of the sea mount. One the first dive we spent more time on the wall side of the reef while on the second dive we spent more time on the coral ridge where we see more sharks. During the lunch break we moved to the island of Satonda where stayed for the afternoon and the night dive. Where we organise our first bonfire black water night dive. When the night dive was over we moved deep into Saleh Bay and reached the Whalesharks spot by midnight.
Saleh Bay - Satonda
Dive 1 Whale Shark Dive / Dive 2 Satonda Outside / Night Dive Satonda Bay
We started very early in the morning. The sunrise was beautiful and the first light on the volcano of Tambora was majestical. The Whaleshark team reached our boat at the crack of dawn and efficiently organised a bagan ( traditional fishing platform) for us. It was great to reunite with our friends from the whale shark team. Short after all was ready we entered the water and we had 3 big Whalesharks swimming around around us. It was for sure a great experience that set us into the right mood for the rest of the trip ahead of us. Once our Whaleshark experience ended we returned to Satonda to dive the outside reef and do one more night dive. During the afternoon dive we saw a pygmy seahorse (hippocampus Denise). We then set route for the next destination.
Dive 1 Deep Purple / Dive 2 Bubble Reef / Dive 3 Bonto Slope / Night Dive Bonto Slope
Sangeang Volcano is home of some incredible dives. Mt. Sangeang is an active volcano and we can see it doing some eruption on a 30min to one hour interval. That alone is a special experience. The most famous divest is Bubble Reef which also known as Hot Rocks. In this dive you can see the volcanic activity as there are lots of gas bubble escaping from the sandy bottom. The site itself is beautiful with a rich and abundant coral growth. Black coral bushes are also present along the reef. The fish life is good but the small macro world and the critters is what make Sangeang Volcano an incredible destination.
Komodo National Park
Dive 1 Crystal Rock / Dive 2 Shotgun Coral Garden / Dive 3 Batu Bolong / Night Dive Sorolia
A great day to start in the Komodo National Park, with lots of fish, sharks and beautiful warm blue water. Every body had a great day on all these sites.
Manta Alley - Horseshoe Bay
Dive 1 Manta Alley / Dive 2 Manta Alley / Dive 3 Cannibal Rock / Night Dive Torpedo Alley
One of our favourite day of the whole itinerary. We arrive early in the morning in Manta Alley and had two fantastic dives with lots of Manta Rays. The visibility was very decent and we really enjoyed both dives. After the two dives we moved to Horseshoe Bay in the south of Rinca island and dived at Cannibal Rock. To finish the day in a perfect way we visited the nearby beach to have a first of look at the mighty Komodo dragons.
Horseshoe Bay -Padar
Dive 1 Crinoid City / Dive 2 Yellow Wall / Dive 3 Secret Garden / Night Dive White Sand
Today it was going to characterised by 3 macro dives + plus a night dive as well as a nice walk in Padar to the famous look out point. Both Dives in horseshoe bay were great, one with blue ring octopus and the other with plenty of lady bugs. We should also mention that during the dives in horseshoe bay we have seen Coleman shrimps, zebra crabs, sea apples and lots of nudibranchs. The view point in Padar was great and sunset did not disappoint. During the night dive, due to request we organised an other black water night dive.
Dive 1 Shotgun / Dive 2 Castle Rock / Dive 3 Crystal Rock-Castle Rock / Night Dive Spanish Step
Back to North. We started the day with a brilliant dive at Shotgun, where we could see a manta ray and few sharks in more than a couple of occasions. As a matter of fact we were all so lucky to spot an individual manta from the beginning while we were descending. The manta was getting cleaned by the little fish near a coral block on the white sand bottom. We could admire it for at least 10 minutes and in few occasion it came very close to us. The following dive was at castle rock. Once again we suggested the boat to make this dive strategically and wait for good time without any other boats to jump right in the water. It was a great call because, not only we hit the slack tide but we also had not that many divers, Castle rock was like it only gets during this time of the year with tons of fusiliers getting hunt down by the huge Trevallies. We hardly recall to have ever seen so many Giant and Blue fin Trevallies all together at either Castle or Crystal Rock. It was such a great dive that made half of the boat deciding to go back again in the afternoon and to even dive the same site at the same tide the following day. The half of the group went to Crystal Rock instead. As per request some divers went for the black water night dive, others went for a normal reef night dive and others decided to just enjoy a beautiful sunset behind the volcano of Sangeang at the horizon while sipping on a glass of wine or a cocktail.
North and Central Komodo
Dive 1 The Passage / Dive 2 Castle Rock / Dive 3 Tatawa Besar / Night Dive Spanish Step
Generally when we dive the passage there is always something special showing up and on this day too we were not let down by this beautiful site, when all of the sudden a little squad of Mobula Rays swam right pass by us. We could also see few sharks and a nice school of big bumped parrotfish. For the second dive of the day, we once again waited for the tide to be like the previous day and went back to Castle Rock. Given the time we entered the water, there were no other boats so to make it even better we decided to have a gap between group one and group two of at least 30 min. This way we were not going to be together on the spot at depth. It turned out very well and all of us had a great dive at Castle Rock. We normally do not dive castle Rock this many times during a single itinerary but given the incredible conditions and the abundant marine life it was well worth doing more than a couple of dives and everybody was very happy to do it. Our macro lovers could even find some lady bugs in Castle Rock. For the 3rd dive of the day we moved to Tatawa Besar. The conditions were perfect with a gentle falling tide. All the beautiful soft corals, that make this site special, were open. There were few turtles as usual, a Giant cuttlefish carding its eggs and few black tip reef sharks. For the night Dive we went back to the Spanish step and once again a small group of divers opted for a black water night dive.
Central Komodo and North Rinca
Dive 1 Batu Bolong / Dive 2 Tatawa Kecil / Dive 3 Mauan Island / Night Dive Wainilu
atu Bolong was great but it was once again packed. With the new regulation in place that liveaboard can only dive early in the morning and late in the afternoon, it is happening that more boats are in the spot at the same time. The dive itself was great as usual, This pinnacle in the middle of the sea with screaming current on one side of it is always so special to dive. We could see white tip sharks, Napoleon Wrasses up close, turtle feeding, turtle relaxing and even a manta came in. Our macro enthusiasts found more lady bugs on the site and some nice nudibranch. For the second dive we went to the small island of Tatawa Kecil. This site is very similar to Batu Bolong but it is definitely less frequented by divers. The reef is very healthy and it is possible to see Manta Rays. We were lucky that we could all see a couple of Manta Rays and few sharks on the site. One of the group was super lucky and could even see dolphins swimming underwater. For the 3rd dive we went to Mauan Island and tried to see if we could spot few Manta Rays on the cleaning station . For the first half of the dive we could not see any but then towards the end on showed up and sticked close to us for few minutes before going away. The afternoon dive was at Wainilu and for the few that decided to go, this turned out to be ( as expected ) one of, if not the best night dive of the itinerary. They could see, night starry octopus, blue ring octopus, frogfish and a very rare Melibe Colemani nudibranch, two of them as matter of facts. So so Lucky!!
Dragon Walk at Ranger Station / Sailing with the MSY Samambaia / Visit to Rinca Village / The Flying Foxes of Kaba
Even though we could all still have the option to do at least one dive. On this final day of activity we all decided to skip diving. So instead of diving we decided to go and visit the ranger station in Rinca Island early in the morning. Generally early in the morning is the best time to visit as more animals are in the area and they are more active than in the rest of the day when the sun os hotter. We could see several Komodo dragons and being mating season, we were so lucky to see two of them “cuddling” together. We could also see monkeys, deers and water buffaloes. Once we came back we had a nice breakfast and then we proceeded with sailing. It was incredible to see all the crew of the MSY Samambaia working together to unfold the sails, it takes some real skills to do so. It was also quite windy but the crew could get the job done very well. The Ship is beautiful, one of the best line we can see in Indonesia. When the seals are unfolded this beautiful ship turn into sublime. We could all get on the tender boats and take some beautiful pictures of the ship. After lunch we moved west and anchored by the island of Kaaba were in the evening we were going to see the flying foxes flying by, however before that, we went to pay a visit to the village and some of us went to visit the bat cave up in the hill. On the way to the top of the hill we could see a Komodo dragon moving in the high grass. I twas very impressive. The Bat cave did not disappointed and there were 100s of bats inside. We then returned to the ship to watch the colony of bats taking off from their island at sunset and this was going to be the end of our beautiful journey together. The following day we were all going to fly out from Labuan Bajo to our next destination.