Bali Komodo Liveaboard Report | Nov
Guests: Bernd & Astrid, Thomas & Corina, Urs & Brigitta and Peter & Claudia
Eight guests came on board the Adelaar on this sunny Monday morning as we departed the harbor to start our exciting journey east. On the first day, most guests could be seen on our comfortable main deck with a good book, or enjoying the view along the Bali coast and past the Gilis, before the sun set over Mt Agung and we settled in for our first night aboard our magnificent schooner.
After a good nights sleep, we were keen to start our diving adventure! We stopped in Satonda (mid way to Komodo) where we dived both sides of the reef in Satonda bay: Kiri and Kanan. Even though this is not part of the National Park yet, it was an impressive dive for our seasoned divers. Many schools of fish and macro life were seen here, and cameras came out and into action.
We also went on our first land excursion to the magical Satonda lake, where we hung stones and broken bits of coral in a tree in traditional fashion, and made a wish for good diving ahead.
Wishes came through as we descended early next morning into Castle Rock—what a spectacle to behold, even for our seasoned dive team! This was just brilliant – clear warm water, perfect amount of current to sight sharks, and just about a million other species of fish all around us. We even struggled at some point to read each others hand signals because of the density of marine life. Returning from the dive site we passed Crystal Rock, and saw the perfect conditions on that dive site too, so we just had to go there. Even better viz and no current gave us a great opportunity to explore the west side with its valleys and big rocks that are covered in all sorts of soft coral. Heading back towards the main sea mount we ended up exploring the dramatic cliffs in the north where many schooling Snapper and Trevallies could be filmed and a cheeky Mantis Shrimp came out to say hello.
To continue with perfection we headed further east to Tatawa Besar, one of the most colorful reefs around where a gentle current allowed us to be lazy and enjoy the scenery and schools of Sweetlips or Batfish that we passed, along with a lone Eagle Ray that kept us company for a while.
Our first night dive of this trip was done further south in the park at Cucumber City where we went looking for critters and the highlight was finding a tiny Bobtail Squid floating over the sandy bottom.
What a day this has been… – Gruezi Komodo!
Seen: White & Black-tip & Gray Reef Sharks en masse; hunting GT’s & Bluef-fin Trevallies; Napoleons; Marbled Groupers; Dogtooth Tuna; Moray Eels; Blue-spotted Stingrays; Green Turtle with Remoras attached; Hawksbill Turtles; Lobster; various types of Clownfish; schooling Fusiliers; Nudis (Nembrothas & Chromodoris); Spider Crab; Boxer Crabs; Oriental & Harlequin Sweetlips; Red Snapper; schooling Sardines; Giant Sweetlips; Wallis Hairy Crab; Eagle Ray; Giant Pufferfish; schooling Horse-eyed Jacks; Bobtail Squid; Catfish; Decorator Crabs; Squat Lobster; Squat Shrimps; Anemone Shrimps; Mantis Shrimp & Tiger Mantis
Entering Komodo Marine Park
Having heard that the last person to be eaten by a Komodo Dragon was Swiss, we decided to introduce our Swiss guests to the Dragons with an early morning walk. Quite a few of these huge lizards could be seen, both on the walk and at the Ranger Station, and lucky for everyone the dragons were not hungry 🙂
We proceeded to head to Loh Namu to battle some wild currents, this was followed by a sunset dive for Mandarin fish at Lok Sera to end a perfect day! This dive proved to be a big hit with everyone on board.
The next day’s dive was beyond our wildest dreams! Manta Alley was full of Mantas, at one point we were graced by 20 mantas hovering in the current right above our heads, it was an incredible experience. The visibility was also one of the best we have ever seen in the Alley, you could truly enjoy seeing so many at the same time. No words to describe this close manta encounter!
We couldn’t wait to get back into the water for a second time and again we got lucky and had up to six mantas at the time at the cleaning station. Our guests were ecstatic!
We could have stayed there all day, but some great macro diving awaited us, so we headed over to Pelican Head – a vertical wall covered in Broccoli Coral and Feather stars! An easy afternoon dive enjoying the sheer variety of soft corals in the south part of the park. Bernd got so excited by the wall, that he decided to swap his wife for Sebastien (as a buddy only of course) to explore more…
Torpedo Alley was our choice for the night dive. This time we had a bit of current on the black sand slope so it was more like a drift over reef patches than searching for macro but we still managed to find some Nudis, mini Cuttlefish and funky looking Decorator Crabs.
Entering South Rinca, Nusa Kode & Padar
Today was dedicated solely to macro diving starting off at Banana Reef, a gentle drift along the eastern slope which is covered in soft coral and large coral boulders that house a variety of shrimps and tiny crabs. A large field of Broccoli Coral in the south that is interrupted by two huge rocks overgrown with Black Coral is a spooky sight in the dim light at 30m.
Cannibal Rock, a seamount, is probably the most productive macro site in the area where you can find everything from Zebra Crabs, many types of shrimp to at least ten different kind of Nudis. Speaking of Nudis, love definitely was in the air as they seemed to be in a kind of amorous mood this morning and many couples could be observed mating.
Over in Padar we finished off our macro marathon with Tiga Dara which is the most stunning dive site as it has a staggering variety of soft coral and marine life and we were lucky enough to find two Giant Frogfish.
After concentrating on tiny creatures all day we decided to end the day with a walk to Pink Beach and witness a grand sunset over Komodo with a cold beer.
Seen: Komodo Dragons; Napoleons; Groupers; Giant Sweetlips; Mandarin Fish; Cardinal Fish; Nudis (Nembrotha, Chromodoris, Tambjas, Flabelinas, Glossodoris, Blue Dragons, Tritoniidae, Arminidae); Flatworms; schooling Batfish & Snapper; Mantas!!! Humphead Parrotfish; Hawksbill Turtles; Decorator Crabs; Cuttlefish; Red Sea Apples; Mantis Shrimps; Comensal Shrimps; Spanish Dancer; Giant Frogfish; Nurse Shark; juvenile Box Fish; Zebra Crabs; hunting Lionfish; Pleurobranches; Zanzibarica Shrimps; schooling Yellow & Midnight Snapper; Octopus; Fire Worm; Squat Lobster; Boxer & Ghost Boxer Shrimps; Hinge-Beak & Dancing Shrimps; Magnum Sea Cucumber; Sea Pens
Diving Current City & North Rinca
Arriving back in the center of the park we stopped off first at Matt’s Wall which is the most imposing dive site in the park with its gigantic overhangs and massive boulders right on the edge of a huge plateau that has a sheer drop to 90m. The overhangs were filled with all sorts of schooling fish like Snapper and Batfish, and Turtles and hunting Trevallies could be seen on the adjoining reef slope. Magnificent!
Further north we went for a drift dive along the slopes and overhangs of Siaba Kecil coming across a big school of GT’s with some of us finishing the dive on the southern plateau that is home to many Hawksbill Turtles. It was great to be back in warm water and the excellent viz allowed us to truly enjoy this diverse reef.
In the afternoon we opted for the beautiful sea mount of Batu Tengah to the east, a dive site that has it all: part vertical wall, overgrown reef slopes and a huge aquarium like plateau that is home to many juveniles such as White-tips and Groupers. Our night dive that day was a huge hit with our guests when we chose Wainilu where you can find a staggering amount of different critters. This time we came across many Nudis, Bobtail Squid and tiny Frogfish!
The next morning, we started the day off with a dive at Batu Bolong. Jumping right on the wall in the north our guests were in awe at the sight of this huge wall and gigantic pinnacles. Many Napoleons could be seen alongside hunting Emperor Snapper and a love story between Urs and a Turtle developed in front of our eyes…
Having had such a great time with the Mantas in the south, we wanted to try our luck at Makassar Reef to see some more of those gentle giants. Only a few could be found but it was still a great drift ending in the beautiful coral garden in the south. For our last dive in the National Park we chose Shotgun but due to the lack of current we didn’t manage to go through but explored the canyons in the passage instead, where many schooling fish could be found and Giant Trevally congregated in The Cauldron.
Then it was good-bye Komodo for now as we headed west to Gili Banta.
The Smouldering Volcanoes of Sangeang
Early this morning we reached the green hills of Sangeang and started our last day of macro diving at Bubble Reef. Numerous Nudis, Shrimps and Crabs could be spotted and our divers very much enjoyed the gas bubbles and warming their hands on the Hot Rock.
Our next two dives were done at Black Magic and Buffalo Reef where we came across a staggering number of Ornate & Robust Ghostpipe Fish: Eight!
This has been a great day for all our macro lovers and photographers, and even Thomas got into the spirit of hunting for “small stuff”…
This afternoon was time again to get the sails out and give our guests the opportunity to see that Adelaar in its full glory. From the dinghies we got a good few of the “old lady” and lots of shots of her were taken.
Starting our journey home we cruised into the sunset towards the island of Moyo
Day 10: Moyo
Our last day was spent in Moyo where we went for a couple of dives at Little Angel and Angel Reef. As usual the reef was teeming with all types of small reef fish like Antheas and Chromis making is seem alive. Trevallies were out hunting Fusilier bait balls and we were lucky enough to see four Black-tips joining in on the fun and a couple of Snakes searching for food along the reef slope. A great way to finish off a remarkable trip with some of the best diving the area has to offer.
We also went on our land excursion to the waterfall Dewi Mbai where almost all jumped into the natural pool to cool down after a walk through the village of Labuan Aji.
The afternoon was spent on deck lounging around, sharing photos and enjoying a drink at sunset.
Seen: Eight Ghostpipe Fish (Ornate & Robust); Nudis (Chamberlain’s Nembrotha, Flabellinas, Glossodoris, Jorunna, Blue Dragons, Chromodoris, Tambjas); Orang Utan Crabs; Peacocktail Shrimps; Mushroom Coral Shrimps; Anemone Shrimps; Zanzibarica Shrimps; Squat Lobster; Crinoid Shrimps; Squat Shrimps; Clingfish in the Crinoids, schooling Snapper; White & Black-tip Reef Sharks; Banded Sea Kraits; hunting GT’s, Emperor Snapper & Blue-fin Trevallies; bait balls of Fusiliers; Leaf Scorpionfish; Lionfish; Giant Moray Eels; Bluespotted Stingrays
Day 11: Arrival back in Serangan Harbour, Bali
Arriving back in Bali at 10.30 in the morning it was good-bye but not before a group photo session in the harbour. We wish all our guests a save journey home or a continued holiday in Bali.
A big thank you to our photographers Urs, Peter and Bernd for providing the shots for this trip report. We hope you had a great time, enjoyed your stay and look forward to welcoming you back on board the Adelaar in the future!
We hope you enjoyed November’s Komodo Liveaboard Report, this was one of our best, stay tuned for the next one!