Morays, turtles and sharks. Flores, an island east of Komodo is home to Komodo dragons and the access point to a Komodo Island diving adventure in Komodo National Park.
From a diving point of view, this area is renown for its amazing biodiversity.
Komodo National Park is part of the Coral Triangle and has the highest concentration of marine life found in the Indian and Pacific oceans. The diversity of sea life around Komodo Island is, in fact, much higher than even our very own Great Barrier Reef.
Komodo Island Diving
My Komodo Island diving adventure was a two-week long holiday. Along with a few buddies, I decided to join a live-aboard vessel which I found at Bajo Dive Club, out of Labuan Bajo, Flores.
Komodo Island diving is like diving in paradise. The weather was perfect, with blue skies and high twenties temperatures. And the warm water meant I only needed a 3mm wetsuit.
When we were there, the weather was perfect, with blue skies and high twenties temperatures. And the warm water meant I only needed a 3mm wetsuit.
Visibility was amazing, between 10 to 50 metres. We did two to three dives each day and some night dives.
The abundance of sea life was overwhelming on this Komodo Island diving adventure. There were colourful soft and hard corals and sponges to huge anemones and green feather stars (crinoids) waving in the current. They were truly mesmerizing and hypnotic.
The state of the reef here is one of the best I have seen in a long time. In fact, I would say, Komodo Island diving is even better than diving the Great Barrier Reef.
The fish life included beautiful, graceful but venomous lion fish, which have 13 hypodermic needle-like dorsal spines.
I once was accidentally stung on a finger whilst photographing one close up. The pain was excruciating. It’s far worse than coral cuts, blue bottle stings or sting ray barbs.
I ended up trying to cook or denature the stinging protein by holding my finger in a hot cup of coffee for over half an hour. It was a sight that amused many of my fellow divers at the time but it worked well.
Bright monochromed black and white sergeant majors were desperate for a free feed. There were too many angelfish to count, including blue and yellow six banded angels, lemon peel angels, koran angels and regal angels.
In the background, a clown triggerfish photo bombed the scene, and red and white banded cleaner shrimps waited in anticipation under a coral ledge.
The territorial and aggressive triton triggerfish is beautiful to look at but, in mating season, if you ever get close to one defending its nest, make sure you avoid its ‘cone’ of territory above their nest as they have been known to take a bite out of divers wetsuits, snorkels and masks.
A shy and retiring green moray eel hid in its coral hideaway. It was curious as we swam past. This one was nearly two metres long, with a head as big as a football.
When breathing, moray eels display a show of teeth, which gives them the impression of aggression.
They have a full mouth of backwards facing teeth, so if you are ever silly enough to have your hand grabbed, beware, there will be a lot of blood and raw flesh as you try to pull your hand or fingers out.
We wondered if we could coax the moray eel out of its safety zone and sure enough, we were able to tempt it with bit of fish.
Who would have thought you could hand feed a large moray like that? Well, I guess you don’t know unless you try, but I wouldn’t suggest you go and do this on your next dive unless you really know what you are doing. And, be prepared for the fish-fest as everyone else in the vicinity will want to get in on the action.
White tip reef sharks
White tip reef sharks only grow to 1.6m. They are the guardians or ‘top dogs’ of the reef as most of the larger open water sharks have disappeared due to shark finning practices.
White tips are nocturnal hunters and rest during the day, often in shark crèches. We saw up to 13 sharks under one enormous plate coral.
You can be almost guaranteed to see them there year after year but you need to go with an experienced dive guide as they are hard to find.
Whilst they swam by us during the day, they can turn into aggressive coral-busting feeders at night. They will actually smash coral heads in an effort to get at a sleeping fish.
Komodo Island Diving Turtle moments
Green and hawksbill turtles are common here and are only protected in marine reserves.
On Gili Island, off Lombok Island, west of Komodo Island, there are turtle hatcheries to increase their numbers locally.
Whilst usually skittish near divers, one turtle obviously enjoyed its swim through our group.
We experienced a wonderful interaction with a wild animal as the turtle seemed to enjoy having its back scratched.
Who would have believed it?
Well I guess, watch this video to see it and you’ll believe it. The turtle encounter was an unforgettable experience.
Diving in Indonesia is cost effective. Drift dives are a local speciality. There is great visibility and a huge diversity of marine life, which is fantastic for both macro and wide-angle photography.
Bajo Dive Club is run by a German operator and one of at least 20 diving charters businesses in Labuan Bajo.
The island of Komodo is a few hours by boat from Flores. There is no accommodation on Komodo Island. Day visitors can see the famous Komodo dragons, the largest lizards on earth growing to over three metres. It’s an absolute must ‘surface interval activity. You’ll love cruising around the islands of Indonesia.
GoPro Hero 2 camera with a red filter.
Two mounted 1400 lumen led i-Torch Video Pro 4 lights.