After diving in the warm, crystal clear waters of Bali we were hooked! We wanted to see more of what this country has to offer. Bali was great, don’t get me wrong, but we were in search of the best diving in Indonesia. It was a toss up between Raja Ampat and Komodo National Park.
We signed up for the most extraordinary adventure of our lives: a 3-night Komodo liveaboard with Uber Scuba Komodo. For 4 days, we sailed the seas in Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s made up of 29 islands. We’re convinced it’s home to the best diving in Indonesia… perhaps in the world!
Best diving in Indonesia – Komodo National Park
Our Komodo liveaboard experience with Uber scuba on the Amalia
– Day 1 –
A slow boat took our group of 8 out to sea from Labuan Bajo. After 90 minutes the Amalia came into view. But first, dragon trek! The crew helped transfer our luggage while speedboats whisked us away to Rinca Island, where we saw Komodo dragons. Remembering how fierce these beasts were on BBC’s Life we stayed close to our guide.
About Komodo dragons: Komodo National Park is the only place in the world where you can find these cannibalistic lizards. They’re mostly on Rinca and Komodo Islands, with around 1,500 dragons on each. There have been around 35 deaths to date. The most recent accident took place 4 months ago when a Singaporean tourist (who went without a guide) was bitten by one of the dragons. Luckily, he survived the attack.
Note: It’s HOT on land. But don’t worry, Uber Scuba got us covered with personalized water bottles for everyone.
We finally boarded The Amalia after Rinca. The gang was split into 3 groups based on skill level. AS, myself, and 2 doctors from Portland (shout-out to Katie and Nate!) were assigned to Sergio. After going over expectations and safety protocols, the divemasters gave us a quick tour of our boat and cabins. We tried on our gear to make sure everything fits before rendezvousing on the main deck for lunch.
“Brieeeeeefing!” Sergio took the lead in explaining our first dive site: Siaba Besar. I don’t think I’ve paid this much attention in school, ever. Sergio’s briefings are incredibly comprehensive. He knows every nook and cranny of each dive site and incorporates lots of hand signals for marine life. By the end of every briefing we knew exactly what to expect underwater.
Then it’s morphing BWARF time! BCD? Check. Weight belt? Check. Air? Check. Release? Check. Final OK with my dive buddy? Check.
We plopped into the 27℃ water from the rear of Amalia. At 20m visibility, we spotted many turtles and stingrays on our first dive.
Surface interval called for light snacks while enjoying the sunset. I tried my best to calm my nerves knowing that a night dive is next. To be completely honest, I was scared shitless. How will I see anything? What if I get bitten by something? What if there are ghosts in the water?
Sergio handed us light torches and prepared us for our very first night dive. We learned the different hand signals as well as the do’s and dont’s- like not to blind your husband and fish friends with your light.
Palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy. Off we went into the pitch black sea. I realized I was silly for being scared- it wasn’t at all.
Different creatures came out at night, like the crab scurrying across and into the sandy bottom. Or the lionfish that kept following us around and using our lights to prey on smaller fish. At one point, we all turned off our torches and waved our hands in front of us. The bioluminescent plankton flickered and danced in complete darkness- a beautiful phenomenon one can only experience while night diving.
With no light pollution, the milky way greeted us as we surfaced in the starry night. Wow. That was the only word we could articulate.
Arnold, the Amalia chef, spoiled us with a full 3-course meal before the Flores Sea gently rocked us to sleep.
– Day 2 –
5:45am. I sipped on a cuppa, watching the sky change from indigo, to purple, to pastel blue. The rest of the gang slowly woke from their slumber. Everyone wolfed down some toast and cereal in time for the 6:30am briefing.
Sergio went over compass skills and natural navigation as part of our Advanced Course. Upon descending, we took turns completing the skills test. We saw reef sharks for the first time and passed by even more turtles than the day before. Soon it was time for second breakfast!
Mauna, a dive site with two manta ray cleaning stations, was next. We back rolled from a speedboat, doing negative entry due to the strong surface currents. Although it wasn’t manta season we were lucky to spot two; one swam super close to us. That manta had to be at least 5m wide!
At Batu Bolong, our last dive of the day, we were treated to beautiful coral life on a massive reef wall dropping 120m deep. We completed our Deep Dive course here, diving up to 30m deep. We stayed closed to the wall, zigzagging back and forth to prevent being sucked into the abyss by the currents.
A few of us hiked up Lawar Island to catch the sunset over some beers. The islands of Komodo National Park are even more breathtaking at an elevation, a different kind of beauty than its underwater realm. Yet another gourmet dinner awaited us when we returned to the Amalia.
– Day 3 –
If diving could be described as a video game, The Cauldron would be that map or level you’d never get tired of playing. We’ve gone drift diving at The Mangrove in Lembongan but its fun factor doesn’t even come close to this!
Coined the “Shot Gun”, there’s an area where currents shot us up through an opening where we passed by at least a dozen of reef sharks. We then hooked onto rocks as we watched four mantas dance around and above us.
Sandwiched between delicious meals were Castle Rock and Cristal Rock. Castle Rock is our next favourite dive site because of the sheer amount of fish we were surrounded by. The currents weren’t as intense so we simply floated through giant schools of fish, along colorful corals. Picture a colossal aquarium. Now imagine yourself floating in it in slo-mo…. That’s Castle Rock.
Tip: Make sure your underwater camera is attached to a floating device. Our GoPro slipped off AS’s wrist underwater and we thought we had lost it. Sergio went back out searching and retrieved it! Another boat saw our GoPro bobbling on the surface and fished it out before it got carried away by currents.
For our last dinner together, the crew decorated a beach with lights, beach chairs, and cushions. We were treated to an evening of barbeque, live music, and dancing around a bonfire!
– Day 4 –
The gang voted to dive The Cauldron again, this time with even stronger currents than previously. When the time came to hook onto rocks I could not, for the life of me, hang on! Every time I grabbed one it flipped and flew away. Just as I was about to get swept away, Nate pulled me down and shared his rock with me. We finally let go and enjoyed the rest of the drift. Sergio found a boxer shrimp and pipefish with his x-ray vision. A mean looking moray eel wiggled ferociously after a prey.
On our last dive we saw a cuttlefish for the first time. What a funky creature- I love the way it moves! Tatawa Besar had the strongest currents of all sites we dove at. My PSI is usually at 70 at the end of a dive, but it was down to 30 this time from burning so much air. The struggle was real.
We shared one last meal with an incredible group of divers. After we disembarked Amalia and we were transported back to Labuan Bajo via speedboats, before bidding our farewells.
Have you gone diving in Komodo? Where do you think the best diving in Indonesia is?
Disclaimer: This post was done in partnership with Uber Scuba Komodo. Many thanks to them for showing us the best diving in Indonesia! As always, our opinions and experiences are honest and our own. We wouldn’t recommend something if we didn’t love it ourselves!