In 2014 we had our first trip aboard the Dewi Nusentara when we spent 11 days diving Raja Ampat. In my write up of our first trip I describe what a fantastic boat this is. We really wanted to do another trip and the Komodo National Park is an area that was highly recommended and which we have never visited so in August 2016 we are back on board.
Our trip starts in Bima on the island of Sumbawa where we meet the boat. We have flown here from Bali, two islands to the west, and the plan is to travel east, through the Komodo national park and then on along the north coast of Flores to Maumere from where we will fly home. We are very pleased to see many familiar faces including cruise director Andrea, diving guides Yan, Handri and Steve as well as many of the crew. The guests have all been on the Dewi before and are a jolly crowd. We are also lucky to have marine biologist Mark Erdmann, co-author of the excellent three volume "Reef Fishes of the East Indies", who gives us great insights into tropical reef life as well as showing us how an ichtheologist works in practice. Mark is careful not to spear any new specimens when there are other dive groups on the reef.
Komodo has a reputation for colder water and strong currents. In the north we had pretty warm water - around 28C - while when we went further south it dropped down to 23-24C - definately conditions where you need multiple layers; I think Vicky was wearing four! We manage to avoid the strong currents in most places although we did enjoy hanging on our reef hooks at Castle Rock and Manta Alley watching the sharks, mantas and schooling fish. The diving itself was spectacular. Some muck diving on sandy bottoms but mostly beautiful reefs and walls. Particularly memorable were the walls covered in feather stars around South Rinca and Nusa Kode as well as the fabulous coral gardens at Batu Bolong in the Linteh Strait.
The fish life is pretty spectacular as well. In addition to fantastic cleaning stations at Manta Alley (above) we see reef mantas, eagle rays and mobular rays on many dives. Likewise sharks - we see many on Castle Rock and Crystal rock off Gili Lawah Laut, to the north of Komodo itself, but also on many other dives. We see lots of frogfish, many shrimps and crabs, particularly on night dives, and a huge abundance of reef fish as well as the small stuff. The National Park is not a 'no fish' area but the marine life appears to be thriving. This is probably because most of the surrounding islands are unpopulated.
Above the water we have to go on a Komodo dragon viewing trip which we do on the island of Rinca - less touristy than the viewpoints on Komodo itself apparently. The prehistoric looking beasts are prowling around the wardens' kitchen looking for scraps when we arrive. We see another in the woods and a couple of days later find some resting on a beach. We take care not to approach too close in our boat as apparently they can swim pretty fast! At Sangeang island we visit a settlement where they breed buffalo, goats and chickens as well as building boats. At Padar Island we also visit a beautiful pink beach to watch the sunset and on another day climb a peak for fabulous views of the islands.
Overall a fantastic way to spend 11 days. Spectacular diving, an amazing boat, great company, excellent crew and guides and plenty of good food. I am sure that there are other good dive boats in the region and we see many as we travel around but for me the Dewi Nusentara takes some beating. Select the buttons above on the left for more about our trip.