Komodo Dive Sites: Where to dive in Komodo
Komodo National Park offers divers (and snorkelers) an overwhelming variety of marine life. As part of the “coral triangle” this is the richest concentration of marine life in the world. The diversity of dive sites is almost unparalleled with warm, gentle reefs with hundreds of species of colorful fish and corals to the crazed excitement of sea mounts with huge currents and massive pelagics like Manta Rays and Sharks.
This dive area is many divers favorite place in Indonesia and they come back nearly every year to Komodo liveaboard trips – but their secret is slowly getting out! In one place there is almost everything your heart wishes for. Large sharks, manta rays and tunas to colorful nudibranchs, special shrimps, frogfishes and also just the incredible colorful reefs.
The fame and reputation of Komodo diving is spreading and many divers are realizing just how rich the diving experience here is. The things you’ll see on while diving in Komodo are simply too numerous to count. With the unique geology and location between the two seas and two different climates – it is unlike anything else.
We often see manta rays, dolphins and eagle rays to pygmy seahorses, ornate ghost pipefish, clown frogfish, nudibranchs and blue-ringed octopus. In passing we see many varieties of sharks, turtles and even dugong! This is all part of the rich tapestry that makes up the active marine life. The range of corals, sponges, invertebrates and critters is delights those seeking macro experiences.
What makes Komodo Dive Sites so unique? Geology, that’s what!
Komodo Island and Rinca were once part of Flores and they are separated from the large Island of Sumbawa to the West by the Sape Strait. The ocean in the Strait drops hundreds of meters. The Pacific Ocean to the north and the Indian ocean to the south are actually at different heights – so the flow of currents from the Pacific to the Indian during tidal exchanges makes the currents among the strongest in the world. In the (relatively) shallow waters along the east coast of Komodo towards Labaun Bajo, these currents can be extremely dangerous with inexperienced guides.
With the much cooler waters of the Indian ocean flowing north and the warm tropical waters of the Pacific flowing south, the nutrients and plankton in the water makes for a nearly perfect feeding zone for large pelagics. At sites like Manta Alley, we can see dozens of them feeding, playing and generally enjoying a picnic. This also brings Sharks and others large fish. The shallows find corals that are fed year-round by these cool nutrient rich waters…the ideal place for coral growth.
Komodo Dive Safety
Komodo is not your typical dive location. With some massive currents, huge fish and its remote location – the most important thing to consider is safety. This begins with the dive center you choose. Beginning divers can visit almost all Komodo Dive sites, but it is up to the wisdom and experience of the dive operator and the staff they train to make sure a beginning diver is not taken an advanced dive site. There are a broad range of dive centers to choose from with budget operators and superyachts. Please be very careful in choosing. If wages are too low, training is inferior or equipment is poorly maintained – you are putting your life at risk.
The guides in Komodo must not only understand leading groups – but it is essential to understand daily tidal changes as well as monthly tidal strengths. Entering some sites can be safe and then very dangerous 15 minutes later. inexperienced guides can risk everyone’s life. It takes a good guide to know that a site is not diveable and choose another one. It is also essential to respect the suggestions of the guides…there is never a “must-do” dive site. A dive operator that has a set schedule and says they must follow is simply not concerned about the well-being of guests.
Should you choose a dive center focused on safety – then Komodo dive sites are suitable for almost all levels…except a few. These can have strong downward currents, cold upwellings. The safe dive sites can have almost as many fish, great corals and please even the most experienced of divers. The marine life throughout the park is gorgeous and can be enjoyed by all levels of divers.
Komodo Dive Season
Most Komodo Dive Sites can be accessed throughout the year. However a few areas are seasonal. The best conditions for the Northern Komodo dive sites is from April through October. This is less about the dive sites than the surface conditions with less wind and rain. From October through April the better diving tends to be in the South. Again – this is the mostly about surface weather conditions as the northern mosoonal winds are happening. . The waters tend to be colder during the winter months, and in the Southern Komodo Dive sites they can be quite cold.
This listing of Komodo Dive sites is by no means comprehensive. These are only the more popular sites. You will also find that many sites have different names from different operators and even different Divemasters on the Same Boat! There are new sites being dived all the time and in truth this list should number in the hundreds!
We have divided the sites into a north/South. This division is basically along weather and water temperature conditions with the southern Sites tending to have much cooler water temperatures.
Komodo Dive Sites – North
On the Northern Komodo dive sites you will experience the warm waters of the Flores Sea. The marine life here is similar to that found in most tropical seas world-wide, but with a magnitude and diversity that is unsurpassed. Partly the Geology mentioned above, but also the combination of strong currents and rich waters. Hard coral reefs are extensive and largely pristine, while the water is clear with incredible visibility. Discover a haven for nudibranchs, pigmy seahorses, rare invertebrates, pipefish, and tiny frogfish. Be one of few to experience these mystical waters!
January to March can have rough surface conditions at the Northern Komodo dive sites and they should only be dived during good surface conditions. This is important as much of the diving is done from dinghies and they must be able to see and pickup the guests!
Diving the Northern Komodo dive sites: The currents here seem to be more powerful as the through flow of the Pacific hits Komodo island straight on in the north. This makes for shifting currents and eddies but also attracts large fish in quantity! Experienced guides understand and know this and will bring divers to the correct places at the best times. The visibility tends to be better and at some sites more pelagics.
Komodo and Rinca Dive Sites – South
In the Southern Komodo dive sites – you will experience cooler waters (the next landmass south is Antarctica!)l that come from the Indian Ocean. this means Longsuits and semi-drys are a good idea. This cooler water is the result of upwellings which occur when deep ocean currents encounter a continental shelf. Great news for divers – as this means a constant supply of plankton in the water. And THAT means happy corals, plenty of fish and visits by the whole chain of predatory fish. The corals in the south tend to be more vibrant and colorful – which means you can find some incredible macro species. Many filter feeders – big and small – love this plankton rich water and it shows! Manta raysshow up huge numbers! It also means some great migratory species passing along.
The weather in the Southern Komodo Dive sites tends to be rougher than in the North, though in the “winter” of November – March they surface conditions are generally calm. July and August are often quite rough and should be considered in any plans you make. The water tends to be rather cold and some cold upwellings bring the temperature below 20, though 25 is the average.