Komodo National Park is located in the centre of the Indonesian archipelago, between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores in the Lesser Sunda Islands. Roughly 200 nautical miles east of Bali, it includes three major islands: Komodo, Rinca and Padar, as well as some eighty smaller islands creating a total surface area (marine and land) of 1,817 kilometres.
Komodo National Park was established in 1980. Initially the main purpose of the Park was to conserve the unique Komodo Dragon and its habitat. However, over the years, the goals for the Park have expanded to protecting its entire biodiversity, both terrestrial and marine. In 1986, the Park was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and later, a Man and Biosphere Reserve.
The islands of Komodo National Park are volcanic in origin surrounded by fringing and patch coral reefs. The terrain is rugged and dry, consisting of barren sun scorched rolling hills and savannah vegetation with very few trees. Komodo is one of the driest regions of Indonesia. The picturesque beaches of Komodo are mostly deserted with a background of rocks and hills.
The main gateway to Komodo is from the small fishing town of Labuan Bajo on the western tip of the island of Flores.
Komodo has a hot and humid climate all year round, characterised by a wet and dry season. It is, however, one of the driest regions of Indonesia. The Southeast Monsoon (dry season) is from May to October, whilst the Northwest Monsoon (wet season) runs from December to March. April and November are transition months. The wettest months are January and February.
The day time temperature averages around 30°C, sometimes reaching as high as 40°C, whilst overnight lows can drop to 21°C. Humidity is at its lowest during the dry season.
Komodo is best experienced aboard a liveaboard. It’s likely that you will need to fly into Labuan Bajo Airport.
Under the water, Komodo National Park has one of the richest marine environments including coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, seamounts, and semi-enclosed bays. These habitats harbour more than 1,000 species of fish, some 260 species of reef-building coral, and 70 species of sponges. Dugong, sharks, manta rays, at least 14 species of whales, dolphins, and sea turtles make Komodo National Park their home.
In the North of Komodo, warm water flows from the Banda Sea providing clearer tropical waters and pristine hard corals. To the south, cooler water flows from the Indian Ocean and deep water up-wellings bring masses of plankton providing nutrient rich waters to feed soft coral polyps, other invertebrates, reef fish and Manta Rays. Visibility changes quite dramatically the further south you head as does the water temperature with an average of 28 degrees Celsius in the north and 23 degrees Celsius in the South.
Whilst diving in Komodo does come with it’s challenges (the waters surrounding the islands are current prone and surrounded by turbulent eddies) you will be rewarded by exciting diving on reefs exploding with marine life and colour. You can dive rock pinnacles and walls with dense coverage of soft and hard corals and sponges and fish life so prolific you may have trouble seeing the reef. Fringing reefs, seamounts and channels are where you can find some amazing and unusual critters. Manta rays also frequent the area feeding on the plankton rich waters.
Komodo is suitable for experienced, advanced divers looking for a challenging diversity of diving featuring both pelagics and macro dives, pretty coral reefs as well as heart pounding and adrenaline inducing drift and current dives.
23°C to 30°C
Diving can be conducted year round.
The best diving in the North is during the Southeast Monsoon (May – October). Visibility is good in the North year round and the water temperature in the North is generally higher than in the South. Water temperature is highest in the North during the dry season.
The best diving in the South is during the Northwest Monsoon (December – March) when visibility will be better. During the dry season in the South, the visibility is lower due to oceanic up-welling and increased plankton. However, this also makes the area richer in marine life during this time. Water temperature is highest in the South during the wet season.
A very colourful dive with excellent soft coral coverage. Clouds of anthias and schools of yellow-ribbon sweetlips are almost always encountered while frog fish, moray eels and scorpion fish are commonly seen. There is a small mound northwest of the rock where different species of fish school seasonally including tuna, mackerel, giant trevally and bluefin trevally.
The top of the reef is covered in colourful corals, invertebrate life and thousands of brilliant reef fish. Along the steep walls in deeper water many larger fish including sharks, napoleon wrasse, giant trevally, dogtooth tuna, and large schools of rainbow runners can be observed on almost every occasion.
Cannibal Rock/ Batu Buas
Rich soft corals abound as well as sea apples and other sea cucumber species. Amongst many surprises are flamboyantly coloured nudibranchs, and fire urchins with Coleman shrimp. The fish life can also be quite good with an array of scorpion fish, schools of red snappers and surgeon fishes. Pygmy seahorses and frog fish may also be seen.
Darat Passage North, Gililawa Darat Island
The reef slope is very rich in marine life and the sandy bottom at 15m depth is covered in garden eels. On the approach to the channel, turtles may be seen as well as a school of giant sweetlips that live in a grotto near the surface of the water. Around the southwest corner of the island, the shallow reefs are extremely rich and full of fish life. Bumphead parrot fish are commonly seen and aggregate here to spawn annually around the month of April. Sharks and schools of bat fish also reside in the passage. A large coral head about two thirds of the way through the dive teems with life and activity.
This area is marked with very large giant trevally, sharks and a high diversity of other invertebrate life in relatively shallow water between 5-20m depth. Manta rays are regularly sighted at the cleaning stations often lined up in the current.
Komodo is extremely rich in biodiversity both above and below the water. Be sure to visit Komodo Island to visit the dragons, deer, wild boar, water buffalo and the mischievous crab eating macaque. Whilst there be sure to stop off at Pink Beach which is famous for its beautiful pink sand, formed by a mixture of sand from white calcium carbonate and the bright red skeletons of organ pipe corals which do not lose their pigments when they die.
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