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Trip Report Komodo Trip OCT 2014

November 10, 2014

Boat: Ambai
Cruise Director: Akim
Diveguides: Leo, Rudi and Adi

Divers: JP, Rachel, Leslie, Patricia, Nick, Malcom, Pete, Paul, Michael, Doug, Luca.

12th October 2014 Bali to Komodo

We all met at Bali Airport and started our “Komodo Adventure”, together we managed to catch the plane even though a few people went missing here and there before boarding.
Once arrived in Labuan Bajo everything went smoothly and boarded the MV Ambai just before 12. We were able to leave the harbour quickly and managed to make an afternoon dive as well as a night dive at the always interesting 1)Sabayor Kecil dive site.
The sunset was lovely and some of us the gang even saw a small group of dolphins at the horizon.

A green turtle swim into the blue.

A green turtle swims into the blue.

13th October 2014 Current City

We raised the anchor early in the morning and cruised to the nearby Tatawa Besar (Big Laugh) where we were planning to do our first dive, however, the current was too strong so we opted to move to 2)Karang Makassar instead to have a safe drift with Manta Rays. The current here was also strong, about 2-3 knots, but everybody enjoyed the dive while feeling the adrenaline rush of a great drift. We were lucky as the entire group saw mantas during the dive while some of us saw sharks and few turtles as well.

After Karang Makassar we moved back to 3)Tatawa Besar and by then the current had slowed, giving us the chance to cruise along the pretty reef at our leisure. There were many sweetlips and batfish at the cleaning stations and most of us also saw several white tip and black tip sharks cruising along the wall in the deep.

During lunch we cruised south toward 4)Pink Beach, where we planned our third dive of the day. Everyone got the first taste and feel of the chilly water temperature of south Komodo waters with the thermometer hitting as low as 22 C. Nevertheless, the dive was very nice with great macro subjects such as yellow warty frogfish, mantis shrimp, giant cuttlefish, crocodilefish, and leaf fish. There was also some big schools of fusiliers and jacks playing in the blue.

Night Dive was at 5)Pink Beach

divers underwater

2 divers explore the underwater realm of the Komodo National Park

14th Oct. 2014 Horseshoe Bay ( South Rinca and Nusa Kode islands)

We arrived at about 6:15am in Horseshoe Bay and moored by “Komodo Dragon Beach” on Rinca island. The sky was slightly overcast but as the day went by it cleared up nicely. The first dive was at 6)Cannibal Rock, the site was full of life with all of the soft corals open and feeding. Unfortunately visibility was not the best, making it a bit difficult to appreciate all of the amazing marine life diversity on the site. We saw several sea apples feeding, a giant frogfish, a school of yellow snappers, glassfish, nudis of all different kinds, sea turtles, some big marble groupers, and more.

The second dive was a 7)Yellow Wall, the reef was covered in yellow and green soft coral feeding and everyone had a nice dive.

For the third dive, we moved to 8)Pelican Head, we started in the bay where current was not present and then got caught by a manageable drift that pushed us along the beautiful wall covered in big feeding soft corals. The site was full of ladybugs isopods, nudis, and other interesting small critters along with a small painted frogfish.

Due to the chilly water temperatures we had only Paul and Nick going for the night dive at 9)Torpedo Alley, Paul and Nick have not missed any dives so far!

We also had a chance to do other activities such as going to the nearby beach to admire the prehistoric Komodo Dragons and Rachel and JP enjoyed kayaking in calm water during a beautiful sunset.

The food so far has been very good and everyone seems to be appreciating the effort that the chef is making. I must say the whole crew is doing a very good job so far.

School of surgeonfish

A school of surgeons fish by W-reef also known as 3 Sisters, by Padar island, Komodo National Park

15th Oct 2014 Langkoi-Padar

We left Horseshoe Bay early in the morning and headed to Langkoi in South Komodo to dive 10-11-12)Manta Alley. We decided to spend the day there and do 3 dives as the tide was rising for the second and third dives. During all three dives we encountered mantas!
Visibility was below average making it a bit difficult to spot the mantas during current checks, nevertheless we all had a manta “wow” moment and really enjoyed the day at Manta Alley.
Finally during the third dive we even saw them circling on top of the cleaning station and on several occasions we had a manta passing on top of our head.
Some of us during the first dive were even lucky enough to see a Mola mola in the middle of the reef!
In the late afternoon we left Langkoi and moved onto Padar Island for the night.
The sea was very calm and we spotted a group of dolphins playing at the horizon. The sunset was very beautiful and some of us enjoyed it on top of the roof of the Ambai while cruising to Padar.

Manta Ray from South Komodo

A Manta from the dive at Manta Alley, South Komodo National Park, Indonesia

16th Oct 2014 Padar-Gili Lawa

We started the day with a nice dive outside Padar at 13)Three Sisters. Vis was low but the colorful reefs were packed with fish. The current was very gentle and we could swim easily around the 3 pinnacles. We saw 3 Giant Frogfish, a Hawksbill Turtle, spotted stingrays, scorpionfish, groups of snappers, groups of surgeonfish, some nudis and a lot more.

After breakfast, before the second dive, we went to the beach and hiked across the mountain valley to reach the pink beach of Padar. As it was low tide we could walk all the way to Elephant Rock and enjoying the view to the ocean and to the bay. We took several pictures and some of us had a nice swim. After a while the speedboats came to pick us up and we prepared for the second dive of the day at 14)Padar Reef.

Padar Reef is a beautiful seamount full of life with a nice cave and swim through. There was a bit of current so we had to descend quickly to this large pinnacle. We spotted a marble ray, a big group of sweetlips, a huge group of yellow snappers, anthias everywhere, lobster, octopus, groupers and more. Even though visibility was not great, the dive was very beautiful.

We had a delicious lunch while cruising back to North Komodo and stopped once again at Current City. We checked Batu Bolung dive site but we did not feel confident in doing it as there was still some current running. We opted to go back once again to 15)Karang Makassar and see if we could find more manta rays. Unfortunately, this time we did not see them, however we did encounter eagle rays, a marble ray, sharks, groupers, and lots of tropical fish.

We arrived at sunset at Gili Lawa Darat and the night divers went for a dive at 16)Spanish Step.

sunrays penetrate the water surface at Crystal Rock

Sunrays late in the afternoon at Crystal Rock, Gili Lawa Laut, Komodo, Indonesia

17th Oct 2014 – North Komodo Gili Lawa Laut

We started the day with a nice dive at 17)Castle Rock, at Gili Lawa Laut in the north Komodo region. Conditions were just about perfect with a slight current attracting the fish close to the pinnacle. Many white tip reef sharks were cruising back and forth in the blue around 20m depth. Giant Trevallies were busy preying upon a school of fusiliers with sudden “blasts” of speed, which would send the school scurrying. Several Napoleon wrasse along with the “King of the Reef”, the grey reef shark, were patrolling in the distance.

For the second dive we moved to 18)Shotgun, although there was not much current, the dive was very good with lots of fish, a big group giant barracudas, white tip sharks, mantas, black-tip sharks, eagle rays, turtles, snappers and giant trevally.

For the third dive we went to 19)Crystal Rock during one of the rare days just after the full moon when the current stops. The dive was nice and easy and we were able to swim all around the main pinnacle. We saw a few white-tip reef sharks sleeping on the bottom, Napoleon wrasses, sweet lips, trevallies, surgeons fish and more.

After the dive we moved to Gili Lawa Darat and Paul, JP, Rachel, Nick, Leslie, Pete, Pat and Doug hiked the mountain to a viewpoint with Luca. The view was fantastic and the walk down was stunning with the beautiful light of sunset. The sun ball itself was a deep, beautiful red.

The night dive was once again at 20)Gili Lawa Darat Bay.

shotgun's canyon

Having a pick at shotgun’s canyon

18th Oct 2014 Gili Lawa – Lintah Strait Current city – Wainilu

We started the day with a dive in 21)Batu Bolong, one of the most iconic dive sites in the entire Komodo National Park. We were the only ones there and conditions were great! We encountered a few white tip sharks swimming along the slope and others resting on the bottom. We also saw jacks, napoleon wrasse, octopus, and angelfish. The wall on the north side of Batu Bolong was absolutely covered in soft coral.

For the second dive we moved to 22)Tatawa Kecil. With the current picking up we had a very interesting dive, one where we could even utilize our reef hooks. In the deep, we saw a marble ray, a few white tip sharks, and a decent size school of barracuda. We then moved into the shallow water and there were a lot of jacks and snapper facing into the current. Some of us saw a couple of eagle rays in the lee side of the current. Visibility was good and we enjoyed a nice and safe dive. Malcom and Paul decided to go left ☺ on this dive and ended up being spit up to the surface from the current.

We then moved to 23)Wainilu for the third dive of the day to look for the famous critters of one of Komodos main critter sites. Most of us encountered the picturesque dragonet, which is always one of the main critters to be seen at Wainilu.

In the late afternoon, we jumped in the dive tenders and headed off to Rinca Island for a “Luca Adventure!” The idea was to head to a local village and then walk to a cave where fruit bats rest during the day and then photograph them as they departed for the evening. However, Luca misjudged the speed of the tenders and the distance to the village resulting in “a very long boat ride!” Intead we took the decision to move to Kaaba island instead to see the fruit bats flying over our head towards the mainland of Flores at sunset. We arrived safely to the Ambai as darkness fell and the keen divers went for a dive at Wainilu.

Fish eating eggs attached to the rocks

feeding frenzy moment in Batu Bolung. All eating sergeant fish’s eggs.

19th Oct 2014 Lintah Strait Current City – Gili Lawa

We started the day with a dive at 24)Batu Mandi, a site that many times cannot be accessed due to the adverse conditions and strong currents. Today the conditions were on our side and we had a fantastic dive at this seamount raising in the middle of the Linta strait. There was a group of Barracuda, a decent size school of Big eye jacks, white tip sharks, and a bigger shark that Luca could not identify as it passed above his head into the light of the sun but it may have been a silver tip shark. Giant Trevallies and a big group of snappers were also present.

The second dive was at 25)Siaba Kecil and we had the best visibility of the trip. We could see all the way to the canyon below. The hard corals were really shiny and colorful and we encountered a few turtles doing their thing undisturbed. In the shallow water, there was a big school of juvenile Giant Trevally. The current was moderate and easy to handle. Some of us saw a mobula ray and others saw a marble ray.

The third dive was at 26)Crystal Rock and with a bit of current there were many more fish on the side of the seamount facing the current. Some of the folks could not manage to get to the front as they got tired swimming into the current. The whole site was covered in beautiful soft corals all open and feeding.

During sunset we went on shore on Gili Lawa Darat and we sat on top of a small hill relaxing and enjoying the view in front of us.

The night divers went to 27)Spanish Step for their night dive. Paul did not miss
a dive yet.

A great reef shark patrols the water of the Lintah Strait at Batu Mandi, also known as Batu Neptune.

A great reef shark patrols the water of the Lintah Strait at Batu Mandi, also known as Batu Neptune.

20th OCT 2014 Gili Lawa – Lintah Strait – Wainilu

We started the day with a bang! ☺ Yes, on the way to Gili Lawa Laut we spotted a couple of sperm whales on the surface. Paul, Luca, Akim and Thierry, took the chance and tried to jump in the water to see them. We didn’t see them in the water as they were swimming fast, but we could ride along side them with the tender boat.

After this we went to 28)Castle Rock for our first dive of the day. Conditions were just perfect with very little current. A small group of white tip sharks and a few Grey Reef Sharks were cruising back and forth. The fusiliers were being herded by the blue fin and giant trevally giving them no time to relax. We were even able to sit in the middle of the fusiliers ball and watch the predators hunting them. On this dive we also saw a few schools of fish, like barracuda, surgeonfish, ailfin snappers, paddle-tail snappers, batfish, bannerfish, sweetlips, giant trevallies, bigeye jacks, and blue fin trevally. There were also a few big Napoleons being shadowed by jacks as they cruised along the reef. What an amazing dive!!

For the second dive we waited by Shotgun for the tidal current to increase strength, unfortunately it seemed that the current was not hitting the channel as usual resulting in very low intensity. We decided to move to the south passage of Gili Lawa Darat and dive 29)Golden Passage instead. Over there the current was funneling into the shallow gap between the islands of Komodo and Gili Lawa Darat with the perfect intensity. At the beginning we saw a white tip shark resting on the white sand at the entrance of the channel. We then carried on into the channel drifting with the current. When we all arrived at the small bowl some of us hooked up right where the current was strongest. After enjoying the fun current, we let go and drifted further into the channel while swimming across the current to reach our second hooking point near a huge coral block covered in pristine hard corals and packed with fish. There was quite a big school of sergeant fish flickering in the current and a decent size group of red snappers. We stayed there watching the show for a while and regrouped in the same time, after that we continued towards the main reef on the side of the south coast of Gili Lawa Darat island sheltered from the current. We enjoyed swimming along the beautiful coral garden and saw a few turtles near a small coral block covered in glassfish. All of a sudden a Manta Ray appeared and swam slowly past us. One of the group also saw a huge albino Manta on this dive.

After this dive we moved back into the Lintah Strait towards the island of Mauan. During the boat ride we spotted a few groups of dolphins so we decided to get on the dive tenders to see if we could swim with them. They were skittish so they did not let us get too close but we had a nice look from the surface. They seemed to be mostly juvenile bottlenose dolphins playing together.

When we arrived at 30)Mauan the current was howling but was still safe to dive, so we all went in for a nice Komodo rush. After 20-30 min drifting we ended up on the coral garden where the current stopped and we could look out for some interesting critters. We saw a crocodile fish, many anemones with clown fish and other interesting animals. Michael had round 2 with a Titan trigger fish and once again he won ☺.

We spent the night at 31)Wainilu in the north of Rinca and enjoyed a spectacular last night dive of the trip with many critters.

hooking in Komodo

Having fun in Komodo, all hooked up at the entrance of the channel at the South Passage in North Komodo

21st OCT 2014 North Rinca

As today was the last day of diving, most of us managed to do only 1 dive in order to have at least 24 hours desaturation before dive. We chose 32-33)Dead Man’s Rock, also known as Tengah Kecil, for our last dive. This is a small island riising from the depth as a pinnacle. There was some current but it was not too strong so we entered on the current side of the reef. We saw a big group of jacks swimming past and underneath some table corals we found 3 baby white-tips sleeping. In the sheltered side of the island the visibility was better which was perfect for photographs of the beautiful and colorful corals. Some of the group found turtles during this dive as well. The second dive of the day and last dive of the trip was also on this dive site.

After lunch we entered the bay in the north of Rinca island and went to shore to trek the forest and the savannah of the National Park. During the walk, escorted by a ranger, we found many wild animals including the mighty komodo dragons, water buffaloes, monkeys, deer, wild boar, and megapode birds.

In the late afternoon we cruised north back to the harbor of Labuan Bajo to end our fantastic journey together with a great send off dance from the crew of the MV Ambai.

divers group photo on the bow of the Ambai

The fantastic group of divers that joined us on our Komodo Adventure with the dive guides of the MV Ambai

22nd OCT 2014

We all departed from Labuan Bajo airport early in the morning without any complication or delays. We arrived safely in Bali after an hour flight and continued on our separate ways.

Map of Komodo

Komodo Map

Map of the area we visited

Here is a video made from Thierry of the Ambai, thank you for sharing the link with us Thierry

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