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The Ocean’s Call – Moana

Esther 2

Last updated on 4th December 2019

Komodo Islands: Out in the Blue Once More

During my last remaining days in Indonesia I wanted to see the Komodo National Park and visit Komodo Island, which is home to the ancient Komodo dragons, and Kalong Island, where every evening at sunset the sky fills with flying foxes taking off for their night hunt. The park also includes one of the richest marine environments including coral reefs, mangroves, sea grass beds, seamounts, and semi-enclosed bays. Hence it provides the perfect opportunity for me to further develop my diving skills and see more of the fascinating underwater world. The challenge was to organize my travels in such a way that I could squeeze in all this into my last few days. The solution was Moana: My first liveaboard experience.

Moana Liveaboard
Isn’t she beautiful: Moana!

Moana is a big, traditional Indonesian, wooden sailing ship with modern facilities for guests and crew and fully equipped for diving. Moana has five comfy, modern cabins for not more than 10 guests. And one of them was me. For an exciting trip of 6 days I went on Moana to explore Komodo Islands above and below water.  I flew in to Labuan Bajo on Flores from Bali and boarded Moana the very next morning. And off we went. The route we took can be seen in the picture below.

Moana Liveaboard
Our route and the dive sites marked in red
Moana Liveaboard
On deck of Moana: The big dining table and the relax area in the bow
Moana Liveaboard
In the stern of the boat, the diving equipment is lined up
Moana Liveaboard
Leaving Labuan Bajo on Flores, pulling two small boats for the divers

A typical day on board of Moana went like this:

≈ 6am    getting up and have a light snack
≈ 7am    first morning dive
≈ 9am    rich warm breakfast   -> time to relax/sleep
≈ 11am  second morning dive
≈ 1pm    two course lunch -> time to relax/sleep
≈ 3pm    afternoon dive
≈ 4pm    light afternoon snack -> time to relax. No sleep but watching the sunset.
≈ 7pm    night dive, shortly after sunset
≈ 8pm    three course dinner

For the late evening there was a small bar for drinks, like beer and wine. The food was excellent, every day was different and it was cooked to perfection. The best food I had in entire Indonesia. We even had real dark and fresh bread for breakfast!

Moana Liveaboard
Diving is tiring, even if you don’t move much (ideally).
The weather was great and the little rain we had produced a wonderful rainbow.
Tiny rock-islands: Like an iceberg, the bigger part and it’s real beauty lies hidden underwater
The evening sun pours a golden light on the island. In the wet season, it will become green.

As the food were the dives, and the dive sites: Excellent (even dark at night). Advanced divers will know Komodo as an area with very strong tidal currents. These currents are exciting and good fun for advanced divers. My logbook had just 18 dives and I was not really aware of what was ahead of me in terms of drift and currents. I must admit that at some dives I might have felt less comfortable. In honest words, I was panicking sometimes. There was one dive at the Cauldron leading through a narrow passage of coral-covered rocks with a strong current through that gap. I felt like in a roller coaster. At another dive at Crystal Rock we flew (!) with an amazing speed over a wide flat plane of sea grass, little rocks and corals. There are no brakes and one must be very cautious to stay close to the dive buddy! That was truly scary! But I learned a lot. Looking back I can say it was exciting and thrilling and yes, it was fun.

Moana Liveaboard
Cruising among beautiful islands

I did not have a camera so that I  post some pictures of the dives given to me by my dive buddie Thomas, unfortunately his GoPro did not deliver the quality expected or hoped for, but here are some of them. 

Once again, I have seen a whole new world, different to Sipadan. Each and every dive was different and presented a different experience in terms of marine life as well as dive skills. I have seen wild underwater formations, rocks and pinnacles, walls and wide planes like meadows with seagrass or beaches with sand, caves and narrow passages and, experienced all types of currents, up and down and fast forward. I have seen sharks and turtles again, scorpionfish, barracudas, unicorn fishes and octopus, giant morays, a Spanish dancer at night, eels, pufferfish and parrotfish, and so much more I cannot name (yet). It was amazing, and the reef really looked like I had seen it in colorful underwater documentaries.

Moana Liveaboard
The mast has three levels and can be climbed to the top!
Moana Liveaboard
View from the mast, second level. Sunset position!

On the fifth day, we skipped the first morning dive and visited Rinca Island instead, to see the Komodo dragons. We went there by boat and had a short walk with a ranger onto one of the peaks to enjoy the view over the island. On our way up we saw some of the Komodo monitors. They are a very big variation of lizard, up to 3 m in length, and can be surprisingly fast and vital. But all the dragons, or monitors, that we met were quite peaceful. They live with the local people near the ranger station.

Komodo National Park
Welcome/good buy to the Komodo National Park
Komodo Waran
Komodo dragon
Komodo Waran
Komodo dragon
Komodo Waran
A big adult one was walking past. They have a unique way to walk, like a rolling ship.
Moana Liveaboard
Short walk to enjoy the lookout over Rinca island.

On the evening of our last day we anchored for the night near Kalong Island, like many, many other boats did. It is the place for the spectacular of the flying foxes. I climbed the mast up to the second level for a brilliant view. And then, as the sun began to set and the sky slowly turned orange, the flying foxes took off from the mangroves on front of us. First only a few but followed by more and more, until the orange-reddish sky was full of them. There are no words for this, it was amazing, mind-blowing, grandiose, magical, stunning. I think on Moana had the best experience because we had all lights off for better sight (except captains bridge), and the manager played loudly the theme of the “Pirates of the Caribbean”. Thousands of flying foxes were filling the air during a beautiful sunset underlaid by this dramatic music. It was indescribable impressive and has been engraved into my mind for eternity.

Moana Liveaboard
The best view from the mast. Waiting for sunset.
Flying foxes fly out every night in search for food.
There are thousands of flying foxes filling the sky.
Surprisingly all of them fly out in the same direction.

Apart from sunset-watching, diving, eating and sleeping we could do many other joyful things: snorkeling, swimming, beach bumming, reading (there was a small library on board), jump the mast etc. But honestly, most of the time, we really felt just tired, and we often dozed off. It is possible to sleep outside on deck at night and admire the stars of the southern hemisphere. I have to admit that I missed that, as well as the sunrise at 5am. So I must go again!

Playing Uno.
Little white-sanded beaches invite for swimming and chilling.
Little white-sanded beaches inviting.
Every evening brings a new, colorful sunset
And the rise of the full moon is also an amazing scene.
Moana Cruise
Here we are, all of us, passengers and crew.
  1. Sehr schön. Ich sehe dich schon in Japan angespült werden. Tauch vorsichtig!

    • Esther Esther

      Mach ich 🙂

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