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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!