A Lovely Planet contributors Sarah & James spent Christmas and New Year diving in Komodo, which is also home to the largest land dragons in the world!
We’d heard from so many people on our travels that we must go to Komodo for some crazy current dives and to swim with manta rays. When we realised Komodo is only a one hour flight from Bali we were there in a heartbeat.
Diving in Komodo
Komodo can have VERY strong currents, especially around a full moon which affects the water flows. We would suggest being a confident or experienced diver to really experience what Komodo has to offer, but of course, any level of diver can dive here too.
The dive site “The Cauldron” can catapult you like Superman through the water. Sometimes you’ll need to hook into a rock (with a reef hook) to hold your position otherwise go with the current and enjoy the ride.
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Manta rays tend to hang out in strong currents whilst they are cleaned by smaller fish so it’s your best chance of seeing them. No currents often mean no mantas.
Encounters can happen at any time though, and take you by surprise. One manta was enjoying the bubbles so much that he sat on Sarah’s head, a very funny sight.
The dive site “Manta Point” was AMAZING! We saw 26 of these stunning creatures on ONE dive!
During peak season May – October the visibility is a good 20m+, but you’ll see fewer mantas. If mantas are what you are here to see, then go in October – December.
There’s nothing quite like an encounter with the mantas as they are incredibly curious and reach up to 5 meters. It’s something you won’t forget easily!
Beautiful sunsets, sparkling stars at night and dive sites on your doorstep really make staying on a liveaboard the best way to experience Komodo.
Unique to the Komodo area, you can see the largest dragons to still walk this earth. A walk around Komodo and Rinca islands is where you’ll find them. In our opinion, Rinca was much better than Komodo Island, as it is much quieter.
The Komodo dragons can run and swim but are unlikely to move too quickly once fed as they are quite lazy. So don’t worry too much, but always stay with your guide….just in case. Most of the ones we saw barely moved, but meant we could get a good look at these awesome creatures.
Our Komodo dragon boat trip tour also visited Pink Beach and snorkelling spots as part of our itinerary, which was a nice stop between island trekking.
If you don’t scuba dive, this is a good opportunity to see manta rays as they play and circle below in only 6m of water in a fantastic snorkelling spot.
Incredibly curious, they swam up to many of us, returning again and again for another look. It’s important to judge the situation though. If the mantas seem spooked or unsettled give them more space and respect their habitat.
Where to Stay in Komodo
If you are staying at Labuan Bajo we recommend Wae Molas. It has a great pool and food and they even have movie nights showing awesome documentaries such as Blue Planet and other ocean-related films.
Getting to Komodo
A well connected 1-hour flight from Bali to Labuan Bajo airport means it’s a great side trip if you’re visiting Bali too.
When to Go to Komodo
Peak season is between May – October and is very busy, so just outside of these months would be our recommended time to go. We were there at the tail end of the dive season in December, with some operators closing completely from Christmas to March because of rough seas.