Until a few months ago I’ve known Komodo National Park only from the famous Instagram photos of Padar island. I noticed that most people go to Komodo to do a one or multiple day boat trip to see the Komodo dragons, go hiking and enjoy the stunning scenery of the islands. But little did I know that you can explore the underwater world & islands at the same time by doing a liveaboard!
All in all a trip to Komodo can end up being quite expensive as it involves flying. To see the National Park you need to organize a boat trip and pay the National Park fees. Knowing that I would end up spending quite a bit of money to see the Komodo National Park anyway, I decided to make the most of my time there and invest a little bit more money than planned in order to properly see the underwater world. There was no way I could visit Komodo National Park without going diving!
After doing some research I came across the Dive Komodo liveaboard (4D|3N), which is one of the cheapest in the area. If you love diving, are on a budget and also struggle to decide how to explore Komodo National Park I hope this review will help you. Here’s an in-depth report about my 4 day liveaboard experience with Dive Komodo.
Why you need to go diving in Komodo National Park
Komodo National Park is one of the best diving destinations in the world. It features crystal clear water, stunning coral reefs, rich marine biodiversity and beautiful underwater landscapes. Komodo offers a variety of dive sites that suit divers with different experience levels. From very relaxed reef dives to drift dives and strong currents – diving in Komodo is exciting in many different ways. The strong currents also allow you to witness manta and eagle rays as well as sharks drifting along the reef (never guaranteed though, it’s a big ocean).
So far I’ve been diving in Thailand (Similan islands and Koh Tao), Egypt and Tenerife. Komodo National Park has been the best diving experience so far. The reefs, marine life and underwater conditions are spectacular.
How to get to Komodo National Park
The most common way to get to Komodo National Park is to fly to Labuan Bajo by plane via Bali. Labuan Bajo is a small city in the very West of the island Flores. It’s the official gate to the Komodo National Park. We arrived in Labuan Bajo in the evening before the liveaboard started. This left enough time to sort out the rental gear, pay the Komodo National Park Fee (1.100.000 IDR) and meet the team of Dive Komodo. The whole process was super smooth.
If you have more time there is an even better way though: You could travel from Bali to Lombok and take a boat to Komodo from there. It’s a 4 night trip which sounds super exciting. It also works the other way round, taking a boat from Komodo back to Lombok. Unfortunately I only found out about this option when I arrived in Labuan Bajo.
As you travel all the way to the island Flores it might be worth doing some more research on the island itself. It’s one of the less travelled places in Indonesia and worth a (at least) one week visit! Flores is a beautiful, lush island which has much more to offer than the Komodo National Park! It features beaches, coastlines, volcanoes, green jungle and mountains. When you visit cities like Ruteng and Bajawa the temperatures drop by a few degrees which is a nice change to the humid climate at the coast.
Facts about the liveaboard with Dive Komodo
- Duration: 4 days
- Number of dives: 13
- Departure and arrival point: Labuan Bajo
- Cost: The total cost including rental gear, National Park fee and the Rinca island entrance fee was 876 Euros. I booked directly through Dive Komodo.
- Accommodation: Single, Twin or Double cabins with fan.
- Requirement: You need to be a certified diver – however I recommend to have at least a few dives due to strong current at some dive sites.
- Water temperature: Around 26-28 degrees – the rental wetsuit is 3mm.
- Air temperature: During the day around 30 degrees & blue skies. Sometimes it can get a bit windy and chilly on deck. At night temperatures dropped to around 24 degrees.
- Other: This liveaboard doesn’t offer NITROX. My NDL never went lower than 5 minutes so this wasn’t a problem! If you like soft drinks and beer you need to bring those with you.
Daily schedule & dive sites
In total we did 13 dives spread over 4 days. The dive sites of the liveaboard depended on the conditions and tides. Our guide was very experienced and you could tell he was choosing the dive sites so we could have the best experience and conditions. All in all we had a great mix of different dive sites. At some we were more likely to see big fish like sharks, others are good to spot turtles and manta rays and some sites were good for dives without current.
Before every dive we got a detailed briefing about what to expect. What amazed me the most was that they hand drew every dive site! For most of the dives we either jumped of the boat or a dingy and were then picked up again.
In total we were six customers divided into two groups. Each group had one dive master in training as well. This made the dive much more relaxing as divers with problems or who were low in air could ascend with the dive master.
We met the crew and the other divers on the first morning at 8.30 am in the Dive Komodo office. They then brought us to the boat and we departed on a 2 hour journey to Komodo National Park. In general the daily schedule was pretty similar every day. Find all the dive sites on the map down below!
- 6 am: Waking up & dive briefing
- 7 am: First dive
- 8.30 am: Breakfast
- 10:30 am: Second dive
- 12:30 pm: Lunch
- 2:30 pm: Third dive
- 4 pm: Snack
- 6 pm: Fourth dive
- 8 pm: Dinner
- First dive: Sebayur Kecil
- Second dive: Tatawa Besar
- Third dive: Gili Lawadarat (sunset dive)
- First dive: Castle Rock
- Second dive: The Cauldron
- Third dive: Crystal Rock
- Fourth dive: Siaba Besar (night dive)
- First dive: Tatawa Kecil
- Second dive: Batu Bolong
- Third dive: Makassar Manta Point
- Fourth dive: Wainilu (sunset dive)
- First dive: Manta Point
- Second dive: Turtle Point
On Day 4, before doing our final two dives, we went to visit Rinca Island. Rinca Island is a big island in Komodo National Park which is home to over 1,500 Komodo Dragons. We were able to spot some Komodo Dragons and got to see panoramic views from a viewpoint on the island. The rangers shared some more information about these ancient animals. It was a lovely experience to see part of the island during our liveaboard trip.
My liveaboard experience with Dive Komodo
Komodo National Park was the best diving destination I’ve ever been to. All in all I loved my liveaboard experience with Dive Komodo and I wished it would’ve been 7 rather than 4 days. Similar to my last liveaboard in Egypt, I felt in a flow by day 3. It’s a lot for the body to dive so much so for me it always takes some dives to get back into it.
What I liked most about the trip with Dive Komodo compared to the liveaboards I’ve done so far, was that our group was so small. Also the staff was very friendly and helpful at all times. Our guides made the whole trip fun and we felt super comfortable. You can find more information about the trip and booking details here.
The boat ‘Tatawa’ offers single, double and twin cabins. All cabins for the guests are located on the lower deck in the bow of the boat. They each came with sockets, a fan, some storage room for bags and clothes and two little windows. I was totally fine without a fan as the temperatures dropped to around 25 degrees at night and there was always a nice breeze on the boat.
All guest and the crew shared two bathrooms which were located on the main deck. Each bathroom had a toilet, sink and a bum gun / showerhead. Yes – there is no proper shower head and also no hot showers. But honestly, it was absolutely fine for the four days on the boat! I used the drinking water coming from the taps to brush my teeth which was all fine.
Tatawa had four decks: lower deck cabins (1), main deck consisting of dive deck, bathrooms, lounge / eating area & outside chillout area (2), captain’s cabin, crew cabin & sunbeds (3), and the sun deck (4). We spent most of our time on the main deck, either in the chillout or eating area.
The meals on Tatawa were a mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian Indonesian and Western food. Simple and delicious! My favourite was a warming soup after every night dive for dinner. For lunch they gave us freshly made juices. To name some examples for dishes: fried Tempeh in tomato sauce, Gado Gado, corn fritters, Spaghetti with sauce, fried eggplant. In between lunch and dinner we got served a small snack.
Drinking water, coffee and tea were available during the whole day. If you need electrolytes, soft drinks or beer you should bring these drinks from the mainland.
Diving & equipment
I only brought my dive computer and mask and rented all other dive equipment from Dive Komodo. The rental gear was the best I’ve ever had diving as a customer so far! Most of it was Scuba Pro and Aqua Lung. The regulator was even better than the one I own, so I was pretty amazed by that. After the dives the crew took care of our equipment and refilled the tanks.
As mentioned above we were divided into two groups based on our experience. Each group had a dive master assisting. The marine life you see is really impressive. You might ask yourself whether we saw Manta Rays… unfortunately we didn’t. I thought it’s pretty common to see them but with every dive site in the world, you have to be lucky to see certain marine life.
My thoughts about the liveaboard
Diving in Komodo is amazing. And if you love diving you definitely need to do a liveaboard! It gives so much more time to properly explore the underwater world as you get to see 13 dive sites. The visibility was on average more than 20 metres, the drift dives a lot of fun and the marine life very impressing.
The best parts of the liveaboard experience with Dive Komodo were the small groups, the friendly crew and the dive sites we visited! Compared to other liveaboards in Komodo, Dive Komodo is one of the cheapest ones. The price you pay for what you get is more than fair!
If you have done other liveaboards, e.g. in Egypt, it’s important to mention that you shouldn’t expect to get the luxuries you get there on the cheaper liveaboards (like a hot shower, snacks all day…). I caught myself comparing the two different experiences sometimes but in the end it’s two different countries and liveaboards, and therefore not comparable. The liveaboard with Dive Komodo gives you everything you need, and for sure an unforgettable experience.
Advice for your liveaboard experience with Dive Komodo
If you have never been on a liveaboard, I have some helpful advice for you to make your liveaboard experience with Dive Komodo even smoother.
Dive insurance is helpful and required to go on this liveaboard. Normal travel insurance doesn’t always cover diving and especially not things like missed diving days or missed liveaboard departure. For this purpose I can recommend to get insured with Dive Assure.
For the liveaboard with Dive Komodo you don’t need to be an Advanced certified diver. However, I recommend to get the certification beforehand if possible to be more flexible regarding the depth and as some dive sites are a bit more challenging due to the strong currents.
There is no Wi-Fi on the boat, but you have reception 80 % of the time. If you would like to have internet you should therefore get a SIM card on land. Please note: The data you buy on Bali and Lombok doesn’t cover Flores. You need to add extra data to your plan to have internet in this area.
Water temperatures & rash guard
On the first day I was struggling a bit with the water temperatures as my body was used to 29-30 degrees water temperature wearing a 3 mm wetsuit. In Komodo the temperatures were around 26-28 degrees which is doable in a 3 mm, but I just wasn’t used to it. I was wearing a Ripcurl long sleeve rashguard suit under my wetsuit which I can highly recommend if you tend to get cold.
Towel dress & jumper
Another game changer on liveaboards to me is my towel dress. After every dive I take off my bikini, hang it up to dry and put on my towel dress. Basically you only see me wearing either my wetsuit or the towel dress. It’s just so cozy! With so many dives it saves a lot of time and clean clothes.
Things to consider when booking your trip
Last but not least there are a few things you should consider when booking your liveaboard experience with Dive Komodo! You should definitely plan some time after the liveaboard. Flores is much more than just Komodo National Park. To explore more of the island, its beautiful landscape and culture plan at least 5-7 days for after the liveaboard.
In Labuan Bajo I recommend to stay at Hotel Mehara. The rooms are bright, modern and spacious and all within short walking distance to the town centre. The staff also helped us with booking our transports in Flores. My favourite places to eat were Happy Banana (dinner) and Mimamori (breakfast). Labuan Bajo itself is a cute little town with many dive shops, restaurants and some nice cafés.
All in all I can highly recommend to experience Komodo National Park with Dive Komodo yourself! I will for sure return one day. Which one is next on my list? I’m not sure yet but you will know once it’s time. The liveaboard addiction continues…