Komodo National Park is best known for it’s unique inhabitants, the Komodo dragons, but those who scuba dive know that this part of the world is also home to some absolutely incredible dive sites as well. I visited Komodo early on as a diver. I only had 12 dives under my belt and most of those were from my open water and advanced certifications. However, a few years and many dives later, I still consider Komodo to my favourite dive destination. So, for anyone thinking of scuba diving in Komodo National park, here are my top tips.
How to Get to Komodo National Park?
Komodo National Park is located in Indonesia off the island of Flores. It is possible to take a ferry here from the nearby islands but the most popular way to get in, and the easiest, is a flight to Labuan Bajo Airport. It is a small domestic airport with a couple of flights arriving daily from Bali and other Indonesian cities.
Komodo National Park is home to dozens of different dive sites so it’s best to plan a few days here. Popular options are to do liveaboards, but you can also dive from the shops located on Labuan Bajo itself. Recommended dive shops will be listed later in this article.
What Kind of Critters Can You See Diving in Komodo?
What makes Komodo National Park one of the best places in the world to dive is that the waters here are a mix of different bodies of water: the Indian Ocean and the Flores Sea. This means that there is a huge variety of sea life and corals that are able to live and thrive in this area.
The Big: whale sharks, manta rays, devil rays, hammerheads, dugongs, white and black tip sharks, turtles, and dolphins.
The Little: Pygmy seahorse, hairy frogfish, nudibranchs, ghost pipe fish, blue ring octopus, flamboyant cuttlefish.
You can also expect to see plenty of schooling fish, sweetlips, batfish, trigger fish, angel fish, clown fish, scorpion fish, lion fish etc. There is also tonnes of beautifully coloured hard and soft corals.
Whether you love drift dives, macro dives, or just exploring coral reefs, Komodo National Park has dive sites for everyone.
The Best Dive Sites Komodo National Park (My Favs)
Komodo has dozens of dive sites, and I didn’t come close to doing them all. But of those that I did manage to see, these were my favourites.
Beautiful, colourful corals and plenty of fish, both big and small. Mantas can sometimes be soon out in the blue and you may also see sharks, and if you are incredibly lucky, a dugong here.
Endearingly also referred to as 3G point (one of the only places you can get it in the area), Manta Point is famous for…mantas. You are pretty much guaranteed to see at least one around here, if you are lucky you may see dozens. Lots of cleaning stations and a strong current make it a favourite spot for these amazing creatures. I fell in love with mantas in Komodo so this dive site was incredible for me.
A super relaxing macro dive site with plenty of frogfish and hairy frogfish. Also keep an eye out for octopus and flamboyant cuttlefish.
Probably the coolest drift dive in the area, the Cauldron is a whole lot of fun. The dive starts off pretty gentle but as you pass over the “cauldron” (look for the big fish and sharks below!) you’ll get sucked into a very strong current. Hook into the reef and hover over the rocks to watch the fish below, and keep an eye out for nearby mantas!
What is the Best Time of Year for Diving in Komodo National Park?
It is possible to dive year round in Komodo National Park, however some dive sites are seasonal or may be better at certain times of the year. The general consensus is that April- November/December are usually the best months. Also keep in mind that July and August are often the busiest due to summer holidays in North America and Europe.
What are the Best Dive Schools in Komodo National Park?
I used Scuba Junkies on recommendation from a friend that I know and trust. They were amazing. Unlike most other dive shops, Scuba Junkies is not located in Labuan Bajo, but rather about an hour away by boat. They are on a very secluded part of the island and have their own camp-type set up complete with little beach huts to sleep in.
I loved the staff and crew here. As I mentioned above, I was a newbie diver at the time. They took that into consideration and gave me my own dive master, Max. He was fantastic and we had a lot of fun. I always felt safe on the boat and in the water.
My friends over at Nomadic Boys used and loved Blue Marlin. You can read about their experience here.
It is also a popular area to join a liveabord. My friend Chantae has created a list of some of the best options here.
There are plenty of dive shops and schools located around Labuan Bajo for diving in Komodo. I haven’t heard any back feedback about any but, as with any dive school, please read up on the reviews before you book. And, if you do arrive and something feels off- leave. I’ve had to do this before (also in Indonesia). It’s just not worth the risk. Do your research and ask the questions. Pay extra attention to how they leave the equipment as well.
Other Things to do in Komodo National Park
While you may spend most of your time diving in Komodo, there are a few other cool things to do here as well.
See the Komodo Dragons
You can’t visit Komodo National Park and not visit the Komodo dragons! They live on a couple of different islands though most trips will take you to Rinca Island to see them. You cannot visit on your own, you have to go with a guide who will take you around the island. Yes, the dragons are dangerous but these ones are well fed so don’t be scared. Just don’t get close! You can book a day trip to see the dragons from Labuan Bajo or, if you use Scuba Junkies, a visit to see them is included in your package.
Hike Around Padar Island
Padar Island is famous for what might be one of the best viewpoints in all of Indonesia. The hike up here will take you about an hour, but be warned; it’s quite steep and the ground is pretty uneven. So take your time. You can get to Padar Island by booking a day trip from Labuan Bajo. It’s also a frequent stop if you choose to explore Komodo National Park by livaboard.
See the Bats at Sunset
A bit of an odd, but fascinating, thing to do in Komodo National Park is bat watching. At sunset, thousands of bats will leave the mangroves and head out to hunt for the night. It’s about 15 minutes of seeing a seemingly endless stream of bats. If you are staying at Scuba Junkies, you can book this as there are mangroves only a short boat ride away. If not, it may be included in some of your other day trip options.
Final Tips for Scuba Diving in Komodo National Park
I visited Komodo National Park for scuba diving in early September and did not need a wetsuit. That being said, I am Canadian and many people joked and called me the ‘polar bear’. However, we did three dives a day and by the end of the third dive I usually ended up feeling the chill. So, if you have a wetsuit, bring it (or rent one). You may not need it for every dive but it’s there if you need it.
Ps. If you are a female looking to buy a wetsuit, check out Truli wetsuits! Created and designed by a female, they are made for women’s bodies and take into consideration our curves. I worked with Mia to help expand her line after I wrote a couple viral articles about the lack of wetsuit options for plus size women and I can honestly say her products look good, feel good, and fit well.
I also highly recommend brining a camera. If you don’t have one, perhaps consider investing in an underwater camera or a GoPro. You will be amazed with all the sea life you see here and trust me, you will want photos.
I should also mentioned, based on my experience I’m not sure that scuba diving in Komodo National Park is the best idea for beginners. The currents here are incredibly strong and can be incredibly dangerous. I kid you not, every dive site we visited, someone on the boat had a story about a diver who was injured or actually died here. Let me tell you, as a relatively new diver at the time, that was very intimidating.
For that reason, I wouldn’t necessarily say here is the best choice to do your open water if you are completely new to scuba diving. However, once you have the basics under your belt and are more comfortable in the water, diving in Komodo is a must.