Some dive sites of the park Komodo are truly exceptional. Manta Ray, large pelagic, shark, macro, reef… they are rich and varied. The best known as Batu bolong, Castle rock, Cauldron or Manta alley are of course among this ranking, but also some less known as my favorite site, Siaba kecil ! The diving areas at Komodo are also very different between north, central and south, we don't see the same thing and the conditions are very different (visibility, temperature…). Find below my non-exhaustive classification of best dive sites in Komodo after a season there!
Contexte: I was director of a cruise ship for 1 season in Komodo, so I think I know the area well!
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THE 10 BEST KOMODO DIVING SITES
KOMODO DIVING MAP
THE DIFFERENT DIVING AREAS OF KOMODO
- The area with: the most sharks, the best visibility (20 to 30 m) and the hottest water temperature (27-28 °)
- Best dive sites : Castle rock, Cauldron, Ligthouse, Crystal rock
Central Komodo or "Current city"
- The area with: the most current, the most fish, the most beautiful corals, the most dangerous sites
- Best dive sites : Siaba kecil, Batu bolong, Tatawa kecil, Tatawa besar, mawan
- The area with: the best macro (Nusa kode and Padar), the coldest water temperature (20-25 °), the most reduced visibility
- Best dive sites : Manta alley, Canibal rock
1. SIABA KECIL
A drift of madness and the most beautiful Komodo corals!
- Batu Bolong and Castle rock are undoubtedly better known, but for me the best dive site in Komodo is Siaba kecil !
- A small island in the middle of "current city" (central Komodo)
- The currents can be very strong here, but you will be rewarded with a lot of action underwater and pelagics!
- We start north or south of the island depending on the tide and we drift along a superb reef, which is certainly the most beautiful in Komodo.
- Depending on the strength of the current, the quantity of fish can be impressive!
- Some barracudas benches, snappers, triggerfish, fusiliers ... and large pelagic : bigeye trevally (giant trevally), napoleon, grouper, hump parrot…
- Possibly sharks
- Some manta rays can pass at any time!
The current is often strong here, the dive will be drifting and a negative input may be requirede, but you will not be disappointed!
2. CASTLE ROCK
THE best shark site in Komodo !
- Castle rock is one of the most famous sites and rightly so!
- It's a submerged mountain which arrives at approximately 5 m below the surface, in the north of the park Komodo
- If the conditions are good, we descend into a negative entrance around 20-25 m and admire the show: sharks spinning, trevally giants on the hunt, tuna passing, school of fish of all kinds (fusiliers, snappers, barracudas, trevallies…)
- We walk around the pinnacle and we end up in the shallow end taking advantage of the corals, often trying to shelter from the current!
It is probably the best site to see sharks, which will be mainly white tipss, occasionally Grey can pass. Do not expect to see dozens and dozens of sharks as in other destinations, it will be between 5 and 10 max.
3. CAULDRON (SHOTGUN)
Experience the "SHOTGUN"!
- The Cauldron (where the shotgun) is one of the most unique sites in Komodo !
- A small pass between 2 park islands with in the center a sort of round canyon with a sandy bottom and walls on the sides, resembling a "cauldron", hence its name!
- The start of the dive can be already nice because there is a kind of small cleaning station or it is not uncommon to come across manta rays !
- The current increases little by little and we arrive at the cauldron, where all the dive will regroup to be sure to leave at the same time in the current and experience the " shotgun "(Like a shot)!
- The following drift is very nice and we can come across many things: sharks, bigeye trevallies, wrasse, humpback parrot ... but also schools of mobulas rays !
- We will end quietly in a splendid coral garden, and if you are lucky, it is not impossible to see manta rays in the shallow end!
- This is for me the best place to hope to meet resident schools of mobulas
- You can expect to see manta rays before and after shotgun
- This site is not for everyone, the passage of the shotgun can be, depending on the conditions, quite dangerous
4. BATU BOLONG
The most famous site of Komodo!
- Batu bolong is a pinnacle in the middle of "current city", ie where the currents between north and south are strongest!
- It is almost impossible to go around the pinnacle because the currents on the sides are always very strong and descending, so we only dive on one side (depending on the tide) and we zig-zag.
- The corals and marine life present are exceptional and varied: sharks (but we see more at Castle rock), large pelagic (napoleon, grouper, snapper, sweetlips, turtle ...), and macro if we look well (pygmy seahorse ...)
- The coral in the shallow end is splendid with thousands of anthias!
WHY Batu bolong is not my favorite site?
- Yes, it is surely the most beautiful site of Komodo mail there is TOO MUCH PEOPLE !!
- ALL cruise ships + ALL Labuan Bajo diving clubs go to Batu bolong EVERY day!
- Furthermore, zigzag diving (because of the currents on the sides) makes everyone cross and end up in the same place!
5. TATAWA KECIL
The current can be strong!
- Tatawa Kecil is a very small island located in the middle of "current city"
- This is one of the most complicated dives to do because the currents are really unpredictable, but if you're up for it, you can really be rewarded!
- The number of fish and large pelagics present can be impressive: bigeye trevally (giant trevally), school of barracudas, trevallies, fusiliers, snappers ...
- Some manta rays, sharks and mobula rays can also pass
It can really be a dangerous dive or you find yourself in a downdraft and / or you find yourself separated from the group at causes outgoing current. Do not dive unless you are a very good diver!
6. MANTA ALLEY
THE best site to see manta rays in Komodo!
- There is a lot of manta rays in Komodo, but if you want to be sure to see it, you have to go to Manta alley !
- It's a cleaning station south of Komodo
- We start with a kind of small rock around 20-25 m above which the manta rays come and get cleaned up (you can see dozens of them for a while if you're lucky)
- Then a little further we have the "alley", a kind of small pass (like an alley, hence its name), where the manta rays can regroup and suspend themselves in the current.
- You are very likely to see them at Manta alley because they are normally at one of the 2 spots!
- Apart from the manta rays, there is not much to see, but you can still come across: humpback parrot, grouper, napoleon, shark ...
- You have 90% chances of seeing manta rays on this site and we also often do 2 dives at Manta alley to increase the odds!
- Not all cruise ships go there, only the biggest liveaboards that do routes of 7 days or more go there normally (they are there from June to September, more info here)
- Macro: temperature is cold in the south, between 20 and 25 °!
7. CRYTAL ROCK
The best visibility of Komodo!
- Crystal rock in a configuration similar to Castle rock, except that the pinnacle is larger and a little closer to the coasts
- We often make a negative entry to position ourselves at one of the points of the pinnacle and hope for action!
- The corals are nice and the visibility is always excellent
- Shark, tuna, bigeye trevally, school of fusiliers and snappers are usually there!
To know :
Crystal rock is good but Castle rock will almost always be better, so choose…
8. MAKASAR REEF
Also called "Manta point"!
- Makasar reef est une sorte de dérivante de plus de 2 km de long dans « current city »
- It is one of the best known sites (with Manta alley) for see manta rays in Komodo
- Mais c’est un peu la roulette russe, si on est vraiment chanceux on peut see dozens and dozens of manta rays, but often it's only 1 or 2…
- Besides the manta rays, the reef is not top and few other interesting species are present
To know :
- Karang Makasar is not a cleaning station as is Manta alley in the south of Komodo and the site is much larger, therefore see manta rays is absolutely not guaranteed (your chances are much less than in Manta alley)
- This site is accessible for day trips from Labuan Bajo, so bad news for those who are on a cruise, because it is a compulsory stop for diving clubs and snorkeling operators.
The hidden site with manta rays from Komodo!
- One of the North Komodo dive sites, less known than Castle rock and the Cauldron, Lighthouse is however a great site!
- It is a drift along a slope where many things can pass: shark, huge grouper, tuna, school of barracudas ... I have even encountered dolphins and mobula rays !
- Few people know that this is a great place to see manta rays, I've seen it almost every time!
- No need to go very deep on this dive, the colors in the 10 m zone are superb thanks to the corals, small poisons that waver and the brightness is always good!
To know :
- Few people know that there is a good chance of see manta rays at Lighthouse
- Labuan bajo clubs do not come here for the day normally, so you are almost guaranteed to dive alone, which is a luxury in Komodo
10. TATAWA BESAR
Endless orange soft corals!
- Tatawa besar is a very practical site!
- It is not the site where there is the most action underwater in Komodo, but despite it being in "current city", the topography means that the currents are rarely strong here
- So everyone can dive there safely while enjoying the beauty of Komodo
- In addition the reef is nice, with a field of orange soft corals along the island, we take full eyes during the whole drift dive!
To know :
The only "current city" site that is not considered potentially "dangerous" because the currents are never strong
BEST SITES KOMODO RAIE MANTA
The best Komodo site for diving with manta rays is clearly Manta alley South. However there are other sites in the north and central where we frequently come across them, and where the water is not at 22 ° as in the south!
- Manta alley : a cleaning station, the best komodo site, almost sure to see them
- Karang makasar : a very large site, nothing guaranteed, but when they are there, they can be very numerous!
- North: Light house, Cauldron
- Central: Mawan, Siaba kecil
BEST SITES KOMODO SHARK
Some best places to dive with sharks in Komodo are clearly those from the north, with in mind Castle rock and Crystal rock. We can also come across it centrally but it is much more random.
- Castle rock : the best site
- Crystal rock
- Cauldron (shotgun)
- Golden passage
BEST KOMODO CORAL SITES
Sites with the most beautiful reefs and corals are located centrally Komodo, in "current city". Those from the south (towards Nusa kode) are beautiful too, but we appreciate them much less because of the cold temperature and the reduced visibility.
- Siaba kecil
- Batu bolong
- Tatawa kecil
- Tatawa besar
- Canibal rock
BEST MACRO AND NIGHT DIVING SITES IN KOMODO
Komodo is not Lembeh, Alor or Ambon (the most famous sites in Indonesia, the top 5 macro here), but has some Site (s with good macro where you can find pygmy seahorses or frog fish for example ! The best macro site in Komodo and for a night dive is without a doubt Wainilu.
- Wainilu : the best macro site
- Secret garden (Padar island)
- Nusa code : Canibal rock and yellow wall
KOMODO DIVING CRUISE
If you want to do all best sites and take full advantage, obviously you have to make a diving cruise in Komodo !
You will have the choice between:
- Small cruise ships (" liveaboard budget") Who leave for short journeys of 3 to 5 days
- Some standard cruises, fairly comfortable and lasting 6 to 8 days
- Some comfort cruisess, see luxuries, which leave for 7 to 8 days and up to 12 or 13 (that's what I did)
There are always promos for the diving cruises in Komodo especially in spring when they have to fill the last places of their boat!
Find all the best offers of the moment on my promo page!
FULL ARTICLE KOMODO
- All essential information in summary
- Diving season
- Diving club
- Dive prices
- Diving course
- My diving review
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