Komodo Dive Sites, Indonesia
Komodo has a huge variety of dive sites. Located in the coral triangle, Komodo has amazing biodiversity. All of this can be experienced in one liveaboard cruise.
Komodo Dive Sites are extremely varied. Colourful reefs covered in beautiful soft corals. Pinnacles so dense in fish you can’t see the rocks. Exhilarating drift dives to spot majestic manta rays. Healthy hard corals reefs with resident turtles. Black sand critter dives with unique macro life. Komodo has it all!
Komodo’s amazing biodiversity is due to its location inside the coral triangle. Komodo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also, it was recently nominated as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
The fascinating and unique dive area of Komodo can only truly be appreciated with a liveaboard cruise. Many liveaboards cover areas that are not visited by day trips or resorts.
Dive sites in Komodo are located around and in between the three main islands. Komodo, Rinca and Padar islands plus numerous smaller ones, are where the action takes place. Even though Komodo covers a relatively small area compared with other dive destinations in Indonesia, it is so varied no diver will be disappointed with their liveaboard cruise to this world-class diving destination.
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Komodo Dive Sites, Indonesia - 75 LIVEABOARDS
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We have separated the best dive sites in Komodo into some broad areas – northern dive sites, central dive sites, southern dive sites and dive sites outside Komodo.
Best Dive Sites in Komodo
The best dive sites in Komodo are described below. There are many other brilliant dive spots but too many to mention here. We have covered the most popular and the ones visited most often by the liveaboards.
Komodo - Northern Dive Sites
North Komodo features pinnacles dives full of fish, exhilarating drift dives over stunning coral reefs and immaculate hard coral reefs.
North of Komodo island is the little island of Gili Lawalaut. Outside of Gili Lawalaut are two famous pinnacles. Castle Rock is one of them. Castle Rock has also been called ‘Hard to Find Rock’. That is because the two main pinnacles of this dive site are completely submerged.
Currents here run east to west or west to east and can be strong. When a current is present, reef sharks patrol the reef looking for an easy meal. Large schools of fusiliers and surgeonfish are what they are interested in! But this dive site can also be dived at slack tide. This is when the large schools of fish are more relaxed and they gather close to the main rocks.
Turtles, napoleon wrasse, schools of sailfin snappers, batfish, white tip reef sharks, grey reef sharks are all part of the action at Castle Rock. Dolphins have also been known to visit this dive site.
At low tide, the main pinnacle at Crystal Rock breaks the surface. Colourful orange soft corals cover the rocks surrounding the steep pinnacle. A second pinnacle, and even a third for the more adventurous, are part of this wonderful dive site.
Crystal Rock, like Castle Rock, has an abundance of fish life. Eagle rays, reef sharks, even dolphins have been sighted here. Macro enthusiasts will still enjoy this dive site. Pygmy seahorses live in the sea fans. Leaf fish and crocodile fish like the rocky areas. And for the really tiny critters, look in the soft corals for lady bug amphipods.
Another place to dive in this area is Shotgun. Here, a small gap between two islands causes a fast flow of water, which will shoot you out at the end of the dive! The sloping hard coral reef either side of the shotgun are beautiful and teeming with fish.
Rays live in the white sand at the edge of the reef. Along the side of the shotgun there are large schools of snappers and jacks. Huge schools of cow nose rays can be seen at this dive site. Manta rays also pass by regularly.
Along the edge of the island of Tatawa Besar is a fantastic drift dive. It is best done when there is some current because the whole reef comes alive. Soft corals fill part of the reef, and colourful anthias zip in and out of the corals. Batfish and snappers live next to a large coral head that is full of glassfish.
Manta rays sometimes pass by here or clean up in the shallows. Reef sharks like this spot because there’s so many fish to feed upon! Another section of the reef is an immaculate hard coral reef. Expect to see turtles feeding in this area.
Komodo - Central Dive Sites
Central Komodo dive sites are in the vast channel created by Komodo and Flores islands. Here the mass movement of water on each tide attracts large schools of fish and lots of manta rays.
Batu Bolong is a popular dive site in this area. The shallows of this dive site are covered in stunning hard corals. Fish always look busy here, from the tiny colourful anthias to big schools of fusiliers. The fish biodiversity that lives on this site is impressive.
Turtles, manta rays, sharks, eagle rays, and for the lucky, dolphins all find this pinnacle an interesting place to pass by!
Next to Komodo island is this very long drift dive. The maximum depth of this dive is usually 10-12 metres. You literally fly along the bottom of the sea! There is a lot of rock and rubble but this barren looking seascape is interspersed with large patches of coral.
Manta rays, many times in large numbers, come here to clean and feed. A very popular dive site but also an excellent snorkelling spot too. Encounters with manta rays here are beyond belief. Different types of sharks such as bamboo, black tip and white tip can also be spotted here.
Siaba Kecil has amazing hard corals home to green and hawksbill turtles. As with many of the dive sites in the channel, this can be an exhilarating drift dive. There is a large plateau full of staghorn hard corals. Turtles are almost a certain sighting at this dive site. Big schools of jacks like to sit in the current. Manta rays also pass by here, they might even stop at a cleaning station.
Dugongs have been sighted in Komodo National Park. They are very shy but some lucky divers have seen them at this dive site.
Pink Beach is a popular stop in Komodo National Park. Visit the beach to see the pink sand! Underwater is a small wall that attracts schooling fish, turtles and cool macro critters such as frogfish. Out in the sand, reef sharks sleep and a special octopus might be seen.
In the shallows are very healthy staghorn corals. Juvenile barramundi cods and harlequin sweetlips are a favourite with divers. Crocodile fish like the sandy spots between the hard corals. You might even be able to spot mandarin fish in the hard corals.
Batu means “rock” and Tengah means “middle”. This small island, more like a big rock, sits right in the middle of the Komodo National Park. If the currents are coming up from the south the water can be cooler here.
Very healthy hard corals are in the shallows where you can see turtles and lots of fish life. Around the deep edges of the sloping reef, batfish, reef sharks, napoleon wrasse and jacks cruise about. Macro critters live here too, nudibranchs, leaf fish, ribbon eels and pygmy seahorses are all possible here.
Wainilo is a calm spot to anchor overnight. There is also a great night dive here. It can also be done as a day dive. This is a critter dive. In the shallows is a broken down hard coral reef. In amongst the rubble mandarin fish and picturesque dragonets hide.
Out in the sand look for rare nudibranchs, blue-ringed octopus, demon stingers, ghost pipefish, harlequin shrimps, Rhinopias, frogfish, the list goes on! There is even a species of moray eel here that seems to be endemic to this area.
Komodo - Southern Dive Sites
South Komodo dive sites differ to the other parts of the park, in the species of corals and fish that you can see.
Horseshoe Bay is formed by the south of Rinca Island and the little island of Nusa Kode. The well-renowned dive sites of Cannibal Rock, Yellow Wall of Texas and Torpedo Alley, to name a few, are found here.
Cannibal Rock has been cited as being one of the best dive sites in the world. A great abundance of fish make this stunning pinnacle their home. Hard and soft corals surround a pinnacle that breaks the surface at low tide. The colour on the dive site is created by the crinoids, sponges, sea apples, tunicates and soft corals. As well the schools of fish at the top of the rock.
Giant frogfish, nudibranchs, leaf fish, anemone fish with tongue biters, pygmy seahorses, turtles, reef sharks, crocodile fish, nurse sharks, clown frogfish, ghost pipefish, octopus, this dive site is full of action and life.
Yellow Wall of Texas
Yellow Wall of Texas was named by one Larry Smith, one of the pioneers of Komodo National Park. This long wall is not so deep but has a lot to offer you from cool macro critters to big schools of fish. Along the shallower depths of the wall, fire sea urchins with zebra crabs or Coleman shrimps are found. In the soft corals are tiny ladybug amphipods in large numbers.
Sea apples in so many colours are a special type of sea cucumber. It is fascinating to watch these round and brightly coloured filter feeders using their tentacles to catch their food in the current.
The black sand of Torpedo Alley provides an excellent creature hunt to find some of rarest critters in the world. Rhinopias have been seen here. As well as, coconut octopus, frogfish, bobbit worms, nudibranchs, electric torpedo rays, mimic octopus, Ambon scorpionfish, sea moths, seahorses, strange shrimps… the list goes on and on!
Komodo has a huge population of over 1,000 manta rays! Komodo is one of the best places in the world to dive with these majestic wonders of the ocean. Manta Alley is another amazing dive site where you can encounter manta rays.
Manta Alley is on the southern tip of Komodo island. The landscape is very dramatic here, with high cliffs and big rocks sticking out of the ocean. Manta rays feeding on the surface make snorkelling here a great experience. They also come here to get cleaned and divers can be treated to a manta ballet while they watch large numbers of manta vying for space on the cleaning station.
Padar island has a very beautiful bay where liveaboards can find a quiet anchorage. The scenery here is stunning. The diving is great too! One popular dive site is Three Sisters.
These underwater pinnacles host an immense amount of fish life. Large schools of fish congregate around the rocks. Reef sharks and schools of mobula rays cruise out in the deep waters. Giant frogfish live in sponges on the steep walls of the pinnacles. Sea apples and fire sea urchins are also found in this southern dive site.
Dive Sites Outside Komodo
Liveaboards will also visit some areas outside of the Komodo National Park. Below we list the most popular.
Gili Banta is a large island to the west of Komodo National Park. There are several dive sites and some liveaboards will spend a whole day diving here.
This is a dive for advanced divers. Hard coral gardens drop down to large rock formations and steep slopes. Grey reef sharks like the deep water here.
Located on one corner of Gili Banta, Tanduk Rusa can be a bit of a rollercoaster ride. But the long reef that stretches along the side of the island is a calmer dive for this less experienced. Manta rays pass along this reef.
This is a great night dive. Stargazers are the main attraction here. The big sandy area also hosts long-armed octopus, flounders, stone fish and waspfish.
Sangeang is an active volcano off Sumbawa island. Many liveaboards will stop here for a day of diving. There are plenty of dive sites.
Ever tried diving in an underwater jacuzzi?! Due to the active status of the volcano, gases bubble up from under the sand. In one section of this dive site, the entire sandy area has streams of bubbles rising out of the sand. This very unique diving experience will be remembered fondly by divers.
In front of the village of Bontoh, is a great dive site. Critters galore can be found in the black sand here. This dive site is especially good for a night dive.
The busy port of Bima is on the island of Sumbawa. Some liveaboards begin or end their cruises here.
Near the outside of Bima Bay is a shoreline that provides excellent critter diving. All the unusual suspects can be seen here! Muck diving here is brilliant.
Of course, the highlight in Komodo National Park is to see Komodo dragons. Two islands, Komodo and Rinca, have a ranger station. Liveaboards will include at least one land excursion to see these large lizards. Komodo dragons are not found anywhere else in the world and so this is definitely a once in a lifetime experience.
On Gili Lawalaut has a beautiful beach that can be visited at high tide. There is also a short trek up to a viewpoint to look out over the islands in the Komodo Flores channel.
On Gili Lawa Darat there are several treks. If you walk to the very top at sunset time the views are stunning.
On Padar Island there is also a trek to a viewpoint. The viewpoint starts nearby to where the liveaboards anchor. You can hike up the hill and then down the other to a beautiful pink sand beach.
A visit to Komodo Village is a great cultural experience. Here the houses are built on stilts, a big reason for that is to keep out the Komodo dragons that the local people share the island with!
There are lots of pretty beaches in Komodo. Pink Beach a popular beach to visit to see the extraordinary pink sand.
Marine Park and Conservation in Komodo
Komodo was first declared a nature reserve in 1965. Komodo National Park was founded in 1980 to protect the Komodo dragon. Later the park was dedicated to protecting other species, including marine species. In 1991, the national park was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Komodo island itself is between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores. The three major islands inside the national park are Komodo, Rinca and Padar. 26 smaller islands are also within the park.
Komodo Dragons exist nowhere else in the world. There are around 5,700 of these giant lizards living within the Komodo National Park. Scientists studying the theory of evolution are very interested in the Komodo Dragon. Komodo dragons are a protected species.
In 2014 Indonesia established the world’s largest sanctuary for manta rays. Manta rays are a protected species throughout the entire archipelago.