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Published: October 29th 2017
We flew from Bali to Labuan Bajo, the closest airport to Komodo, an easy 1 hour 15 min flight. We met with our dive shop Scuba Junkies there and waited for the once a day boat ride to their resort. We were really happy we weren't staying in this town as it had nothing attractive about it whatsoever except as a hopping point for Komodo National Park.
Scuba Junkies has one of the closest resorts right outside of Komodo so we could access some of the more remote dive sites easily every day. The accommodations were really basic consisting of bamboo thatched roof huts with a mattress on the floor, resembling more traditional housing than we've been staying in but perfect for a four days where you literally sleep, dive, eat and repeat ($469 pp incl. meals/9 dives).
Most people are familiar with Komodo as being famous for the Komodo dragons but in the dive community it is famous for having the world's best and most diverse diving. The sites here used to be closed off to all but advanced divers but now they are making it more accessible to all by offering all levels of diving.
I was a bit intimidated reading about the strong currents here which sometimes involve up and down currents that you don't see in many places and can be pretty dangerous. Our guide Aloo was incredible and we always received detailed briefings beforehand which gave us suggestions and what exactly to expect and how to dive the particular sites. By the end of our 3 days I felt I had learned more than years diving in the Caribbean.
The highlight of our days was diving with enormous Manta Rays at two locations famous for attracting them. The Manta Rays we saw averaged wingspans of 23 ft. and brought tears to my eyes to watch them. The sites here are Manta Ray "cleaning stations" which are areas where they go to get parasites cleaned off by smaller fish. We sat and watched Mantas for several minutes at a time as they swirled and hovered before our eyes, looking more like alien creatures than anything of this earth. We have previously caught a glimpse of a Manta passing by in the Red Sea, and have seen smaller skates and rays but nothing can compare to watching them at these cleaning
We saw tons of hawksbill turtles, black and white tip reef sharks and our first giant trevallys, cuttlefish, ribbon eels, leaf scorpionfish, Devil Rays, and a small but ferocious mantis shrimp who have the fastest and most powerful punch in the world, and many others. We also took a boat trip one night to see the large and adorable "flying fox" fruit bats emerge by the thousands from their slumber in the mangroves. We made friends with the people on our daily dive boat, feeling more like we were on a liveaboard than staying at a resort as we left on the the boat at 0630 and returned at 1700 every day with the same group. We dove with 2 German sisters and an awesome Swedish couple and their 15 year old daughter who were more traveled and experienced divers than we have ever met. We all became close friends by the end of our stay and hope to meet again for some diving.
On our last day we went to Rinca Island to take a hike to see the Komodo Dragons. Before we barely left the ranger station we saw several enormous
lizards lounging around in the shade. I knew they were big but to see them in person is extremely intimidating as they are much larger than I thought and more the size of alligators. For safety precautions there needs to be a guide for every 4 persons and he is armed with a large stick to keep them at bay if they decide to charge and attack. Not only do you have to be concerned over the bite from them but they contain a bacteria in their saliva that slowly poisons their prey with sepsis over the course of several days. Next stop is our final stop back to Java where we visit the Hindu temples around Yogyakarta.
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