The archipelago of Nusa Tenggara is not just known for its ferocious Komodo Dragons. It is also the location of some world class diving sites.
For tourists coming to the islands of Komodo, Rinca, and Flores, it will be the airport of Labuan Bajo on Flores where you will make your landing. Theoretically, you could also arrive in the area on the PELNI ferries, but this is not advisable. If you are part of a tour group, then your hosts should pick you up from the airport and take you to your hotel (or boat!), but if you are travelling independently, you should first find somewhere to stay in the town of Labuan Bajo and acclimatise before heading off elsewhere in the region.
There are shipwrecks galore in the Komodo area, especially around Komodo Island itself – but I have no idea why that is! The southern side of Rinca island is also an interesting place in which to case your stay in the area, although your decision will invariably depend on which diving group you sign up to. Komodo Dragons are present on Komodo and Rinca islands, but not on Flores. But the bad news for you is that they are very good swimmers – so I hope you don’t encounter these maneaters when you’re in the water!
Scuba diving in the Komodo Marine Reserve is possible all year round, but the best diving conditions run from March to October. The best season to see plenty of Manta Rays is during the rainy season from December to February, although not all dive clubs go out at sea during the rainy season so check with your operator. From January to March the sea can be a bit choppy but this shouldn’t affect you when underwater.
One of the best things about diving Komodo is that you will often feel as you are the only ones underwater as there are just so many dive sites. Also the local dive centres agree on not diving the same site at the same time. The average price of a dive is around $30USD. Reefseekers, Dive Komodo, Blue Marlin, and Orca Dive Club are among the best choices in Labuan Bajo for you to contact in regards to diving all over the Komodo region.
Currents are usually very strong on every dive site and diving in Komodo is mostly reserved to experienced divers with confidence in drift diving! There are, however, some quieter dive spots for those beginners but you may miss the incredible action of big fish swimming into the current. The current can sometimes reach 8 knots in some places. It is driven by tides so choose your dive site carefully which you can plan depending on the conditions. This current is due to the Komodo and Rinca island acting like a bottleneck between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.
The Komodo waters are incredibly rich in marine life, and it is usual to spot Dogtooth Tuna, Giant trevally, Barracuda, Manta rays, Blacktip shark, Hammerhead sharks, pygmy sea horse, frog fish – and the famous “Wall of Fish”, which are present everywhere in the region.
Although there are many more great dive sites in Indonesia (Raja Ampat, Bunaken, etc.), I always found Komodo to be among the most impressive sites in the region. The mixture of great scenery, great atmosphere, and great, varied sealife is why tourists continue to flock to Nusa Tenggara for the dive of the lives!