Read on for the second half of an insider perspective into the wonder and excitement of Komodo Diving!
Komodo Diving Day 4: A manta ray train
Day 4 started off with a current-filled dive at Crystal Rock, where three white tip reef sharks cruised around us. The sharks were cool but the highlight of the day was Makassar Reef, where we had our most spectacular dive to date this season. Once in the water, it didn’t take long before the magic began to happen. A large, familiar shape materialized and came in our direction, then another… and another. We planted ourselves on the bottom, bubbles rushing past us in the current, which was gaining strength with each passing minute. Before we knew it, more and more appeared, including a black manta, travelling in single file. I suppose that’s what we’d call a manta train, hey?
I counted twelve of them, before they became blurry, indistinct shapes in the distance. As the manta rays drifted gracefully into the distance, an eagle ray cruised past, just to add a little bit of icing on the cake. The current picked up and before we knew it, we were drifting fast in the rising tide. We chanced upon a school of bumphead parrotfish, calmly patrolling a cleaning station, and the wonder of Komodo Diving didn’t end there. Whilst making our way to the safety stop, two more large mantas appeared, making it a grand total of fourteen. We were in manta heaven, which to say the least, was absolutely mind blowing!
Komodo Diving Day 5: Napoleon Wrasse and Hawksbill Turtles
Descending into Batu Bolong bright and early on Day 5, we were surrounded by a massive school of fusiliers that were being hunted by a fearsome pack of giant trevallies. The school was so big that it blocked sunlight from reaching large parts of the reef at times. Leo and Manuela became acquainted with some of Komodo National Park residents like Napoleon wrasse, hawksbill turtles, clownfish and the colourful display of anthias, damselfish and rock groupers.
We then had a rush of drift dive at Siaba Kecil, before we proceeded over to Mauan, where we were greeted by the superstars themselves – three large mantas. Till this day, I think it’s absolutely amazing that you could find big stuff and small stuff, all in one dive site, and Mauan is such a site. We found two sapsucking slugs, Chamberlain’s nembrotha and a couple of leaf scorpionfish on its powdery white sand slopes.
Komodo Diving Day 6: Rarity and Color
Tatawa Besar was a strong southbound drift on this morning. We had heard that some rare creatures dwell here and enthusiastically jumped in. It’s easy to take in the glorious sights of Tatawa Besar, with its lush hard and soft corals and sponges, during a comfortable drift dive like this one, a hallmark of Komodo Diving. Luck was on our side, as a manta rays appeared yet again in an opportune spot to grab onto a rock and watch them for a good 15 minutes.
At Makassar Reef, we even spotted a whitetail stingray (often confused with a marbled ray, because of its similar appearance). As if that wasn’t enough, we spent our safety stop watching a porcupine stingray from above!
Komodo Diving Day 7: Hidden Treasures
We dived Wainilu on our last day of the trip, and we find that Komodo Diving keeps getting better and better. For first time visitors, Its bare, brown sand, rubble and humble patches of soft coral may not be much, especially to the untrained eye, but it is an opportunity to transform the way one looks at things.
A bewildering number of marine critters inhabit its sandy slopes, and we know this because we see different marine animals each time we dive there. One week it could be zebra crabs and thorny seahorses, the next, cockatoo waspfish and bent-stick pipefish, but this week it was different yet again. Look… a pacific thecacera nudibranch! Oh, wait. There’s a cuttlefish! And there’s a blue dragon nudibranch. Oh there’s two of them!
And so, another spectacular week in Komodo National Park concludes. I had a bittersweet feeling come over me, as I stood atop Goat Island, admiring the sunset. Must all good things come to an end?…Of course not! There is always another Komodo Liveaboard with Wicked Diving waiting for us.