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Log Date: Thursday, Aug 17, 2017
Entry By: Indo Aggressor crew









 

Our cruise for the next ten days in the Komodo National Park and outer areas started out on 17th at the quaint harbour town of Labuan Bajo where all of our guests boarded on time after which we started the engines and made out way out into the park.
The following day we started our activities not with a dive, but with a trek up to The Three Humps of Gili Lawah Darat very early in the morning to catch the sunrise over the Linta Strait.

Our aim was to do our check dive around Gili Lawah Laut before taking advantage of the waning moon phase and neap tides diving some of the fantastic dive sites along the north shores of the park the solitary islands of Gili Banta and Sangeang Volcano and the current swept sites of The Linta Strait.

This first phase of the trip worked out very well and we managed to dive a few of the spectacular dive sites that are sometimes not easily visited, including GPS Point and Rollercoaster at Gili Banta in some of the best and easiest conditions we have seen.

As the moon phase clicked over to spring tides we moved down to Horseshoe Bay, where tidal flow is not so much of a concern. We were surprised at the great visibility that we had down here, very unlike the norm for August. Although we had some fairly strong winds and water four degrees colder than the north sites we spent a day diving some of the most pristine and life packed sites anywhere.

Due to the windy conditions, we decided to miss out on diving Langkoi Bay and trekking on Padar Island and move our operations back up to the north, a popular decision with cold members the group.

Due to this missed day in the south we decided to repeat some of the dives we did in the first two days, with a little more current, once again in wonderful conditions.
More exciting land excursions were on offer, including a trek on Gili Lawah Laut and the official Komodo Dragon Trek on Rinca Island.
After the Rinca land excursion our guests came back to see the Indo Aggressor under full sail as we made our way back to Labuan Bajo to finish the cruise.

Dive 1: Crystal Cove
Time in: 07:45. Water temperature: 28°C.
Visibility: Good, 20 metres.
After a strenuous and extremely busy (due to Indonesian Independence Day) early morning trek up to the summit of Three Hump Rock on Gili Lawah Darat we moved the Indo Aggressor around to the north bay of Gili Lawah Laut. Our first dive is over the bright sand and vibrant corals of Crystal Cove, a nice easy start to the trip.

Location: Crystal Cove is inside the north facing bay of Gili Lawah Laut close one nautical mile south-west from the small solar powered lighthouse on the most north-eastern point of the island.

Dive type: Close to the beach there is large shallow sandy patch which makes a great place for a check-out dive and fabulous training area for new divers.

Special marine life: Hairy Shrimp, a large mobile nurse shark and a cuttlefish were the highlights of this first dive

Dive 2: Lighthouse Reef
Time in: 11:00. Water temperature: 28°C. Visibility: Good, 25 metres.

Carrying on with our soft and gentle start to the diving for this cruise we chose to dive on the east side of Gili Lawah Laut at Lighthouse Reef. This was nice and easy, warm and colourful.

Location: Lighthouse reef starts on the north-east facing tip of Gili Lawah Laut and runs down the east side of the island.

Dive type: At the lighthouse point the reef runs down into deep water along a coral head ridge. The bottom of this ridge is where the current hits the site and is a good place to see large animals. The reef to the west of the point is quite nice as the slope becomes gentler but is the reef that runs down the east side that is the most popular.

Special marine life: Black-tip and white-tip reef-sharks, spine cheeked anemone fish as well as some nice nudibranchs.

Dive 3: GLD Passage
Time In: 15:00. Visibility: Fair. Water Temperature: 28°C

A thrilling rapid ride through the gap between Gili Lawah Darat and Komodo. Lots to see on this one with many schooling fish on the faster sections.

Location: GLD Passage is the name given to the channel between the southern end of the island of Gili Lawah Darat and the north-east Komodo mainland.

Dive type: This dive is normally done as a drift during an outgoing tide, that runs through the channel from west to east although on this occasion we did it the other way around, there was something strange going on with the tides and currents today. The entire site is made up of several different parts: Shallow reef, rocky sloping reef, sand patches, coral heads, a wall, sand chutes and even a fish bowl before finishing on a colourful coral reef.

Special marine life: Included on this dive were several white-tip reef-sharks, some huge grey sweetlips and, at the very end of the dive, a manta ray, for some of the group.

Dive 4: Spanish Steps
Time in: 18:45. Water temperature: 28°C.

The first night dive of the trip was done at Spanish Steps. Due to the exhausting activities of the day there were only three divers on this site, and they were sent out to hunt for Spanish Dancers, which they didn’t find!!!

Location: Inside and on the west side of the anchorage inlet at Komodo Island opposite Gili Lawah Darat. The dive site runs north-south along the sloping reef.

Dive type: Shallow top reef that then slopes down fairly uniformly to sand at around 30 metres.

Special marine life: Spanish steps is a great critter night dive. Pygmy seahorses can be found on the gorgonian fans at the 30-metre mark where the sloping reef turns into flatter sand. Cat sharks, shrimps and crabs. This site is particularly good for Spanish dancers, for which the site is named, and sleeping nurse sharks and turtles are also common after dark.

19th August 2017
Dive 5: K2
Time In: 07:45. Visibility: Excellent.
Water Temperature: 28°C

Even though it was very windy and a little overcast topside we had fantastic conditions on this site early this morning, clear warm water, and plenty to see.

Location: The K2 dive site can be found just over 1,000 metres south of the north-west tip of Gili Banta.

Dive type: The dive at K2 is comprised of steep sandy slopes, scattered coral heads, a deep wall and some shallow coral rubble and reef patches. This site is good for easy critter diving but is sometimes visited by sharks and manta rays so keep an eye out in the blue.

Special marine life: Six different leaf scorpion-fishes.

Dive 6: Rollercoaster
Time In: 10:45. Visibility: Very good.
Water Temperature: 28°C

Unanimously voted the best dive of the trip so far (even though we have only done five before this), we managed to time this one to perfection. Rollercoaster is notoriously fickle when it comes to current but we dived in perfect conditions; great visibility, corals as far as the eye can see, plenty of fish life and just enough current to make things go smoothly for the drift around the point.

Location: Rollercoaster, sometimes called Highway to Heaven or Tanduk Rusa (Stag Horn), is located on and around the extreme north western rocky tip of Gili Banta’s north facing bay

Dive type: This incredibly exciting site comprises a current swept promontory that features deep coral covered walls and panoramic underwater architecture on the east side of the site. Around the central point there are with large boulders and pinnacles in deep water as well as striking rock formations and arches above the water line. The west side features a spectacular coral reef (not featured in the illustration) that runs for nearly 1,500 metres in a south-easterly direction and this is often done as a drift dive.

Special marine life: Schooling fishes at the point and a couple of banded sea snakes.

Dive 7: Starwars
Time In: 15:00. Visibility: A little misty. Water Temperature: 28°C

We were all set up to dive at the infamous GPS Point, the conditions were perfect with just a little current. Unfortunately, there were two fishing boats on the site with large nets so we decided to fall back on the Starwars site. This proved to be a very good substitute with plenty of life buzzing around this wonderful sloping reef.

Location: This fabulous reef dive site runs for 750 metres from north-west to south-east along the most north-eastern shoreline of Gili Banta.
Topside visual: The rolling scenery of this part of Gili Banta runs down to a couple of small white sand coves on the outer shoreline of the islands north-east point. The site is just outside of the main north facing anchorage bay.

Dive type: Starwars consists of rich hard coral slopes, abundant coral heads and rubble patches dropping onto a flat sandy bottom punctuated with huge coral heads at 25 to 30 metres. The site is subject to current both from the east and west depending on tidal flow and at certain times produces great conditions for some thrilling drift dives up and down the reef.

Special marine life: Very pretty coral heads with hairy squat lobsters and a couple of manta rays feeding in the stream at the western end of the reef.

Dive 8: The Circus
Time In: 18:45. Visibility: Very good. Water Temperature: 28°C

The Circus is a very popular night dive with our guests. Really easy to do and with plenty to see we did this tonight in almost perfect conditions.

Location: This remarkable little dive can be found just inside the eastern end of Gili Banta’s north facing bay 1,000 metres from the islands most north-easterly point.

Dive type: The site is comprised of a flat and sloping sand area bordered by rocky reef on both sides that runs down to deeper sand at around 15 to 25 metres. The central focus of this site is the flat sandy patch about 60 metres across, close to shore in depths which ranges in depths from three to eight metres and then gradually slopes down to 15-20 metres.

Special marine life: The main attraction at The Circus are the rare stargazers, this bizarre looking fish is an ambush predator that lies buried in the sand waiting to pounce. An animal with a grumpiness all of its own, the stargazer uses a lure that actually waves in and out of its mouth to attract a meal.

In addition to the remarkable stargazer the site also features plenty of other critters such as; small octopus, porcelain crabs, stone-fish, seahorses, ghost pipefish, flounders, bobtail squid, snake eels, pearl fish, spearing mantis shrimp and squat lobsters. Look out for frogfish, leaf scorpionfish and large crocodile fish on the neighbouring reef slopes and, as previously mentioned, if the site is dived and hour before dark there is a very good chance of spotting mandarin fish.

20th August 2017
Dive 9: Hot Rocks - Sangeang
Time In: 07:15. Visibility: Excellent. Water Temperature: 28°C

This great dive was done in great undersea conditions but from a fairly choppy surface. Under the water the bubbles were in full flow and there were plenty of critters on display among the very colourful corals.

Location: Hot Rocks can be found 1.7 nautical miles south-east from the tall lighthouse along the north-eastern shoreline of Sangeang Island.

Topside visual:
When we were positioning the boat this morning to start our dives Sangeang volcano decided to give us a welcome burp and expelled a huge cloud of dust and ash high into the air.

Dive type: Hot Rocks is the signature dive at Sangeang Island and a big favourite with anybody who has ever dived down into the bubbles rising up from the black sand and then down over the kaleidoscopic coral heads and colourful reef. Named after the volcanic activity at the site it is
 possible to see geothermal vents bubbling up from both the sand and the yellow sulphur marked rocks and to feel the heat of the gas flowing out of the warm sand.

Dive 10: Black Magyk - Sangeang
Time In: 10:15. Visibility: Excellent. Water Temperature: 28°C

It was fairly windy around north Sangeang today so after diving Hot Rocks we decided to move further around the island for our second dive today, and re-visit an old favourite, Black Magyk. It was a popular choice and this old critter site was looking back to its best with lots of smaller animals on show today.

Location: This dive site can be found in a small bay along the north shoreline of Sangeang Island.

Dive type: Black magic is an excellent critter dive comprising a black volcanic sand slope that creates a bowl within the bay. The bay is around 200 metres across and has a very shallow rocky area close to the beach before the sand starts to slope following the contours of the bay. The whole area is crawling with critters whether exploring the deeper sand or finishing a dive with your cylinder bobbing above the waterline over the rocks.

On either side of the bay there are bordering by coral gardens and sloping reefs and these are also very pretty and productive. The reef on the eastern side stretches all the way up to the lighthouse and if the current is with you makes a great drift dive.
Although the central sandy section of this site can be prolific for smaller animals, care has to be taken at times with finning technique to avoid creating silt/sand storms.

Special marine life: Many interesting critters were on display today, including: a baby frogfish, an ornate ghost-pipefish and many different nudibranchs.

Dive 11: GPS Point - Gili Banta
Time In: 15:30. Visibility: Excellent. Water Temperature: 27°C

After yesterdays’ disappointment at not being able to dive GPS Point if almost perfect conditions due to the fishermen on the site, we decided to have another go today on our way back from Sangeang volcano. The current conditions were slightly different with but the site was certainly worth a visit.

Location: This tricky to find (hence the name) but enormous sea-mount site, is 1,740 metres north-west of the eastern tip of Gili Banta’s north facing bay.

Dive type: The fabled GPS Point is the signature dive at Gili Banta and one of the numerous Five-Star sites in the Sape Strait region. Located nearly two kilometres north of Gili Banta this vast sea mound, the size of two football fields, thrusts up from the ocean floor to within four metres of the surface, not the sort of obstacle that a large vessel should get too close too. It is however an obstacle that divers, seeking a thrilling world-class underwater experience should visit at least once on during a cruise to Komodo, if the conditions make it possible.

Special marine life: Clouds of schooling fish, including big-eyed jacks, large lionfish, big Spanish mackerel and white-tip reef-sharks were all playing in the current today.

21st August 2017
Dive 13: Crystal Rock
Time In: 08:00. Visibility: Excellent. Water Temperature: 28°C

Crystal rock was a little current swept this morning with a strong rising tide but that didn’t stop us diving this wonderful site. Dropping in on the lee side of the rock the group were surrounded by fish feeding in the swirling current. Very clear warm water only made this dive more thrilling.

Location: The Crystal Rock dive site is about 800 metres north of the anchorages along the north Gili Lawah Laut shoreline.
Topside visual: Scanning the seascape at low tide from the anchorages a small craggy rock is visible offshore - this is Crystal Rock, another of the Komodo National Parks famous sea mounts and a firm favourite with divers.

Dive type: Spectacular current swept pinnacle and deeper sea-mount. Rocky sloping reefs and large coral covered boulders.
The site spreads out from the visible rock and includes another deeper mount on the west side. Dive plans here begin by descending down the steep coral covered west facing slope to a saddle at 20 metres that links the two rock formations. From this position, the deeper sea mount can easily be seen and explored.

Special marine life: Napoleon wrasse, white-tip reef-sharks, moray eels, the resident eagle ray, schooling surgeon fish, barracuda, many different sweetlips and a big turtle.

Dive 14: Castle Rock
Time In: 12:30. Visibility: Very good. Water Temperature: 28°C

We had to wait for a fair amount of time for the strong incoming current to slow down before we dived Castle Rock, but boy, was it worth it. This thrilling dive site certainly lived up to its reputation today.

Location: The shallower part of Castle rock can be found 1,700 metres or one nautical mile north north-west from the Gili Lawah Laut main anchorage site on the north side of the island.

Topside visual: This dive site is a submerged sea-mount in a depth of three metres at its shallowest point at low tide. It is however possible to spot the shallowest rocks of the reef very easily with good visibility and little surface chop. During a strong tidal flow, there is also the tell-tale smooth water up current and disturbed current lines after tide has rushed around the top of the dive site.

Dive type: Castle rock is a large uniform rocky sea-mount that drops down sharply around the shallower parts but flattens out at about 10 metres before the reef starts to slope gently into deeper water.
This site is one of the most popular dives in the Komodo National Park and acts like a magnet for a massive amount of marine life. The rocks closest to the surface are easily visible most of the time and after entering either at the shallowest point or drifting down with the current onto the 10-metre mark, it is generally easy to swim down and onto the coral covered slopes.

Special marine life: As the tide ran down there were clouds of schooling fusiliers and surgeonfish on the current side of the rock, as well as at least 10 white-tip reef-sharks, two greys, dogtooth tunas and some huge GT’s, oh, and a turtle and an octopus.

Dive 15: Shotgun
Time In: 15:45. Visibility: Very good. Water Temperature: 28°C

Dive report: This spectacular dive was done late in the afternoon due to our long wait for Castle Rock. We started with a strong outgoing tide in great conditions but the current had slowed down by the end of the dive.

Location: The Shotgun dive is located in the narrow channel between Gili Lawah Laut and Gili Lawah Darat and includes the reef on the east side of Gili Lawah Laut, the marine ridge that connects the two islands together as well as the reefs and waterway on the eastern side of the gap.

Dive type: A dive of many parts. 1. Shallow reef and slope. 2. Sand and rubble area with nice coral heads with plenty of smaller marine life. 3. A deep current scoured bowl with coral covered walls on either side. 4. A tight vertically walled canyon rising up to the ridge, that crosses the channel. 5. Current washed gravel highway bordered by reef, rubble and coral heads.

Special marine life: Lots of schooling fish including snapper, jacks, fusiliers and surgeonfish. The site also features plenty of giant trevallies, black and white-tip reef sharks and a manta ray.

Dive 16: GLD West Reef
Time In: 15:00. Visibility: Fair. Water Temperature: 28°C

After diving at Shotgun, we were in a good position to night dive GLD West Reef, although we did move the Indo Aggressor around into the more sheltered bay as we started the dive due to wind and swell problems on the west side of GLD.

Location: The GLD West Reef can be found, surprisingly enough, on the west side of Gili Lawah Darat.

Dive type: This reef is the starting area of an outgoing tide GLD drift dive, but also makes for a good night dive due to its lack of current and choice of reef and sandy bottoms. The reef starts at around 3 metres before dropping off to 15 metres onto a much flatter sandy area stretching out away from the shore.

Special marine life: White-tip reef-sharks, crocodile fish, morays, lionfish and most surprisingly a collection of what were probably Jenkins rays lying out on the sand in deeper water. We have seen this phenomenon before many years ago in the same place when there were nearly 100 of these rarely seen rays, probably participating in a mating ritual.

22nd August 2017
Dive 17: Karang Makassar
Time In: 07:45. Visibility: Excellent. Water Temperature: 28°C

We started early this morning to avoid the crowds on this dive and basically had the site to ourselves. There was a slight outgoing tide that switched to incoming close to the end of the dive but there were three mantas around getting cleaned at one of the stations. Other animals spotted included a tawny nurse shark and many green turtles.

Location: Karang Makassar is a huge reef, rubble and sandbar area stretching down the western side of the Linta Strait, close to the east shoreline of Komodo Island.

Topside visual: This is fairly difficult for divers visiting the area for the first time as it is not really clear exactly where the entry point is as this varies and the site covers a long distance, 3,000 metres.

Dive type: Karang Makassar is subject to the strong currents that surge up and down the strait every day but it’s relatively shallow aspect and position mean that it does not get hit too hard, making it a very convenient meeting point for feeding and cleaning manta rays, sometimes in large numbers. The dive is almost always done as a shallow drift over the rubble fields which are dotted with small corals heads.

Dive 18: Tatawa Besar - East
Time In: 11:30. Visibility: Very good. Water Temperature: 28°C

The second dive of the day was a nice meander down one of Komodo’s finest reefs. Many more fish were in attendance on this dive compared to the Karang Makassar and there were some very unconcerned turtles too, hawkbills on this dive rather than the greens on the last dive.

Location: One of the most popular dives in the Komodo National Park, Tatawa Besar Eastern Reef, as the name suggests, is the eastern facing reef of the large island of Tatawa. The same entry point is used as for Tatawa Besar West except the swim direction is with the reef on the left rather than the right.

Topside visual: Tatawa Besar is one of the largest islands in the Linta Strait and features two dives along its’ east and west shorelines. The island rises to a height of 70 metres and has a nice white sand beach on the north-eastern side and another on the south-east. There is also a large mangrove area on the east side that where dugongs have been rumoured to live.

Dive 19 & 20: Wainilu
Time In (Day Dive): 15:00. Time In (Night Dive): 18:45
Visibility: Good for Wainilu. Water Temperature: 27°C

The conditions for the day dive were very good with a slight current running from west to east across this prolific critter site.
We repeated Wainilu, which has quickly become one of the best night dives in the Komodo National Park, for the night dive and once again it turned up a whole host of peculiar critters.

Location: The island of Wainilu is at the top of the Loh Buaya inlet with the dive site off the north facing beach.

Topside visual: White sand beach bordered by mangroves on east side and a rocky shoreline on west.

Dive type: One of the best critter dives in the Komodo National Park, Wainilu is a fantastic critter dive very popular with photographers and creature spotters. With easy entries and exits and not suffering greatly from strong currents it is a firm favourite for night divers although it can also be very productive during the day. The site consists mostly of sandy slopes, coral rubble and small coral heads and is constantly coming up with lots of weird and wonderful critters.

Special marine life: Banded pipefish, ghost pipefish, short-fin lionfish, many different nudibranchs during the day dive and many more at night, including bobtail squid and cuttlefish.

23rd August 2017
Dive 21: Pelican Head
Time In: 08:00. Visibility: Very good for the area. Water Temperature: 24°C - 22°C

Horseshoe Bay was wild and windy this morning as we took the long ride out to Pelican Head, but the topside conditions did not match those underwater. August is normally notorious for bad visibility however the underwater scenery was spectacular in the clear water on this ocean facing dive site. The only problem was the cold water, but that was soon forgotten after a few minutes.

Location: On the south-eastern end of Nusa Kode close to the eastern entrance to Horseshoe Bay entrance.

Dive type: Rocky walls, gully and reef dive with deep ledges and canyons, colourful corals and dramatic architecture that finishes to the west on a shallow coral reef with an interesting sand and rubble area slightly deeper. There is also a deep but small coral head that supports a cloud of glassfish that provide wonderful photographic opportunities and at times also attracts the odd frogfish.

Special marine life: Plenty of nudibranchs on this dive as well as a pair of pygmy seahorses. On the sandy slopes close to our entry point there were quite a number of blue spotted stingrays hovering over the bottom too.

Dive 22: Cannibal Rock
Time In: 11:15. Visibility: Very good for the area. Water Temperature: 24°C

We saved Cannibal Rock for the second dive as the sun would be a little higher and with the good visibility that we enjoyed at Pelican Head we hoped that this dive would live up to its formidable reputation. We had nothing to worry about, there was a little current running over this magnificent sea-mount and everyone was raving about the site at the end of the dive.

Location: Cannibal Rock is a sea-mount around 120 metres out in the waterway from a large dome shaped rock formation that separates to two main Komodo Dragon activity beaches. The dive site got its name after two of Indonesia’s diving veterans, Wally Siagian and Cody Shwaiko witnessed the spectacle of one dragon attacking and eating another close by.

Dive type: Submerged domed sea-mount resembling in size and shape the two on shore rock formations on Rinca close to the site. The whole site is covered with corals all the way around, from 2 metres down past 30 metres. Cannibal Rock is not uniform in shape, on one side there are a lot of boulders and slabs of rock forming mini walls, cracks and crevices, while the rest of the site is composed of sloping reef and the top of the rock features an amazing anemone and coral garden.
Cannibal Rock is reckoned by many to be one of the top five dive sites in the world and a lot of people who have dived it would not argue with that.
Special marine life: Most of the usual Cannibal Rock suspects were out and about today, plenty of schooling fish too. The stand-out critters on this dive were a pair or zebra crabs sharing a fire urchin with a Coleman shrimp and a bamboo shark.

Dive 23: Yellow Wall
Time In: 15:15.
Visibility: Very good for the area.
Water Temperature: 24°C
Our third dive today is another of Horseshoe Bay’s more well-known dive sites, Yellow Wall. Named by the late Larry Smith, it is a deep vertical/negative drop-off from a steep sloping reef covered with yellow crinoids and yellow soft corals with an excellent shallow reef at the top as well as many deeper rubble areas and a few other secondary smaller walls as the dive moves further into the bay.

Location: The sites main vertical rock wall and two secondary mini walls are located on the south-eastern side of the eastern entrance to the Horseshoe Bay waterway.

Dive type: The main focus of the dive, that the larger and deeper wall starts at 15m/48ft at the edge of a sloping reef that then drops negatively (over hanging) and then vertically down to 50m/157ft. As with most of the sites at Nusa Kode there are many large volcanic boulder coral heads scattered on the rubble areas and at the bottoms of the other smaller walls, some with swim-throughs.
Special marine life: Nudibranchs, one large octopus, plenty of schooling fish and sweeper covered coral heads, all in great visibility.

Dive 24: Torpedo Alley
Time In: 18:45.
Visibility: Very good for the area.
Water Temperature: 24°C

Our night dive tonight is at the renowned Torpedo Alley. The water was fairly cold so we didn’t have too many takers tonight but the willing participants had a fascinating insight into the night macro life of Horseshoe Bay.

Location: Along the Rinca shoreline deep inside Horseshoe Bay close to the most popular anchoring sites.

Dive type: Torpedo Alley is one of the best critter dive sites in the park and is a particular favourite for great night dives.

Special marine life: Lots of creepy crawlies were on display tonight, including a pink frogfish.

24th August 2017
Dive 25: Shotgun
Time In: 07:45. Visibility: Good.
Water Temperature: 28°C

Although the underwater conditions were great at Horseshoe Bay the water was fairly cold, there were also concerns about the wind and sea conditions, so instead of visiting Langkoi at south Komodo and carrying on to Padar Island in the afternoon we decided to re-visit Gili Lawah Laut and the Linta Strait. Our first dive was a re-do at Shotgun and once again there was lots of marine life on show for this spectacular dive.

Location: The Shotgun dive is located in the narrow channel between Gili Lawah Laut and Gili Lawah Darat and includes the reef on the east side of Gili Lawah Laut, the marine ridge that connects the two islands together as well as the reefs and waterway on the eastern side of the gap.

Special marine life: Lots of schooling fish including snapper, jacks, fusiliers and surgeonfish. The site also features plenty of giant trevallies, black and white-tip reef sharks and a manta ray.

Dive 26: Batu Bolong
Time In: 10:15. Visibility: Excellent. Water Temperature: 28°C

There were a lot of boats and divers coming and going this morning on this magnificent dive site. The current was just coming to a slack low when we entered the water and then fairly rapidly switched to a rising tide which pushed us onto the good side of the site. Fantastic visibility and tons of marine life is the norm for Batu Bolong, and the site certainly did not disappoint us today.

Location: Batu Bolong lies right in the middle of the Linta Strait around 1,600 metres south west of Tatawa Kecil and is one of the Komodo National Park’s most popular dive sites.
Topside visual: Batu Bolong is Indonesian for Rock with the Hole and although the islet is only 60 metres from north-east to south-west it is easy to see and identify as there is indeed a hole formed in the surface rock formation.

Dive type: The site comprises of a small current strewn rock pinnacle breaking the surface with steep walls, deep ledges, canyons and external marine pinnacles creating breathtaking underwater topography. When there is a strong incoming or outgoing tidal current the turbulent water running past the rock resembles the rapids in a fast-flowing river.

Special marine life: Schooling fusiliers, anthias, turtles, Napoleon wrasse, moray eels, hunting GT’s all combined with a spectacular reef-top.

Dive 27: Siaba Besar Critters
Time In: 14:15. Visibility: Very good. Water Temperature: 26°C - 27°C

There were a fair number of small day vessels anchored in the sandy cut at Siaba Besar and we started the dive underneath them. Firstly, exploring the sandy bowl and then spreading out onto the spectacular hard coral reef, this was a nice and easy final dive of the day.

Location: This dive site can be found on the Siaba Besar side of the channel that separates this island from its smaller cousin to the west, Siaba Kecil.

Topside visual: The west side of Siaba Besar is lined with mangroves that run out onto hard coral reefs, but close to the bottom of the channel there is a large notch that cuts into the reef with a distinctive sandy bottom. There are normally many small liveaboards and day boat either anchored or moored here.

Dive type: This is really a critter dive and there are plenty of sand dwellers out in the bowl and around the coral heads that punctuate the sea floor. However, the whole site is surrounded by a spectacular hard coral reef that is home to many different critters that prefer the cover of the different types of coral.

Special marine life: Crocodile fish, lots of turtles, pyjama damselfish. The staghorn corals festooning the shallower parts of the hard-coral reef look like they would harbour the elusive mandarin fish, but we didn’t find any.

25th August 2017
Dive 28: GLD Passage
Time In: 7:45. Visibility: Good. Water Temperature: 28°C

For our first dive this morning, we are revisiting the gap between the island of Gili Lawah Laut and mainland Komodo, GLD Passage. We did this dive on the first dive day of the trip on a rising tide, but today we are going to for the more conventional approach and taking it on during a falling tide.

Location: GLD Passage is the name given to the channel between the southern end of the island of Gili Lawah Darat and the north-east Komodo mainland.

Dive type: This dive is normally done as a drift during an outgoing tide, that runs through the channel from west to east although on this occasion we did it the other way around, there was something strange going on with the tides and currents today. The entire site is made up of several different parts: Shallow reef, rocky sloping reef, sand patches, coral heads, a wall, sand chutes and even a fish bowl before finishing on a colourful coral reef.

Special marine life: Large schools of snapper at the channel entrance, a very large and photogenic pufferfish and once again a solitary manta ray were all included on this nice early morning excursion.

Dive 29: Tatawa Kecil
Time In: 10:45. Visibility: Excellent.
Water Temperature: 28°C

We waited for the tide switch on this site to replicate the conditions we had on Batu Bolong, changing from falling to rising. There were plenty of fish around on this dive, especially midnight snappers and batfish around the deeper boulders. We finished up the dive in the glittering shallows on the north side of the rock in very clear water with tons of marine life buzzing around.

Location: This fantastic dive site is in the main channel of the strait over 1,000 metres south south-west of the mangroves on the south side of Tatawa Besar.

Topside visual: Tatawa Kecil is a small current pounded islet around 150 metres long from north to south and another of the thrilling sea-mount dives in Current City, another common name for the north Linta Strait area.

Dive type: This small island has a little bit of everything. The west side features steep coral covered walls, boulders, swim-throughs, and caverns while the eastern side has a nice gently sloping coral reef. The north facing point is probably the most active area with a large variety of marine life gathering there when the current hits it on an outgoing tide and the south side has an expansive shallow coral garden.

Dive 30: Sebayor Kecil
Time In: 15:00. Visibility: Fair. Water Temperature: 28°C

For our third dive of the day we decided to have a look at the reef at Sebayor Kecil. There was a strong rising tide at the time which makes this site a good choice as it is really only affected by falling tides. The visibility was fair and the groups cruised along the deeper parts of the reef close to the sandy bottom.

Location: The entry point to this pretty dive site is mid-way along the north facing shoreline of Sebayor Kecil. The island of Sebayor Besar and Kecil are both outside of the national park boundary.

Topside visual: There are three beaches along this shoreline and it is the middle beach that is the most popular starting point. There is a black small vessel mooring buoy that marks the best entry point as this also gives divers a reference line down onto the sandy rubble.

Dive type: Sebayor Kecil is a sandy patch reef dive running onto coral slopes and mini walls on either side of a sand and rubble area. This is a perfect dive site for a check dive at the beginning of a trip as it is relatively easy and also makes for a good night dive.

Special marine life: One small but very cryptic demon stinger, lots of clams and a cuttlefish.

Dive 31: Wainilu
Time In: 18:45. Visibility: Good for Wainilu. Water Temperature: 27°C

For tonight night dive we decided to re-visit the top critter site of Wainilu, always a popular favourite.

Location: The island of Wainilu is at the top of the Loh Buaya inlet with the dive site off the north facing beach.
Topside visual: White sand beach bordered by mangroves on east side and a rocky shoreline on west.

Dive type: One of the best critter dives in the Komodo National Park, Wainilu is a fantastic critter dive very popular with photographers and creature spotters. With easy entries and exits and not suffering greatly from strong currents it is a firm favourite for night divers although it can also be very productive during the day. The site consists mostly of sandy slopes, coral rubble and small coral heads and is constantly coming up with lots of weird and wonderful critters.
 

26th August 2017
Dive 32: Karang Makassar
Time In: 07:45. Visibility: Excellent. Water Temperature: 28°C

Another of our re-loaded dives on this trip. This very popular manta site was not so productive when we dived it a few days earlier but this time the current was cranking and there were many more rays to be seen on this thrilling drift.
As an aside, Dabney, Cassi and myself dive the more tranquil reef at the south end of the site where there is very little, if any, current. We managed to spot quite a few green and hawksbill turtles, a huge Napleon wrasse and had a camera teach-in with a pair of sedentary white-tip reef-sharks.

Location: Karang Makassar is a huge reef, rubble and sandbar area stretching down the western side of the Linta Strait, close to the east shoreline of Komodo Island.

Topside visual: This is fairly difficult for divers visiting the area for the first time as it is not really clear exactly where the entry point is as this varies and the site covers a long distance, 3,000 metres.

Dive type: Karang Makassar is subject to the strong currents that surge up and down the strait every day but it’s relatively shallow aspect and position mean that it does not get hit too hard, making it a very convenient meeting point for feeding and cleaning manta rays, sometimes in large numbers. The dive is almost always done as a shallow drift over the rubble fields which are dotted with small corals heads.

Dive 33: Batu Bolong
Time In: 11:00. Visibility: Excellent. Water Temperature: 28°C

For some strange reason, there were not many other operators at Batu Bolong this morning even though the timing and conditions were some of the very best for diving this site. Once again, the dive was timed to coincide with a change-over between falling and rising tide and we pretty much nailed it. Marine life was everywhere all around and many of the group managed to dive all the way around the rock.

Location: Batu Bolong lies right in the middle of the Linta Strait around 1,600 metres south west of Tatawa Kecil and is one of the Komodo National Park’s most popular dive sites.

Topside visual: Batu Bolong is Indonesian for Rock with the Hole and although the islet is only 60 metres from north-east to south-west it is easy to see and identify as there is indeed a hole formed in the surface rock formation.

Dive type: The site comprises of a small current strewn rock pinnacle breaking the surface with steep walls, deep ledges, canyons and external marine pinnacles creating breathtaking underwater topography. When there is a strong incoming or outgoing tidal current the turbulent water running past the rock resembles the rapids in a fast-flowing river.

Special marine life: Sharks, turtles, octopus, barracuda, schooling jacks and pretty much everything else this site is famous for. A great dive to end a great trip.