komodo national park has some of the healthiest reefs in Indonesia

About Komodo

Snorkel the magnificent reefs of Komodo National Park!

Komodo National Park is a favorite destination for our Coral Triangle Adventures snorkeling tours

Komodo National Park is located about mid point along Indonesia’s Lesser Sunda archipelago, a chain of volcanic islands that extend eastward from Java. The 1,817 square kilometer park was established in 1980 to preserve the largest lizard in the world, the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), and became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1986.

The park consists of three main islands: Komodo, Rinca, and Padar, and numerous smaller islands and islets. While they are exposed to monsoonal rains, the islands in the park generally receive little or no rainfall for nearly eight months out of the year. This is due primarily to the strong, dry winds coming from Australia that bring warm air and little moisture. As a result, most of the islands have a rugged appearance with exposed rock and little vegetation. The dominant flora is open grass-woodland savanna and savanna palm (lontar palm). Small enclaves of tropical deciduous forests exist on the main islands, especially in gullies created by steep hillsides. Though this harsh environment does not promote the type of terrestrial biodiversity that is seen in lush, tropical rainforests, the islands have several exceptional inhabitants such as wild boar, Timor deer, water buffaloes and, of course, the Komodo dragon. Dragons can be found on all three of the large islands in the park, but the population of about 5000 animals is essentially divided almost equally between Rinca and Komodo.

While the national park and UNESCO status helped preserve the island’s most famous inhabitant, it was also very effective in preserving marine life around the local waters as well. As a contrast to the rugged landscape, the underwater wilderness showcases lush, vibrant reefs with a dazzling number of tropical fishes and corals. Located in the heart of the Coral Triangle, the park possesses over 500 species of hard corals and close to 1500 species of tropical fishes! On our snorkeling tour, we will also focus on the amazing habitat diversity that can be found in the park; visiting exposed reefs where thousands of reef fish cloud the water above fields of techno-colored corals, black sand coral gardens where a good eye can find interesting cryptic critters such as sea horses, nudibranchs, and snake eels, and current swept passes where manta rays and sharks glide effortlessly in the cobalt-blue sea. Other sites such as nutrient-rich areas, sheltered lagoons, and protected fringing reefs are also absolutely on the list.

Of course, we will also have the chance to visit the islands of Komodo National Park to experience their beauty as well as look for their most famous resident, the Komodo dragon. On the hikes, we will also have the chance to see amazing birds such as black-naped orioles, sulphur-crested cockatoos, and white-breasted sea eagles. Together, we have led over a dozen snorkeling trips to Komodo National Park and find this place to be one of the most remarkable destinations in terms of marine biodiversity, raw beauty, and awesome snorkeling. If excitement both in the water and on land is what you seek, please join us on our snorkeling expedition to the best reefs that Komodo National Park has to offer!

Click on any of the images to learn more about Komodo National Park

Pink beaches in Komodo national park get that way because of the infusion of the skeleton of organ pipe coral

The pinkest beaches of them all!

Manta ray (Manta alfredi)

Snorkeling with Manta rays

Komodo dragons are not an example of island gigantism, rather they arrived on Komodo already as large specimens

Island gigantism? Not this time!

 

Electric ray in Komodo national park

Torpedo rays in Komodo NP

Upwelling along the southern coast of the Lesser Sundas, Indonesia

Upwelling in the Lesser Sundas

hinge-beak shrimp in Komodo national park

Critters abound!

Click on a tour date below to read about trip details including accommodationspricing, and how you can join us!

 

Itinerary


Route map for Komodo National Park snorkeling tour - coral triangle adventures

Komodo route map

The expedition begins and ends in Bali, Indonesia with a round trip flight to Labuan Bajo, Flores where our tour begins. Departing from Labuan Bajo gives us nearly immediate access to Komodo National Park. Please note that the following is a general itinerary and that weather, tides, and other unforeseen or unavoidable circumstances may affect the schedule at any time.

Day 1: Sanur, Bali
Meals provided: D 
Meet in Sanur, Bali at our group resort Puri Santrian* for the expedition orientation and welcome dinner. Overnight Puri Santrian*

Day 2: Labuan Bajo / Komodo National Park
Meals provided: B,L,D
Morning flight to Labuan Bajo and transfer to our chartered live-aboard boat. Depending on the time of departure from the port, we will snorkel on one of the numerous colorful reefs that lay just outside of the eastern perimeter of Komodo National Park.
Overnight: Chartered live-aboard boat

Komodo Island as viewed from Gili Lawa Darat

A stunning view…

Day 3 – 10: Komodo National Park / Gili Banta / Sangeang Volcano
Meals provided: B,L,D
Komodo National Park is home to some of the most colorful and diverse shallow coral reefs in the world! Located squarely in the Coral Triangle the reefs in the park possess over 500 species of hard corals and nearly 1500 species of tropical reef fish. Most of the sites mentioned above are found in the northern part of the park and have extensive shallow reef, some that cover dozens of square kilometers. These reefs also possess some of the highest levels of coral coverage we have ever seen. The benchmark for an area with good coral coverage is if the amount of live coral constitutes 30% of the substrate. Most of our snorkeling sites around Sabayor Is., Tatawa, Siaba Kejil, and Batu Monchu have coral coverage that is equal to or exceeds 80%! And with this level of diversity and abundance of coral, the multitude of dazzling fish that make the reef their home is almost incomparable to anything else on the planet! At Gili Lawa Laut and Gili Darat, we have the chance to snorkel through a narrow channel that whisks us into a coral garden that consistently showcases more species of angelfishes and butterflyfishes than any other place we go in the world, as well as a great place to find manta rays, sharks and turtles. Speaking of turtles, they are so common in the park, that after a while they seem like a solid fixtures on the reefs.

Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis), Komodo National Park, Indonesia

Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis) at Komodo National Park

Horseshoe Bay is an ancient, incredibly scenic deceased caldera located at the southern tip of Rinca Island. Though we find ourselves in slightly cooler water, the reefs here are stunning. Orange cup corals carpet the substrate and schools of anthias and fusiliers numbering in the thousands hover above. Please note that we also will spend some time exploring new areas of the park in search of the ultimate snorkel site. For example, Padar Pink Beach, now a staple on the itinerary, was part of one such exploratory a couple of years ago! During our stay in the park we will also visit Komodo National Park on Rinca as well as some wild encounters with dragons in Horseshoe Bay.

Gili Banta lies just outside of the park boundaries and is a beautiful example of an exposed, seaward reef where robust hard corals of many shapes and colors stand firm against the incoming waves. If weather permits, we will visit Sangeang volcano. The snorkeling here is amazing as the vibrant colors of both soft and hard coral contrast beautifully against the black, volcanic sand. The added bonus is the consistency of sightings of marine life favorites such as sea horses, scorpionfishes, juvenile angelfishes, and lots and lots of nudibranchs!
Overnight: Chartered live-aboard boat

Incredibly diverse reefs lie just below the surface of the water in Komodo National Park

Healthy reefs…

Day 11: Labuan Bajo / Bali
Meals provided: B,L,D
In the morning, we disembark in Labuan Bajo and fly back to Bali where we will transfer to our group hotel, Puri Santrian*. Lunch will be at a local restuarant where we have the chance to experience local food and drink. Farewell dinner at the resort.
Overnight Puri Santrian

Day 12: International flights or extensions
Meals provided: B

 

*Puri Santrian is our usual group resort. We chose this resort for its location (beach access, proximity to local food and shopping areas, proximity to Benoa harbor), beautiful rooms and property, excellent food venues, value, and service. In the event we cannot book this resort, we will use a resort with similar or higher standards.

 

What to Expect

Water temperatures vary between 20º – 30º C (68º – 86º F). The large range in water temperature reflects the influence of oceanic upwellings that affect the south side of the archipelago. The northern parts of the islands are surrounded by warm, equatorial seas (Flores Sea), while the southern parts are exposed to the deep Indian Ocean. The combination of the southern Tradewinds blowing in a northwesterly direction and the Coriolis Effect export the waters of the Indian Ocean away from the islands. Consequently, cool water from the depths upwell to the surface resulting in much cooler sea surface temperatures.

While most of our snorkel sessions will take place in warm water, there are several sites around Horseshoe Bay on Rinca Island and sites around the south end of Komodo and Padar Islands where we may experience cooler water. As such, our recommendation is to have, at a minimum, a 3 mm full wetsuit and hood. Please note that this suggestion is the minimum and if you plan to spend the maximum amount of time in the water, you should consider extra laying like a 2-3mm vest or perhaps even a thicker wetsuit. Skins are great to protect you from the sun or even the random little no-see-ums that can sting, but may not be much of a help with regards to thermal protection. Many of the reefs we will snorkel upon are subjected to currents associated with the large tide cycles that prevail in the area. While we often schedule our session during a time when the currents are minimal, there will be planned drift snorkels. These types of snorkels take advantage of the water movement and allow us to float over the reef without having to actively swim. This activity usually becomes an instant favorite among our guests as it is very exciting and yet very passive at the same time! In some cases, however, the unpredictability of the tides may expose us to strong water movement. This may require a bit of effort though we will always have our dinghies standing by to help if needed.

Our planned hikes on Satonda and Komodo Island are on well established trails (paved and dirt/rocky). The trail that leads to the inland lake on Satonda takes approx. 5 minutes to walk and has no significant elevation. Our hikes in the park to look for dragons, whether we visit the national park on Komodo or Rinca, both require about 45 minutes of walking on well worn dirt paths. Most of the trails are flat but there are sections that lead uphill to breathtaking overlooks of the surrounding park. Both sites also have sections that are exposed directly to the sun. Please bring the appropriate clothing that provide protection from the sun (cool, lightweight shirts and shorts, hats, sunglasses, etc.).

Please click on our page About our Tours to read about what a typical day of snorkeling looks like on most of our tour programs.

Join Us!

Click on the tour date to read about trip details including accommodations, pricing, and how you can join us!

May 5 – 17, 2019
From $7700 USD per person, double occupancy
Accommodations: Mermaid I

Oct 14 – 26, 2019
From $7700 USD per person, double occupancy
Accommodations: Mermaid I

Please email us with any questions you may have about these trips.