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 toursKomodo 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!

To learn more about our Komodo snorkeling tour, read our trip reports and blogs:
Komodo trip report 2016
Komodo trip report 2017
Colors of Komodo

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

Itinerary


Map of Maumere-Komodo-Bali snorkeling itinerary

Tour begins in Maumere (via internal flight from Bali) and ends in Bali.

The expedition begins and ends in Bali, Indonesia with a single, one-way internal flight to Maumere, Flores where our tour begins. From the port of Maumere, we begin our westward track, stopping and exploring the islands of Komodo National Park for six days before we continue our western voyage towards Bali. 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: Maumere*
Meals provided: B,L,D
Fly to Maumere and transfer to Sea World Beach Resort. Depending upon our arrival time, we may have the chance to snorkel the house reef in front of the resort. This exceptional reef has some of the brightest pink corals to be found anywhere! Overnight Sea World Beach Resort

*Please see the Komodo snorkeling tour 2018 page for details on our itinerary

Komodo Island as viewed from Gili Lawa Darat

A stunning view…

Day 3: Maumere / Mermaid I**
Meals provided: B,L,D
After breakfast, we will either snorkel the reef in front of the resort or, if the tide is extremely low, have the opportunity to do some of the best tide-pooling in Indonesia! During the low tide much of the reef is out of the water, leaving behind pockets of salt water pools that harbor a variety of marine life. In the past, we have spotted mantis shrimps, nudibranchs, flatworms, octopuses, juvenile fishes, moray eels, and plenty of other invertebrates without getting but our feet wet! In the afternoon, we transfer to our expedition boat, Mermaid I, and have our boat orientation and lunch before we depart for Komodo National Park. In the late afternoon, we will have the chance to explore-by-snorkel one of the reefs that can be found along the northwestern coast of Flores Island. Overnight Mermaid I

Day 4: Sabajor Besar /  Sabajor Kecil
Meals provided: B,L,D
Sabajor Besar and it’s smaller twin, Sabajor Kecil are two islands that border the eastern edge of Komodo National Park. The reefs around these islands possess a dazzling diverity of fish and coral. It is our opinion that the reefs around Sabajor Besar contain some the the largest stands of lettuce corals in the world! Another common sight are bright yellow coral gobies that seem to converge in large groups (dozens can be found on a single coral colony)! Overnight Mermaid I

Day 5 – 10: Komodo National Park / Gili Banta
Meals provided: B,L,D
Our itinerary in the park includes visits to Tatawa Kecil, Siaba Kecil, Takat Makassar, Gili Lawa Darat, Gili Lawa Laut, Batu Monco, Padar Pink Beach, Horseshoe Bay (on Rinca), and more if we can fit them in!

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

Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis) at Komodo National Park

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. Some of the areas mentioned above have coral coverage that is equal to or exceeds 80%! At Gili 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. Turtles are so common here, that after a while, they seem like a solid fixture on the reef. 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 at Loh Liang 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. Overnight Mermaid I

Day 11: Angel Reef / Pulau Satonda
Meals provided: B,L,D
The diversity of marine habitats around Satonda Island will excite even the most seasoned snorkeler. Sea grass beds, sand flats, coral gardens, and sloping walls offer us the chance to see some amazing marine critters, especially some of the more unusual examples such as ghost pipefishes, juvenile angelfishes, and scorpionfishes. The island itself, thought to be an ancient cinder cone along the slopes of Tambora volcano, possess a crater lake that can be accessed via a 5-minute hike along a paved trail. A more challenging hike takes you to the rim for an unforgettable, panoramic view of the entire area. If reefs and a crater lake are not enough, at sunset we sit back in the comfort of our boat to watch as thousands of fruit bats migrate to the main island of Sumbawa to forage for food. Angel Reef surrounds a very small islet made entirely of coral fragments. The reef consists of shallow, lush coral gardens that support thousands of reef fishes. Out in the blue, schools of unicornfishes, batfishes, and snappers parade along the reef margin. Sea turtles are common sightings as well. In the sand beds, hundreds of garden eels, some in only 2 meters of water, poke their heads out to capture plankton as they float by. Overnight Mermaid I

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

Healthy reefs…

Day 12: Bali / Sanur
Meals provided: B,L,D
Disembark in Bali and transfer to Puri Santrian*. Farewell dinner at the resort.
Overnight Mermaid I

Day 13: 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!

Nov 15 – 27, 2016
From $6700 USD per person, double occupancy
Accommodations: Mermaid I

May 15 – 27, 2017
From $7000 USD per person, double occupancy
Accommodations: Mermaid I

Oct 24 – Nov 5, 2018
From $7300 USD per person, double occupancy
Accommodations: Mermaid I

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.