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Dive Review of Dive Damai in

August, 2009, an Instant Reader Report by Dave Van Rooy, Bali, Indonesia
Reviewer   (4 reports, with 2 Helpful votes)
Report Number 5011 has 1 Helpful vote
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
Hundreds of dives in Indonesia, most places in the Pacific (Palau, Fiji,
Vanuatu, Solomons, Malaysia, ...) and Caribbean, some eastern Pacific
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy, cloudy, dry  
calm, choppy, surge, currents, no currents  
Water Temp
79   to 81    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
10   to 80    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Dive reasonably  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  3 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Plenty of camera workroom and storage.  Individual rinse tanks for camera
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
3 stars   
5 stars    
This was a shakedown cruise on the new boat.  The owner, Alberto Reija,
formerly cruise director with his wife Olga on Kararu's Voyager, invited
friends to try out his brand new 33m (110 ft) phinisi and help work the
kinks out with his crew.  So we and 6 others did a 7 day cruise to Komodo
from Bali.  He pushed us all for detailed feedback on all aspects of the
boat, operation, and crew.

There are many new boats trying to come online in Indonesia, and many of
them are having troubles getting started, often due to bureaucratic
difficulties here as well as just how things operate in Indonesia.  He
managed to get this done and working on schedule, which is no mean feat
these days.

The boat has only 4 cabins (8 guests max), so it's extremely spacious and
luxurious for a liveaboard -- the cabins are huge (close to 1000 sq. ft)
and have separate ensuite toilets and bath rooms, complete with tub(!) and
separate shower.  Most have two king size beds and more storage space than
my attic.  2 cabins have attached verandas complete with lounge chairs. 
Most other liveaboards of this size have 7 or 8 cabins (14-16 guests max),
so the feeling of spaciousness on this boat is especially noticeable.

The chef backed out at the last moment, so Alberto had his chef friend
Andreas take over for the first two weeks.  Our meals were generally
excellent, esp. the presentation, but unclear who will take over this duty
in the future.

Many of the crew (at least 6) I knew from various Sea Safaris boats and all
except for some galley and masseuse hands, have had ample liveaboard
experience.  But there were some problems initially in getting them all
working together and doing the right things, e.g. a few times tank valves
were not open when we donned tanks in the tenders, glasses were not
properly stowed for rough weather, ...  But not as much as I would've
expected for a first cruise.

Gusti is his lead dive guide and very well known here -- he has worked with
liveaboards for 25 years in the area, including Grand Komodo and Kararu. 
He is very knowledgable and helpful in critter finding, as is Aris, the
other dive guide.

Alberto is very service oriented, perhaps too much so.  He's aiming to
personalize everything from meals to dive times, but unclear to many of us
that this is really do-able, or even desirable.  A few more cruises should
settle such issues.

As this was my sixth trip to Komodo, I knew what to expect dive wise, tho
this time the water was warmer than expected, there were many more big fish
and mantas than previously, and we had some good vis and some of the more
usual 10m kind.  We did get down south (not usual at this time of year) and
dive Cannibal Rock (one of the world's best dive sites in my book) where we
found a super-ornate bright yellow rhinopias,  monster grey frog fish,
"lady bugs", sea apples, nudis galore, ...  -- a truly remarkable

We started out at Gili Lawar in east Lombok with some nice nudis, ...
followed by Sangeang (dropped in on a very cooperative wonderpuss) with
some nice black sand diving and a prolific reef (nudis, leaf fish, blue
ribbon eel, pygmy frog fish, ornate ghost pipe fish, inimicus, several
varieties of cuttlefish, ...)  Manta Alley off Langkoi Island gave us a
large number (10-20) of 4-5m mantas feeding and cruising all around us, as
well as a very large Napoleon wrasse, schools of bumphead parrots.  Other
standout dives included those at Crystal Rock and Hard to Find Reef off
Gili Lawa Laut, with so many large schools of fish (surgeonfish, snapper,
fusiliers, rainbow runners, pyramid butterfly, damsel, horse-eye jacks,
trevallys -- both bluefin and giant) as well as grey reef and white-tip
sharks, some large groupers, barramundi cod, ...) it was hard to focus on
just one thing.  Some mating cuttlefish added to the show.

It's hard to go wrong when diving in Komodo.  Dive Damai still has a few
kinks to work out, but it is an interesting addition to the liveaboards
operating in the area (he'll do Komodo, Raja Ampat, Kalimantan, and ...). 
The spaciousness of the cabins and boat with all its amenities along with
the more intimate atmosphere of fewer divers is definitely appealing.  It's
more expensive than many others, but less than some, so the market will
determine how successful the boat is.

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