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Dive Review of Grand Komodo -- TemuKira in

October, 2011, an Instant Reader Report by Rickie Sterne/Chrisanda Butto, AR, US
Sr. Contributor   (24 reports, with 7 Helpful votes)
Report Number 6309 has 1 Helpful vote
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
a,Micronesia,Fiji,Sea of Cortex,other areas of Indonesia
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, cloudy, dry  
calm, currents, no currents  
Water Temp
75   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
40   to 75    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Return to the boat with air and no deco obligation.  We were encouraged to
dive safely due to the remote locations and variable currents we were
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or  
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
   10 of 11 divers on board carried cameras.  Three were very large DSLR
rigs. Three were upper-end point-and-shoots with strobes.  The remaining
five were small cameras in lexan housings.  All of our cameras fit onto the
table on the dive deck, and we were always able to find on open outlet for
charging our batteries on the table in the salon.  The crew not only
handled cameras carefully, they actually helped take care of our
photographic equipment. Igo, the "compressor man," carefully
dried each camera setup with towels and compressed air after every dive.
The dive guides helped spot interesting subject matter, often more macro
than my diopters could photograph. 
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
3 stars   
5 stars    
     Our two-week cruise aboard the TemuKira took us from the muck sites of
Ambon, through the beautiful walls of the Banda Islands, to the slopes of
Alor, and the coral heads of Maumere Bay.  Beyond the great variety of
diving, we enjoyed cruising through much of the eastern archipelago.  On
several occasions, the captain raised the sails and we felt like explorers
in the Spice Islands rich with topside beauty and history.  We had read a
couple of books on the spice trade before our trip and enjoyed seeing the
very islands where fierce and brutal battles were fought over condiments we
now take for granted.  And for a lover of Renaissance literature, it was
fun to dive Run Island, which figured in Elizabeth I's list of majesties.
At Banda Neira, Grand Komodo treated us to a land tour.  A local guide took
us to the museum, where he presented interesting talks on both the savage
European subjugation of the island and nutmeg culture.  We then strolled up
to Fort Belgica, an eighteenth century Dutch installation, and down through
the ruins of Fort Nassau, an earlier Dutch fortification. We ended our walk
in the local market, where we bought candied nutmeg.  Candied nutmeg is a
pungent and tasty sweet, although not, in my opinion, a substitute for
Godiva chocolates.
     No itinerary could have offered a greater variety of diving.  In Ambon
we swam over black volcanic sands to see two Rhinopias aphanes side by
side.  One was cream colored, the other purple.  On the same dive we
spotted a very robust robust ghost pipefish and a threesome of ornate ghost
pipe fishes. Other Ambon dives revealed Coleman shrimp, three other species
of pipefish, numerous nudis, stonefish, several species of morays, many
tiny juvenile fish, seahorses, and a great deal of floating garbage.  
     On to the Banda Sea!  There we enjoyed great viz and very healthy hard
corals inhabited a many species of fish. The walls at Hatta Island and
Lucipara were on a par with those at Misool.  The walls were shear and
richly covered with corals both hard and soft, huge sponges, and
gorgonians.  Schools of barracuda, fusiliers, unicornfish, jacks,
surgeonfish, and triggerfish swam up and down the walls.  Some of the
prettiest Chaetodons were seen on every dive in the Bandas. Dozens of fire
dartfish and hawkfish teased us as they darted in and out of their burrows
or gorgonians.  We saw H. bargibanti and H. denise in groups on seafans on
several dives. At Gunung Api we dove with dozens and dozens of sea snakes
of three different species.  The hard corals were dull and there were big
areas of rubble at this site, but who cared?  We were there for the sea
snakes, which approached us closely, brushing against us and swimming
between our legs and through our hoses.  One diver, made a bit uneasy by a
group of three kraits examining him closely with their forked white tongues
protruding, did not realize as he swam away from them that two other sea
snakes were swimming right above him.  A really fun dive! 
     A long night's sail brought us to Alor.  We did our first Indonesian
diving in Alor several years ago aboard the Nusa Tara.  We had wondered if
we would still be as enchanted by Alor as we were on our first immersion
there.  Answer: a loud affirmative.  The water in Alor is much cooler, and
we wished for more neoprene, but we certainly enjoyed our chilly dives. 
Our first Alor dive at Faultline brought out a free-swimming ribbon eel.
School's Out is as beautiful a dive as we remembered.  This sloping wall is
densely covered with acropora corals, colorful dendrophyta, and anemones. 
Clouds of colorful small fish floated over the slope, and a number of nudis
fed on luminous tunicates.  Next dive we moved down to Clown Alley.  At a
depth of just 12 feet, we found healthy hard corals, but our dive guides
urged us downward.  Below thirty feet the entire slope was literally
carpeted in anemones of every species and hue.  As one would expect,
hundreds of anemonefish of several species and numerous dactylids hovered
over their residences. When we could tear our eyes from the large view, we
noticed a variety of nudis, some neat crustacea, and one shy octopus.  The
current was so strong we were scarcely even chilled.  At the three sites on
Beang Abang we were definitely cold, but the diving was so good we stayed
down well over an hour each time.  The first site was a black sand slope
that was rich in critters.  The other two sites were coral slopes where we
saw numerous nudis, several species of ghost pipefish, frogfish, and even a
couple of sea apples (as I said, the water was cold!)  Night diving in Alor
was the best on our trip. Sailing southward, we reached the mercifully
warmer waters of Ileape. Here the sloping walls and white sand slopes had a
good coral cover inhabited by many critters and fish.  We watched a tiny
winged pipefish scurrying around the top of a wall and found a nice-sized
Phyllodesmium longicirrum sunning itself.
     The diving in Maumere Bay was presented to us by our guides as
"not so good."  But we had to return to Maumere to disembark, and
we certainly did not want to stop diving.  Actually we enjoyed several of
the dives on sand slopes with small coral heads and regrowth soft corals
that were small but luminous in the filtered sunlight.  We saw a number of
nudis, ribbon eels, morays, and lobsters on our dives in Maumere Bay.  The
shrimpgobies and bulldozer shrimp there were huge.
     What makes the TemuKira our favorite liveaboard is not only the
excellent diving we have always enjoyed from the boat, but the smooth
diving operation and wonderful crew.  With eleven divers on board, the boat
operated two dinghies.  We went out in groups but were allowed to come up
in pairs.  The dinghy drivers were aware of how many divers were still down
and where we were.  Although the briefing board always listed 60 minutes as
the dive time, most of our dives were 70 minutes plus.  On two occasions
only we were asked to surface at sixty minutes because we had to make long
crossings to our next island.  Both our dive guides, Joni and Wilson, spoke
English well and gave thorough dive briefings.  They always checked the
currents before we entered a site and on a couple of occasions defaulted to
a different site because currents were fierce.  The guides are amazingly
sharp-eyed and frequently pointed out tiny or well camouflaged creatures we
would never have spotted ourselves.  The guides were constantly aware of
where all we divers were without being controlling.  All our tank fills
were 2950-plus.  The dive deck is well set up.  Each diver is assigned a
station with under bench storage in two baskets.  Tanks are filled in the
stations.  When we were gearing up for dives, crew members were always at
hand to zip our wetsuits and help us into our BC's. Crew carried tanks to
the dinghy for several divers who requested that service.  Two crew members
steadied me as I stepped into the dinghy with my gear on.  At dive's end I
generally handed up my gear before climbing the ladder back into the
dinghy. The dinghy ladders are good ones, and I can climb them with my gear
on, but we little old lady divers need to protect our knees. Crew members
schlepped our gear from the dinghy back to our stations.  While the crew
was dealing with our gear, we enjoyed the warm deck showers. Both the dive
deck setup and the crew make diving from the TemuKira easy.
     We consider the TemuKira, a traditional wooden pinisi, a very pretty
boat.  Our cabin was spacious and comfortable with plenty of storage space
under the slightly elevated double bed and in a closet.  There was a small
Balinese settle and a small desk in the cabin as well.  The floor space
actually lets us walk past each other.  A porthole provides natural light
and a view.  The air conditioning is individually controlled in each cabin
by a remote control, no less.  There is a good reading light over the bed.
The ensuite bathroom is spacious for a boat.  It contains a small sink, a
flush toilet with a bidet spray, a handheld shower, and a drying rod.  The
shower is cool to tepid. Steward Alwy cleaned our cabin well daily and
changed linens intermittently.  The air-conditioned salon was where we ate
our buffet meals.  The food is very largely Asian and very good. I must
admit, though, that Indonesians fry chicken a well as we do in the South. 
Breakfast always began with a smoothie.  Breakfast menus included mie
goreng, banana pancakes (Indonesian pancakes are more like crepes), mie
kwah, and bubur.  We also enjoyed more familiar French toast. Our two
Western meals, hamburgers once and pizza once, appeared at lunch. 
Otherwise we ate various fish and chicken dishes with fresh veggies and
rice.  Dinners, served after the night dive, always began with hot homemade
soups. Main courses centered on fish and seafood, but there was always a
chicken dish as well.  Again we were offered plenty of fresh veggies and
rice.  Desserts at both lunch and dinner usually consisted of fresh fruits.
 Afternoon snacks were substantial (club sandwiches, cakes, fried bananas)
and tasty.  The boat's captain loves to fish, so we enjoyed generous
platters of tuna sashimi on several afternoons. We enjoy eating Indonesian
food when we are in Indonesia and consider the fresh-caught fish a luxury. 
I spent many of my surface intervals on the covered upper sundeck, admiring
the passing islands and reading at my leisure.  Even with a full boat, we
could always find a place to relax.
     The crew of the TemuKira are one and all gracious, hardworking
gentlemen who are unvaryingly helpful and friendly, language barrier
notwithstanding.  The staff at the Grand Komodo office in Sanur is equally
helpful.  A few weeks before we left, we emailed Tian querying about
airport taxes and overweight charges for our trip.  In less than
twenty-four hours, she had replied with all the information we had
     Several years ago we read an interview with the late Larry Smith, in
which he suggested that any diver who could spend a full two weeks in
Indonesia should dive the Banda Sea itinerary.  Our experience aboard the
TemuKira justified Mr. Smith's suggestion.

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