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Dive Review of Grand Komodo -- TemuKira in
Indonesia/Halmahera-Togians-Sulawesi

Grand Komodo -- TemuKira, Apr, 2010,

by Jose Miguel & Peggy Duran, TX, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 9 reports with 7 Helpful votes). Report 5673.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Caribbean, Sea of Cortes, Galapagos, Solomons, Philippines, Thailand, Andamans, Palau, Papua New Guinea
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, no currents
Water Temp 82 to 84 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ??
Enforced diving restrictions None. Could dive as freely as our experience and judgement allowed and as long as our air lasted.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or
Dolphins 1 or Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales 1 or
Corals 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 N/A
UW Photo Comments Large camera table at gearing up area. Two large fresh water rinse tanks. Large charging and camera work stations at the lounge. Crew extremely careful handling cameras in the boat and dinghy and rinsing/drying them after dives.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation N/A Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments We spent 12 days cruising and diving in northeastern Indonesia from Halmahera to the Togian Islands to Lembeh Strait in North Sulawesi aboard the TemuKira, a 110 Pinisi sailing boat operated by Grand Komodo Tours in April-May, 2010.

Due to the Icelandic volcano, our flight through Europe was cancelled and we had to reroute via LA to Tokyo, then Singapore and Manado. We arrived 2 days after the boats scheduled departure, but kindly enough, our fellow passengers agreed to wait for us, while diving around Ternate, and Grand Komodo efficiently rearranged our flights and accommodations in Indonesia.

With the changes, it took us 5 days to get to the boat, but it was definitely worth it. Initially we dove several small islands and seamounts to the southwest of Halmahera, starting at Tuapen and Lata Lata Islands. Large schools of surgeon fishes, pyramid butterflies, and sweetlips, also Napoleon wrasses and big easy-going humphead parrotfish greeted us. At Bacam Island a gorgeous black sand dive site had threadfin sand divers, razorfishes, a variety of puffers, nudibranchs galore and the largest golden seahorses we have seenand that was only the beginning.

Then we had a smooth crossing to the coast of central Sulawesi --the TemuKira is a very stable boat and has an experienced captain. Batu Tolek had large schools of slick unicorns and bannerfishes. At Mentawatu Dua on an afternoon dive, we had the most unusual sighting of about 2500 dives. Hundreds of thousands of schooling white-bellied tobies covering a tremendous expanse, so dense we could not see the coral or each other. We spent almost the whole dive taking videos of themit was magical.

From there we moved to the Togian Islands, known for offering all major reef formations: fringing, barrier and atolls. The Tomini Bay has extremely calm waters and we were surrounded by beautiful volcanic islands and atolls. UnaUna offered wall, channels and deep point dives, large fish and invertebrate diversity, incredible sponges, fans and healthy soft and hard corals. We had not been back to the Togians in 11 years and it was good to see the coral so intact. During the entire trip we never saw dynamite damage nor bleaching. At Batu Dua we had a fantastic night dive with decorator crabs, large and pygmy cuttlefishes, huge sea hares and a host of varied sea stars, urchins and gastropods.

During the days we enjoyed large varieties of colorful tropicals, sharks, mantas and pelagics. Our companions were very interested in nudibranchs and critters and the divemasters kept finding them in large numbers. They also checked the currents very carefully before each dive and we never had an unpleasant surprise. Visibility usually was very good as was the weather. Divemasters and crew showed commitment to safe diving practices and environmental and coral preservation. It is their country and they want to protect its beauty.

Afterwards we sailed north to the Gorontalo coast in North Sulawesi where we found some unexpected pleasures on several still unnamed dive sites before moving to Lembeh Strait where we dove for another 3 days. Polisi Pier was wonderful as was Coast Guard Pier and Kasuari Beach. We had just enough of a taste of their unusual critters to leave us thirsting for more. Lembehs amazing diving has been described so well so often we do not need to add our praise.

The TemuKira offers ample room and comfort for the 12 divers it can carry in six AC cabins, 2 with double beds and one on the upper deck. The boat sailed with only four divers so we felt pampered. Showers and toilets worked well in the en suite bathrooms. The lounge is very comfortable and quiet, with a large charging station/camera work area, TV and DVD player as well as a Fish/Invertebrate ID library. The dive gear up area is roomy and well designed with a large camera table, two rinse tanks and a toilet/shower. A large sun deck with awning and beach chairs was a great place to photograph the Technicolor sunrises and sunsets and dolphins and a whale.

As in our previous fourteen trips on Grand Komodo boats, the divemasters and whole crew excelled in providing great service. Dive briefings were complete and we could dive as freely as our experience and good judgment allowed. Almost every day we did two morning and one afternoon dives and then a night dive. The divemasters knew the sites well and were always there to find unusual sea life but letting us dive our own profiles and focus on our personal interests. Whether we stayed down an hour or ninety minutes, the dinghy was always there to pick us up. Our safety sausages and Dive-alerts never got used.

The cook and her assistant gave us a variety of western and Indonesian dishes, from family style to gourmet. We were served all the meals at our tables and had great snacks, smoothies, fruit and cakes between meals. Fortunately the water was warm enough that we could dive four times a day to burn almost-- all the calories we ate. The divemasters were fluent in English and most of the crew spoke it enough that we rarely had a chance to try our very basic Bahasa Indonesia.

Last year we had a great voyage sailing and diving on the TemuKira from Raja Ampat to Maluku to Halmahera and this years trip was a perfect complement to that itinerary allowing us to sample the diving of the whole northeastern region of Indonesia. Just for invertebrates and nudibranchs, this region is simply fantastically rich. For divers who like large schools or rich coral panoramas for their wide-angles, there is also a profusion of them. The natural beauty below and above water is breathtaking.

Komodo, Raja Ampat and Manado diving have been famous for years, but Maluku, Halmahera and the Togians will surely become the next major destinations to attract divers who appreciate pristine corals, uncrowded areas, and fascinating discoveries. After almost twenty years of diving in Indonesia we were still amazed and delighted with the rich variety and quality of diving experiences this area offers. Well be back.

Jose Miguel & Peggy Duran
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Subscriber's Comments

By irenedabania at Dec 28, 2012 15:44 EST  
do you have experience diving cenderawasih bay with komodo tours? did you book through the USA agent or some other way?
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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