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Dive Review of Grand Komodo Tour and Dives/Tarata & Nusa Tara in
Indonesia/Komodo and Rinca Islands

Grand Komodo Tour and Dives/Tarata & Nusa Tara, Jul, 2003,

by Peggy & Jose Miguel Duran, MD, TX, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 9 reports with 7 Helpful votes). Report 753.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Caribbean, Galapagos, Philippines, Solomons, Palau, Sulawesi, Irian Jaya, Papua New Guinea, Banda Sea, Raja Empat, Bali, Maldives, Thailand, Andaman Islands
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, currents
Water Temp 78 to 84 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 35 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Limited only by own experience and common sense.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins 1 or 2 Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Adequate rinsing and setting up space. 220 Volts. Need round plug adapters. Good voltage stabilizer. NTSC/PAL Monitor for videographers. No onboard film development.

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments We have recently returned from our 5th liveaboard trip, in the last three years, to Komodo & Rinca Islands (Indonesia) with Grand Komodo Tours & Dives. This is an Indonesian owned and operated company that was the pioneer for the Komodo area (See Undercurrent March 1994) and it has branched out to Alor, Wakatobi and now Raja Empat.

We fly from Bali to Flores Island, and from there we sail 2 hours to Komodo. This has the great advantage of avoiding the long sail from Bali to Komodo. At the end of the trip we usually sail to the port of Sape in Sumbawa Island and overland to Bima for the short flight back to Bali.

We like the Tarata, though this summer we also tried the Nusa Tara which is smaller and has cabin fans instead of AC, not needed anyway even in July/August as the boat lounge area is open and the cabins have large windows which can be kept open. (The room fans operate on batteries, so the engines and compressor are turned off at night, for a quiet rest). The Nusa Tara has a new engine, is faster than the other boats, and will sail even if there are only 2 divers although it can sleep 10. Dives join and depart the boat on their own schedules.

The Tarata is larger, about 75 ft, with six cabins with their own showers and heads, and individually controlled AC. It has enclosed dining/lounge area with large fans and big windows. The dive-staging area is roomy and well-designed, and it has an upper deck partially shaded, ideal for sun-bathing or enjoying the amazing sunsets (and sunrises). Most open areas on the deck are covered with non-skid mats. It can accommodate 12 divers, but we have never been more than 8 and often just the two of us. The food is excellent and the crew cares for all your gear from setup to rinse and dry after the last dive. They also have the TemuKira, a 110' Pinisi sail/motorboat for Alor-Komodo, Wakatobi and Raja Empat.

We have been on more than 20 liveaboards around the world, and the level of comfort and convenience of Grand Komodo Tours boats and the quality of the diving provided can hardly be matched, and at prices almost half of their competitors. Just check their web page at www.komodoalordive.com

The head divemaster, Anton, has trained many of the younger divemasters on the other boats in the Komodo area, and is very adept at finding the unusual critters that many of the best known experts on Indo-Pacific sea life come here to see. The crews thorough knowledge of the area is very important as Komodo is also known for its tricky currents. The captains are excellent at bringing these shallow draft boats close to the reefs so that often we dive from the boat. Divers are brought to the boat as soon as they surface and the dinghy returns to wait for the other divers, so you can dive as long as you wish without worrying about other divers waiting for you.

The sealife is simply magnificent. All the creatures you only see in photo books and many you never knew existed. After more than 1500 dives, we find new creature on nearly every dive.

Possibly due to the coral bleaching in so much of the rest of the Pacific and the Indian Ocean following El Nino of 1998, there are more boats traveling longer distances to dive in these great waters. Because of the rich cool currents, these are healthy reefs with an occasional exception at the outer limits of the Marine Park where some old dynamite damage can be found. New patrol boats partially funded by The Nature Conservancy are doing a great job in keeping out poachers. Reno & Nyoman Kirtya, the owners of GKT&D, have been very vocal and active in the establishment, maintenance and protection of the Komodo Marine Park.

Another reason why we keep returning is that once you have shown your proficiency, they let you dive your own profiles and treat you like adults. Dive as long as you want,the divemaster or the dinghy is always nearby. They choose dive sites with careful consideration of the experience level of the divers and the prevailing currents. If the current is not right, it is very easy to move to another excellent dive site usually no more than 15-20 away.

Reno and Nyoman Kirtya, have taken great pride and pains in slowly developing their business. They take a personal interest in the divers, personally meeting us before and after the trip to make sure that everything was satisfactory and listen to any suggestions for improvements. They are very helpful with arrangements for transportation and hotels if you want to spend extra time in Bali or the other islands.

We were almost tempted to keep this operation our personal secret, but after last year's events, Indonesia needs our tourism. We were there 10 days after the Bali tragedy in October 2002 and it was sad to see the streets so empty and hear the Balinese ask us to Please tell your friends in America that we like them, this was not done by Balinese and we want our American friends to come back. We returned last April and July and it was encouraging to see more tourists returning but, sadly, few Americans. We have been more than 14 times to Indonesia over the last 12 years and we have always been treated with utmost kindness and courtesy by the people in all the Indonesian islands we have visited. We are returning to Irian Jaya with Grand Komodo Tours in late January because it is simply the best diving in the world at the best price with the best people.

Peggy & Jose Miguel Duran
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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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