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

July, 2003, an Instant Reader Report by Peggy & Jose Miguel Duran, MD, TX, USA
Sr. Reviewer   (8 reports, with 6 Helpful votes)
Report Number 753
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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
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

calm, currents  
Water Temp
78   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
35   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Limited only by own experience and common sense.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
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
  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  
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):
4 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
2 stars   
5 stars    
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 

  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

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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