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Dive Review of Grand Komodo Tours/TemuKira in
Indonesia/Raja Ampat - Halmahera

Grand Komodo Tours/TemuKira, Apr, 2009,

by Jose Miguel & Peggy Duran, TX, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 9 reports with 7 Helpful votes). Report 4992.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Galapagos, Philipines, Solomons, Palau, New Guinea, Fiji, most of the Caribbean, almost all of Indonesia
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 80 to 84 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 50 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions None, treated as responsible adults
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 3 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 tables/charging stations on lounge, Camera table and rinse tanks on dive staging area. Crew excellent at handling, rinsing and air drying housings

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 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments We went on a 15 day diving cruise from Raja Ampat to Halmahera, Indonesia, aboard the TemuKira, a 110 ft Pinisi boat operated by Grand Komodo Tours. (www.komodoalordive.com)

Since 1991 we have done about 2000 dives in all the major --and some less well known-- diving destinations in Indonesia. This trip was one of the most exciting and interesting ever. It has been a long time since we have seen so many new things in one single trip.

From Batanta to Misool, Boo, Gebe, Pisang, Bacan, Tidore and other islands we had a very good variety of dive sites: coral gardens, walls and passages with beautiful scenery and the usual --and some quite unusual-- tropical fishes; also mangroves, black beaches, pinnacles, seamounts and points with abundant marine life including a school of 500+ barracudas, schools of surgeon fishes and very dense schools of neon fusiliers flashing blue all around us. We saw blacktip sharks, leopard sharks and on one night dive we filmed what may be a first video of the walking epaulette shark, discovered in 2006. We did exploratory dives in some areas, but the divemasters did all the preliminary explorations so that once we got underwater we never had a disappointing dive.

But every one of the great diving areas has something that makes it special. In this trip some of the best dives were "muck" or "critter" dives. About 15 minutes into our first dive at Batanta we found a pair of pygmy octopi mating, then a leafy filefish, really strange nudibranchs, etc. The second dive had a mimic octopus feeding in the open, bristletail filefish, thorny seahorse, shortfin lionfish...we were hooked! Our last two dives in a shallow sandy slope in Tidore were definitely of the WOW!!! kind.

One of the best places was Ganone in the Joronga group at a small village jetty where besides many stone fishes of two different species, lots of eels, cool nudibranchs etc, we also found the largest, densest school of thousands and thousands of sardines that any of us had ever seen. We saw 3 or 4 places with old bombing damage, but they also were some of the most rewarding for nudibranchs and macro life. Overall, the health and richness of the reefs was very good to excellent.

The surface landscape was beautiful and always changing from limestone or volcanic islands to sandy atolls and mangrove passages, covered in luxuriant vegetation. Didnt have any significant rain and usually very calm crossings. The water was warm, generally with good to very good visibility and we enjoyed a relaxed schedule of four dives a day, including a night dive.

The accommodations and service in the TemuKira were up to GKT usual great standards. We have done 15 trips with them on several of their boats. Our cabin was very spacious and clean with a large shower/bathroom, individually remote controlled AC unit, ample closet/drawer space and reading lights. Another big cabin on the upper deck has large windows. The lounge provided ample space to relax and large charging stations. The diving staging area was well designed, the compressors fast. There was a camera table and two large rinsing tanks where the crew placed our cameras after every dive. A large shaded area on the upper deck was perfect for enjoying spectacular sunsets. The captain was the best we have found in Indonesia. He even fixed a broken valve cover in my BCD --that would have prevented me from diving-- in a few hours with a plastic cap, some aluminum foil and glue. The people at our local dive shop were very impressed. The meals were buffet style and abundant. The cook prepared some of the best, more varied meals we've had in the last several trips. We really care more about "gourmet" diving than "gourmet" food, but he came quite close several times. He also provided a good variety of snacks between meals.

But it is really not fair to single out individual members of the crew. What we really liked was the way all of them always worked together, everyone doing whatever needed to be done to make our trips so enjoyable.

The dive masters gave good briefings and were excellent at finding well camouflaged or tiny critters. One of the things we liked more about them is that they would they always let us go at our own pace and made sure that everybody got to see any unusual thing found. They were usually within view or keeping a close track of where we were, even when Peggy and I went our separate ways with our cameras. We were all photographers or videographers in our group and everybody got sufficient time with anything found. I spent about 30 minutes in one dive watching a flamboyant cuttlefish hunting and almost as much time on another dive happily trying to get good video of the flasher wrasses in the late afternoon.

We have been diving all around the world and the phrase "world-class diving" is overused, but it has been a very long time since we have come up from a dive as excited as we were after some of the dives in this trip. The small sampling that we did convinced us that this is an area with a tremendous potential that possibly will replace Lembeh Strait as the best place for critter and macro life in Indonesia. It certainly is superior to Wakatobi and Bunaken for variety of topography, diverse and unusual marine life.

We are sure that this area will attract many divers who, like us, may have thought that Komodo and Raja Ampat were the only great dive areas in Indonesia. Certainly we felt the same excitement as when we discovered those places many years ago. We hope to return soon.

Grand Komodo Tours also arranged all the local flights airport transfers and hotels as well as a very enjoyable land trip in Northern Sulawesi for us.

Jose Miguel and Peggy 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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