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

April, 2009, an Instant Reader Report by Jose Miguel & Peggy Duran, TX, USA
Sr. Reviewer   (9 reports, with 7 Helpful votes)
Report Number 4992
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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

Water Temp
80   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
50   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
None, treated as responsible adults  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  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  
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):
5 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
4 stars   
5 stars    
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.

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

Jose Miguel and Peggy Duran
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All Indonesia Dive Reviews and Reports
Diving Guide to Indonesia
Diving Reviews for All Dive Destinations

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