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Dive Review of Grand Komodo Tours/SMY Temukira in
Indonesia/Raja Ampat, Papua

Grand Komodo Tours/SMY Temukira, Mar, 2005,

by Arief Irwan Latif, Papua, Indonesia . Report 1701.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 51-100 dives
Where else diving Bali, Bunaken Manado, Jayapura, Anak Krakatoa, Sangiang West Java, Singapore.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas choppy, currents, noCurrents
Water Temp 28 to 29 Celsius Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 30 to 50 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Experienced divers were allowed to dive their own profile. Beginner and older divers were attended to very closely, but they were not too strict on them either.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 2 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments The Temukira is a traditional Indonesian 'Phinisi' style wooden schooner which accommodated 12 guests and 11 crew. As such space was limited. The main camera table is located at the main dining area and is enough for about 3 fully geared photo and videographers. It had 4 or 5 small lockers next to the camera table; however these were too small to store a whole set equipment (cameras, batteries, lights, arms and accessories). The dive platform also provided slightly bigger space for cameras and another shelf below, which was mostly packed with some tools and gear. Two small rinse tanks were available at the dive deck and the water was replaced regularly.

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 1 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Diving in Raja Ampat was absolutely fantastic. Although it was my first liveaboard I was quite satisfied with the quality of service, diving, food and affordability of the trip. Overall I did 23 dives and that was because I had to sit out 1.5 days due to ear infection. Visibility was not great, but this is always a trade off with profusion of fish and other sea creatures. The highlights of the trip had to be the extremely healthy, beautiful and diverse corals, abundance of tropical fish, Mantas and nudibranchs.

The liveaboard operator, Grand Komodo Tours (GKT) went out of their way to facilitate our group's schedule. Seven people from my company, four of which were from the same department, had decided to go and do the liveaboard experience with GKT. Being from the same company and for some, same department, it was thus extremely difficult to get everyone to agree on and get approval for the vacation schedule. The trip was originally listed as a 10 day tour, however GKT was accommodating enough to allow six of the seven people a 7 day trip and they provided additional boat charter to take them to the port of entry at no additional charge.

The first 2 days of diving was a little bit rough mainly because we were diving sites that had extremely strong currents. Even though we had prepared reef hooks, having a video camera on such strong currents, I learned was just too difficult to manage. This was the type of current that flutter and flood your mask and threaten to pull regulators of your mouth. However after we discussed this with the dive master he was more than happy to fine tune the timing so that we would not be diving in such strong currents.

The rest of the dives were just fantastic. Most sites are sloping reefs, sea mounds or rock island formation. The health and variety of corals were excellent. Several Mantas were seen up close, at Manta International Airport. Another came right towards me after a safety stop at Magic rock, had the zodiac operator not alerted that the animal was behind me I might have missed it. However the best Manta site was by far Manta point. There was maybe 20 minutes of video footage of basically Mantas hovering towards, next to or above me. Other creatures that make up the whole experience included Crocodile fish, Wobbegong sharks (almost at every site), banded sea snakes, flatworms, schooling Jacks, schooling Snappers and Sweetlips, Scorpion fish, Hawksbill turtles, black and white reef sharks, Epaulette sharks (very shy) Barracudas, Dogtooth Tunas, Spanish mackerels, Napoleon wrasse and families of Bumphead Parrotfish just to name a few. At the last dive there more than 20 species of nudibranch spotted by our dive masters. Two of which we just could not find in the guide books. The only thing that was lacking as far as I am concerned was probably a substantial shark action, but the rest of the show more than make up for it.

The dive masters really did not impose any restrictions and we were allowed to basically dive our own profile. Briefing before each dive was given and the only guidelines imposed was essentially to either have the reef on your left or right side. There were 2 dive masters on board, however they had to attend to several of the less experience divers. Dives were mostly step off the dive platform from the main vessel, zodiacs were used occasionally for sites too shallow to reach. The zodiac was extremely efficient at picking up divers. I estimated the longest I had to wait to be picked up was about 1 minute.

This was not a trip to plan to loose weight on as food was always plentiful and tasty. Before the first dive at 7:30, most of us helped ourselves to tea and coffee with cereal or fruits. Breakfast consisting of a combination of banana pancake, sausages, toast, scrambled eggs, or egg salad, with fresh water melon, orange, or banana shake would be ready after the first dive. Lunches and dinners were also combinations of rice with at least 3 main courses and deserts. Several nights we had fresh sushi also. Fresh baked cakes or cookies were always available after the third dive. Coffee, cocoa, milk, tea, bottled water and fruits were free. Beer and soft drinks were extra. The food was always in abundance and most of the time there plenty left over simply because there was so much of it. Most of the time the buffet style breakfast was a somewhat Western. Lunches and dinners, also buffet style was mainly Asian, but Nico the cook was excellent at keeping the variety it was never a problem.

Accommodation was somewhat tight as this was a traditional wooden schooner converted into a liveaboard. It was probably about 27 meters long and 7 meters wide. Each room had its own a/c and bathroom. No hot shower. The tight space was however really not a problem because it was always cleaned daily and the towel was replaced every 2 days.

The crew was absolutely fantastic. Captain Abu Bakar was always spot on in finding the sites. Chris the head dive master spoke adequate English and was always helpful. The rest of the crew was more quiet but always polite and accommodating. The zodiac operators were excellent and did not allow anyone to wait for very long before being picked up.

The traditional vessel was equipped with surprisingly modern gadgets and equipment including radar, gps, depth sounder, radio and satellite telephone. It also had first aid and oxygen for emergency. The television and DVD player however were rather old and did not provide quality pictures needed to view videos and digital pictures.
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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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