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Dive Review of Grand Komodo Tours and Dives/N/A in
Indonesia/Alor Is.; Komodo, Rinca Is.

August, 2004, an Instant Reader Report by Stephen Green, NY, USA
Report Number 1344
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
101-250 dives
Where else diving
Cozumel, Turks & Caicos, St. Lucia
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, dry  
calm, currents  
Water Temp
75   to 81    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
40   to 80    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
130 ft  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
5 stars  
Large Pelagics
  3 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
  Subject matter (astounding) and support (courtieous and competent)for
photographers was superb and boundless. Experienced divers have the freedom
to work subjects and guides were excellent at finding elusive subjects,
particularly macro.  Always informed of expected unusual subjects and
likelihood of macro and /or W/A opportunities.  Ask and they will look for
your special subject.  Boat facilities were adequate with careful handling
of equipment by crew and seperate tanks.  Plenty of places for charging
stations including cabin, but wise to have good transformer for 220 on
board. TV/DVD/CD + jacks to view photos available.  Camera table adequate
for at least 6-8 camera rigs handy to dive prep.  My rating of 4 for
facilities, because,if all were photographers (10) camera tables would have
been very crowded, particularly with large rigs.  If you showed sensible
and skilled diving the DM's let you dive as needed.  DM's would split the
group into 2 parts (3-4 each)to avoid crowding around subjects.  Overall an
independent photographer's dream location and dive outfit.  They didn't
hold your hand but knew where you were also. Pelagics were not great with
the lower viz though.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
2 stars   
5 stars    
    Grand Komodo Tours and Dives is a first class company in service and
experience.  The small vessels are classic Indonesian wooden designs with
5-6 clean cabins on each boat with clean ensuite bathrooms (cold to warm
showers)(hot shower on the after deck) and 3 of 4 vessels have individual
A/C(Putra Papua (max 10 divers and Temu Kira (max 12 divers)both were
quiet). There is a lounge for all and a deck to sun on each boat. I gave a
4 for 'facilities' because these "boutique dive boats" are not
luxury but wholly adequate and clean and I had a problem with A/C and
spiked 220Electric on Temu Kira.  
   This trip was a 16 day 15 night tour of the Alor group of islands in Far
eastern Indonesia (didn't see another dive boat there in 8 days) and then 8
days in the Komodo/Rinca Island group (East of Bali).  Both areas are
SUPERB diving, though occasionally challenging currents. 4 dives daily
incl. night dive was the rule w/a few days fewer(50+ dives for the trip)
Dives ranged from many walls, slopes, pinnacles, and some sandy reef
areas--a real variety of u/w terrain. All divers brought their own
equipment, but some equipment available to cover failures is available.
Night lights are available for rent.  3000+ fills + quick repair when
needed.  Relaxed, no hassle diving with plenty of independence for the
"go it alone" photographer (who wants one for a buddy anyway). I
gave a 4 for the 'operations' merely because they do not yet have Nitrox. 
   The food on board was good, mostly Indonesian, but not too spicy.  Lots
of vegetables, rice and fish and chicken (the latter always freshly
caught).  Fruit smoothies every meal with good salads as well.  Lots of
fruit always with breads.  Hot pound cakes between dives and eggs at
breakfast as well with a rough bacon .  Always enough food.  Beer and sodas
available on at nominal cost.  BYOB hard liquor and wine.  Always drink
bottled water and use it for tooth brushing.  Running water is 3rd world
and risky.
   The Indonesian dive guides were excellent and pointed out and found the
myriad elusive and incredible fish, critters, and weird forms of life which
makes this region famous.  Personal requests were gracefully honored and
help with dive equipment, cameras, etc. was always available with care and
competence.  On the Puta Papua (Normally you spend the entire trip on 1
boat, but a mechanical problem required picking up the TemuKira before
Komodo) all diving is from Zodiac type skiff (very easy) while 1/2 of dives
on the TemuKira could be done off the stern (easy steps down to surface) or
a  similiar skiff.  Since we dove in groups of 4-5--no crowding and easy
grouping, even in high current areas. 
    The flora and fauna in this region are incredible in diversity, health
of reefs, remarkable numbers.  My list of fish species seen (I am new to
this part of the world, so missed alot) was well over 200 including
"clouds", "tons" and "myriads" of wrasse,
damsels, surgeonfish, triggers, butterfly, chromis, angels, sargents
silversides, bannerfish, and the ubiquitous anthias of myriad colors of so
many different species, ages and forms as to be mind numbing.  Large
schools of fusiliers, snappers, giant trevallys, tuna, Timor Sea Perch,
Unicorns, as well as Jacks and others I have yet to name. On the reef and
bottom every dive revealed many frogfish,lions and scorpion fish with
Batfish,Stonefish,flounders, Stargazers, Gobies and Sqirells etc etc etc. 
In the Macro and critter world we saw at least 25 varieties of nudibranch
and many sea worms,a couple of banded sea snakes.  Most dives revealed a
shark or two including the prized Wobbigong (not supposed to have been
there) bamboo shark, black and white tips, tigers and a few nurse sharks. 
One site in Komodo we saw a squadron of huge mantas cruising within feet
(Our videographer snorkled after one dive and swam with them.)  Eagle rays
and blue spotted rays.  Some Barricuda, huge groupers and some huge
snappers were seen.  And of course Ghost pipe fish,  several remarkable
octopus were seen. Worms,slugs, "Dancers" and lobster and many
shrimp & the amazing decorator crabs and incredable anenomes with
resident fish,  Due to the season, we saw little of the pygmy sea horse,
but at other times of the year they can be found.  
    The hard coral exhibited no bleaching and the variety and health of the
species was remarkable.  Great varieties of crinoids of every color (cover
up ankles and hands)  Soft corals of every variety and color, particularly
around Cannabal Rock in Komodo were stupendous along with the amazing macro
life here(it can be a cold 70 here, so bring some extra rubber--but DONT
miss the dives here:they were THE BEST of excellent throughout the areas. 
Sensory overload is the norm in these regions and it is worth it to bring
some sort of camera with strobe to discover some of the hidden color at
    I give this trip a BIG 5 for value because for 16 days of pure heaven,
relaxed ambience and good service cost only $2625 US for a double. 
Considering the additional services, side trip to "dragons" and
villages,and additional tours available from Grand Komodo on Bali and the
efforts they will make for a great stay in Bali before or after the
dive,this is a full service operation.  Flights to Komodo and Alors are
made simple and don't worry about the overage for luggage, GK makes it very
reasonable.  Find their website at Anytime of the year
is good.   When do I return? ASAP.
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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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