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Dive Review of Kararu Dive Voyages in

November, 2003, an Instant Reader Report by Kathleen Hedde, CA, USA
Report Number 892
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
California, Germany, Egypt, Maldives, Cozumel, Sea of Cortez, Palau,
Belize, Saba, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, several areas in Indonesia
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, dry  
calm, currents  
Water Temp
75   to 80    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
35   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Surface with 500 psi, limit dives to 60-70 minutes (or so ;-))  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
  3 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Large rinse tanks on the boat, but not rinse facilities on the tender
boats. Reasonable space for stowing photo gear,  charging facilities
crowded but enough outlets for everybody (110V and 220V).
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  
4 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars   
5 stars    
Our first trip on the Sea Safari/Kararu ( had been in
November 2001. It was such a great experience that we were always sure we
would return some time. What prompted us to go on this specific trip was
the Digital Photo Seminar that Kararu offered in November and December of
2003. Again, we enjoyed ourselves tremendously, and found that the boat and
the operation had still improved over the last two years.

First off, some background on the boat and the diving operation:
The boat is a wooden Pinisi schooner. One of the main differences to other
great live-aboards is the spacious layout in all common areas, everybody
will be able to find enough space to stretch out.  Everything is kept very
clean and well maintained. As for miscellaneous services: Laundry is done
for very reasonable prices. The chef, Didi, doubles as the massage
therapist  1 hour for US $10. His thorough treatments received rave

There are a total of 5 meals/snacks a day, and again, Didi does an
incredible job of creating a wide and tasty variety of dishes. A cold
breakfast before the first dive, then a hot breakfast with a wide selection
from eggs your style to Indonesian dishes. At lunch, there are several
dishes to choose from, typically curries, sates, stir-fries, a salad, cold
cuts and fruit. A snack after the third dive. Dinner has a different theme
every night, e.g. Thai, Chinese or Greek. On two nights, we also had very
nice barbecues outside on the bridge deck. Even with all the diving,
weight-loss is definitely not an option here! 
Another nice differentiator for the Sea Safari is the crew. Everybody has a
great attitude, is friendly and genuinely interested in making the cruise a
pleasant experience for the guests. No special request is too much, and is
attended to in the fastest possible time.

The diving is done from two tender boats. The crew will take turns to help
the guests suit up and carry cameras to the tender boats. The boat drivers
are well trained in assisting divers into the water, as well as picking
everybody quickly after the dive. They are really good spotters, I never
had to wait for more than a minute until a boat came for me.  Overall, the
diving is run very efficiently and safely. Nitrox is now available on the
boat. Cruise directors Linda and Carl were doing a great job of laying out
the itinerary, adjusting it to accommodate special requests, and keeping
the entire group organized throughout the cruise.

Through the entire cruise, we enjoyed all dive sites. The best diving is in
Komodo National Park, with its healthy and diverse reef systems, and the
full array of the exotic macro life that this area is famous for. Inside
the park, the gem is Horseshoe Bay. Favorite dive sites are the Yellow Wall
o Texas, Cannibal Rock and Grandma Bangs Bommies. The incredible
bio-diversity is fuelled by the cool and nutrient-rich waters in this area.
As a result, water temperatures are frequently in the mid-seventies, and
visibility may be somewhat limited (40-50 feet is considered a really good
day. But hey, for us California divers, thats a great day anytime!). The
bottom line is that, no matter what the conditions, Komodo remains one of
the most bio-diverse areas on the planet an doffers some of the best diving
out there.  The stay in the park also includes a guided land tour to see
the Komodo Dragons with great photo opportunities. 

Outside of the park, the water is generally warmer, and the visibility will
improve. On this trip, several new dive sites had been added: Manta Alley
really lived up to its name. On each dive there, we had encounters with
multiple Mantas, sometimes up to 10 in the vincinity. On the island of
Sangeang, the dive masters had scouted out several excellent macro sites.
Black Magic and Small World are truly reminiscent of Lembeh Strait, both
for the variety and critters, as well as for the black sand bottom. 
The digital underwater photo seminar was taught by 3 instructors: Jim Watt,
world-renowned underwater photographer with an extensive digital background
(, Berkeley White from Backscatter UW Photo and Video
( and Dan Baldocchi from Light and Motion
( Light & Motion also provided all seminar photo
gear including full configurations of Tetra/Olympus housings, as well as
the Titan/D100 housing and assorted lenses and dome ports. The seminar was
an incredible value-add to the trip. The combination of seminars, nightly
guest slide shows and individual photo critique provided a very efficient
learning environment for beginners and more advanced shooters alike
(personally, I had been shooting digital for 2 years prior to this trip).
Jims, Berkeley's and Dan's experience with image pre- and post-processing
and presentation was invaluable, and they were able to accommodate a broad
range of topics. They did this either inside the seminars or 1:1, to cover
special and more advanced requests. Amazingly, as full as the schedule was,
they always found time to answer everybody's questions. Not only that, but
Dan most always found a way to accommodate everybody's special gear
requests, and then assisting everybody with their setups. In short, the
guys worked their ... elbows ... off to make the experience as good as
possible for everyone - and they certainly succeeded! The results speak for
themselves. You can check them out at the photo gallery on Kararus website
( In addition, quite a few of the images were taken by
guests who had done no or a minimal amount of UW photography before. This
just goes to show how much digital UW speeds up the learning curve,
especially in combination with high-quality instruction, and ample dive
opportunities. Since the digital seminars were such a success, Kararu plans
to offer them again next year, on two cruises (Bali  Alor, Alor  Bali).
We'll  be   back, because this will be too good a diving vacation too
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Diving Guide to Indonesia
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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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