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Dive Review of Komodo Alor Dive/Raja Ampat Explorer in
Indonesia/Raja Ampat

Komodo Alor Dive/Raja Ampat Explorer, May, 2010,

by Alan G Miller, NC, USA ( 1 report). Report 5514.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Australia, Coral Sea, Caymans, Cabo, Grenada, Panama, Hawaii, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, USVI, BVI, Puerto Rico, Saba, St Kits
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 85 to 86 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 50 to 75 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No strict enforcement, but divemasters dove each dive after briefing, and expected guests to do 3 min safety stop and return with reasonable amounts of air in tanks.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
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 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Large dive area camera table. Large indoor recharging table with many outlets and converters. 2 Dedicated camera buckets. Excellent crew handling of cameras, I showed them once and after that they all picked it up that way. Lots of really small critters so it's Macro photographer's paradise, but with better vis it would be a wide angle dream too.

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 3 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 4 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Have done about 25 liveaboards across the world over the last 20 years, and this was the best. The dive operators arranged domestic travel and all local transport, which was very tricky, from Jakarta to Sarong, where we embarked, and also arranged overnight hotels in Jakarta at the beginning and end of the trip. Dive and hotel representatives met us at each airport and made sure language and customs were not problems. The boat is tremendous -- holds 14 guests at maximum, but we only had 8 on our trip, with one non-diver. There are double bed accommodations, but most rooms were two single beds, all with ensuite toilet and showers. Large salon with identification books, library, cold and hot drinks with beer and soda on an honor system reconciled at the end of the trip. A nice sundeck was above the salon, and was partially covered for reading and decreasing the sun exposure. Excellent dive deck with individual positions with small and large baskets for gear. Typical liveaboard with placing gear on the tank at one station, and crew refilling when back from dives, without moving gear. Most dives were done from a zodiac, with divers walking down short ladder with gear, getting in and donning fins, doing simultaneous back roll into the water along with divemasters to start dives. All dive sites were well-briefed with dry board drawings and full expectations of depth, currents, and plan of how to navigate the site. The zodiac drivers waited for the divers near the end points of the planned dives, but were more than happy to take divers who had problems early back to the boat. Excellent schedule of dives at 7am, 11am, 3pm and 6:30pm for the night dive. Breakfast served after the first dive, but tea and toast could be had before the 7am dive. Incredible food, with lots of local seafood served at every meal. Excellent blend of Indonesian, Thai, Indian, and American food, served buffet style. We also had an avid fisherman on board who snagged tuna and mackerel for sushi, which the chef was more than happy to serve up. Snorkeling and land trips were encouraged between dives, and fishing could be done if rods and reels were brought. Snorkeling was available at many locations. At one point we stopped at a land-based dive resort owned by the boat operators, and enjoyed a birthday party complete with Indonesian singing by the crew. The diving was beyond our wildest dreams -- the reefs were lush, teaming with fish, and overrun with healthy soft and hard corals, crinoids, tunicates, and critters. If you love nudibranchs, you HAVE to come here -- we saw at least 4 different ones on each dive, and probably 50-75 different ones over our 11 days on the boat. Schooling fish, mantas, turtles, morays, wobbegones, starfish, smashing mantis shrimp, pygmy sea horses, clingfish, and crabs were abundant. The number of different types of angelfish, butterfly fish, pipefish, etc., was amazing -- never just one kind, but multiples at each turn. The soft and hard corals are thriving and large. We had limited (50-75') visibility, but the crew told us that many of the wall sites were often cruised by pelagics, and visibility varied by weather and months -- one guest who had done several trips with this operator said that Nov-Jan had better visibility. Night dives yielded blue ring octopus, squid, cuttlefish, octopus, and active crinoids. The anemones and their fish were glorious in the varieties and colors. Blue ribbon eels and juveniles of batfish, yellow boxfish, and sweetlips kept things interesting. The divemasters were very good at finding things if they knew what you were interested in seeing, or would just be there in case there were problems, like when down currents caught divers. There were mild to moderate currents on most dives, so this was not some place for novice divers to be. I had a titan trigger fish defend his nest and ram me while biting, taking a chunk out of the back of my head (and ending my diving for the trip). The crew were more than helpful in mobilizing and helping me take care of the injury, with some help from a doctor guest. We were miles from "civilization" so injuries have to be taken care of via first aid. A full oxygen tank is available. The only problem we had with the trip were the bugs on board. In the tropics on the equator, it is just impossible to get rid of them all. But we did get a few bites overnight in our rooms. We were lucky in that two of the guests knew several of the Indonesian dialects, and were able to communicate well with the crew. Most of the crew had a reasonable command of English, but one or two did most of the communicating with English-speaking guests. We had Europeans on board as well, so the trip was very international. The diving was outstanding, and we would return in a minute. The only other recommendation is to fly Business Class, and on Singapore Airlines if possible -- the trip from NC was very long, and we needed the 3 days to get there and get adjusted to time zones coming and going. We would recommend taking a long (11-14 day trip) diving, as otherwise all the long travel seems too hard compared to the diving rewards. After years of liveaboards with many different companies, this one is highly recommended for experienced divers who want to see lots of different sea creatures and lush, living reefs. It is a macro photographer's paradise, but with so many large beautiful fish and corals that any photograph captured multiple creatures.
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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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