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Dive Review of Komodo Dancer in
Indonesia/Komodo Islands

January, 2003, an Instant Reader Report by Pat Wikstrom, NC, USA
Report Number 770
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Socorro Islands, Roatan, South Africa, Costa Rica, Channel Islands,
Massachusetts, North Carolina, Bonaire, Cozumel, Florida, Yucatan Caves,
Bahamas, Little Cayman  & Brac, Belize, Turks & Caicos, Indonesia,
Thailand, Cocos
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, dry  
Water Temp
76   to 83    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
25   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
experienced divers were allowed wide latitude  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
4 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  
Slide processing daily if needed, well set up for UWP's
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
3 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
1 stars   
5 stars    
     My twelve day tour from Bali to Komodo Island and points in between
showed off some of the most spectacular diving available anywhere in the
world. And the 100ft long traditional twin masted motor sailor, Komodo
Dancer, is truly a wonderfully exotic, comfortable vehicle to explore these
islands from. I did 29 of the 32 offered dives with an average dive time of
56 minutes. During these 27 hours underwater I recorded literally hundreds
of new species in my log book. The wealth of fish ID books aboard allowed
us to accurately catalog the incredible parade of bio-diversity that
     Surprisingly, since it was only a couple of years old, the Komodo
Dancer was showing some wear and tear during our voyage. Steel rigging,
rails, and the crane were rusting, paint was faking, and some lighting was
defective. But she was scheduled to go into dry-dock right after our trip
so some of these issue may have been corrected. The upper decks werent
sealed in any way other than the three times a day the crew poured salt
water on them to keep them swollen. This allowed rainwater to percolate
down through the roofs of the cabins causing much consternation in those
divers whos bunks got wet. Also the watermaker was broken during our
voyage requiring periodic stops near inhabited islands to obtain deliveries
of barrels of water from the locals. 
     However these problems paled in comparison to the beauty of the vessel
riding at anchor in a cove as seen from the dive skiffs, or the enthusiasm
of the fourteen man local crew, or the professionalism and attentiveness of
our four person dive staff, or the usual high level of Peter Hughes
service. Food was excellent and plentiful with marvelous curry, garlic, and
Thai sauces, snacks between meals, wine with dinner, and beer and rum
drinks all included. I did, however, get a little tired of rice by the end
of the trip. 
     The all wooden ship was filled with beautifully polished hardwood
throughout. The seven cabins were relatively spacious with en-suite baths,
individually controlled A/C, adequate storage, and comfortable bunks. The
multi purpose salon, which was smaller than usual, doubled as a gathering
place, computer and photo workshop, air-conditioned haven on hot days, and
the sick bay during our one instance of potential DCS which required a
diver to lay down and suck on the oxygen bottle for a couple of hours. Most
meals were served at a huge table out on the main deck covered by a tarp
laid across the yard arm on the main mast. During hard rains we either got
wet outside or squeezed into the salon. The small sundecks on the Lido
deck, both tarp covered and uncovered were frequent gathering places during
surface intervals. The dive deck, while not huge, was well laid out for the
purpose; with camera table, charging stations, showers, and sufficient
gearing up space for fourteen divers. The Dancer carried two 20ft long open
fiberglass dive tenders powered by twin 40hp engines. On most dives both
tenders went to the same site although the drops were staggered or the
specific point on the site was varied. Dive staff loaded and unloaded our
gear so all we had to do was step aboard with camera in hand, sit down in
our position, and shrug into our kit. Dive tender staff occasionally fouled
up peoples tank weights and weight pockets, or banged up gear as it was
hoisted up over the side. They preferred we not climb up the ladders
wearing gear.
     But most important was the diving which was fantastic. From the first
check out dive off Satonda Island where I noted a wide array of hard and
soft coral, Lionfish, five different species of Nudibranchs, Morays,
Turtles, free-swimming Crinoids, and huge schools of colored Anthias  -it
just kept getting better and better. Great boulder sites like Pillarsteen
with rocky caves, cracks, and swim throughs with Blacktip reef sharks
lurking about; ripping current dives at Tatawa Besar where Mantas cruised
in the pea soup vis; wonderful night dives on sites like White Beach with
Spanish Dancers, Octopus, Seaslugs and Moreys foraging. On some of our
stops every site was spectacular. Gili Banta held K-2 a true pristine
coral garden, Star Wars with staghorn coral in fields of green, yellow,
brown, purple , and grey colorations, and the thrilling GPS Point where
high voltage currents and vibrant colors added up to a washing machine dive
through an artists pallet. But most impressive of the whole trip was Nusa
Kode. This stunning island serves up wall dives on either side of the
channel; Yellow Wall & Pelican Point, where Yan found us Pigmy
Seahorses, Banded Sea Snakes, Sea Dragons, Ribbon Eels, Frogfish, and
dozens of different Nudibranchs. Nusa Kode is also home to Cannibal Rock
the most colorful accumulation of sea life Ive ever seen. This shallow sea
mount in the bay is packed solid with multicolored anemones, crinoids,
sponges, sea fans, and delicate soft coral in green and orange, purple and
pink, gold and reds all crammed together in an unbelievable density. Three
day and one night dive at this one site still wasnt enough for me. During
one picture perfect surface interval riding at anchor in the bay we saw
Komodo Dragons stalking the little wild pigs on the beach, white headed
eagles were soaring on the wind overhead, while a Marlin jumped right
behind the boat. It just doesnt get any better than this. 
Great diving, great boat, a must do itinerary.  PS  the land excursion to
Komodo itself was lots of fun with great photo-ops of Dragons fighting and
getting frisky. The island of Bali seemed very safe, friendly people,
beautiful temples, interesting culture, good shopping, and hot nightspots.
A fantastic trip. Id go back in a heartbeat.
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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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