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Dive Review of Komodo Dancer in

November, 2003, an Instant Reader Report by Bradley Bowen, UT, USA
Report Number 619
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
All over the Pacific, Carribean and California.
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, rainy, dry  
Water Temp
80   to 82    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
0   to 0    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
1 stars  
Large Pelagics
  4 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Photographers table is on the bow. It's smaller than on the Aggressor Boats
or on the other two Peter Hughes boats we've been on, and is not covered.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
2 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
1 stars   
5 stars    
Number of dives: 319.  Its tough to say anything negative about a Peter
Hughes operation because the people you encounter are so friendly and
wonderful to be around. However, getting to Indonesia is a chore. Three
days of travel before our first dive, five days of diving and three days of
travel after our last dive, with a required overnight stay in San Francisco
on the way home due to the lack of connecting flights late in the evening. 
It is a long way to go for five days of diving, but I would go again--after
our children are raised and I can stay for a much longer period of time.

We saw many fish and other creatures not seen in other live aboard
destinations we have visited, such as Fiji, Palau and Hawaii. Saw some
angelfish and butterflyfish not in our identification books. (We have a
dozen, four for this region of the world.).  Lots of nudibranchs, several
of which I could not locate in our Helmut Debelis nudibranch book. 
Thousands of miniature yellow sea cucumbers on the dive at Komodo Island. 
To do this dive you must take the short version of the land tour and go
back to the boat to do the dive while the others are doing a longer land
tour.  We thought the Komodo Dragons were interesting, but the short tour
was plenty for us.  Be advised that there is an outdoor pearl necklace
market where the dive tender lands on Komodo.   A medium quality long
strand of pearls will sell for roughly U.S. $20. 

Visibility is extremely variable.  Ripping currents at several sites,
including K-2, which also had very poor visibility the one time we dove it.
 There is a high probability that you will see many Giant Pacific Manta
Rays at Langkoi.  Unfortunately, the current rips where the Mantas are
found, and it is a real challenge to patiently wait for them to show up
while conserving your air. It took a good half hour before we saw the first
Manta, but then there were a bunch of them that we were able to enjoy
watching as we desperately fought to conserve air and extend our dives,
while fighting a current Id estimate at 7 knots.  One afternoon only four
of us entered the water for the second afternoon dive.  As a photographer
moving at a slow pace, I became separated from the other three and had an
incredible half hour experience with a six foot long female cuttlefish
hiding her eggs in among the coral, who allowed me to approach and even
gently pet her back.  Saw two Grey Reef Sharks at a dive site called The
Point, and we saw a black tip at another dive site. The pygmy seahorses at
Gilli Lawah Darat were very interesting, but when we got further down this
reef on a night dive we discovered that dynamite fishing had left nothing
but rock and rubble.  Some other dive sites also showed signs of dynamite
fishing. My expression of extreme dissatisfaction at being taken to a dive
site that had been bombed into nothingness after traveling so far, was met
with the reply that this was the only place that the crew could count on
finding the pygmy seahorses (the first dive of the afternoon).  With a
little effort Im sure an acceptable alternative dive site could have been
found.  On the other hand, Cannibal Rock was breathtaking and has to be one
of the premier dive sites in the world. It  made the trip worthwhile, and I
still have not been able to identify a number of creatures photographed at
this site.

I was told by others that the food on the Komodo Dancer was outstanding for
Indonesia.  By American standards, I wouldnt rate it any better than
average.  The boat ran out of non-carbonated beverages after a few days,
despite a pre-trip request. Peter seems to keep all of his live aboards on
a tight budget. (We were previously on Star Dancer in Palau and Sea Dancer
in Turks and Caicos). All of the cabins are very small and storage space is
limited. The trip back to Bali is against the ocean current, which stirred
up some horrible odors that awakened us the last two nights.  The crew
slowed the boat down, and we were able to go back to sleep.  This delayed
our arrival in port by many hours.  The crew was great at calling ahead and
arranging for ground transportation to meet all of those who had flights
that afternoon on a beach at the North end of Bali. 
I found my polar fleece dive skin to be adequate thermal protection.  My
wife generally wore her dive skin as well, but occasionally felt she needed
more warmth and wore a three mil wetsuit a few times. 
Do not go on the Komodo Dancer unless you are an experienced diver who is
comfortable diving in swift currents.  I believe our diving experience was
severely limited due to four inexperienced men who had no business taking
this trip, but were attracted by the relatively low price and cheap
airfare.  Several of these divers did not realize they could get out of the
current by ducking behind a rock, and they were too stupid to hold onto a
rock or dead piece of coral to avoid being swept several miles out to sea. 
They were lucky that a competent crew kept track of them, but their
inexperience prevented us from diving K-2 more than once, and prevented us
from diving other good sites with current. 

The crew on this boat are top notch.  They gave us warm towels and back
massages after every dive, and were extremely friendly.  
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All Indonesia Dive Reviews and Reports
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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