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Dive Review of Dewi Nusantara in

Dewi Nusantara: "Komodo on Dewi Nusantara", Aug, 2016,

by Michael Wood, WA, US (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 20 reports with 11 Helpful votes). Report 9304 has 1 Helpful vote.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments After spending 4 days acclimating on Bali at Tauch Terminal diving the wreck of the USAT Liberty (separate review), I overnighted in the delightful Conrad Bali for only $150US (pre-paid) for my ocean-view room, a $5 nearby massage and the Conrad’s famous breakfast buffet, with food for every nationality and pallet. I arrived at the terminal 3 hours early for my domestic Wings Air flight from Denpasar to Bima, as I was paranoid from my prior domestic terminal experience in Jakarta, where I arrived only 2 hours early and got on my plane 30 seconds before they closed the airplane door.

To my delight, the Denpasar domestic terminal process was quick, easy and painless. My extra 30 kilos (only 10k allowed) of dive & photography equipment, only cost me $35. I had to check my camera gear, which made me nervous, but it arrived OK. The domestic gate area was modern, decorated with gardens and orchids, with a variety of nice local shops, coffee places and sitting areas. It was actually a pleasurable place. My flight to Bima was delayed an hour because of gate slot problems, but we had plenty of time to make the boat. I met up with the other westerners (no Americans; English, English expats living in Singapore, Swiss, Polish) at the gate who were to be on the Dewi, including Mark, an oceanographer/biologist who works for Conservation International, who ended up giving us lectures and deep insights into the fish life in the Komodo National Park dive area. While technically an American, hasn’t lived in the U.S. in over 25 years, and now resides in New Zealand.

Our flight was met by a Dewi crew member, Jan, who efficiently orchestrated our luggage onto waiting vans for our 15 minute ride to the Dewi Nusantara anchorage. They loaded our gear into our skiff and took us to the boat where I met Andrea, the cruise director, and two of my former dive guides on the Dewi in Raja Ampat, Andre and Steven. I was lucky as a single to be assigned Cabin 6, mid-ship, with a king bed all to myself. There were only 9 divers of 14 passengers, so there was one dive guide per two passengers. My buddy was from Basel, Switzerland, and adventurous diver who was to have his 300th dive on board, and had learned rudimentary Indonesian of his own initiative back home.

Our first trip was to the west of Komodo to an area known to have whale sharks who hung out around some fishing cribs. However, they were not there this time so we ended up doing 3 muck dives, the first two were mediocre but the 3rd one was as good as any dive I’ve had on Lembeh Strait: Five kinds of nudibranchs, scorpionfish, rhinopeas, flouders, devilfish, leaf fish, tiny anemone shrimps that looked like jewelry, various clownfish nests, a juvenile puffer, ghost pipefish, frogfishes, common pipefish, juvenile cowfish, pigmy cuttlefish, various tiny crabs, gobies-in-a-hole.

We also stopped for a brief visit to a very small village on an island where they locals raised goats, buffalo and chickens, and had a very large ironwood schooner under construction as well. They did not speak Indonesian but our maitre’D spoke Bima and could roughly translate for us. There appeared to be only about 10 middle-aged to older people on the island, and we were told their children lived across the bay with relatives to attend school. The village was very poor looking, but they seemed to have plenty to eat between fishing and their livestock, which they sold to others, too. There was a Minnie Mouse towel hanging on a line drying and a man wearing a CNN t-shirt that said: “Knowledge is Power: Bulk Up.”

The next few dives back toward Komodo and in Komodo park in the north: The dive sites were typically sloping coral gardens with rich soft and hard corals, very fishy tropical swarms, clownfish nests, an abundance of Moorish idols, surgeonfish, damsels, filefish of various types, a big crocodilefish, nudis, cuttlefish and dartfish. Our night dive produced gunards, stargazers, mantis shrimps, pygmy cuttlefish, swarming catfish balls, leaf fish, small moray eels (including the capture of a new species by our passenger scientist), first found by a fellow passenger/photographer Janus from Poland, with whom I visited Tubbatah in 2015, along with his wife Alizcia. One dive on a pinnacle resulted in a hook-in to watch an eagle ray cruise back and forth and a white-tip also circling about. Turtles were a regular sighting on this and most other coral garden dives in the north part of Komodo. Water temp was 81F and good viz.

That night we sailed for the south of the Komodo park, where the Indian Ocean upswells cool the water down to 73-75F (23-24C). Good to have a 5 mil. wetsuit and hoodie, for sure. The extra neoparene you need is worth the trouble—the sloping coral gardens were rich with all kinds of soft and hard corals, black coral, dozens of anemone nests, giant frogfish, ghost pipefish, nudies, hundreds of tiny yellow sea cucumbers (look like nudies), hairy crabs, anemone crabs, sweetlips, leaf fish, sea apples, sea squirts and mantis shrimps.

Our day ended with a short boat ride and hike to “pink sand beach”, one of only a few in the world, where we lounged about having some drinks, playing a little soccer and taking a walk on the long beach, spotting local deer on the hillsides. What a beautiful evening!

This is my second trip on the Dewi Nusantara and won’t be my last. It is a roomy, well-laid out Indonesian-built schooner of ironwood. The crew, headed by Andrea this time, have it down to a service science. The cabins are huge, first class, clean and well-appointed with comfortable beds. The lounge area is large, air conditioned and full of fish books, coffee, tea, beer, sodas (all included) and a wine stock (extra per bottle) that people seemed to like. One of the 6 owners, Simon and his wife Eire, were on board with their extended family and you could see how his thoughtfulness and hospitality is instilled in the crew, who go to all lengths to cater to your every wish and idiosyncracy. The common eating area is beautiful as are the sun chairs and hammocks, in two separate areas on the bow and mid-ship on the topside, next to the bridge. One has a canopy for shading, on request.

Our adventure in south Komodo also included a first-class encounter with 8 or so giant mantas on two separate Manta Alley dives. They came within a foot of my head and seemed to relish having divers to play with.

Next, over to some pinnacles and coral slopes in the south that were hugely rich in crinoids, soft corals, hard corals and fish fish fish. I got 6 nudi species on one dive; lots of different types of anenomes and half a dozen clownfish types. Zillions of small tropicals hover over the reef, giant schools of trevallis/surgeonfish/fusillears all inhabit these waters. A few black tips and white tips on a current dive and others on regular reef dives could be seen cruising, sleeping or passing through.

The trip is great for both wide angle and macro—I switched out several times, about 2/3 macro (my prefererence) 1/3 wide angle. Viz was generally good (40-80ft.), currents were either non-existent or moderate/easily manageable.

Of course we stopped to see the dragons—twice—once with a ranger in the national park on Rincon (Komodo Island itself is too crowded with day boats), and once on a beach (we didn’t dare get out of our skiff) on a smaller island that had the beasts in residence. Must do.

The food is high quality. Light breakfast at 6:30am before the 7:15am-7:30am dive, followed by a pre-ordered cooked breakfast of all sorts of egg dishes, bacon, ham, toast, croissants and vegetarian alternatives like Nasi Gorem, the local noodle & veggie breakfast, with or without eggs. Lunches were buffet and usually included tempe, satay of chicken, beef, fish, pork, veggies and fried rice/plain rice. Dinners were plated and served—steak, duck, fish, lamb chops, veggies, couscous/rice/polenta. Good desserts, albeit a little to sweet for me to have every night. The molten chocolate cake was really good!

The dive guides—Andrea (cruise director) and local Indonesians Jan, Andre and Steven were seasoned dive guide pros who gave excellent briefings and guiding to find what you were looking for/taking pictures of. They could find the frogfish, pygmy seahorses, pygmy cuttlefish, nudis, tiny shrimps and crabs that I’d go right by without their help. The crew handled all your equipment and cameras with great care and skill. It’s the easiest diving you can imagine—including taking your BC from you to get back on the skiff, if you need such assistance. The diver to guide ratio was 1:1 or 2:1, depending on your luck.

Heading back to the north into warmer (81-82F) waters, we dove beautiful sites with little current, large pinnacles, walls and sloping reefs. Pygmy seahorse sightings were regular, as were clownfish, sharks and an occasional lone manta cruising by. The crinoids in this region are everywhere of every color; barrel sponges, large fans, colorful soft and hard corals are the norm. The north Komodo area and north of Maumere are loaded with various colors of anemones (pink, white—from bleaching were told—blue, yellow, orange, green) with various types of clownfish—true clownfish, false clownfish, pink, Clarkii of various shades and colors.

A treat on the cruise were two lectures by marine biologist Mark, who works for Conservation International, about fish classifications, and the 4 definite new species of gobies he documented on his dives with us and another 6 awaiting DNA corroboration.

A few other highlights: Spanish Dancers, numerous eels, hairy crabs, anemone crabs and anemone shrimps, cuttlefish, pygmy cuttlefish, decorator crabs, many leaf fish, sea snakes, sharks on nearly every dive, regular turtle swim-alongs, barramundi, unusually patterned starfish, spearing and smashing mantis shrimps (different kinds of hunting techniques), filefish, devilfish, lionfish, scorpionfish and on and on. You get the picture: It’s almost as lush and biodiverse as Raja Ampat—a respectable second, I’d say.

If you are looking for a new place in Indonesia that isn’t Raja Ampat, I can recommend Komodo highly, as I can the Dewi Nusantara, which has no peer in the region, IMHO.
Websites Dewi Nusantara   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Caribbean, Indonesia, Maldives, PNG, GBR, Philippines, Hawai'i
Closest Airport Bima Getting There Denpasar to Bima; return to Denpasar from Maumere

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 73-82°F / 23-28°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 40-80 Ft/ 12-24 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Dive your computer; generally 60 minute dives, however.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics N/A

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 Best of any liveaboard. Big camera room, good handling.
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