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Dive Review of Grand Komodo -- Nusa Tara in
Indonesia

Grand Komodo -- Nusa Tara: "Back to Komodo on the Nusa Tara", Nov, 2016,

by Peggy and Jose Miguel Duran MD, TX, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 10 reports with 9 Helpful votes). Report 9315 has 2 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 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 $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments We just returned from our 13th trip to Komodo National Park in Indonesia in the last 16 years, aboard the MV Nusa Tara, a very comfortable live-aboard operated by Grand Komodo Tours. This is an Indonesian owned and operated company that with the legendary Kal Muller were the pioneers exploring this area and putting Komodo on the map for adventurous divers. (See Undercurrent March 1994) and now offer live-aboard diving throughout Raja Ampat, Misool, Banda and all the best diving locations in Indonesia.

We flew from Bali to Labuan Bajo on Flores Island, with Garuda Airlines as they give extra weight allowance for divers so we did not have to pay any excess luggage charges. Make sure you tell them at the check-in counter that you are a diver. The brand-new Komodo Airport is a well designed modern air-conditioned building that could rival our local airport. Plenty of luggage carts and porters if needed

Starting the trip from Labuan Bajo has the great advantage of avoiding the long sail from Bali to Komodo, with no good diving sites in between. We started with 2 dives the day we arrived and from there we moved to all the best sites in South (Rinca and Nusa Kode Islands), Central and North Komodo.

The Nusa Tara is a 70 ft Pinisi style wooden boat with three double cabins with en-suite shower/BR and individually controlled AC. Two cabins have bunk beds, the front cabin has two single beds. They are clean and well maintained. The Nusa Tara has an enclosed dining/lounge with charging stations. The dive-staging area is roomy and well-designed with a diving platform to reach the dinghy. There is a bathroom next to it. Most open areas on the deck are covered with non-skid mats. The boat can accommodate 6 divers with a crew of eight. The crew cares for all your gear from setup to rinse and dry after the last dive. At dive times, a bell called all crew members to assist the divers from suiting up to getting in the dinghy. Diving is done from the dinghy. Although all dinghy rides were short, for additional comfort we would put on our fins and BCD and tanks after we arrived to the site just before doing a back entry. After the dive we would hand our tanks and fins to the boatman before climbimg the ladder. The crew were excellent at handling cameras.

The crew’s thorough knowledge of the area is very important as Komodo is also known for its tricky currents. The dive-masters gave detailed briefings in English and checked the currents at all dive sites, always dropping us at the right place on the right time, so we did not have a single bad dive out of 34 done on this trip. Divers are brought to the nearby boat as soon as they surface and the dinghy returns to wait for the other divers, so you can dive as long as you wish without worrying about other divers waiting for you.

The sealife is simply magnificent. All the creatures you only see in photo books and many you never knew existed. After more than 2500 dives, we found new creatures on nearly every dive. Cannibal Rock in Nusa Kode has to be the biologically richest dive site in the world with incredible Macro life. The Boulders had gigantic schools of Longfin Bannerfishes and Surgeonfishes. Manta Alley and Manta Point (Taka Makassar) provided more Manta encounters than we've had in a long time. Crystal Rock gave us a long encounter with three Spotted Eagle rays at a cleaning station holding effortlessly against a strong current. We dived both the North and South sides of Batu Bolong (Current City), as always exploding with sea life and color. At a cleaning station there were a big Napoleon Wrasse, Black Groupers, Giant Trevally AND a huge Green Moray eel. In Tatawa Kecil the clouds of multicolored Anthias almost obscured the other divers. Castle Rock had plenty of sharks, and swirling schools of Surgeons, Giant Trevallies, Blue fin and Big eye Jacks. We got enough good video to keep us editing for a long time. We counted as many as 16 species of fishes in some single frames of video.

Because of the rich cool currents, these are healthy reefs with some exceptions at the outer limits of the Marine Park where some old dynamite damage can be found. There has been some damage since we first visited in 2000 but new Ranger patrol boats partially funded by The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund and the Indonesian government are doing a great job in keeping out poachers. The owners of GKT&D, have been very vocal and active in the establishment, maintenance and protection of the Komodo Marine Park.

We have done 23 trips on Grand Komodo live-aboards. The main reason why we keep returning is the excellent service that the entire crew, working together, provides their divers. The food was plentiful and varied, Indonesian and American. Plenty of vegetables, fish, chicken and beef. Excellent soups starting every dinner, especially welcomed after night dives. Toast or cookies and coffee/tea before first dive, full breakfast after. Lunch after second dive, afternoon snacks after the third and a night dive whenever desired, and the location allowed it.

Once you have shown your proficiency, they let you dive your own profiles and treat you like adults. 60 minutes were recommended but you could stay longer if the dive was really good and had enough air. The dive-masters were very helpful finding sea life especially macro but never intrusive. The dinghy was always nearby and ready to pick us up. They always chose dive sites with careful consideration of the experience level of the divers and the prevailing currents. If the current was not right, it
was very easy to move to another excellent dive site usually no more than 15-20 minutes away.

Although there are more liveaboards and day boats diving this area now, there are so many dive sites and our divemasters arranged the dives so well that we only saw other divers in 4 dives out of 34 and never had anybody's bubbles interfering with our videos

Grand Komodo owners Reno and Nyoman Kirtya, have taken great pride and pains in developing their business. They take a personal interest in their divers, and have been meeting us before and after the trips to make sure that everything was satisfactory and listen to any suggestions for improvements.

Their office personnel are always very helpful with arrangements for transportation and hotels and any arrangements needed if you want to spend extra time in Bali or the other islands. They were punctual to meet us on arrival and to take us back to the airport in spite of Bali's traffic.

We have been going to Indonesia over the last 25 years and we
have always been treated with utmost kindness and courtesy by the people in all the Indonesian islands we have visited. We keep diving with Grand Komodo Tours because they keep providing us with excellent trips in what many experienced divers consider the best diving location in the world at the best price with the best people.

We have been on more than 20 liveaboards around the world, and the level of comfort and convenience of Grand Komodo Tours boats and the quality of service provided can hardly be matched, and at prices less than half of many of their competitors. Just check their web page at www.komodoalordive.com

Peggy & Jose Miguel Durane]
Websites Grand Komodo -- Nusa Tara   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Caribbean, Sea of Cortez, Philipines, Galapagos, Maldives, Andamans, PNG, Palau, Solomons, Bali, Komodo, Raja Ampat, Taka Bone Rate, Wakatobi, Bunaken, Lembeh, Halmahera, Tidor, Ternate, Misool, Togians, Gorontalo, Banda Sea, Alor, Flores, Ambon, Cendrawasih Bay
Closest Airport Labuan Bajo, Flores Getting There Fly Garuda Airlines from Bali

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, currents, no currents
Water Temp 79-83°F / 26-28°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 50-100 Ft/ 15-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Limited only by own experience and common sense.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins 1 or 2 Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Adequate rinsing, charging and setting up space. Need round plug
adapters. Good voltage stabilizer.
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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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