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Dive Review of Grand Komodo -- Putri Papua in
Indonesia/Flores, Alor, Banda, Misool

Grand Komodo -- Putri Papua: "Flores, Alor, Banda, Ceram and Misool. Putri Papua, October 2017", Oct, 2017,

by Jose Miguel Duran MD, TX, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 10 reports with 8 Helpful votes). Report 10066.

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 N/A Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Just came back from a fantastic 15 day cruise on Grand Komodo Tours' MV Putri Papua in October 2017, revisiting some of the best and less dived areas in Indonesia: Flores, Alor, Gunung Api, Lucipara, Run, Banda Neira, and Misool. This is not a regular itinerary and offered only twice a year.

We spent an extra day in Flores due to a luggage delay for two divers and had some very enjoyable dives at Depan Pasar and Pulau Babi. Tanjung Bacatan had abundant sharks to anthias.

Alor was as good as we remembered and the coral as well preserved as in our first 1998 visit. Clown Valley and Tanjung Maru offered a variety of sea life from a large school of juvenile barracudas to the great variety of anemones and clowns that are special in this island. 10 mile long Kalabahi Bay is one of the most scenic places in Indonesia. The Mini Wall provided an excellent night dive. Babylon had clouds of fishes, electric sand anemones and a very cooperative comet fish. We were glad to see very few fish traps, almost empty, this trip.

Isolated Gunung Api island was reached after a long sail on a calm sea. The number of green sea snakes swimming in the open water was amazing, as well as many sea kraits. Very curious and non-aggressive, they were all around and over us at times, with some mating groupings.

Lucipara walls had large schools of jacks and fusiliers, and many turtles, huge sponges. Run walls were spectacular. Still, trading then nutmeg tree-rich Run for Manhattan Island in 1647 was not a smart deal for the Dutch.

Banda Naira remained charming and as unspoiled as we first found it in 1995. Larva had an incredibly large expanse of lettuce coral grown since the last eruption of the volcano in 1988.

Fort Belgica and the town were a very nice shore excursion with abundant nutmeg trees. Batu Kapal had lovely pyramid butterflies and eels, underwater dreaming. Hatta Island had thousands of fusiliers. In Koon we were greeted by 5 bumphead parrotfish and hundreds of batfish lit by the sun.

Misool is quickly being recognized as the third great diving area of Indonesia. Magic Mountain was one of our top 10 all-time dives with wobbegongs and mantas and endless balls of fishes. No Contest had schools of fusiliers and a troop of friendly bumphead parrots. Farundi Cave is spectacular allowing us to surface inside a cathedral-like cave, sunlit through narrow cracks. Razorback Rock and Three Rocks were an excellent farewell with fans, turtles, stonefish, thicklips and more.

This was our ninth cruise on the Putri Papua since January 2004 and our twenty-fourth trip with Grand Komodo since June 2000. We have been diving in Indonesia since 1991.

The Putri Papua (Papuan Princess) is a 100 foot wooden Pinisi sail/motor vessel that was designed and built specifically for diving by the GK owners. It can accommodate 9 persons in 5 air conditioned cabins with en-suite bathrooms with hot water showers. The cabins are clean and comfortable, with good beds and adequate storage and shelves. The comfortable air conditioned lounge/dining area on the main deck has TV/DVD plus a good Fish and Invertebrates Identification library, as well as a well lighted camera charging station.

There is a double bed cabin on the upper deck, another large cabin below with a double and a single bed, 3 other double bunk cabins and a large sundeck with an awning and beach chairs on the upper deck.

The dive deck has plenty of room to gear up with ten stations on wide benches with tank racks where the BCD's and regulators remain attached to the tanks between dives. There are gear bins under the seats as well as a spacious camera table, a dedicated camera rinse tank and a toilet/shower. Also a hot/cold water shower is on the dive platform next to the dive deck. Beach towels are provided. The Bauer compressors were well maintained and the air fills were correct.

The food was consistently good. Served buffet style with a good variety of Indonesian and Western dishes with plenty of vegetables. Cookies, toast and coffee and tea were available before the first dive. Breakfasts followed, always with great fruit smoothies. There were cakes and snacks after our third dive before dinner.

Although with the long sailings between the different areas we could not always do the usual three day dives and one night dive, the divemasters made sure we got at least two dives every day. The pre-dive briefings were detailed and they checked current and conditions before every dive. We were all experienced divers and with two dive guides we were free to dive our own profiles when the currents allowed it, but the guides were always there finding critters and helping if needed.

All the diving was done from a fiberglass dinghy boarded from the dive platform with the whole crew assisting the divers in and out while carefully handling the cameras. The driver was excellent at keeping track of divers and always being there when you surfaced. The currents in this area can change rapidly and be quite fierce, resulting also in heavy surge when boarding the dinghy after the dives, that's why good guides and driver are really very appreciated. It's only because of the great care and attention to safety provided by the crew that we feel we can give four stars for -relative- beginner divers in these often challenging areas.

Grand Komodo Tours takes care of local flights, transportation, hotel accommodations and all the changes sometimes required by the unpredictability of inter-island flights. The staff accompanies divers to and from the airport. We were pleasantly surprised that Garuda Airlines won't charge for excess weight if you tell them you are divers.

The great level of service and attention to small groups of divers make GKT boats truly special. They are an excellent alternative for serious divers more interested in good safe dives rather than over-priced "luxury" boats. We are looking forward to our 25th trip with them next year.

Peggy and Jose Miguel Duran, MD
Websites Grand Komodo -- Putri Papua   

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 Maumere and Sorong Getting There Flew from Houston to Bali on Singapore Airlines, Bali to Maumere on Garuda. Returned Sorong to Manado on Garuda and Manado to Houston on Singapore Airlines

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, surge, currents, no currents
Water Temp 80-84°F / 27-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50-100 Ft/ 15-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No restrictions, Diving according to experience and skill, sixty minute dives suggested but not enforced -within reason-
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Dedicated fresh water tank for cameras. Crew thoroughly rinsed and dried cameras. Camera table on dive deck, Charging station in lounge. Crew extremely careful with cameras when loading on dinghy, resurfacing and unloading, specially with heavy surge. Four cameras and one camcorder on our trip
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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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