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Dive Review of Grand Komodo -- TemuKira in
Indonesia/Cendrawasih Bay&Raja Ampat

Grand Komodo -- TemuKira, Sep, 2013,

by Rickie Sterne/Chrisanda Butto, AR, US (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 24 reports with 8 Helpful votes). Report 7151.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Cendrawasih Bay is a tough trip. The best connection to Manokwari is a red-eye flight from Jakarta on Sriwijaya Airlines. So we got off our twenty-seven hour international flight at 0900 and got on our red-eye shortly after midnight. Fortunately, we were able to spend the day resting at the very comfortable FM7 Hotel near the Jakarta airport. Since the Sriwijaya flight requires a change of planes in Makassar, there was no hope of sleeping that night. An already brief connection time in Makassar was further shortened by a late departure from Jakarta. When we reached Manokwari we were as amazed as we were delighted that our checked bags had arrived with us. Sriwijaya had attached large red tags reading "Transit" to luggage originating in Jakarta and continuing on to Manokwari. There must have been baggage handlers standing by to shift those bags from one plane to another. We spent two nights in Manokari recovering from jet lag. Tourist infrastructure in Manokwari is nonexistent, and English is not generally spoken. In retropspect, we should have spent our two resting days at the FM7.
On the Grand Komodo boats, the head dive guide functions as the cruise director. Wilson did an outstanding job under circumstances which were especially difficult at the beginning of the trip. Two German divers whose checked bags failed to reach Indonesia found that they would have to wait for two days in Manokwari while their luggage caught up with them. Wilson had to tell them that the boat and the other ten divers could not wait with them since there are only two dive sites near Manokwari. Those two gentleman flew to Sorong after their bags finally arrived, and Grand Komodo took them to their Raja Ampat Dive Lodge on Mansuar island. Meanwhile, back on the boat, the harbormaster of Manokwari would not clear the TemuKira to sail out into the channel at the scheduled time. We lost at least half a day's diving while Wilson bargained with the officials. Two divers were visibly and sometimes volubly unhappy about the delay. Grand Komodo's office offered each diver a million rupiah credit/rebate to apologize for the problem. Okay, that's $100 US, but the million sounds so cool; and it did make an impressive stack of bills when Wilson handed the money to us on the last night. We had already visited the two dive sites near Manokwari. The WWII wreck of the Shiwa Maru, which had somehow managed to avoid acquiring any coral cover during the last seventy years, was not very interesting to us, but the coral slopes at the Light House offered a nice variety of fish and several colorful nudibranchs.
After motoring half a day and all night, we reached Kwaitasare Bay and the bagans that feed whale sharks. And, yes, the whalesharks were present and far more interested in the small fish offered by the fisherman than in what we divers were doing. The boat had an open dive deck policy during the day we spent with Rhincodon typus. Some divers made four or five dives, but we chose to make two exceptionally long dives. We were up close and personal with the ocean's largest fish and did not want to waste time getting on and off the boat. We saw whalesharks head on, from both sides, from above and below, and from the rear. An amazing experience with these huge, beautiful fish! As instructed by our dive guides, we did not swim directly toward the whalesharks or touch them; apparently no one had instructed the whalesharks not to swim directly toward or to touch me.
The next day all the divers were ready to explore the other diving offered by Cendrawasih Bay. We had been warned by Weka, Grand Komodo's senior dive guide who participated in the exploration of Cendrawasih Bay, that sites which were beautiful gardens of hard coral last year had suffered extensive damage by crown of thorn sea stars. Alas, we found that observation to be true, at least as it applied to this year, at a couple of sites we visited. The dive sites near Pulau Roon and Pulau Auri were still covered with healthy hard corals and tangles of colorful rope sponges. We saw many exempla of the dusky color morph of Chaetodon longirostris found only in Cendrawasih and a pair of the normally deep dwelling Chaetodon modesta. We did not encounter any of the endemics. We did not get to dive in Cendrawasih National Park as long as we had expected. We suspect that the itinerary was reshaped so we could pick up the divers we had left behind in Manokwari.
Late August-early September is NOT the best season for diving in Raja Ampat. We knew that when we booked the trip, but we had not anticipated the daily rain and almost constantly overcast weather- poor research on our parts. Reefs show to better advantage in sunlight. We did, however, enjoy two truly spectacular dives at Mioskon Reef and Chicken Reef. On Mioskon large schools of jacks, fusiliers, and snappers let wide-angle photographers swim into them for wonderful shots and intermittently concealed the beautiful coral slope. A meter-long woebegong rested lazily on a coral "half shell", and we found half a dozen species of nudibranchs as well as a couple of peacock mantis shrimp. The dive at Chicken Reef was also a raging fish dive and ended with a large manta circling below us during our very long safety stop. Sardine Reef was teeming with fish as well, but the sun had retreated behind the clouds. A dusk-night dive at the Raja Ampat Dive Lodge jetty was an excellent experience, starting with mandarin fish and concluding with ornate ghost pipefish.
The TemuKira's dive deck is well set up in the usual liveaboard fashion, and the dive deck crew is excellent. With a full load of twelve divers on board, Grand Komodo sent along three dive guides on our two-week trip. All three of the dive guides were sharp-eyed and aware both of where the interesting fish and critters were and where the divers were. They consistently dropped us on the sites at points that did not require us to fight strong currents. Both dinghy drivers stayed on the sites while there were divers in the water, and divers who came up early reported that there was always a dinghy right there to pick them up. All tank fills were over 3000 psi. Dive time was always posted as 60 minutes, but most of our dives lasted longer than that, and the dive guides did not hurry anyone out of the water. Only when the boat needed to motor some distance were we actually asked to observe a time limit. We always dove from the dinghies. At dive's end, we handed up our BC's. When returned to the boat, the crew carried our gear back to our stations for us. There was always a crew member to give us a supporting hand as we got into and out of the dinghy. Filled bottles of water numbered by our dive stations were kept on the dive deck so we could have a last hit of water before jumping in and slake our thirst when we came out. There are two warm water showers on the dive deck. Separate deck towels, numbered by dive station and changed every three days, were provided.
The daily schedule started with the first dive at 0700, then breakfast. The second dive was scheduled at 1100 with lunch to follow. We made our third dive at 1500 and then repaired to the salon for our afternoon snack. The night dive usually took place at 1900. The three-course dinner was served after the night dive.
The food was basically a slightly less spicy Indonesian cuisine, although the cook started offering us a very hot fresh pepper relish after he noticed how much "extra pedas" bottled sambal our table used. Breakfasts typically included eggs, fried noodles or rice, and Indonesian fruit crepes, and bacon or chicken sausage. (interesting question, why does Muslim Indonesia serve better bacon than I can buy here in the pork-loving South?) And, of course, Grand Komodo's signature fruit smoothies! Lunches offered a fish or seafood dish, a chicken dish, and fresh veggies and salad. Dinners always began with homemade soup. The menu followed the Asian template of fish or seafood and a chicken or occasionally a beef dish with very good veggie dishes. Of course, rice was always on offer. Dessert at both lunch and dinner most often consisted of delicious tropical fruit. Meals are served from a buffet, and the offerings are plentiful.
I spent most of my surface intervals on the covered sundeck, reading and watching my fellow divers nap. (It is absolutely de riguer on the TemuKira to hold a book in your lap while you nap on the sun deck.) Rickie preferred the salon and its good collection of ID books. The serious photographers tended to hang out there, too. The salon on the TemuKira is air conditioned, but our group generally preferred to open the windows and enjoy the sea breezes.
Two of the TemuKira's cabins have double beds, while the other four have bunks. All cabins have en suite bathrooms and individually controlled air conditioning. Cabin showers are cool to tepid. Our double-bedded cabin offered ample storage space.The cabin was furnished with a small desk and settle. The TemuKira is our favorite liveaboard, so we were sad to observe that a new steward is not maintaining the boat to the high standard we have come to expect of Grand Komodo. Another diver commented that he never really cleaned the cabins. On a good day he made up the beds and emptied the trash. I actually made the bed in our cabin on three mornings, and my experience was not unique. Service in the salon was also sub par. With the first dive scheduled at 0700, over half the divers were in the salon looking for coffee at 0600. The steward did not appear until 0630. Only after one diver offered to make the morning coffee herself if the cook would leave the supplies our for her did the steward adjust his schedule to ours. We have mentioned this problem to Grand Komodo and feel like the experience will not be repeated. We want to emphasize that the problem lay with a single crew member. All the rest of the crew were working very hard to make sure the guests enjoyed a wonderful dive holiday. Service on the dive deck could not have been better. The food was tasty and plentiful. The upper decks were cleaned daily. Boat facilities are good. We enjoyed a dinghy tour of Fam Lagoon and walked along an uninhabited beach where baby black tip sharks swam along beside us in the shallows.
Thank goodness we booked this trip through Reef and Rainforest! I unfortunately perforated an eardrum about halfway through our time on the TemuKira. We were scheduled to dive for another two weeks in Lembeh, but I could not dive and wanted to get home to see an ENT. We managed to send Katie an email when the boat pulled into the dive lodge to make a second night dive there. On just four days' notice, Katie managed to rearrange our flights home so we could fly all the way to Little Rock the day we got off the boat. Grand Komodo's office was also helpful in relaying messages from Katie to us after we reached Sorong. We would not have been able to begin the rescheduling process ourselves until we reached Manado. Thanks to Reef and Rainforest, I had already gotten home and seen a specialist before I would have been able to leave Indonesia on my own.
Websites Grand Komodo -- TemuKira   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Bahamas, Bay Islands, Belize, Bonaire, Caymans, Cozumel, Turks&Caicos, Sea of Cortez, GBR, Fiji, Truk, Yap, Palau, other areas of Indonesia
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy, cloudy Seas calm, choppy, currents, no currents
Water Temp 82-84°F / 28-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 20-50 Ft/ 6-15 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions We were encouraged to dive safely since we were in a very remote location.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments All crew members handled cameras very carefully. Igo, the compressor man, removed cameras from the rinse tank, carefully dried them after each dive, lined them up on the dive deck camera table so they were not touching each other, and covered them with towels. There was ample space on the dive deck camera table, but the camera table in the salon was crowded. The problem was caused by three people who stored mid-sized to large laptops there. The laptops caused spatial crowding and competition for the charging strips.
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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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