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Dive Review of Grand Komodo, Temu Kira in
Indonesia/Halmahera, Moluccas

Grand Komodo, Temu Kira, Mar, 2006,

by Dave Van Rooy, Bali, Indonesia (Reviewer Reviewer 4 reports with 3 Helpful votes). Report 2868 has 1 Helpful vote.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving All over Indonesia, most regions in Pacific and Carribbean
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, currents, noCurrents
Water Temp 82 to 84 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 20 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No deco diving, else be sensible
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments The dive deck is small, but sufficient for the 8 photogs, with some large rigs. Crew very good with camera handling, rinsing, care, ... Subject matter ranged from critter spots, wrecks, to stunning wide-angle, fishy spots, esp good in the SW around Goraici Islands

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments This was a charter, exploratory 11 night trip to search out good dive spots around Halmahera, one of the larger but mostly unknown dive areas in the Maluku's. Halmahera is the almost-Sulawesi-shaped island half-way between Sulawesi and western Papua. This trip was organized by well-known UW photogs Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock; and, as always, it was a great pleasure and experience to travel and dive with them.

TemuKira is a 32m wooden phinisi boat with 6 cabins, each with AC and ensuite bathrooms. There's no hot water but the water coming out the tap is warm, heated by the engine. The cabins are small but large enough to get around in. A couple people complained once or twice about a bit of diesel smell below, but most didn't notice. Meals were very good and plentiful and mostly Indonesian dishes with breakfast more traditional American. Much to most of our delights, we had lots of fresh fish and shrimp. The dive deck is not real large, but the 10 divers managed fine with having 8 -- some very large -- cameras. Much of the diving was from the main boat. The tender boat or the main boat would pick us up, and sometimes cameras would be transferred from the tender. All in all, the crew operated extremely well in getting people and gear in and out very smoothly. And the captain was incredibly skilled at maneuvering the boat to just the right spot. A couple tank valve problems appeared, and there were a few complaints about tank air smelling funny a few times, but again I and most others did not notice. They do not offer Nitrox and they do not have storage tanks, so tank refills could take up to 2 hours running directly from the compressor. But that was fast enough to get in all the diving we wanted (4 per day were usually offered unless we had to move the boat too much).

We started in Sorong, and spent one day diving around Wayag in Raja Ampat, which is a very beautiful set of islands with loads of soft corals, fans, and tropicals. We then headed west to Halmahera. Generally the diving on northeastern side had poor visibility, a lot of reef bombing, and the corals generally not very prolific. We then went north into Kao bay. The vis in this bay was poor (10-20'). We found and dove three Japanese cargo ship wrecks there which were shallow (max depth about 70') and with a fair amount of fish life around. Each wreck did reward photographers with 2 or 3 very colorful ornate ghost pipe fish (OGPF).

Heading south from Morotai, the topside beauty in the west was very striking. There are many conic volcanoes, mostly virgin forest/jungle areas, and all very sparsely populated. At one spot in the south, you can see four perfectly conic volcanic islands in a row (Makian, Moti, Tidore and Ternate) tho the first two had blown their tops eons ago. Our next stop on the western side was the Southern Loloda Islands. Here there were two very large waterfalls from one of these islands going directly into the sea as well as photogenic rock formations of some of the islands. The photogs went crazy. Diving off one upside-down U shaped-island was very "fishy" and had large schools of tropicals, some black tip sharks, bumphead parrotfish, and at least one very large grouper. Unfortunately except for a couple spot, there was a lot of bombing.

We dove around Pilongga island, just off Tidore and found very nice corals and lots of tropicals But at Mare Island there was a lot of bomb damage, but still had lots of large bommies very rich in critters, soft corals, large fans, tropicals and more.

We headed further south and dove some in the Latalata Islands west of Bacam. The sites we dove here included some exceptionally beautiful reefs with incredible amounts of large multi-colored soft coral, loads of tropicals, and our first encounter with a rather strange sponge endemic in the area which has a net-like surface and came in either white, yellow, or purplish colors. A macro spot that was extremely silty yielded some OGPF's, nudis, and some egg-laying squid.

The rest of our diving was in the Goraici Islands in SW Halmahera, which proved to be the richest of all. One spot, dubbed "Reene's Rock got everyone pumped -- incredible soft corals, fans, oriental sweet lips, chubs, schools of bumpheads, black tip sharks, cruising mackerel and tuna, surgeon and unicorn fish, turtles, ... A second dive there was a bit disappointing as the currents fought us in getting to the good spots. Another spot nearby around what we called Palau Banzai had loads of corals and reef fish and some huge bommies, at least one inhabited by beautiful soft corals and fans, many thousands of glassy sweepers, and a school of about 20 very curious and friendly teira batfish. Another nearby spot had probably the most healthy, varied, dense, pristine set of hard corals covering many acres, that any of us had ever seen. Hopefully the bombers don't find it.

We visited the capital of Ternate for a couple days - seeing the sultan's crown jewels, some old Dutch forts.. Local government officials were actively promoting the area and rolling out the red carpet for us, so we all pitched to make the southwestern part of Halmahera a marine national park that would be protected from the bombers.

All in all a very rewarding exploratory trip even tho the first part of the diving was not so great, the diving on the second part more than made up for it. Visiting Ternate added to it all. Expect to see this listed on the itineraries of some dive operators in the next year or two.
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Subscriber's Comments

By D L Van Rooy in , US at Apr 29, 2012 04:58 EST  
This was a great trip and I'd do it again. Halmahera, particularly in the SW, is a good experience for those who've gotten Raja Ampat'ed out.
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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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