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Dive Review of Grand Komodo Tours/Putri Papua in
Indonesia/Triton Bay

Grand Komodo Tours/Putri Papua, Feb, 2012,

by Dan Purnell, WA, US (Reviewer Reviewer 6 reports with 4 Helpful votes). Report 6467.

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 1 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Our adventure began in Sorong, which included diving in Misool, the Pisang Islands and finally Triton Bay. Much of the journey to Triton Bay was over open waters, and the seas were pretty stormy and rough. We did some exploratory diving along the way, since it was too rough to dive some of the discovered sites. This was the first Grand Komodo dive boat to enter Triton Bay after nearly a year. Resistance from local villagers did not allow dive boats into the area. Our trip was kind of a trial run to see whether the conditions had changed. During the past year, the Indonesian government had been working with the local people, trying to pave the way for increased tourism.

Misool diving was as usual, pretty amazing. We had unusually clear waters, and the reefs were alive with coral gardens, sea fans and fish big and small. Among the species we saw were black and white tip sharks, wobbegongs, hawksbill turtles, pigmy sea horses, schools of sweet lips, bumphead parrots, groupers of all shapes and sizes, barracudas, unicorns, napoleon wrasses, bat fish and so many others. On some sites your vision was impaired by clouds of anthias and dense schools of surgeons and fusiliers. In short, it was sensory overload.

The Pisang Islands, located about 80 kilometers from Daram, Misool, had some amazing sites which featured bommies, draped with soft corals and sea fans. Clouds of glass fish hung over the corals. Deep channels cut through these bommies, where huge napoleon wrasses, cod and giant groupers plied the waters. These dives had a wilderness feel to them. Although our visibility was only about 30 to 50 feet, the dives were amazing in color and life.

After a long journey with some incredible diving along the way, we finally entered Triton Bay. "The Last Best Place" article, by Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock, described Triton Bay as follows: "In short, of the best underwater places in the world-of the best places in Indonesia-this place stands out." Since scientists only first surveyed Triton Bay in 2006, it remains largely wild and unexplored. Tens of Thousands of fruit bats fly overhead. Exotic birds grace the skies. Tropical rain forests, islands and sheer cliffs outline the Bay. The waters run with current and ripple with fish. And begin to explore the coral reefs...They are amazing...maybe crazy...even bizarre... I think this is where mother nature threw away the design plans and just went wild.

Triton Bay's reefs are rich with brilliant soft and hard corals, fed by raging currents, and blanketed with swarms of bait and glass fish. At times, clouds of fusiliers, surgeon and bait fish block out the ambient light. Walls of soft corals, of every shape, size and color provide a feast for the eyes. Forests of black coral provide refuge for curious groupers, 100s of them, perhaps 1000s. I have never seen so many groupers, of so many types, in all my diving. The diversity of coral and fish is really off the charts. Big fish, little fish, critters, macro, micro, Triton Bay is alive and thriving. Just outside the Bay are a couple pristine hard coral reefs that stretch as far as you can see. At times, the reefs are completely obscured by thousands of fish, hunting in the swarms of bait fish that smother the reefs.

It is obvious that many of the fish have never seen divers; they are extremely curious, but very shy. At times there would be 20-30 big grougers, resting on their pectoral fins, just staring at you. If you made any motion towards them, they would instantly disappear under the corals. If you turned away for just a minute, they would all reassemble back to their original positions.

Triton Bay, however, is not for everyone. You do need to have a sense of adventure, because things don't always go as planned. We only got to dive 1 1/2 days in the Iris Strait, the explored part of Triton Bay. The local people demanded that we leave. Although the Indonesian Government has made progress with the villagers, Triton Bay is not completely "open" for tourism. It will take some time to completely gain the trust of the local people. That said, the situation is dynamic. Check with your live-aboard to get the most up to date information.

Although we had to leave Iris Strait, we were able to do some exploratory diving on the "less explored", other side of Triton Bay. We discovered two new amazing reef complexes, teaming with life and color. I can only describe these new reefs as incredible and mind bending. Diving in Triton Bay is a raw, wilderness experience. The absolute explosion of life, in these nutrient rich waters, more than compensates for the typical visiblity of 30 to 50 feet.

This was my 7th trip with Grand Komodo Tours. As always, the crew was helpful, friendly, enthusiastic and eager to please. If you needed anything, they were eager to help. They run a safe operation, and they handle dive and camera gear with care. The dive boat is relatively basic, clean and very nice. The food was really delicious. Grand Komodo caters to people who just love to dive.

The divemasters, and the entire crew, worked extremely hard finding outstanding, exploratory dive sites, when we had to change our plans unexpectedly. I have never seen a crew work so hard making sure that our dive experience was the very best.

Triton Bay is one of the most inconvenient places to visit on this planet. But now, with all the bumps along the way, it is probably the best time to visit. Triton Bay will never be the same when the world really discovers it.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving PNG, Raja Ampat, Banda Sea, Bali, Halmahera, Yap, Palau, Bonaire, Honduras, Little Cayman, Fiji, Red Sea ...
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas choppy, currents
Water Temp 81-83°F / 27-28°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 30-50 Ft/ 9-15 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions None. Everybody dove to their computers
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Accommodations for photographers are adequate, but not spacious. The crew is very careful with all equipment. Getting your camera equipment to and from the live-aboard is the challenge. Some airline weight restrictions are only 10 kg (i.e. Kaimana to Sorong). Be prepared to shell out hundreds of dollars of excess baggage charges.
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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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