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Dive Review of Grand Komodo Tours and Dives/N/A in
Indonesia/Alor Is.; Komodo, Rinca Is.

Grand Komodo Tours and Dives/N/A, Aug, 2004,

by Stephen Green, NY, USA . Report 1344.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Cozumel, Turks & Caicos, St. Lucia
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, currents
Water Temp 75 to 81 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 40 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 130 ft
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas Squadrons
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 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Subject matter (astounding) and support (courtieous and competent)for photographers was superb and boundless. Experienced divers have the freedom to work subjects and guides were excellent at finding elusive subjects, particularly macro. Always informed of expected unusual subjects and likelihood of macro and /or W/A opportunities. Ask and they will look for your special subject. Boat facilities were adequate with careful handling of equipment by crew and seperate tanks. Plenty of places for charging stations including cabin, but wise to have good transformer for 220 on board. TV/DVD/CD + jacks to view photos available. Camera table adequate for at least 6-8 camera rigs handy to dive prep. My rating of 4 for facilities, because,if all were photographers (10) camera tables would have been very crowded, particularly with large rigs. If you showed sensible and skilled diving the DM's let you dive as needed. DM's would split the group into 2 parts (3-4 each)to avoid crowding around subjects. Overall an independent photographer's dream location and dive outfit. They didn't hold your hand but knew where you were also. Pelagics were not great with the lower viz though.

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Grand Komodo Tours and Dives is a first class company in service and experience. The small vessels are classic Indonesian wooden designs with 5-6 clean cabins on each boat with clean ensuite bathrooms (cold to warm showers)(hot shower on the after deck) and 3 of 4 vessels have individual A/C(Putra Papua (max 10 divers and Temu Kira (max 12 divers)both were quiet). There is a lounge for all and a deck to sun on each boat. I gave a 4 for 'facilities' because these "boutique dive boats" are not luxury but wholly adequate and clean and I had a problem with A/C and spiked 220Electric on Temu Kira.
This trip was a 16 day 15 night tour of the Alor group of islands in Far eastern Indonesia (didn't see another dive boat there in 8 days) and then 8 days in the Komodo/Rinca Island group (East of Bali). Both areas are SUPERB diving, though occasionally challenging currents. 4 dives daily incl. night dive was the rule w/a few days fewer(50+ dives for the trip) Dives ranged from many walls, slopes, pinnacles, and some sandy reef areas--a real variety of u/w terrain. All divers brought their own equipment, but some equipment available to cover failures is available. Night lights are available for rent. 3000+ fills + quick repair when needed. Relaxed, no hassle diving with plenty of independence for the "go it alone" photographer (who wants one for a buddy anyway). I gave a 4 for the 'operations' merely because they do not yet have Nitrox.
The food on board was good, mostly Indonesian, but not too spicy. Lots of vegetables, rice and fish and chicken (the latter always freshly caught). Fruit smoothies every meal with good salads as well. Lots of fruit always with breads. Hot pound cakes between dives and eggs at breakfast as well with a rough bacon . Always enough food. Beer and sodas available on at nominal cost. BYOB hard liquor and wine. Always drink bottled water and use it for tooth brushing. Running water is 3rd world and risky.
The Indonesian dive guides were excellent and pointed out and found the myriad elusive and incredible fish, critters, and weird forms of life which makes this region famous. Personal requests were gracefully honored and help with dive equipment, cameras, etc. was always available with care and competence. On the Puta Papua (Normally you spend the entire trip on 1 boat, but a mechanical problem required picking up the TemuKira before Komodo) all diving is from Zodiac type skiff (very easy) while 1/2 of dives on the TemuKira could be done off the stern (easy steps down to surface) or a similiar skiff. Since we dove in groups of 4-5--no crowding and easy grouping, even in high current areas.
The flora and fauna in this region are incredible in diversity, health of reefs, remarkable numbers. My list of fish species seen (I am new to this part of the world, so missed alot) was well over 200 including "clouds", "tons" and "myriads" of wrasse, damsels, surgeonfish, triggers, butterfly, chromis, angels, sargents silversides, bannerfish, and the ubiquitous anthias of myriad colors of so many different species, ages and forms as to be mind numbing. Large schools of fusiliers, snappers, giant trevallys, tuna, Timor Sea Perch, Unicorns, as well as Jacks and others I have yet to name. On the reef and bottom every dive revealed many frogfish,lions and scorpion fish with Batfish,Stonefish,flounders, Stargazers, Gobies and Sqirells etc etc etc. In the Macro and critter world we saw at least 25 varieties of nudibranch and many sea worms,a couple of banded sea snakes. Most dives revealed a shark or two including the prized Wobbigong (not supposed to have been there) bamboo shark, black and white tips, tigers and a few nurse sharks. One site in Komodo we saw a squadron of huge mantas cruising within feet (Our videographer snorkled after one dive and swam with them.) Eagle rays and blue spotted rays. Some Barricuda, huge groupers and some huge snappers were seen. And of course Ghost pipe fish, several remarkable octopus were seen. Worms,slugs, "Dancers" and lobster and many shrimp & the amazing decorator crabs and incredable anenomes with resident fish, Due to the season, we saw little of the pygmy sea horse, but at other times of the year they can be found.
The hard coral exhibited no bleaching and the variety and health of the species was remarkable. Great varieties of crinoids of every color (cover up ankles and hands) Soft corals of every variety and color, particularly around Cannabal Rock in Komodo were stupendous along with the amazing macro life here(it can be a cold 70 here, so bring some extra rubber--but DONT miss the dives here:they were THE BEST of excellent throughout the areas. Sensory overload is the norm in these regions and it is worth it to bring some sort of camera with strobe to discover some of the hidden color at depth.
I give this trip a BIG 5 for value because for 16 days of pure heaven, relaxed ambience and good service cost only $2625 US for a double. Considering the additional services, side trip to "dragons" and villages,and additional tours available from Grand Komodo on Bali and the efforts they will make for a great stay in Bali before or after the dive,this is a full service operation. Flights to Komodo and Alors are made simple and don't worry about the overage for luggage, GK makes it very reasonable. Find their website at komodoalordive.com. Anytime of the year is good. When do I return? ASAP.
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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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