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Dive Review of Grand Komodo/Putri Papua in
Indonesia/Northern Raja Ampat & Dampier

Grand Komodo/Putri Papua: "Grand Komodo Putri Papua - Raja Ampat", Oct, 2014,

by Peggy & Jose Miguel Duran MD, TX, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 10 reports with 9 Helpful votes). Report 8051 has 3 Helpful votes.

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 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments This was our eigth cruise on the Putri Papua since January 2004 and our twenty-first trip with Grand Komodo since June 2000. Spent ten marvelous days sailing and diving through the islands and atolls of Northern Raja Ampat and the Dampier Strait.

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 shower and wash basins. 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 large 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 two other hot/cold water showers are 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.

All the GK vessels cooks are very good but on this trip we were lucky to have the best one. Usually you don't expect gourmet meals on a liveaboard but that's what we were served every day. Chicken Kiev?, really?. Always a good variety of Indonesian and Western dishes with plenty of vegetables and we even got freshly made doughnuts! Cookies, toast and coffee and tea were available before the first dive. Breakfasts followed, always with delicious fruit smoothies. There were cakes and snacks after our third dive before dinner.

They offer usually 4 dives daily, 3 during the day and a night dive if desired and allowed by the anchorage. They always anchor the boat at night in protected, secure spots to allow a good night rest. After usually doing very long dives, sometimes we did not take advantage of the night dive.

An experienced dive guide, thoroughly familiar with the dive sites terrain, sea life and currents makes all the difference for great dives. Our two dive guides did an excellent job, always checking current and conditions before every immersion to make them as enjoyable and safe as possible. They always take care of matching the diving to the experience and physical abilities of the divers. They gave detailed briefings before dives and kept a close watch on us underwater, being helpful without being obtrusive. They were great at finding small marine life (sometimes too small for my eyes even after they patiently kept on pointing to the tiny critters) and were patient with our long dive times.

All the diving was done from fiberglass dinghies boarded from the dive platform with the whole crew assisting the divers in and out while carefully handling the cameras. The drivers were 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 a good driver is 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 this often challenging area.

The Indonesian dive guides, captain and cabin steward are fluent in English and most of the crew understood enough for adequate communication. They all show pride in the well orchestrated functioning of their boat and commitment to preserve their nation's underwater riches and to provide their guests with a memorable experience. The small groups of divers with a large experienced crew giving them excellent service make Grand Komodo's liveaboards so special to us besides being the best deal in Indonesian diving.

Many experienced divers and marine biologists consider Raja Ampat the best and most bio-diverse dive location in the world. It certainly has a tremendous variety and quantity of fish and other sea life, well-preserved, vibrant corals and sponges, and breath-taking landscapes both above and below the surface. We saw wobbegongs in almost every dive, many sharks and feeding turtles, mantas, schools of barracudas, sweetlips, jacks, batfishes, surgeons, a plethora of angels, rabbits, wrasses, gobies and blennies, sea horses, pipefishes, and nudibranchs. In many sites huge schools of several species of fusiliers and clouds of anthias obscured the reef. After over 2700 lifetime dives we still came up from almost every dive having seen new life or behaviors

On this trip we visited a less familiar area in northern Raja Ampat. Wayag Lagoon provided an incredible view of mushroom islands after a long climb on newly constructed wooden stairs, as well as great dives at Batu Wayag, Batu Delapan and Tanjung Wayag. In Kawe, at Lone Tree Rock we were lucky to have a long encounter with a large zebra shark, two wobbegongs, white tips and a manta in one dive as well as big schools of sweetlips of every variety. Aljiu Bay had great nudibranchs at Pearl Corner and White Arrow 1 and 2 including huge "solar" nudibranchs.

At Gam, in another beautiful bay, Mbraimuk Reef had Napoleon wrasses, sharks and jacks and Citrus Reef provided lots of twin-spotted gobies. Back at Mansuar island, Cape Mansuar was a lovely spot with good visibility and we were happy just watching big schools going by. We are always enchanted by Yenbuba Corner and had a dream day at Blue Magic, Sardine Reef and Mioskon Reef. Peggy's dive log entry for that day started: Glory, Hallelujah!

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 the airport, and have been helpful with negotiations about excess baggage charges, although we were pleasantly surprised that Garuda Airlines won't charge for excess weight if you tell them you are divers.

We have been diving with Grand Komodo for over fourteen years and highly recommend them to serious divers who care more about excellent diving than luxury accommodations. We are looking forward to our next trip with them.

Peggy and Jose Miguel Duran.
Websites Grand Komodo   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Caribbean, Sea of Cortez, Philipines, Galapagos, Maldives, Andamans, PNG,
Palau, Solomons, Bali, Komodo, Taka Bone Rate, Wakatobi, Bunaken, Lembeh,
Halmahera, Tidor, Ternate, Misool, Togians, Banda Sea, Alor, Flores, Ambon.
Closest Airport Sorong, Indonesia Getting There Singapore Airlines Houston to Manado, Sulawesi. Garuda Airlines Manado to Sorong

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 82-84°F / 28-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 60-100 Ft/ 18-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
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 4 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 Dedicated fresh water tank for cameras. Crew rinsed and dried cameras. Camera table on dive deck, Ample charging station in lounge. Crew extremely careful with cameras when loading on dinghy, resurfacing and unloading, specially with heavy surge.
Was this report helpful to you?
Report currently has 3 Helpful votes

Subscriber's Comments

By Michael Marlin in KY, US at Jan 21, 2016 20:01 EST  
Peggy and Jose I am looking forward to my first trip with Grand Komodo. Your post makes the long wait even worse. Thanks for a great post
By report author: Peggy & Jose Miguel Duran MD in TX, US at Jan 26, 2016 23:21 EST  
Glad you liked it. We are also looking forward to our next trip to Komodo in October. Happy diving.
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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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