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Dive Review of Komodo Dancer in
Indonesia

Komodo Dancer, Nov, 2003,

by Bradley Bowen, UT, USA . Report 619.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving All over the Pacific, Carribean and California.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy, dry Seas currents
Water Temp 80 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 0 to 0 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions [Unspecified]
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 1 stars
Large Pelagics 4 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 Photographers table is on the bow. It's smaller than on the Aggressor Boats or on the other two Peter Hughes boats we've been on, and is not covered.

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

Accommodations 2 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 1 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Number of dives: 319. Its tough to say anything negative about a Peter Hughes operation because the people you encounter are so friendly and wonderful to be around. However, getting to Indonesia is a chore. Three days of travel before our first dive, five days of diving and three days of travel after our last dive, with a required overnight stay in San Francisco on the way home due to the lack of connecting flights late in the evening. It is a long way to go for five days of diving, but I would go again--after our children are raised and I can stay for a much longer period of time.

We saw many fish and other creatures not seen in other live aboard destinations we have visited, such as Fiji, Palau and Hawaii. Saw some angelfish and butterflyfish not in our identification books. (We have a dozen, four for this region of the world.). Lots of nudibranchs, several of which I could not locate in our Helmut Debelis nudibranch book. Thousands of miniature yellow sea cucumbers on the dive at Komodo Island. To do this dive you must take the short version of the land tour and go back to the boat to do the dive while the others are doing a longer land tour. We thought the Komodo Dragons were interesting, but the short tour was plenty for us. Be advised that there is an outdoor pearl necklace market where the dive tender lands on Komodo. A medium quality long strand of pearls will sell for roughly U.S. $20.

Visibility is extremely variable. Ripping currents at several sites, including K-2, which also had very poor visibility the one time we dove it. There is a high probability that you will see many Giant Pacific Manta Rays at Langkoi. Unfortunately, the current rips where the Mantas are found, and it is a real challenge to patiently wait for them to show up while conserving your air. It took a good half hour before we saw the first Manta, but then there were a bunch of them that we were able to enjoy watching as we desperately fought to conserve air and extend our dives, while fighting a current Id estimate at 7 knots. One afternoon only four of us entered the water for the second afternoon dive. As a photographer moving at a slow pace, I became separated from the other three and had an incredible half hour experience with a six foot long female cuttlefish hiding her eggs in among the coral, who allowed me to approach and even gently pet her back. Saw two Grey Reef Sharks at a dive site called The Point, and we saw a black tip at another dive site. The pygmy seahorses at Gilli Lawah Darat were very interesting, but when we got further down this reef on a night dive we discovered that dynamite fishing had left nothing but rock and rubble. Some other dive sites also showed signs of dynamite fishing. My expression of extreme dissatisfaction at being taken to a dive site that had been bombed into nothingness after traveling so far, was met with the reply that this was the only place that the crew could count on finding the pygmy seahorses (the first dive of the afternoon). With a little effort Im sure an acceptable alternative dive site could have been found. On the other hand, Cannibal Rock was breathtaking and has to be one of the premier dive sites in the world. It made the trip worthwhile, and I still have not been able to identify a number of creatures photographed at this site.

I was told by others that the food on the Komodo Dancer was outstanding for Indonesia. By American standards, I wouldnt rate it any better than average. The boat ran out of non-carbonated beverages after a few days, despite a pre-trip request. Peter seems to keep all of his live aboards on a tight budget. (We were previously on Star Dancer in Palau and Sea Dancer in Turks and Caicos). All of the cabins are very small and storage space is limited. The trip back to Bali is against the ocean current, which stirred up some horrible odors that awakened us the last two nights. The crew slowed the boat down, and we were able to go back to sleep. This delayed our arrival in port by many hours. The crew was great at calling ahead and arranging for ground transportation to meet all of those who had flights that afternoon on a beach at the North end of Bali.

I found my polar fleece dive skin to be adequate thermal protection. My wife generally wore her dive skin as well, but occasionally felt she needed more warmth and wore a three mil wetsuit a few times.
Do not go on the Komodo Dancer unless you are an experienced diver who is comfortable diving in swift currents. I believe our diving experience was severely limited due to four inexperienced men who had no business taking this trip, but were attracted by the relatively low price and cheap airfare. Several of these divers did not realize they could get out of the current by ducking behind a rock, and they were too stupid to hold onto a rock or dead piece of coral to avoid being swept several miles out to sea. They were lucky that a competent crew kept track of them, but their inexperience prevented us from diving K-2 more than once, and prevented us from diving other good sites with current.

The crew on this boat are top notch. They gave us warm towels and back massages after every dive, and were extremely friendly.
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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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