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Komodo – Amed - Ubud

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  • Komodo – Amed - Ubud

    Not sure where to post this thread, in Travel or Hobbies.

    Usually I posted my regular trip report in scuba forums as most of our trip is scuba diving trips. But this summer 2013 we mixed a bit of topsite attractions to our underwater adventures on our two week journey, 6 days Komodo, 4 days Amed and 4 days degassing in Ubud.
    Hope this report will attract you to enjoy and appreciate the amazing underwater world of Indonesia .
    Sometime I jealous, how lucky (most of) you are; the best diving destinations in the world is only few hours away; while we need more than 30 hours just to get there.

    Part 1 - Komodo National Park

    Most of people will think about the Komodo dragon - the largest lizard on Earth. Indeed, it’s amazing creatures – but the real treasure of Komodo is located beneath the sea - and for that reasons, we visited Komodo National park

    To Get There

    Actually, it is quite easy to get there. No direct flight from Jakarta but at least 5 daily flights (Lion/wing , Merpati, Sky, IAT and Trans Nusa) from Denpasa to Labuan Bajo - a dusty small fishing town located at the western end of Flores in the Nusa Tenggara.
    I recommend to choose airline with two flights per day – choose the morning flight. In case of cancellation, you still have a chance to get there with next flight. Unlike Garuda, none of those flight is divers friendly, maximum luggage is 15 kg or you pay extra for overweight.

    Lion Labuan Bajo by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr
    Other alternative, or if you don’t like using turbo propeller air plane or your flight is canceled, you can always charter a private jet.

    Dont panic Labuan Bajo by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr
    In fact, we saw two chartered jets were parking at Komodo airport.


    There’s lot dive center and tour operator in Labuan Bajo provide day trip to Komodo National Parks – either for diving/snorkeling and or jungle track for Komodo dragons. For divers, the best way to enjoy Komodo national park is using LOB (Liveaboard).
    Unlike a day boat operation, liveaboard offer its guests with all inclusive package, including unlimited diving to stay on board for typically 3 or more nights. Most of LOB Indonesia use traditional pinisi boats made from teak wood.
    During high season July – September, more than 70 liveaboard is operating in Komodo National Parks; the low end boats (sleeping on mat on the deck, share bath room) for less than USD 200 per day per pax up to more than USD 600 for the luxury pinisi schooner.
    Our choice was SMY Mangguana – a 27m overall length, 5.5 m beam, traditional wooden Phinisi Schooner, with 4 A/C cabins and ensuite bathroom. Unlike other boats which typically has fixed schedule, depart and return from Labuan bajo or Bali , she sails non stop in Komodo national Park all the time. We can join her anytime and for as many days as we like.

    SMY Mangguana by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

    Our room, quite small compare to land base resort - but not bad for midscale liveboard

    SMY Mangguana 4 by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

  • #2
    Life On Board

    Typical “unlimited” diving is organized up to 4 times a day, including night dive where condition permit.
    For most people probably wake-up at 06:30 everyday is not what they expect from a holiday in tropical islands.
    A typical day on SMY Mangguana start with light breakfast start at 06:30 then followed by morning dive at 07:30, proper breakfast at 09:00; second morning diving at 11:00, lunch at 13:00 – sunbath or short nap before afternoon diving at 15:30 ; snack time, night diving at 18:30 and dinner at 20:30.

    SMY Mangguana 3 by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

    Komodo Topsides by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

    Komodo Topsides 3 by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

    Before every diving, a thorough briefings are accompanied by hand drawn maps on white board. Since the boat only cater max. 8 divers with 2 dive guide, the preparation on the dive deck is not crowded at all.

    Since our family is four – we have our own dive guide. This is one of our main consideration when we choose this boat. So we can dive to our style which typically slowly moving, not very deep but mostly take approximately 1 hours.
    Apart from an incident on our first day, the crew were exceptional They pretty much takes care of everything; tank and BCD stay on the tender, and the crew refills them after each dive and ensure each tank fill was right around 200 barg.


    • #3
      The Diving

      August is the best time /conditions in Northern part of Komodo National Park – the sea was calm, water temps 26 – 28 C.
      Strong current? yes there is current as Komodo is well known for; but not all, in fact only about 20% of dives had significant or strong current. On few location, such as castle rock, we dived with strong current, and we had to use reef hooks – the reward was amazing; fusiliers, giant trevally, napoleons wrasse, barracuda, whitetip reef and grey reef sharks including the big pregnant one made me wary, patrol around us for 3 times while we’re hanging on our reef hook. Sorry, no pics – very difficult and too risky for taking photo on this situation.

      One of dive site – the cauldron aka “shot gun” is really up to its name. This passage between Gili Lawa Laut and Gili Lawa Darat on the northern tip of Komodo Island gave us the most exhilarating and exciting dives - flying over rocky ridges and down into sandy bottom cauldrons with churning waters overhead before exiting from a beautiful reefs.
      Without doubt, Komodo national parks offer the best dive sites what Indonesia has to offer. As far as what you can expect to see, pretty much everything: fish soup, lush beautiful reefs, walls, drift dives, roller coaster, pelagics, and muck diving as well.

      Me by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

      Komodo seascape2 by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

      Cel and glassfish Komodo 2 by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

      Barracuda Komodo by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

      Our favorite dive sites in Komodo is the castle rock, crystal rock, batu bolong, cauldron and Wainilu (muck diving)

      The manta point aka Makasar reef was a disappointment for us – no manta at – there was no current at that time could be the reason. And, this is another reason to come back to Komodo


      • #4
        The Dragons

        Besides all of the great diving, typically all liveboard offers private excursions on white sand beaches and jungle trekking escorted by park rangers to discover the wildlife on the islands. In lieu of one afternoon dive, we took a visit to the rangers’ station at Loh Buaya on Rinca island, home of komodo dragons. They offer 3 routes: short, medium and long. Most people, including us took medium route; approximately 1.5 hour trekking.

        Komodo National Park 2 by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

        Komodo National Park 3 by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

        Actually, it was far easier and more dragons to see around the rangers houses than while we were trekking Rinca mountainous and dry grounds. Still, it was very interesting experience.

        Komodo Dragon 2 by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

        Komodo Dragon by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr


        • #5
          After 6 days – 15 dives in Komodo marine national park, we returned to Laboan Bajo, stayed one night before leaving to bali on the next morning.
          Before the story continue, here few macro shots from Komodo

          Xmas worm by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

          Blenie Komodo by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

          Lizardfish Komodo by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

          Blenie Komodo 2 by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

          More pics of our Komodo trips can be seen here


          • #6
            Part 2 - Amed

            Amed is a fishing village lie on the north east coast of Bali , 30 minute drive from infamous Tulamben.

            Amed beach by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

            Amed Sunrise by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

            Many people underestimate Amed. The fact, more non-diver visit Amed vs all divers visitor for Tulamben; might support the conclusion that Amed is not for serious divers.
            Actualy, Amed is a very cozy and pleasant location to stay - more options on accommodation and restaurant to choose than Tulamben. Our choice was Hotel Uyah (salt lodge); the first hotel upon entering Amed street; situated right next to the beach with its restaurant - Café Garam - features a salt (salt = garam = uyah) production. It is not the cheapest resort in Amed, but the room is spacious, comfortable bed, clean sheets, mosquito net, large bath room; well manicured garden and great pool area with loads of sunbeds; for less than Euro 50 during peak season is corectly priced. The A / C is not powerful, but sufficient to help us for a good sleep.
            We love our family bungalow. From our verandah, we enjoy a direct view of Amed bay and the mighty Mount Agung .

            Hotel Uyah Amed 1 by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

            Breakfast was not bad, choice between 5 menu's such as fried noodle, fried rice, pan cake, freshly baked bread with fruit platter or juice.


            • #7
              Amed Diving

              The resort's inhouse DC – Amed Dive Center - is only few steps from our room. They use a wooden boat with cover and ladder; larger and much more convenient than using outrigger Jukung (small wooden fishing boat, just enough to put your butt) which is typically used by most of diving operator in the area. They also operate larger boat Condor Sailing typically use for longer trip, fishing trip or LOB but this boat currently on dock. The drawback, they only have one boat; so the dives selection will have to compromise with other divers or snorkeler, if any.
              The resort's house reef - Ghost Bay, is located right on the front of our room, is an artificial reef with small sculptures made of bottles, wheels, concrete, terracotta pots, steels, wood trunks etc. No colorful and healthy corals; but it is a wonderful place for underwater macro photography. The dive site is gentle slope and flat bottom with some steep slope in places.
              This artificial reef is home to large stonefish, moray eels, snake eels, lionfish, scorpion fish, boxfish, ghost pipefish, seahorse, and other small critters and fish. Long arms octopus (seem like mimic) and snake eels are common on the night dive.
              Unfortunately, we do not see the Mimic octopus and painted frogfish which is claimed frequently seen there. However, long arm octopus ( I thought it was mimic octopus) is very common on night dive.

              On nearby site, less than 5 minutes boat from the house reef - we saw not only one or two, but at least 8 beautiful harlequin shrimps including very tiny juvenile.

              Harlequin Shrimp 4 by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

              The Jemeluk bay and Amed wall is also nice dive site, the drop-off is steep slope with healthy soft and health corals drops down into 25 – 35 m depths. I enjoy the relaxing drift on the wall with large red barrel sponges and huge gorgonian.
              The dive guide brought us to a gorgonian fan on the sandy bottom, home to 5 Bagibanti pigmy sea horses. This fellow is quite small, but with olympus 60mm macro and wet lens Inon UCL165M67, not very difficult to fill the frame. The problem, they don't want to face us.

              Amed pigmy seahorse by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

              Unfortunately, once we approached this gorgonian to take picture – a dozen divers realized what we’re doing; only gave us few minute to shoot; ... poor pigmy

              The other attraction in Jemeluk bay is the pyramids, ie. artificial reef structures built in 1990 from a mixture of concrete slabs and car tires that seem has shown very promising result. The structures are encrusted with colorful corals home of anthias, parrotfish, angelfish, surgeonfish. moray eels, giant frogfish and playing ground of fusilier. During our dive practically almost no current, very easy dive but we do not see many pelagics, and no sharks.

              May Mel Amed by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

              Amed Piramid 2 by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr


              • #8
                We love the night dive on the resort house reef. All pics below were taken during one night dive only ...

                Amed Snake Eel by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

                Moray Eel Amed 1 by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

                Amed Stonefish by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

                Amed Long Arms by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

                and more pics from Amed can be seen here



                • #9

                  Although Amed diving is nice, but we could not resist not to dive Liberty wreck Tulamben and Seraya secret. They used the same boat, and took approx. 40 minutes to reach the Liberty wreck.
                  On the first trip to Tulamben, we had to wait other divers and snorkeler who came late almost one hour - so, the boat depart from resort at around 09:30 and we jumped in the front of Tauch Terminal at 10:30 to find there was no bumphead, no jackfish school, no barry barracuda on the wreck but dozens divers (could be more than hunderd) and bubbles every where. No single shoot my camera free from bubble.

                  Not very happy with diving condition, we asked to visit the wreck on the next earler morning, departing 07:30 am sharp from the resort which was too early for other divers. Good. The boat and the guide was ours.
                  Diving Liberty at 08:30 still will not give whole wreck for you but at least we did not miss the bumphead. Still no jackfish school. We saw the Barry baracuda on the blue water from the distance and disappeared when we approached him.

                  Sweetlips Liberty Tulamben 4 by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

                  cel in tulamben by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

                  Bumphead Tulamben 2 by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

                  Liberty Tulamben 2 by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr


                  • #10
                    Seraya Secret

                    On the way back, we stopped at Seraya secret, the house reef of Scuba Seraya Dive, beautiful upscale diving resort 15 minute drive to Tulamben and spent 75 minutes in the water.
                    Actualy, there's 3 dive sites on the front of the resort - all are relatively easy dive sites, almost no current most time - we dove in the central area. Usualy divers make entry & exit on the black sand beach.
                    This dive site is one of my favourite dive sites, but don't expect you'll find any beautiful coral and reef. The site itself basically is a steep black sand slope populated with patches of rocks and it is amongst these patches where we can find the majority of the critters. The action starts from the artificial reef about 5m, but the most of the attraction is between 10m and 25m.

                    Please note, the dive sites are not suitable for snorkeling - you will not see anything here other than black sandy bottom and the"dome" if you luck with good visibility.

                    Moray Eel Seraya by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

                    Seraya Filefish by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

                    Nudibranch Seraya by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr

                    At the cleaning station you'll get special skin treatment from dr. shrimp.

                    Seraya Cleaning Station by Wisnu Purwanto Family, on Flickr


                    • #11
                      Great stuff
                      [FONT=arial black]


                      • #12
                        I did a liveaboard around there about 5 or 6 years ago and really enjoyed it. We finished off with a road trip to Maumere and back taking in all the sights which is also a good option to tag on at the end.
                        "[COLOR=#000000][FONT=Helvetica Neue]I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.[/FONT][/COLOR]"
                        George Bernard Shaw


                        • #13
                          Great pictures and report. It's hard to believe that these creatures exist sometime. The harlequin shrimp, especially.
                          Sasa Bule is having a bayi!


                          • #14

                            Awesome pics and tips. I wish I acquired skills in photography.


                            • #15
                              "The trouble with quotes on the Internet is that it is difficult to determine if they are genuine" - Abraham Lincoln