Only 4 more trips left until the Jaya take some time to head off on the expedition to West Papua! Trip 37 in Komodo this season saw returning guests Marcel and Christophe join our Jaya newcomers Joyce and Jarrod; the Leonards: Barry, Sarah, Casper and Annika; Brian from Australia, videographers from Koh Tao Charlie and Cat, one of our recent Divemaster trainees Kit, snorkeller Joe from the States, and Ricardo and Lina from Columbia.
Under the watchful eyes of Amanda, Scott, Vintty and Bara, with Captain Ahmad at the wheel, we made our way up into the North of the National Park for 3 days of snorkelling and diving fun. Hari, Marwan and Sulaiman hoisted the sails for us as we left, and we spent a leisurely hour with the wind to push us gently along up to Gili Lawa Darat, with a bit of a stop to dinghy round and get some photos of the Jaya under sail in the sunset.
First full day of the trip was full indeed, we made our check dive at Karang Bintang, and it proved to be an excellent one, with a curious reef manta checking us out at the same time! 8 year old Annika had her first manta experience, lucky her! Breakfast afterwards to keep energy levels up, a few games of UNO, and then a lovely dive at the Witch’s Hat, full of turtles and schools of fusiliers, barracuda, trevallies and snappers. Time for more food - you don’t go hungry on the Jaya with Jos and Dulla cooking up a storm in the galley! - and then a late afternoon dive at Castle Rock ticked sharks off our ’what-we’d-like-to-see’ list, as well as great barracudas, giant trevallies, Napoleon wrasse.A chilled out afternoon followed, with some snorkelling in The Passage with some more turtles, a few heading over deep water away from the dive sites to try their hand at wakeboarding, and others taking advantage of the sunny skies for a bit of sunbathing on the sun deck. Off to the beach for sunset at Gili Lawa Darat, a short hike up one of the hills on the island led us to a great spot for watching the sun disappear behind Komodo Island.
Hardcore day of 4 dives the next day, and we started at the Cauldron, a favorite divesite generally due to the cool topography and crazy amounts of fish to be seen. Batu Bolong next, we waited a bit ’til slack tide so that we could start on the South and swim round to the North of the rock, giving us the opportunity to swim around the stacks sticking up around the main pinnacle. Batu Bolong is often subject to very strong currents, but the nutrient-rich water constantly hitting the dive site makes the corals so vibrant and healthy, there’s so much to see on every inch of the dive.We set off towards the centre of the park to dive Karang Makassar next, it was a little bit chilly due to cold water coming up from the South in the rising tide, but being able to see sharks, turtles, and a huge feather tail ray made it all worthwhile! Another glorious sunset at the mangrove island of Kabba whilst we watched the bats fly across to the mainland, and as if there wasn’t enough to see, a small pod of dolphins passed by, along with a teeny tiny new born dolphin splashing around!
We reluctantly dragged ourselves away from the bats and dolphins to make our way across to the nearby Wainilu for our penultimate dive of the trip. Wainilu is a great muck dive, usually full of critters, and tonight was no exception, full of scorpionfish, a frogfish, juvenile banded pipefish and cuttlefish galore. Eagle-eyed Bara and her divers found a pair of ornate ghost pipefish, Marcel took some beautiful photos of them. One of the nicest things about diving Wainilu is coming back up from the dive and seeing the Milky Way reflecting into the still water, a brilliant end to the day.
Team snorkel, renamed to Team Roly-Poly after the somersaulting antics from the day, had some fun scooping up and throwing back sea water to watch the bioluminescence, and then were on hot chocolate duty for the night divers coming back to the boat.
Our last day, and we started off with a lovely dive and snorkel at Tengah, a really fishy dive site this morning, with big schools of snapper, plenty of sweet lips and batfish, and a few sponge snails for the macro lovers among us. Breakfast time, and then we dinghied across to Rinca to search for Komodo Dragons, an hour walk through the trees, then up a hill to see the beautiful panorama of the island around us. We saw 3 dragons on the walk, one we spent quite a while with, as we stood watching it watch us, it’s tongue flickering in and out nicely for our photographers!
More games on the way back towards Labuan Bajo, then it was time for group photos and a final briefing before our goodbyes. Not for long though, we met up again that evening for a final meal together - hopefully we’ll get to see everyone again on the Jaya sometime soon!
- Diving Komodo