The Best Liveaboards in Komodo19th March 2017 | Sarah Morlock
Komodo in Indonesia, famous for its dragons, is a mecca for scuba divers as well. Perhaps most importantly, Komodo is home to dozens of manta rays which are easy to spot at cleaning and feeding stations. On most liveaboard trips, you’ll also be treated to other pelagic sightings, including whitetip and grey reef sharks, eagle rays and dogtooth tuna. Plus, there are plenty of reefs to explore for macro critters and tropical fish.
While diving in Komodo, you’ll find a mix of underwater environments. In many areas, sandy bottoms, sand dunes and rocky corals formed by years of volcanic activity define the seascape. At other locations, you might see beds of soft corals and current-heavy pinnacles. Wall dives and bays can form hideaways for small marine species and beginner divers alike.
While there are scuba diving resorts with access to Komodo, the only major city nearby is Labuan Bajo in Flores. This base of operations is hours from Komodo Island and further still from the region’s best dive sites. Therefore, Komodo is best explored by liveaboard.
Dive safaris headed for Komodo usually depart from Labuan Bajo, a short flight from Bali. The typical length of liveaboard trips is 5 to 7 nights, although some operators offer longer 10-night itineraries.
The best time to dive in Komodo is from April to August. Because this is high season, it becomes difficult to find a liveaboard in Komodo outside of these months. In addition, seas are calm and rain is minimal. However, underwater conditions and marine life sightings remain relatively constant year-round.
Keep in mind that some dive sites in Komodo are subject to unpredictable currents, but other dive sites are protected from hazardous conditions. Because of this, liveaboards in Komodo request divers have at least an intermediate level.
Best Luxury Liveaboard: Arenui
Seemingly straight out of the Pirates of the Caribbean, the luxurious Arenui is a traditional, Phinisi style yacht complete with masts and sails. The purpose-built diving liveaboard has everything you need for a luxury diving vacation.
The Arenui is a 140-foot (43-meter) purpose-built, boutique liveaboard made from (mostly recycled) wood. Her decks are some of the largest you’ll find on any dive safari yacht around the world, and the 8 deluxe cabins, which are decorated by intricate carvings of Hindu legends, host only 16 passengers. Outnumbering the guests, the 22 crew members serve up delectable cuisine, provide treatments at the on-deck spa and, of course, offer 5-star guided dives.
With years of experience and dive pros that know how to schedule the best dives in Komodo for optimal marine life viewing, the Arenui offers 3 to 4 dives a day. 2 computers are available to all underwater photographers who wish to edit their photos immediately post dive.
From Komodo to Raja Ampat, Ambon and just about everywhere in between, the Arenui offers Indonesia’s premier liveaboard experience.
Best Mid-Range Liveaboard: Mermaid I
Winner of the “Liveaboard of the Year” award in 2012, the Mermaid I perfects the delicate balance between price and comfortable accommodations.
World class diving is just the beginning on the Mermaid I. Each itinerary this vessel runs is designed to take into account Indonesia’s seasonal monsoon changes, giving you the best dives possible. One of our favorite itineraries in the whole of Indonesia is the Mermaid’s “Bali - Komodo - Bali” run which allows you to discover the magic of Komodo without the inconvenience of getting there. 3 to 4 dives are completed each day in small groups. As an extra perk, fresh towels will be available to you in your room and on the sundeck every day.
Even while you aren’t diving, you’ll feel at home on the Mermaid I. 8 air-conditioned cabins accommodate 16 divers. And most of these feature large windows with magnificent ocean views. A fabulous sundeck boasts cushioned sun beds for relaxation while the scrumptious Sawasdee Restaurant serves up delicious Thai, Indonesian and Western fare.
For the price, the Mermaid I offers the best in liveaboard comfort, giving you the opportunity to explore the wild waters of Komodo in style.
Best Budget Liveaboard: Duyung Baru
Proving that there’s a wide range of dive boats sailing Indonesian waters, the Duyung Baru is one of the world’s most budget-friendly liveaboards. This yacht allows divers to explore Indonesia in an intimate and family-style setting.
The couple who runs the boat, Vovo and his wife Yani, have completed more than 8,000 dives in Indonesia, so you can be sure that you’ll see the best dive sites using local knowledge. The Duyung Baru also has an almost perfect track record for visiting dive sites when there are no other divers present. You’ll enjoy up to 4 guided dives a day alongside 5 other divers.
In addition to great diving, you’ll feel happy and full with Yani’s freshly-baked breads, croissants and cakes. The 3 cabins are well-equipped for the journey, and free internet will keep you as connected as you want to be.
At a price point of between USD $2,000 and $3,000, you can’t beat the service found on the Duyung Baru.
The three liveaboards you’ve read about were hand-picked by our scuba diving experts, but there are a few more boats available. To see the full list of liveaboards in Komodo, click the button below.