Komodo National Park is famous for two things: the Komodo dragons and the superb underwater world. The park is what the Indonesian island Flores is known for and it definitely deserves the attention. All over Labuan Bajo, the gateway to the park, you’ll be offered different tours to the park. Most tours offer the standard sights which are all amazing and very much worth the trip. I personally did the 2-day tour which I can highly recommend! There are few tours where you’ll get such amazing sights in such a short time. The tour does have one downside though: The snorkeling offered during the tour is not the best you can have in the park.
I was lucky to meet a friendly Belgian couple before coming to Labuan Bajo who gave me the advice to not put all my cards on the snorkeling offered during the Komodo tour, but rather go with a diving tour. Since I can’t dive, I had to go along as a snorkeler which was perfectly fine. This little piece of advice was one of the best advices I got throughout the entire journey through Indonesia, because they were totally right. I did the snorkeling with the diving group even twice, because I enjoyed it so much!
I ended up doing both tours with Divine Diving, a great diving school I can definitely recommend. Coming along as a snorkeler I paid 600 000 IDR (excluding park fee of 215 000 IDR for snorkeling) for a whole day tour, three diving spots, an awesome lunch and a guide who’s really helpful in showing you the underwater flora and fauna in every detail. He oftentimes drew my attention to creatures I’d otherwise would have completely missed!
Make sure you go to the diving school at least a day before. The dive sites change every day and as a snorkeler you can’t come along to all diving spots. The spots in the north part have very strong currents which makes it impossible to snorkel. But the dive sites in the center are really wonderful! Even as a snorkeler you’ll get to see an underwater world which will blow your mind! Today, I’ll introduce five wonderful spots to you which all have their own charm.
Siaba Besar / Turtle Point
Siaba Besar was the first spot I went to and the spot I had done twice during my snorkel tours. And I wouldn’t have wanted it to be different, I love this spot! Siaba Besar is also known as Turtle Point as it is the spot where you most probably spot turtles. Not only many turtles, but also huge turtles!
The reason I ended up going with the diving group is exactly because of the turtles, they were my top priority and I indeed didn’t see any during the Komodo tour. Of course, I’d be happy seeing any animal underwater, but swimming with a turtle was part of my bucket list. So, you can imagine how excited I was to see the first turtle just 30 seconds after jumping into the water!
But this turtle was just the beginning. Siaba Besar has more to offer than only cute turtles. There is a truly beautiful “underwater mountain” where you can spot so many beautiful fish in so many awesome colours, I had never seen such a thing before. I had snorkeled in Karimunjawa and Riung which I had already enjoyed, but this was seriously next level!
But still, the turtles are Siaba Besars main attraction. My personal highlight was when suddenly a huge turtle woke up from its sleep and decided to come and join me at the surface. I’m so grateful my guide happened to have my camera with him when it happened, so I will always have a memory of this most unforgettable moment.
Generally, I got completely carried away by the graciousness, beauty and cuteness of these wonderful animals. I couldn’t get enough of them and could have watched them moving about in their beautiful surroundings forever.
The second stop led us to Siaba Kecil, not far from Siaba Besar. This spot has a pretty strong current. From our big boat we didn’t make it to the reef, but fortunately we got picked up by a small boat which dropped us off closer to the reef. If you dive at this spot instead of snorkel, you’ll probably get to see it a lot different, as you’ll be a lot deeper than I was.
Because of the current I had to snorkel in the shallow water. I still felt the current and really had to pay attention not to accidentally touch the coral as I was floating above this stunning underwater landscape. But it’s exactly the shallowness of this spot I enjoyed so much. You get to see the wonderful colours of the coral a lot better.
Tatawa Besar is again a great diving spot. The corals were not as amazing as the previous spots (still great though!), but I got to see again quite a few turtles, an eagle ray, a huge barracuda and my personal highlight: reef sharks! We had seen one at Siaba Kecil really near to us, swimming right next to the shore, but it had escaped as quickly as it had appeared. At Tatawa Besar I was lucky though to see six of them, giving me ample time to marvel at them while they were smoothly floating through the water. Obviously, we’re talking about small whitetip and blacktip reef sharks, but they’re still beautiful and gracious animals which are surely impressive to see in real life!
Talking about impressive animals: Manta rays!I have been twice to Manta Point, once with the Komodo tour and once with the diving group and both times the experience was truly amazing. I had never seen manta’s before and somehow thought they’d be a lot smaller, so when I saw my first manta I did get a little bit shaky and nervous. Being in the water with such huge, UFO-resembling animals does not leave you cold, trust me!
Be aware that Manta Point might be one the places where you’re most likely to see mantas but there’s no guarantee. I’ve met people who’ve only seen one or even none even though they went in exactly the same period I went. But then again, you could of course also be lucky and bump into a manta somewhere else, everything is possible in Komodo National Park!
Last but not least, my favourite spot in terms of coral. I was very lucky to have been on the boat that particular day, as I didn’t know that only a specific amount of boats are allowed to go Batu Bolong, so it’s not offered very frequently. But it’s really a special spot! The corals were completely different from all the other places I had snorkeled before. I’ve never seen something as colourful and lively as this place!
Batu Bolong is basically a rock in the middle of the sea, where loads of colourful fish and corals have gathered around. Believe me, the pictures and videos don’t do it justice. This is seriously a place you’ll have to see with your own eyes. It’s full of life and colour, it’s simply fascinating!
I guess you can imagine by now why the underwater world of Komodo National Park has robbed my heart! I’ve always been a water lover and enjoyed snorkeling, but never have I been so intrigued and blown away by the life underneath the surface. I decided to get my PADI open water soon, so for sure you’ll get to see more underwater posts from me in the future!