Home of Komodo Varanus
Komodo National Park
Komodo National Park in Eastern Indonesia was originally established to protect the Komodo dragon. And although many of the ecotourism visitors who travel here are hoping to catch a glimpse of the world’s largest lizard, the park is also renowned by experienced scuba divers as one of the top dive sites in the world.
Situated within a narrow channel between Flores and Sumbawa, Komodo National Park is comprised of three large islands (Komodo, Padar and Rinca) and 26 smaller ones to occupy nearly 2,000 km2.
What makes KNP so special?
- More than 1,000 species of tropical fish, 260 species of coral, and rare marine mammals such as the dugong live within Komodo National Park.
- Strong daily tidal flows combine with nutrient-rich water upwelling from the depths of the Indian Ocean to create ideal conditions for thousands of species of corals and tropical fish to flourish.
- Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.
Scientists, underwater photographers, and recreational sport divers alike travel from all over the globe to experience the spectacular biodiversity of more than 50 world-class dive sites ranging from challenging blue water current dives with a chance of glimpsing large pelagic species to discovering rare invertebrates on a ‘muck’ dive closer to shore.
Komodo National Park was created by the Indonesian government in 1980 to protect the Komodo dragon. In 1991, Komodo was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
But even with the recognition of Komodo as one of the most important treasures of biodiversity in Indonesia, threats to the future of this marine protected area still exist.
Unsustainable destructive fishing methods, overdevelopment, and unregulated tourism threaten permanent damage to the park as more and more people arrived.
In 1930, less than 300 people were living in Komodo village and Rinca Island.
By the year 2000, approximately 1,200 people were inhabiting Komodo - an exponential increase.
As more people move to Komodo National Park in search of economic opportunity, an important part of the conservation strategy for ensuring a sustainable future is balancing the economic needs of the local community with the challenge of protecting a delicate ecosystem.
Strict enforcement of anti-poaching and illegal fishing regulations thanks to coordinated patrols by local park rangers, the Indonesian Navy, and the police has made wildlife and natural resource crimes within Komodo National Park much more difficult.
Some of many dive spots:
Pantai Merah/ The Pink Beach
The most-visited scuba diving site within the Komodo National Park, the Pantai Merah or ‘Pink Beach’ is located on the eastern side of Komodo Island.
Popular with snorkelers and divers alike, this beach is known for macro photography subjects such as the Leaf scorpion fish, blue-ribbon eel, crocodile fish, and many species of nudibranch.
Also known as a world-class night dive, this dive site has several mooring buoys situated strategically to prevent anchor damage to delicate corals from dive boats.
Widely considered to be one of Komodo’s best dive sites, Batu Bolong is also one of its most challenging. Powerful tidal currents and the plunging slopes of this tiny rock outcrop located between Tatawa Kecil and Komodo Island has made it nearly impossible for local fishermen to use illegal dynamite or cyanide fishing methods.
But the ripping currents which protect this area also make this dive spot suitable for experienced divers only. Highlights of this dive include sightings of sharks, mantas, Napoleon wrasse, giant trevally, dogtooth tuna, and shimmering schools of rainbow runners.
One of Komodo’s best drift dives, the Tatawa Besar dive site traverses the coral reef which fringes the island. A dazzling array of tropical fish species inhabit a coral garden of orange soft corals.
Mantas are often seen here as well. Many Komodo dive guides will choose Tatawa Besar if the current is too strong at Tatawa Kecil or Batu Bolong.
Scuba divers visiting Castle Rock within Komodo National Park often make a blue water entry approximately 100 meters away from the shallower section of the reef.
Known for its excellent visibility, divers often see schools of barracuda glittering in the sunlight like a rack of polished knives, jacks, and mackerel. Underwater macro photographers also prize chance of catching sight of a pygmy seahorse at Castle Rock.
Extending south from Tanjung Letuhoh, the Letuhoh Reef offers scuba divers visiting Komodo National Park one of their best chances for catching a glimpse of large pelagic fish species such as giant trevally and dogtooth tuna.
During periods of significant ocean swell, the Letuhoh Reef can be a frightening sight from the surface, but conditions are much safer underwater. Lucky divers have also spotted sea turtles, eagle rays, and gray reef sharks here.