Komodo has fabulous diving – sharks, turtles, manta rays, eagle rays plus nudibranchs and seahorses. The best way to dive it is by liveaboard, although you can take day boats from Labuan Bajo on Flores.
Which liveaboard to choose? You can’t go wrong with the Duyung Baru. For a start this liveaboard takes just six divers in three cabins. With the co-owner and dive guide Vovo Korth taking a dim view of crowded dive sites, often the seven of you will be the only people in the water.
Vovo’s wife Yani is the captain and cook. Her food is delicious, created with care and love. She gets up at three in the morning to make fresh bread for breakfast – from loaves to croissants. Not only a great cook, she is most friendly and welcoming.
Yani Korth, Cook and Captain, Duyung Baru, Photo credit: Vovo Korth
Vovo bought his first boat in 1998 and called it the Duyung – Indonesian for mermaid. He has been sailing Indonesian waters ever since. When he and Yani started the liveaboard operation around Komodo only one other boat was operating, and Vovo made many exploratory dives. He has an intimate knowledge of the dive sites of Komodo with their wild currents, including a couple of “secret sites”.
The couple commissioned their current boat in 2011, calling it the Duyung Baru or New Mermaid.
Two double cabins and one twin cabin house the divers. There is plenty of storage space and ensuite shower and toilet. The beds are extremely comfortable. On the canopied deck are a sofa and chairs around a coffee table plus a sun terrace upstairs.
Big Hawksbill Turtle in Manta Alley, Photo credit: Vovo Korth
The boat is 27 m long with two masts – a beautiful looking craft. Nitrox is available.
Finally to the diving. This is world-class. Sharks and turtles on nearly every dive. Eagle and manta rays. Many huge shoals of fish. Corals in excellent condition. There are also dive sites for those liking the smaller stuff – seahorses and frog fish. The boat doesn’t have a set routine of dives – it depends on the type of dives that the divers on board want to do. If you really want to see that seahorse and not another manta ray, then you’ll have to sell it to your fellow divers.
Nembrotha kubaryana nudibranch, Photo credit: Vovo Korth
The boat is only for experienced divers. Vovo likes you to have at least 75 dives. I would go further and say that you need to have experience of currents. The diving in many sites is not easy – the currents are fierce, especially at full and new moon (which is why there are so many large fish there). It is assumed you know what you are doing. At the beginning of the trip is an easy dive or two to practice using a SMB (surface marker buoy or “safety sausage”). Not until Vovo is satisfied that you can use the SMB will he take you on one of the the more challenging dives. That way if you should get separated from the group the tender will easily see you and pick you up.
Vovo is also a freediving instructor and there is an opportunity to take a freediving course if you wish. Although we dived with Vovo, on many trips one of his two experienced divemasters takes his place.
German, English and Indonesian are spoken.