Komodo island is an original habitat of the biggest lizard in the earth. Komodo island offers visitors with the beautiful landscape, quite and calm, bring you close with a touch of Nature and beautiful under water scene. The island located between eastern Sumbawa and western Flores lie three tiny grass-covered islands Komodo, Padar and Rinca.

Each islands together form the Komodo National Park, a protected wildlife reserve. This is the home of the giants lizard known as the “Komodo Dragon” it was thought to be a myth until the turn of the century.

Not just amazing while look the giant Komodo Dragon, explore the Komodo’s under water and ecosystems which has well known as the best diving site in the world. Beautiful corals, reefs, thousands sort of fishes to the crystal water and beautiful beach are await to visit. Bali Sea Safari cruises offer luxury sailing program to adventures, exploration and expedition to enjoy the beautiful of the tropical islands a long the Lesser. Sailing with Indonesia traditional Boat, Phinisi Cruises, your journey will be unforgettable moment.

Started this year off with two things: a shiny new engineering degree, and an overwhelming desire to remove myself from the heart of another ridiculous Canadian winter. Having lived on a student budget for the past 4 years, I wasn’t in a financial situation that would allow me to fulfill my desire. Fortunately, I knew my daily sacrifice of a roll of film and relentless praying to the photo contest gods were heard when I received an email from Jason Heller. Apparently, I had been awarded an 11 day trip aboard the Archipelago Adventurer II as a prize from thie 2008 Wetpixel & DivePhotoGuide underwater photo contest at Our World Underwater. In the following few weeks, I also found out about a few more prize trips coming my way from other contests. All of a sudden I had myself the ultimate graduation present – a two month Indonesia/PNG voyage!

After convincing my brother, Kris, to join me, I secured a pair of spots aboard one of Archipelago Fleet’s Komodo itineraries near the end of May. Andy Shorten and Gede Sartana made this process a breeze by doing something important that other liveaboard staff sometimes don’t…..that is, efficiently responding to emails.

In addition to being prompt, they made sure to accommodate my ‘economic’ lifestyle by setting me up with an affordable hotel and cheap domestic flights. The next few months were a bit of a blur. I was busy trying to pay off my new (large) credit card debts, going to scuba shows, and spending quality time with my girlfriend before I abandoned her for the summer. As quickly as the trip was booked, it was time to pack and leave.

After about a month of diving Raja Ampat and a few parts of PNG, the time came to make our way to Labuan Bajo (western tip of Flores). The short flight from Bali to Flores gave a nice view of the ocean peppered with small islands.

We were greeted in Labuan Bajo by the talented photographer and Scuba Diver Australasia field editor, Simon Buxton, who would be our cruise director for the trip. We made our way to the massive Archipelago Adventurer II (second largest liveaboard operating in Indonesia), and within 2 hours we geared up and got in for a check-out dive just off of Tebolon island at a site called “Coral Garden”.

Somewhat typical for a ‘check-out’ dive, it was rather uneventful, but still yielded some interesting nudibranchs and gobies. My uncharged strobe batteries didn’t help my frustration. I came out of the water a bit disappointed, but very quickly my spirits changed drastically.

I wrapped a towel around my waist, pulled off the old trunks, and was planning to take a nice warm shower, when I noticed something tiny skip a few feet across the surface beside the boat. After walking down the side steps to water level, I realized what it was… a juvenile flyingfish (about an inch long), drifting by in the current. I’d only seen a juvenile one other time in 13 years of diving, so I decided that I wouldn’t let the opportunity pass. I jumped into the current bare-assed sans mask to stay with the little guy, knowing someone eventually would come to help me.

Sure enough, Kris jumped in and made his way over with my housed D300 and mask in hand, and was followed soon after by one of the crew in a support boat. I’m glad I took that naked leap of faith, since a few nice images resulted, including this one. Those are clouds in the background, shot from below.

Still in the harbor of Labuan Bajo, we had a night dive at the same site, before a much needed gourmet dinner. The night dive was very productive, and so was dinner… my stomach hadn’t been stuffed like that in recent memory. Overnight, we ‘sailed’ west toward Komodo, stopping midway in the Tatawa Besar region for a pair of frustrating, but beautiful, morning dives.

I say they were frustrating because I had my macro setup when the 2 eagle rays, giant trevally, and school of sweetlips decided to make an appearance in the crystal clear water! Nonetheless, typical for most Indonesian waters, there were still plenty of macro subjects to keep me happy and busy. After surfacing, we continued the trek from Tatawa Besar to Komodo, arriving in time for a late afternoon and night dive at “Pink Beach” and “Sodo Lia”, respectively. On the night dive, one of my strobes “went Caribbean” on me (i.e. worked when it wanted to), so I had to do some ‘macgyvering’ to get it back in proper working order.

I have to commend Archipelago Fleet designers for designating such a large area of the boat for underwater photo gear…the camera area is larger than most liveaboard dining areas, iit’s on the main level of the ship, and is a controlled indoor environment perfect for taking care of your expensive gear. An overnight steam brought us to one of the holy grails of diving, Rinca Island, where we would remain for the next few days.

Visibility was not the best and the water was cold (77 C), but the green nutrient-rich water brought with it a reason for the reef to come alive. Someone even likened the experience to swimming in a tropical fish tank on steroids. In spite of the poor visibility, I couldn’t help but take a stab at shooting wide-angle in such a beautiful area. I gave it my best shot, but came out with somewhat mediocre images, so I opted for the trusty 105mm macro to maximize my productivity while still stationed at this gold mine. As fascinating as the creatures were in the waters around Rinca, the ones on land got very much attention as well.

Monkeys, deer, and boars occasionally made an appearance on shore, but the main attraction was the giant monitor lizards (aka Komodo dragons). Each morning, a few dragons would come to the beach to catch some rays….some from the sun and some from our flashes. In hindsight, it was probably foolish to get as close as we did, but Simon and I found ourselves sprawled out in the sand only a few feet (in some cases inches) from the reptiles. The time came to pull anchor and start heading toward northern Komodo.

We stopped for a pair of manta dives along the way at a site called “Toro Lenkoy”, and had varying success. Our first attempt was uneventful, having only one show up at the end of the dive. However, the second attempt was much more exciting. The current was powerful so our group decided to go with the flow and cross our fingers. My brother and I stopped for a moment for a few quick photos, and were immediately separated from the rest of the group. We drifted on and on, figuring we’d catch up to the group at some point, but came to a split in the current so stopped to decide which path to take.

Before we knew it, there were three large mantas swooping only feet from our heads. We remained at the base of a large coral head as they circled, but they suddenly got spooked and bolted away with the flick of a fin. Confused, my brother and I looked at each other with ‘what the hell?!?’ faces, but immediately realized what had happened…a flock of divers had just poured into the water above us and turned on their hyper-jets toward the mantas to get a closer look.

The sight of this new group scaring off the mantas was quite disturbing, so we called it a dive and started surfacing. After doing our safety stop, and briefly encountering another pair of mantas, we popped up to find ourselves dangerously far away from the ship. Without the sea floor as a reference, the strength of the current was impossible to detect. Safety sausages were inflated and after a few tense minutes, we were spotted and retrieved by one of the two sharp-eyed tenders. We continued the journey north, stopping at Tatawa Besar again.

The current was strong when we entered, making photography difficult. After momentarily being distracted by a beautiful scene of soft corals, Kris and I once again found ourselves separated from the rest of the group. As if the manta dives we just did weren’t enough to complete the trip, a few eagle rays and white-tips came by, and then out of the blue, a 12-foot Minke whale graced us with its presence. Sadly, I was only able to get ‘proof-shots’ of it. Kris and I surfaced expecting others to have had a similar experience, but were surprised to find an empty support boat. Apparently, the current where we stayed had died down, while the rest of the group was whisked away in a torrent, ending up on a beach more than a kilometer down the coast. This is Komodo diving. We stayed overnight near a small island (Gili Lawa Darat) just off the northern tip of Komodo, and did two morning dives close by.

These sites, “Hard to Find Rock” and “Easy to Find Rock”, were stunning underwater pinnacles. Current was minimal since we entered during slack-tide, and had encounters with a small group of pygmy seahorses, large schools of jacks and sweetlips, and a platoon of nearly 100 mobula rays. In the afternoon we moved to Banta, our final dive destination. We dropped anchor in an idyllic bay and got in the water. Not expecting any large animals, everyone setup for a macro dive…then Murphy’s law presented itself in the form of mantas, mobula rays, and eagles rays coming at us from all directions.

That’s the way it goes sometimes, I guess. Again, as frustrating as that was, the macro life in this area made up for it within a few minutes. Before the night dive, a few of us chose to go for a little hike up the hills of Banta, since we’d heard that the view was incredible. What an understatement. The final night dive of the trip did not disappoint. Ghost pipefish, shortfin lionfish, napoleon snake-eels, and several bobtail squid were all waiting for us, allowing for loads of macro photography. After the night dive, we had our final dinner on board, accompanied by the crew playing, singing, and dancing to traditional Indonesian music.

The following morning everyone was eerily quiet, since we all knew the trip was two dives away from being finished. Thankfully, we ended on a high note, since “Tanjung Tanduk Rasa” and “GPS Point!” impressed us all with reefs teeming with life. Eagle rays, cuttlefish, a colony of pygmy seahorses (barbiganti), large schools of various species, and more anthias than you could shake a stick at were the highlights of these dives. By the time I dried off and showered after the last dive, the crew had already washed all of my gear and hung it in the sun to dry, which was a very pleasant surprise. I should note that the level of pampering in general on Archipelago Adventurer II was a few notches above most other liveaboards that I’ve experienced.

Simon Buxton (cruise director), the dive guides, and the whole crew were knowledgeable and well prepared for any issues that needed addressing, including the safe transport of a couple’s bulky rebreather equipment to and from a support boat on each dive, which isn’t often encountered. Thanks to you all, you did a wonderful job. By the early afternoon, we had already made it west to Bali, and were promptly transported by a pre-arranged taxi back to the airport where we all went our separate ways. That marked the end of my first ‘Archipelago Adventure’, but I’m sure it won’t be the last. A big thanks goes out to staff Archipelago Fleet for continuing to sponsor underwater photography competitions and making my trip possible!