I love diving so doing a diving liveaboard has been firmly on my bucket list for a while now. Komodo is considered one of the best diving spots in the world. So when I knew I was visiting Indonesia I began the search for the best liveaboard. I want something fairly budget-friendly but with a good ethos, especially when it comes to protecting the coral and ended up on a 6-night expedition with the Wicked Diving Komodo Liveaboard.
Here were my highlights…
#1 Boat life
I instantly fell in love with the boat we would be spending the next week on. It had 3 levels. The basement floor housed the shared dorm room, the kitchen and staff area.
The ground floor was the diving area and dining room.
The top was where the twin rooms, lounge deck, and driving station could be found.
I soon slotted into boat life and having everything you would need within a short comfortable distance. A hot shower, comfortable reading areas, cosy beds and all the diving you could ever dream of.
#2 Having everything taken care of
As well as the 16 tourists living on the boat, we had a hard-working crew to take care of meals, cleaning the boat and taking us diving.
Each evening we had a briefing for what we could expect for the next day. The routine usually looked like this…..sleep, dive, eat, dive, eat, dive, eat, dive, eat, relax, sleep:
The food was amazing. I brought snacks with me but didn’t touch them once as there was a constant stream of meals (we got 2 breakfasts every day!).
I was vegan for this trip and was really impressed with the meals they cooked up….and with the fact that they didn’t serve fish (it would have been hypercritical to dive to see the marine life while also contributing to overfishing in the area). The meat-eaters were often jealous of the vegan/veggie meals.
#3 Being able to explore uninhabited beaches
The boat comes with a couple of sup or kayak boards which you can take out as you like to explore nearby uninhabited islands. It was the perfect way to pass a lazy lunch break.
Some of the islands have their own resident deer!
Mid-way through the expedition we all took a boat out one evening to visit the red sand beach. Broken down coral give it the unusual colouring. We spent a few hours on the sandbank enjoying the sunset over a few beers.
#4 Sharks, turtles and manta rays
I can see why Komodo is coined one of the best places in the world for diving. Each dive site was brimming with life. I lost count of how many Sharks, Turtles and Manta Rays we got to see.
The coral was also beautiful and varied and I loved that we also had an opportunity to do a muck and night dive to search out the invertebrates and more unusual fish.
We did a lot of diving over the week – fitting in 4 dives most days – but I could have easily stayed on for another 7 days!
#5 Feeling good about the environment
Every beach was covered in plastic and, although the health of the marine environment is generally good in the area, bleaching and overfishing have taken its toll.
It felt important therefore that were conscious vistors which is why I am so happy I choose to go with Wicked Diving Komodo Liveaboard.
The guides were very respectful of the marine life and aware of conservation issues. We did a beach clean during our trip, had eco-toiletries and reef-safe sunscreen free to use on the boat (normal sunscreen damages the corals). And fish wasn’t served on the boat.
Those are small changes that will make a big positive impact on the environment!
#6 Seeing the Komodo Dragons up close
We had an opportunity to spend an afternoon visiting the Komodo Dragons. These beasts are pretty spectacular up close….and very scary!
The dragons were cool to see. But I also really enjoyed the hike we had on the island and the viewpoint we got mid-way.
#7 Bow riding dolphins
This was my favourite moment of the trip. Something caught my eye while I was sat on the deck reading my book….a pod of spinner dolphins!!
They stayed with the boat for a good half an hour, playing on the bow right under my feet.
#8 The endless sunsets and sunrises
I was so focused on marine life and diving that I hadn’t paid much thought to what the land might be like. Komodo is nothing short of stunning!
The turquoise waters and islands are beautiful, each one unique and break taking. The best thing about living on a boat is you are living really close to nature. Every evening I’d sit on the deck and watch the sunset. Each morning I would open the door of our cabin and watch the sunrise from bed.
#9 Doing my bit for the local community
A percentage of your Wicked Diving Komodo Liveaboard fees goes to training local Indonesians so they can have diving careers. I LOVED that our boar crew were 100% local! Without schemes like this, the locals simply can’t afford the training to work in these sorts of tourism ways.
There were a number of instructors on our boat who had benefited from these schemes – including local women. I left the boat feeling really good that I was able to support such an environmental and ethical business that really was making a difference!
Wicked Diving Komodo Liveaboard….will I be back?
I really hope so!! It was one of the best weeks of my life.
If you are thinking of joining a liveaboard with Wicked, here are my top tips:
- I got to try both the shared dorm and also the twin rooms. Both were really comfortable and I slept well, even in the shared dorm. If you’ve got the extra cash to spare thought I’d suggest going for a twin as it was helpful having a bit of extra space to spread your stuff
- Cover up and use lots of sunscreen….a few people on the boat underestimated the sun and got painfully burnt
- Consider going vegetarian for this trip and reducing your carbon footprint! The vegetarian meals really were exceptional and most of the meat-eaters said they wish they’d gone veggie
- Bring a warm jumper as post-dive in the evenings it can get a little chilly
- Try pack as light as you can. Space on the boat is limited and the fewer items you have the easier it is organising yourself for each dive. You barely need any clothes!! You’ll spend almost all your time in a swimsuit or wetsuit
- Pack a spare book….you’ll have lots of downtimes to relax and the beanbags are very tempting!
- The currents in the area can be a little strong so while you can dive if you are a beginner I’d suggest getting a bit of experience under your belt. In currents the more confident you are at diving the better the experience you are going to have
- Make the most of the massages, food and film night available at Molas for the day you get off the liveaboard (more info below)
Before and after the liveaboard
The liveaboard departs and arrives in Labuan Bajo. You can take a ferry or flight to reach here and will need to arrive a day before your liveaboard (in case of delays) and a day after (to allow 24hours before flying after diving).
It’s common for visitors to hire mopeds here to explore the island. As I was short on time I just stayed for the 1 night before and after.
I would really recommend staying at Molas, it really is the best place to stay in town. Before you arrive, book yourself into the spa for a massage the afternoon you get off the liveaboard. The hotel also has a tasty restaurant and an outdoor film screening which co-insides with the evening you get off the liveaboard. It’s the perfect way to celebrate the end of a great week!
I also really enjoyed a tasty meal at the Happy Banana restaurant and would suggest a visit to Bajo bakery (I loved their smoothie bowls) – make sure you head to the top floor for a great view over the bay.