It is surprising that we hadn't planned a trip to Komodo even after having been diving for over a decade now -- it was far overdue. We started planning for the trip a little too late, at the start fo summer, so many liveaboards were already booked solid, including the Black Manta, which would have been our choice just to meet up again with Cedric, the cruise director and all-aroung nice guy on that boat. Anyway, we ended up getting a nice room on the Cheng Ho. We fly from Hong Kong to Bali, stayed overnight at a simple hotel (Bali J Boutique hotel) near the airport, and take an early morning local flight (TransNusa airlines) the next norning to Labuan Bajo. Upon reaching Bali, the hotel told us that our flight had been cancelled, and that we'd be using a different flight at a later time. It was rather chaotic as we attemped to contact our agent in HK, and then their local agent in Bali, to figure out whether we'd be able to reach Labuan Bajo before the boat would depart. Perhaps the travel agents had checked all this, but they couldn't tell us for sure, so it was somewhat stressful. Anyway, we went, as (re)-planned, the next day and all was well; Cheng Ho sent Neoman, the senior DM on Cheng Ho, and some other guys to pick us and some other divers and transfer us to the boat.
The boat itself is really large, and can take I think over 20 pax, although we were perhaps only 12 on the boat: a group of Japanese divers, and the rest -- a Korean couple (Minwook and his wife), the two of us, and an experienced Italian diver Walter. The Cheng Ho fleet of boats are really nice wooden boat, designed as large sailing yachts, but running, obviously, on engines. Very comformatble with large lounge, good rooms, even nice sized en suites, and excellent decks.
Food and dive schedule was typical of most decent Indonesian liveaboards; early morning breakfast (cereal/toast), dive, big breakfast, buffet lunch, dive, tea, dive dinner, and possibly night dive. Food was actually pretty good, with mix of asian and western foods, some good soups, an the occasional excellent fish dish. The best dinner of the trip, however, was on our first night in transit, at Bali, at the restaurant called Mozarella
, near the Bali J boutique hotel; we got one of the best grilled fish that I've had in a few years.
The diving schedule and dive sites we did are listed below -- I suppose it's a standard route for Komodo liveaboards, which teh captains change slightly depending on strength of winds and weather. Unfortunately, the first day we had really cold water, and I caught a bt of a cold; however, conditions were better on almost all subsequent days, and by judiciously skipping some night dives, and with the help of panadol, a good nasal spray, and ear drops, we managed to do a total of 15 dives over basically four days. Komodo overall is really a great destination, and I'd happily go there again, and happily on Cheng Ho or one of its sister ships.
17 August: Check out dive, Bidadari reef
18 August: Sabayor Kecil Island (Sabayor reef); Tatawa Besar Island (Tatawa Besar reef, Tatawa Kecil reef); Wainilu Island (the little things)
19 August: Komodo Island (Manta alley; Lehok Sera, Ping Beach 1, Ping beach 2)
20 August: Gili Lawa Laut Island (Castel rock, Paradise reef, Crystal rock, Gili Lawa reef)
21 August: Gili Lawa Laut Island (Crystal rock, The Minggler); evening trekking on Rinca Island Komodo reserve
About the photos
Gear: Sony Nex7 with stock 18-55 lens with inon 165 macro wet lens; Sea & Sea YS-01 strobe in slave. Canon G12 in Canon housing; AdventureX 1200 lumen video light. If you'd like the originals of any of these images, email me.