By Alex del Olmo.
Our combination trips to the East of Flores, Sumbawa and Komodo never cease me to amaze me.
During our recent trip (Maumere-Komodo), we sailed almost 550 miles (around 1.000 km) heading first to the East until Alor, then back to the West until Komodo, with a detour around Sumbawa.
Mark started to explore new dive sites in Sumbawa a few years ago, and I will never forget the very first time I plunged there. My first thought was: “This is as crazy as Nusa Kode but with better visibility and warmer water!” I was dazzled by the colourful crinoids found everywhere, opulent soft corals in many splashy colours and a mesmerizing variety of nudibranchs. During the last year I had the chance to visit the area a few times, and with a growing understanding of the place and a bit of exploration we found a black tip reef shark nursery, perfect for snorkelling, we found impressive shallow reefs, with big table corals stacking like layers one on top of the other teaming with extravagant soft corals and reef fish. We also found a place with a group of resident rays, usually laying on the sandy bottom. And during this trip, one of our guests, an uw photographer who has been diving around Indonesia for many years told me: “This place reminds me of Nusa Kode, 12 years ago, when I took a picture of a nudibranch that I had never seen before”. I knew exactly the feeling.
It is not only the underwater scenery which is absolutely stunning. Sumbawa has the most immaculate beaches I have ever seen so far, some of them with a flawless access through crystal clear waters, which make them picture-perfect for family trips as well, spending a few days snorkelling and relaxing in the area with no other liveaboard roaming around.
Of course I cannot finish without mentioning the diving in Alor…unreal!
The first time I went to Alor, two years ago, I have been just blown away by one particular dive site which had the best shallows I had ever seen. While the rest of the group spent their bottom time at 20-25 meters, I had the time of my life between 2 to 4 meters deep. I called this place “Alice in Wonderland”. Unbelievable amount of anthias and blue and green chromis dancing in clouds above table corals in an extremely rich soft coral garden, and of course the magnificent walls and jettys full of critters in Pantar Strait, extremely good for uw video and photography, and the villages and the playful kids greeting you as soon as you arrive. All of it delivers an unforgettable experience above and below the water. But the trip is not ended, and the best is yet to come.
In Komodo National Park we had unforgettable dives with mantas, sharks and giant trevallies hunting. I saw the biggest dogtooth tuna (more than half of my size -and that says a lot) leading a pack of 5 behind it and last but not least my favourite dive, Tatawa Kecil. I could spend all day there contemplating the reef fish and the hard coral garden. Tatawa Kecil or Batu Bolong are those kind of places that when you visit them for the first time your heart feels happy to witness nature at its peak.
Alex del Olmo