A quiet fishing village in the Flores area is a new and thriving tourist centre in the Indonesian archipelago. It is the port of call for marine sports enthusiasts to explore exotic beaches, freeze-frame the stunning vistas, and delve into the world’s most charming diving spots in the Southern Hemisphere.
Once a small fishing village, Labuan Bajo, on the western tip of Flores Island, is blooming as a bustling epicentre of tourism. No more than a doorstep away from Komodo, the land of the living dragons, the town buzzes as a hub of unending activities for marine sports, island-hopping adventure, lush green forests, and, for shutterbugs in search of rolling topography, perfect for the best panoramic vistas in the tropics.
For devoted lovers of snorkelling and scuba diving, this boomtown by the sea is your first port of call on a journey to discover exotic the underwater beauty surrounding the Komodo National Park. From more than 35 sites surveyed, the world’s most enchanting diving spot in the Southern Hemisphere our top five is listed here, with each one brimming with colourful corals and striking invertebrates.
Karang Makassar / Manta Point
There are several sites where you can dive with manta rays in the vicinity of the Komodo National Park. Thanks to its staggering visitation by to 100 mantas, Karang Makassar is also popularly known as Manta Point. Best dive encounters: December, January and February.
This is the most-frequently visited site in the park for snorkelling. Attractions include the Spanish dancer to highlight a night dive as well as a variety of very tame fish. These include the leaf scorpion fish, blue ribbon eels, and crocodile fish. Best diving is during an ebbing tide.
This most-appealing dive site offers fantastic snorkelling when the current is not too fast. Your best choice is the western side, which features caves plus beautiful coral gardens in the shallows. Coral reef fishes, grouper, snappers, jacks and sharks can be seen here.
Situated southeast of Tanjung Kuning in the Linta strait, this spot is, without doubt, one of the best spots in Komodo. A big boulder reef offers excellent habitats for grouper, mantas, giant kingfish and other pelagic dwellers. However, prevailing strong currents have stunted most of the coral growth.
Some 28 kilometres from Labuan Bajo, this drift dive runs through canyons 15-30 metres deep and offers an array of beautiful coral gardens. Highlights: big pelagic fish, sharks, barracudas, schools of sweet lips, turtles as well as the rare mandarin fish. The coral gardens are a paradise for macro-lens equipped shutterbugs.