If you’ve been following our journey through Indonesia on social media or you’ve read our post earlier this week about our time on a liveaboard, you already know how much we loved diving in Komodo National Park.
The truth is we loved it so much that we struggled to say goodbye to it. Upon returning back on land from our 3 day liveaboard, we found ourselves in a diving withdrawal and decided to go back out and dive in Komodo one last time on a day trip with our new friends at Uber Scuba Komodo.
Uber Scuba Komodo is the newest dive operator in Komodo National Park, having just opened its doors in March 2015, but is one that’s already earned itself a spot right up there with “the big guys”.
Their day boat, Iona, was built with divers’ needs in mind and has so much more than you would expect on a typical day dive boat. In fact by Komodo standards, Iona is probably more like a liveaboard boat than a typical day boat. It certainly had a lot to do with making our day diving in Komodo with Uber Scuba Komodo all the more enjoyable.
While we really loved our experience diving in Komodo on a day boat and on a liveaboard, we found a few pros and cons for choosing one option over the other. If you are planning a trip to Komodo National Park, we hope our advice can help you choose the right option for you.
Diving in Komodo on a Day Boat: Pros
1. It’s cheaper
All day boats to Komodo National Park departing from Labuan Bajo charge anywhere between $120-$140 for 3 dives or 2 dives and a Komodo Dragon trek on Rinca Island. Uber Scuba Komodo for example, offers a 3 day package consisting of a total of 8 dives and 1 Rinca Island trek for $120/day. This price includes all boat fees, daily breakfast, lunch and snacks on board. The same number of dives on a liveaboard would cost you $175-$250/day, although that would also include 2 nights of accommodation on the boat and daily dinner.
2. More flexible
Day boats offer a lot more flexibility when it comes to diving in Komodo National Park. Uber Scuba (and other day boat operators in Labuan Bajo) switch up their day boat route daily, visiting a different set of sites every day. You choose what dive sites you want to experience by picking and choosing what days you want to dive on. Want to swim with the Manta Rays, like the crew in this awesome Manta Madness video? Head to Manta Point! Want to experience an awesome drift dive? Siaba Kecil is where it’s at!
We knew that after our awesome experience at swimming in an aquarium like Batu Balong on a liveaboard we really wanted to go back and dive there once again, so we choose to return to Komodo on a day boat on the specific day when Batu Bolong was on the schedule at Uber Scuba.
But that’s not it! With day boat diving, your diving schedule is up to you! You can choose to do only 1 day of diving, or do 2 days with a day of rest in between, or go for 4 days straight!
Unfortunately, a liveaboard simply doesn’t come with an option to “take a day off”.
3. More suitable for inexperienced divers
Based on our experience, divers on liveaboards seem to be a lot more experienced. Max and I both hold Advanced Open Water certifications and had completed roughly 25 dives each prior to our liveaboard in Komodo, but we were the least experienced of our group.
At times, it was tough to keep up with experienced divers’ air consumption during our dives on the liveaboard, which made us feel less confident about diving with the group. In addition, some of the dives we went on while on a liveaboard were not easy for beginner divers, particularly those with strong currents or negative descends.
Day Trips to the Komodo National Park are not only a better option for beginner divers, but are also a popular option for Open Water and Advanced Open Water Certifications. If you are considering getting your Open Water Certification somewhere in S.E.A., we can’t think of a more beautiful place to dive for the first time than Komodo National Park!
4. Flexible enough to satisfy experienced divers as well
On a day boat with Uber Scuba Komodo, we were probably the most experienced of the bunch. But that didn’t hinder our ability to dive in more advanced sites, as Uber Scuba Komodo allowed us to be flexible with our plans. Komodo National Park often has 2-3 dives sites within a short speedboat ride away, so we were able to go off and check out a more challenging dive site (drift dive at Siaba Besar) while the rest of the group dove at an easy current-free Siaba Kecil.
5. More comfortable
Diving on a day boat is overall a more comfortable experience. At the end of the day, you come back to your hotel room, take a hot shower and sleep in a comfortable bed. You don’t have to climb into a tiny cabin on a liveaboard and make do with showering in cold water over the toilet.
Diving in Komodo on a Day Boat: Cons
1. Day boats are not as social
While you might have 10-15 divers on a day boat, there isn’t a ton of time to socialise and make friends. You are constantly going in and out of the water and before you know it, the day is over and you get dropped off at the pier, say your goodbyes and go separate ways. But, of course, that depends on each individual group and your own personality. You do have an hour between every dive and a few hours at the beginning and at the end of your day to chat with others on the boat. In our experience, though, that wasn’t enough time to go beyond the basic “where are you from, where are you going next”.
In comparison, we met some great people on our liveaboard and got to know all of them pretty well over the course of our 3 days on the boat. Evenings were fantastic for exchanging travel stories and getting to know each other, and that’s something that a day boat will never be able to provide.
2. Food on the day boats can be very average
This wasn’t the case with our Uber Scuba Komodo day boat, as luckily they had a chef on board who cooked us a delicious lunch and served fruit and baked goodies in between dives. But we did hear horror stories about stale sandwiches and chips for lunch on a few other day boats. Food is fuel that your body needs so badly during a day of diving, so make sure you are happy with the food on board your day boat before you sign up.
3. Some day boats are small and leave much to be desired
We were lucky that Uber Scuba Komodo‘s brand new Iona boat was just as spacious and offered same great facilities (i.e.western toilet) as the liveaboards, but most of the other day boats in Komodo don’t offer that luxury. So good luck trying to use a squat toilet while the boat is rocking in the waves.
4. Day boats don’t visit all dive sites
This is a statement that we came across a lot while doing our own research on diving in Komodo National Park. The argument was that day boats simply don’t have enough time to reach some of the dive sites in Komodo and be back in town in time for sunset, which isn’t exactly true. The truth is that dive site choices in Komodo depend primarily on the current, time of day, and weather conditions. There were a few sites on the map that day boats don’t reach because they are at their absolute best at 6am in the morning when the day boats aren’t even out on the water yet.
But the reality is that there are only a handful of sites that aren’t typically offered on day boats, so you won’t be missing out on the best of what Komodo National Park has to offer.
The bottom line is that a day boat isn’t necessarily a sub-par option compared to the liveaboard. They each have their pros and cons that are worth evaluating prior to making the decision on what type of dive experience you are after.
When it comes to our experience, we loved Uber Scuba Komodo‘s day boat for its premium features and competitive price, but at the same time, we really enjoying the social environment on the liveaboard with Dive Komodo.
Luckily, if you are traveling to Komodo National Park anytime after November 2015, you won’t have to choose one over the other, as Uber Scuba Komodo are introducing their own brand new Komodo Liveaboard experience on AMALIA boat, that looks absolutely amazing!
Now you can get the same great amenities, great service, and unbeatable safety offered on Uber Scuba Komodo’s day boats in a liveaboard experience. Their liveaboard prices will range from $186 USD for a family/friend cabin to $230 for a private ensuite cabin and allow you to spend 3-6 days exploring dive sites all around the national park.
Want more information about diving with Uber Scuba Komodo? Pop into their shop or get in touch with them via email beforehand.
Huge thanks to Uber Scuba Komodo for hosting us on their day boat! Opinions expressed in this article are always our own, no matter who is footing the bill!