21/04/2024

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Uber Scuba Komodo Amalia Review: Diving in Paradise

14 min read
Uber Scuba Komodo Amalia Review: Diving in Paradise

Famous for its dangerous dragons, aquatic adventures, and jaw-dropping scenery – a visit to Komodo National Park should be on every traveler’s bucket list. But more importantly – it should be near the TOP of the list for every scuba diving addict (such as myself).

Indonesia is arguably the single best country in the world for scuba diving, and Komodo is one of the crown jewels that keep divers coming back year after year. It’s a magical underwater playground that can be hard to describe, but those who have experienced it for themselves know exactly what I’m talking about.

Padar Island, Komodo National Park

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo National Park

Our Uber Scuba Crew!

 


Mantas, sharks, eagle rays, turtles, crocodile fish, moray eels, and fish everywhere you look as if you’re inside an aquarium. Komodo has SO MUCH to offer divers, from extremely diverse coral gardens to an array of marine life that’ll blow your mind. Plus stunning topography dive sites with vibrantly colorful coral.

While there are plenty of dive resorts offering day trips out to Komodo National Park for scuba-diving and sightseeing, the BEST way to explore Komodo is setting sail on a liveaboard!

I just got back from doing 4-Day/3-Night Liveaboard with Uber Scuba Komodo and had such a surreal experience — and it will forever remain one of my diving career highlights. My only regret is that I didn’t wait to book one of their 5 or 6-night liveaboards, but those are saved for primarily during peak season.

So let’s dive into this liveaboard experience and look at what made this a highlight of my scuba adventures thus far!

I also posted a highlight video on my YouTube, so check it out before reading the article:

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review


Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Overview

I first came to Komodo back in 2015 (back in my snorkeling days), and ever since I became scuba-certified, it’s been a DREAM of mine to come back and finally experience scuba-diving here. I can honestly say that it’s the best diving I’ve encountered in my life (so far).

After each dive, instead of using my logbook, I’d head to my laptop and jot down some quick notes about what we saw, and what made each site unique.


We did 11 Dives over 4 Days (but I actually ended up extending my time in Komodo and did 6 more dives)

  • Day 1 (Two Dives)
  • Day 2 (Three Dives) + Komodo National Park + Pink Beach  
  • Day 3 (Four Dives) + Padar Trekking & Sunset + Night Dive
  • Day 4 (Two Dives)

At the end of each day, the dive guides would show us on the map where we sailed and the dive sites completed — which was really fun to see where we had sailed around Komodo National Park.

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review


Komodo Liveaboard Day 1

After a quick breakfast, I met up with the staff and my fellow divers at the Uber Scuba office in downtown Labuan Bajo. We soon made our way to the dock, began the boarding process and set sail into the National Park.

We were given a tour of our temporary floating home, and discussed the upcoming itinerary as well as the important safety briefings about liveaboard diving.

After a scenic sail with 360 views of the majestic archipelago, we were ready to embark on our first two dive sites of the liveaboard experience. 

  • Mawan Dive Site — WOW – what a way to start the trip! From the first second after jumping into the water, I was face-to-face with a massive manta ray! Then within minutes, we were surrounded by mantas majestically swimming and enjoying the cleaning station. We stayed around and marveled at these gentle giants for 20-30 minutes, and also spotted colorful coral and fish, a friendly turtle, and a sleeping shark. An epic first dive and start to the trip! 

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

  • Siaba Besar Dive Site — While the beginning of the dive began with murky waters and a somewhat-boring sandy bottom, the second half of the dive was spectacular! An unbelievable – yet shallow – dive site offering a wide variety of sea life. The highlights included a very chilled-out cuttlefish, a friendly turtle, many schools of fish, and even a shark swimming around. While the visibility was a bit sub-par, I can tell this dive site would be mind-blowing on a crystal-clear day. I’ve since learned this is a very popular dive site for new divers as it’s shallow, there’s very little current, and it’s a safe bet spot for turtle spotting with incredible coral variety. 

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

After the diving for the day was complete, we anchored in this quiet nook in between two large islands. We had dinner, went through our footage, watched the sunset and moon rising, and I got my first couple of drone flights in on the trip (which ended up being quite a lot)!

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

 

Komodo Liveaboard Day 2 | Komodo National Park + Pink Beach  

One thing I’d like to note, and probably another reason I love the liveaboard life so much, is waking up for the sunrise everyday. Diving takes a lot of energy, so I always slept well and was in bed most nights by 10PM.

Our first sunrise was spent sailing to the first dive of the day, and there’s just something so special about being on the water during sunrise. It’s just a beautifully peaceful way to begin each day.

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

  • Batu Bolong Dive Site – What an absolute dream dive site! While it may just look like a basic rock poaking its way out of the ocean, underneath is a marine biologist’s dream. There’s very strong current on both sides, so we had to swim back and forth to avoid being pulled out to the open water. Batu Balong is translated to Rock Hole, but it really should be named “Aquarium” as that’s what it feels like. We saw sea snakes and ginormous eels, plus plenty of sharks, turtles and every kind of fish imaginable. Not to mention the super vibrant coral. I snorkeled Batu Balong back in 2015 and at the time called it the best snorkelling of my life, and this dive site is what has single-handedly made me want to return to Komodo as a diver. 

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

  • Siaba Kecil — A DRIFT DIVE TO REMEMBER. Holy shit! This was easily one of the coolest dives in my entire life. The first half of the dive was a roller coaster of a drift dive, as you let the current take you on a journey along a stunning coral reef. But the real magic happened in the second half of the dive when we had close encounters with two beautiful manta rays. The visibility was so clear, and at one point I had a shark, a turtle and a manta all in one line of vision. Truly spectacular at only around 20 feet deep or so. 

We enjoyed a quick lunch and short sail, as it was time to head go find some dragons!

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review


Komodo National Park — Komodo Dragons

No adventure into Komodo National Park is complete without stepping foot on Komodo Island and being privy to the famous Komodo Dragon in person. When we arrived, I was shocked at how we were the ONLY people there on the island. 

I’ve always thought that Komodo was a really popular year-round destination, but December-January is low season and many liveaboard/day-trip companies don’t even operate during this time. 

The park felt abandoned, but we had a friendly guide who walked us around for an hour to take a quick peek and to take some unique photos of these scary creatures! 

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Komodo Dragon


Pink Beach + Pink Beach Dive Site

Another key selling point from Komodo sailing trips is a stop at this iconic “pink beach” – which gets its vibrant sand color from microscopic animals called Foraminifera, which leave a red pigment on the coral reefs and that wash ashore.

While I will say that when you’re standing on the beach on a cloudy afternoon it’s not really that crazy, from a drone you can definitely notice the pinkish color.

Pink Beach - Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Pink Beach - Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Pink Beach - Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Pink Beach - Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

The majority of the liveaboard guests decided to opt-out of actually making the short boat ride over to the island – I’m glad I did! Take a look through some of my favorite photos I got from our cloudy “Pink Beach” jaunt. 

What I loved was that I had no idea was that this Komodo landmark is also home to a pretty impressive dive site just right off the beach! We had fantastic visibility, and saw some really unique corals that I’ve never seen before, as well as the FATTEST Moray Eel – I legitimately didn’t know they could be that huge.

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review


Our liveaboard crew had two birthdays celebrated during our trip, so after our diving was complete for Day 2 we enjoyed a nice dinner, birthday cake and candles (with singing of course), and a mini birthday party with music, Bintang and good company. 

Before we all got too crazy though, we decided to get to bed early as we knew the next day was going to be the longest so far, with a number of dives, trekking, and a fair distance traveled on the boat. 

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review


Komodo Liveaboard Day 3 | Padar Island + Night Dive

As the sun rose, we were already on the move down to the southern part of Komodo Island. This is a highly sought-after region for diving because it’s way too far for diving companies to make it for a day trip. In order to experience these dive sites, you have to book a liveaboard.

This is an area of Komodo National Park that surprised me the most when it came to its landscape, as it reminded me of the Scottish Highlands or Hawaii. Vibrant green hills sloping down the island’s mountains, which shined so beautifully in the morning sunlight.

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

We had another early start to the day and completed two dives at our first spot, and while it was pouring rain when we reached the surface (which was a fun experience), it cleared up after the second dive and I was able to sneak in a drone flight before sailing onward.

  • Manta Alleys Dive Site (2 Dives) — Probably the largest dive site I’ve ever encountered and one of the coolest! It just kept going and going at all depths, and there was never a dull moment. Despite its name, no mantas are typically found in the waters down here in the winter, as this is the time that they swim further north for warmer waters. 
  • 3 Sisters Dive Site  3 Sisters Dive Site off the south coast of Padar Island. The diving just keeps getting better and better! This unique dive site has THREE gigantic pinnacles, each offering some of the best coral. I saw three beautiful eagle rays off in the distance, a gorgeous lionfish, ridiculously large moray eels, and a bunch of other eye-catching marine life. One of my favorite dive sites so far. 

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review


Komodo Liveaboard Night Dive

Much to my disappointment, this 4-Day/3-Night liveaboard only includes one night dive. I was hoping for two, but for that, you have to book a longer trip. With that being said, it makes sense to only include one night dive, as diving four times in a day really will drain you. You definitely want some energy left over for enjoying the other activities in the park. 

  • Pasir Putih Night Dive – OOF, OKAY so this one was a bit rough for me, as I had quite a few struggles!

I had issues with my mask (as it was a bit too small for my head resulting in a gnarly headache – reminder to bring my own mask next liveaboard), had a mini panic attack when I thought I lost my GoPro (thinking I lost so much footage that belonged to my friend, who used it for several dives), kept getting separated from my group mistaking the other dive group as mine, and then at the end of the dive, my fin completely broke.

With all that being said, it was still a great dive that’s really got me excited to go night diving again soon! It’s a bit of a scary experience, but one you can’t miss out on. 

Night Dive - Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Night Dive - Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Night Dive - Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Night Dive - Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Night Dive - Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Night Dive - Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Night Dive - Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Night Dive - Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Komodo Liveaboard Day 4 | Diving + Sailing Back to Labuan Bajo

All good things must come to an end, and unfortunately, this trip was nearly over. 

  • Pillar Steen & Secret Garden Dive Sites – A beautiful day and perfect conditions for our last two dives, like it was meant to be. Secret Garden’s combination of hard and soft coral was really spectacular, and there were so many fish that it felt like we were in an aquarium. 

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Night Dive - Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Night Dive - Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

We were given a bit of downtime for swimming in between the dives, so we spent it jumping off the top level of the boat, and we even saw some dolphins swim past us. We tried jumping in to get a closer look, but unfortunately, they were long gone. 

The 3+ hour sail back to LBJ was a calm and relaxed opportunity to reflect on the past few days and the many incredible experiences we had been lucky enough to have. The group spent it just hanging out, reading, and enjoying some cold beers with our final onboard meal.   

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review


Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard | Amalia Boat Review

Now let’s talk about the boat, named Amalia — a beautiful 29-meter/95-feet-long Phinisi with a fun nautical theme. It features the cabins on the bottom deck, the main deck is for eating, lounging, and dive briefings and the top deck is for sunbathing during the day and magical stargazing at night. Amalia a fantastic place to call home for several days.

Uber Scuba is one of the few budget-travel-friendly liveaboard operators in Komodo. As I discovered during my research, there were so many luxury options (costing thousands more dollars), but I was VERY happy on board the Amalia for my three-night liveaboard experience.

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review


Offering space for up to 11 guests in 3 different options at various price points for each trip:

  • 2x Private Ensuite Cabin with 1 Queen Bed + Private Bathroom
  • 2x Twin Cabin sleeping two guests (shared bathroom)
  • 1x Larger Shared Cabin with 1 Small Double Bed and 1 Single Bed (shared bathroom)

I ended up booking my spot in the Larger Shared Cabin and was quite happy with it overall.

While it was dimly lit at times and got a little hot during the day, the truth of the matter is that you are RARELY in your cabin. The days are so jam-packed with diving and exploring, that the only time you’re in your cabin is to change clothes and to go to sleep. 

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review


While we’re on the subject of sleep, I’d say at least half of the guests on our liveaboard decided to sleep outside on the deck! They’d bring their blankets and pillows onto the main and top decks, where there are plenty of comfy cushions available. Sleeping underneath the stars with the sounds of the ocean lulling you to sleep is always a peaceful experience, so I totally understand why many did this. 

I chose to sleep in my bed for all three nights, and ended up having my shared room to myself as my cabin mate (who has been on this trip three times now) always slept outside. 

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

My Bed

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Shared Bathroom

One of the most important aspects of the Amalia to keep in mind is that there is no air-conditioning. Before embarking on the trip, I must admit that I was a bit skeptical about that, as Indonesia does have very high temperatures and intense humidity. In the end, however, it wasn’t an issue at all. Diving and exploring all day takes so much energy out of you that most nights, I passed out quickly and awoke refreshed at sunrise – ready for another day.

I did a tour of the Amalia boat on my Instagram stories & Youtube, so be sure to check out my Komodo Highlight for the inside look.

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review


Cost / Value For Money

I honestly have nothing but positive things to say about this experience when it comes to money. It was worth every penny, and as I mentioned above, it’s one of the most affordable liveaboard options in the entire world, as scuba is known for being a rather expensive hobby. 

  • For the three nights in the large shared cabin, it cost 15,600,000 IDR – which is $994 USD. I did receive a discount though in exchange for a few drone clips/review.
  • On top of that, you have to pay four days of National Park fees which came out to $70 USD.
  • I also tipped a decent amount of money, as all the Uber Scuba crew were top-notch. 

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

For Drone Fliers – you need to apply for a permit in advance to fly your drone in Komodo National Park, but thankfully, Uber Scuba was able to handle the paperwork and hassle for me. The permit cost an additional 1,100,000 IDR, which was another $70 USD.

For 3 nights of accommodation, 11 dives, 14 meals, and impeccable service – I think this is an absolute bargain and will definitely have to return in the future. I’m seriously contemplating chartering their boat for a group trip next year, so if you’re reading this and interested in joining, let me know!

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review


Liveaboard Tips / Packing List

Since I’ve now been on a couple of different liveaboards, here are a few tips I’d like to share so you can make the most of your experience!

  • I’d recommend buying some ear drops for scuba diving to help with any pain/prevent ear infections. 
  • Bring some snacks along for you to keep in your cabin. While there were 3x meals a day and snacks/fruit in between each dive, I’m a hungry hippo and loved having some Pringles and other goodies on hand.
  • Bring a good book! There is downtime in between dives, and reading as you sail to the next location is super relaxing. 
  • Bring along a GoPro and a drone to document your trip! While this isn’t a necessity, it’s a ton of fun!
  • Reef Safe sunscreen is essential! 
  • Invest in your own dive computer. I finally got my own recently as a Christmas gift, and I love it so much. This is also the only part of the dive equipment not included in the cost of the liveaboard. 
  • Bring your own dive mask to avoid any complications like I had during my night dive. 

Uber Scuba Liveaboard Komod

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review


Overall Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly diving adventure that you’ll never forget, then I can’t recommend this trip enough! Amazing dives, crew, food, sunsets, sunrises, hikes, dragons, and experiences that you’ll remember and cherish for years to come!

While the rooms may be more on the basic side than more luxurious liveaboards, the family-like atmosphere on this one will see you spending most of your time on the boat on the main or top decks anyway. 

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review

Uber Scuba Komodo Liveaboard Review


If you liked this article, please do share it with your friends and get them to book this trip with you! While I went solo, there are so many friends I wished were alongside me exploring these reefs and taking photos with dragons!

Thanks so much for reading! Be sure to follow along on my Instagram as I’ll be doing A LOT more scuba-diving and heading to a bunch of fun music festivals this year! 

Now go make some bubbles!