Indonesia Snorkel+Dive

The Best Snorkelling in Komodo: Our 6 Favourite Spots

In September 2018 we spent two weeks snorkelling in Komodo National Park. Komodo is known for its vast colourful coral gardens, abundant macro life, mantas, sharks, turtles and extreme currents. We heard that the diving was some of the best in the world and wanted to see if the snorkelling was just as good.

Discovering the best snorkelling in Komodo

The best snorkelling in Komodo was discovered during our liveaboard adventure. We thought the reefs seemed to get better the further west we went, but we couldn’t have accessed these remote spots without our own boat. During the trip we encountered some ferocious currents but luckily we had an awesome guide who helped show us the way.

We had previously snorkelled some other reefs around the Komodo National Park on group day tours. These included the famous Pink Beach, Angel Island and Nusa Batu. However these were just an aperitif compared to the spots we were about to encounter.

(1) Snorkelling Pengah Reef

snorkeling underwater at Pengah island in Komodo

Pengah Reef is possibly one of the most under-rated sites in the park. This was the first stop on our liveaboard. Our guide explained that the conditions had to be just right for this site to work, and it was touch and go as we only had a small window of time before rising tide.

We had to jump and swim quickly to the rocks to avoid getting hammered by the boat and waves. As we swam closer to the reef, the waves calmed and we looked down to find ourselves amongst vibrant underwater caves covered in beautiful coral, and no shortage of fish life. Pengah snorkelling was out of this world!

Our minds were blown, and this was only our first spot on the liveboard. Expectations were now really high…

Visibility: Very Good
Coral: Good
Small Fish: Good
Big Fish: Good
Current: Very Strong
Time of year: September

(2) Snorkelling Batu Bolong

Komodo snorkeling underwater at batu balong island

Batu Bolong is one of the signature dive sites in the northern part of Komodo National Park, and translates as ‘rock with a hole in it’. At the surface, all you see is a small rock, but underwater, it is a giant, that goes deep into the blue to 70m.

We’d heard so many rave reviews about Batu Bolong, but also understood its dangers. It is renowned for some unpredictable conditions, and divers refer to it as a washing machine due to the whirling up and down currents. However these currents are what make this magical rock so special, as it is home to all kinds of marine life with an amazing hard and soft coral cover.

Our experience can only be described as a fish explosion, it was a reef on acid. As the only snorkellers at the site, we felt truly privileged to be there. Maybe because Batu Bolong is normally only accessible for experienced divers. But as a result of having an experienced guide with us, we were able to explore this amazing spot.

Probably the best snorkelling in Komodo, and probably one of our best snorkels of all time. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to go back and explore Batu Bolong a little deeper as divers one day 😉

Visibility: Excellent
Coral: Excellent
Small Fish: Excellent
Big Fish: Good
Current: Very Strong
Time of year: September

(4) Snorkelling Siaba Besar

Colourful Coral Reef and fish at Siaba Besar

Our third and final spot for the day was Siaba Besar, which is nestled in a wide bay, and  was to be our anchorage for the night.

The calm sea was teaming with divers, and liveaboards boats. Quite the contrast to our previous sites as we had been the only ones there. This time, it was safe for us to go snorkelling alone. We would recommend Siaba Besar for the less experienced, as the reef is quite shallow and large areas are protected from strong currents.

Our guide pointed us in a general direction, but there is an expansive area to explore. The visibility was great, we saw critters in the sand and many turtles over the shallow reef. We were also lucky and saw a large group of trevally in the deep!

Visibility: Very Good
Coral: Good
Small Fish: Good
Big Fish: Good
Current: Mild – Protected
Time of year: September

(4) Snorkelling Tatawa Kecil

underwater Tatawa Kecil colourful coral reef

We were up at 5.30am the following morning and in a rush to reach Tatawa Kecil at slack tide.

Tatawa Kecil is renowned for having some of the best snorkelling in Komodo. It has very strong currents and is meant to be dived at slack to rising tide. Our guide managed to get us there just at the right time.

Upon entry to the water, we were met with a garden of hard and soft corals covering almost every inch of the reef, and sweeping tables full of life. You could feel the current building to the left and right corner of the island. Our guide advised us to stay close to the rocks.

For us, this site compares well with Batu Bolong as both are first class and similar in fish life. We heard that Tatawa Kecil is probably the anthias (small colorful serranide fish) capital of the world. We can totally believe that now!

Visibility: Very Good
Coral: Very Good
Small Fish: Excellent
Big Fish: Good
Current: Very Strong
Time of year: September

(5) Snorkelling Mawan Island

Mawan Island snorkelling with dolphin pod mother and baby

We were travelling under pressure again to get to Mawan Island in time for rising tide. Mawan is renowned for mantas, hawksbill turtles, black & white reef sharks, and schooling fish.

The variety of coral and fish life over the reef is immense. It’s worth taking time to look more closely. We saw a lot of cool little nudibranches here. But this site ended up being all about the big stuff for us. We had our first ever encounter with an oceanic Manta, he had a wingspan of around 3.5metres – a gentle giant.

Nothing could prepare us for what we saw next, as we heard our guide scream through his snorkel. Right there in front of us – a mother and baby dolphin!

As we surfaced to share our amazement in this super rare encounter, our guide Ris punched the air. In all his years of diving, he had never seen wild dolphins whilst underwater.

Seeing the dolphins was one of our most memorable experiences ever whilst snorkelling. Unfortunately we couldn’t turn our cameras on quick enough to get any decent footage, but we did manage a quick snap.

Visibility: Good
Coral: Good
Small Fish: Good
Big Fish: Excellent
Current: Strong
Time of year: September

(6) Snorkelling Kanawa Island

Kanawa islands soft coral reef

Our final stop before heading back to Labuan Bajo was Kanawa Island. Famous for its white sand beach and easy snorkelling.

This was by far our most relaxing snorkel. In contrast to the other spots, there weren’t any currents to battle with, and there was even a beach to relax on afterwards.  It was nice to momentarily be back on land even though the beach was lacking any (free) shade from the scorching sun.

The snorkelling here was excellent  for most standards, but didn’t really compare to the other spots we had just experienced.

Visibility: Very Good
Coral: Good
Small Fish: Good
Big Fish: Good
Current: Mild – Protected
Time of year: September

The best snorkelling in Komodo National Park

As snorkellers, we were incredibly fortunate to have been able to reach these top dive sites. The reefs here are phenomenal and hard to beat.

Even though the conditions and distance to get to them may be slightly more challenging, we believe that they are well worth the effort as this is by far some of the best snorkelling in Komodo, and indeed the world.

We are already planning our next liveaboard in Komodo.  Therefore we will report back again on any other good spots we find! The next trip will be longer and hopefully we will get to explore the further western and southern dive spots. Please let us know if you can recommend any other good snorkelling spots in the Komodo region? We would love to hear from you 🙂

Planning a snorkel trip soon? Be sure to check out our essential packing list for snorkelers!

13 comments

      1. So if we were life vest we are pretty much safe from drowning although risk of getting swept away to sea is there ?
        Myself a good swimmer .

        1. A life jacket should prevent you from drowning, however it is important to be aware of the strong currents in Komodo. We would highly recommend taking a guide and you should be fine. Fins are also a must! Our packing list for snorkelers may be helpful to your trip. Thank you for subscribing to our blog – Nick

          1. truly a lovely blog ,yes have booked a guided tour of Komodo/padar islands 3 days 2 nights they have promised guided snorkeling hope everything goes good have snorkeled in few islands in ultra safe lagoons(feels like in swimming pool), first time going to snorkel in open oceans all excited for August trip.

  1. Hello! How is the off shore snorkeling in Komodo? I’ve stayed in Amed on Bali and was happy to be able to walk out my front door and snorkeling right there. I am hoping to find something of the same. Thanks!

    1. Hi Laura thanks for your comment! If you’re based in Labuan Bajo, you won’t find any off-shore snorkelling. The best spots are only really reachable by boat, however if you stay on one of the islands in the national park you can walk in from the shore (do bare in mind accommodation is quite expensive since they are mostly resorts). If you are hoping to find excellent off-shore snorkelling in Indonesia, have you considered Bunaken or Raja Ampat? This might be a better option if you prefer the convenience of walking from your front door onto the reef 🙂 – Hope this helps, Nick

  2. We also visited Komodo in April this year and your article was a great inspiration when planning our trip! This was one of our best snorkel tour so far! Wonderful islands and vibrant coral reefs! We tried to contact the private guide you recommended but unfortunately, we didn’t receive any reply, so we decided to organize our own private liveaboard trip with a couple we met in Labuan Bajo. The trip turned out to be a really cool adventure and we spent 3 amazing days on our little private boat, can’t wait to return!

    1. Hi Anett that is awesome! Sorry you didn’t manage to contact Ris, but sounds like you had a great time anyway. Happy to hear you sampled these amazing reefs and enjoyed them as much as we did 🙂

  3. Hi Nick,
    This is such an informative site. Thank you!!

    I am heading there in early oct (2weeks time) with a 6 year old, he has never snorkel before, just bearly know swimming. and myself hasnt been snorkel for the past 15 year and abit afraid of open water. May i ask if it is safe on Taka Makasar, Manta Point, Siaba and Kanawa? (these are recommanded by guide but would be so good if i can get a 3rd person opinion, can you pleaseee direct me to calm areas and more safe locations as we have unexperienced child) i also heard the water is 15-20 degree which sounds quite cold also. Am i expecting sharks at any of these points, honestly, i dont think we are ready for that, so would be happy to skip those. And may i know if you know if accident is often in these area?

    Last, I am hoping to hire a PADI instructor level to take us to snorkel and swimming in the open sea, do you have any recommandation?

    Thanks so much for helping, safety first.

    1. Hi Anita, thanks for your feedback and glad you’ve found our blog informative. As I’m sure you are already aware, Komodo can be susceptible to strong currents, so you should proceed with caution especially as a number of sites will not be suitable for you and your young son. Even as well seasoned snorkelers and strong swimmers, we got caught in an extremely strong current at Pink Beach, which is a very popular spot in the Komodo National Park.

      Based on your experience levels, I would highly recommend finding an experienced guide, someone who is able to judge sea conditions, tidal movements etc. Kanawa and Siaba Beser are both relatively calm and sheltered, however Manta Point is a drift snorkel, and probably not somewhere I would personally recommend for you.

      Komodo’s waters can be quite chilly, so full body rash guards are a good idea. You might see black and white tip reef sharks, but these are not a threat to humans and are usually pretty docile.

      I can send you an email with the contact details of our snorkel guide Ris, however he is currently working for a dive operator and may not be available.

      Thanks for your comment & hope this is helpful – All the best, Nick

  4. HI ANita i have snorkelled across few sites in KOMODO including BAtu balong ,pink beach,One side of batu balong is pretty safe with no currents for snorkeling & free diving (stay within safe zone),There are currents in pink beach but the guide will help u to take it to your advantage bcz current flows paRALLEL TO coast line & u can simply drift across seeing beautiful corals starting from a sign board which warns of currents.
    Unfortunately i could not see any sharks manta rays , but few of my shipmates were lucky enough to see shark ,i saw sea cow though near komodo village.Share your experience here , Batu balong Komodo most beautiful thing i ever saw in my life .i wish i can do scuba some time in future there.

    1. I am 33 years old i did not feel any cold i snorkeled for an hour at each spot with a just a nylon swim shorts ,i lost my swim cap in ocean though went there in month of August..

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