Yes, it’s possible!
No matter where I found it — Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest — pictures of Komodo’s underwater are always fascinating. There’s something almost magical on it. Maybe it’s the clear blue water, maybe it’s the chromatic corals. Maybe it’s the playful turtles and mantas. Either way, it got me hooked. The Komodo National Park is sort of a wild dream. It’s the perfect combo where wilderness meets the pristine sea. Komodo has everything from diving to trekking; a wild landscape with rugged mountains and undulating savannah hills; dinosaurs-looking Komodo dragons; a colony of friendly manta rays; vibrant coral reefs; and a night under million stars. If you want to get best of both world in affordable option, as a fellow travel-blogger told me, Komodo diving liveaboard is your best bet.
Naturally, Labuan Bajo (the port town of Komodo) has many options of boat to roam around the national park. You can pretty much find the cheapest liveaboard to priciest luxury yacht to sail the frontier. They can vary greatly in terms of quality and safety standard. Here, I will walk you through the most affordable means to travel around Komodo without putting aside safety and comfort.
Take Budget Komodo Diving Liveaboard with Diving Facilities
With rich and blooming marine diversity, Komodo is one of the top place of diving — especially as it’s part of the Coral Triangle. Indonesia, in general, has widely recognised as the heart of marine biodiversity and the untouched Komodo, obviously, is in a bucket list of every seasoned divers alike in their quest of outstanding marine escapade. Now, you would want to stay in your prime condition to plunge into the coral reefs and hunt the manta, so it’s better to invest on proper Komodo diving liveaboard for your sake.
Budget diving liveaboard usually vary between US$ 1,500 for 5 days to US$ 5,000 for 12 days of sailing per pax. Upon searching diving liveaboard, your boat of choice should at least have: rinsing station, VAT, tanks, weight, belt, and dive master service. You won’t want to dive in Komodo without a dive master, ever.
Deck is Cheaper than Cabin
I don’t usually recommend deck over cabin, but if you are really tight in budget, this could be an option. When you have invest on a proper liveaboard, sleeping on a deck shouldn’t be a problem! Deck passengers usually get cheaper rate than their cabin fellows, but this come with sleeping on a mattress and thin blanket every night. But hey, at least you have the stars! Also, you won’t have an ensuite bathroom, but the common bathroom would do just fine.
If you want to sleep in a cabin, I strongly recommend shared cabins. There’s a lot of backpacker liveaboard tours who offer backpacker style cabins — usually with bunkbeds for three to four passengers in one cabin.
The benefit of choosing Komodo diving liveaboard is that they commonly offer combination of diving trip with a visit to one of the island. There will be both sides of the world to take. On Rinca, for example, some people who have seen the Komodo dragons before could opt for diving or snorkeling, while others could take a walk with the dragons.
Abandon the Fisherman Boat — It’s Just Not Worth It
If you want to press the budget into minimum limit and do the typical DIY travel, then renting fisherman boat is your answer. Believe me, some of the craziest travelers has tried this way. Unless you have 10++ experience in sailing and willing to live in very basic to almost nonexistent facility, I strongly suggest you to avoid this option. The fisherman boat would be just it. No cabins, no toilet, no kitchen, and there’s high probability of having no captain nor dive master onboard. You will basically sleep on a mat on the ship’s floor, prepare meals that would last at least for 3 days, and do your toilet business on the sea. Yeah, not really recommended. Beside, where could you store all those diving equipments?
Basically, DIY travel is not recommended in Komodo National Park. One way to DIY-ed your trip safely is by renting a whole yacht/ liveaboard, which is not on budget at all. In the end, tour is strongly suggested, and you will always have ranging options on available tours. Pick the most affordable and don’t forget to see the reviews!