Dive deep into Indonesia’s shimmering waters without burning a hole in your pocket with the Akomo Isseki liveaboard (click to view available dates and prices), a beautifully hand-crafted traditional phinisi.
Boasting enriching itineraries that take you through the heart of Raja Ampat and Komodo National Park, this vessel, crewed by the seasoned Bugis sailors of South Sulawesi, is one of the most budget-friendly options in the area.
But does affordability compromise the experience?
Join me as we embark on a journey to uncover the actual value of this liveaboard and see how it compares to its pricier competitors.
Scuba Diving on the Akomo Isseki
Raja Ampat Itinerary (25 Dives)
Dive into the captivating underwater world of Raja Ampat aboard the Akomo Isseki on an 11-day expedition.
Navigate the crystalline waters, experience diving thrills, and immerse yourself in the marine biodiversity of Indonesia.
- Day 1: Start your voyage at Waisai Harbor. Once aboard, familiarize yourself with the vessel and its safety protocols. Set sail towards the renowned Dampier straight. Conclude the day with a check dive around Friwin Island.
- Day 2: Wake up to Mioskon’s underwater wonders. Proceed to dive at Blue Majic, renowned for its coral biodiversity, and conclude with Chicken Reef’s mesmerizing school of Glassfish. Star-gaze and relish the tranquility of the sea at night.
- Day 3: Begin your day diving at Yanbuba village, a spectacle of Trevally hunting groups and majestic Manta Rays. Later, explore the acclaimed Arborek Jetty and make time for a visit to the village. The day ends with a dive at the long reef of Lalosi, home to the unique Wobbegong and walking sharks. Set course for Misool overnight.
- Day 4: East Misool welcomes you with its No Contest, Love Potion, and Three Rocks dive sites. Dive into walls adorned with soft corals and schools of Platax. By evening, anchor in the hidden lagoon, nestled within towering rocks, and explore a serene inner lagoon.
- Day 5: Navigate to South East Misool and indulge in dives at Boo Rocks, Fiabacet, and Fantasea. Enjoy the vibrant colors and bustling marine life. The day ends anchored in the Wayilbatan area, with an optional night dive on offer.
- Day 6: Revel in a complete diving day at Barracuda Rock, Wedding Cake, and Neptune’s Sea Fan in Wayilbatan. Post-dives, kayak amidst the breathtaking hidden lagoons.
- Day 7: En route to Pele, dive at Four Kings, a site adorned with vibrant corals. Continue diving at Pele’s famous sites: Kaleidoscope and Pulau Kecil. Set sail at dusk towards Penemu and Fam islands.
- Day 8: Greet the day diving amidst Penemu’s populous reefs. Dive at Melissa’s Garden and its sprawling hard coral fields. By afternoon, trek and take in Raja’s stunning vistas. The evening features a beach BBQ under a starry canopy.
- Day 9: Sail to Yanggefo and discover exhilarating dive sites: Citrus Ridge, Mayhem, and Way Pretty Shallow. Dive later at Mike’s Point, a site rejuvenated after WWII bombings.
- Day 10: As the journey nears its end, dive into Blue Magic and Cape Kri, home to large marine species like Trevally and Grey Reef Sharks. Relax on the serene beaches of Kri in the afternoon.
- Day 11: Sail back to Waisai. Relish your last breakfast on board, share memories and photos, and bid farewell to the Akomo Isseki crew.
Day 1: Beginning in Labuan Bajo
- Location: Labuan Bajo harbor, KP3
- Meet and greet by the Akomo Isseki cruise team.
- Ship tour and safety briefing.
- Dive/snorkel gear setup.
- Sail to Sebayur.
- Check dive/snorkel near Sebayur Kecil.
- Late afternoon beach activities: walking, swimming, kayaking.
- Evening: Sunset view and supper.
Day 2 – 7: Komodo World Heritage Adventures
- Ultimate Underwater Formations:
- Dive/snorkel around Tatawa Besar, Tatawa Kecil, and more.
- Land activities: Kayaking, beach relaxation, countryside walking.
- Night dive at Pulau Siaba: Search for Mandarin Fish and the Mimic Octopus.
- Big White Sails & Manta Tales:
- Early morning drift along Siaba.
- Possible dive near Pulau Mauan.
- Encounter with Manta Rays at Karang Makassar.
- Visit traditional village of Komodo.
- Walking With Dragons:
- Komodo National Park visit with local Ranger.
- Encounter with the Komodo Dragon.
- Dive/snorkel near Loh Namu, Loh Liang, or Batu Tiga.
- Evening at Padar Island with hill climb option.
- Hot Rocks:
- Dive at Batu Bolong.
- Afternoon activities at Gili Lawa Darat: Drift, Kayak, Wakeboard, or hill hike.
- Moncong On:
- Dive near Batu Moncong.
- Sunset view of Gunung Api Sangean.
- World Class Diving:
- Dive/snorkel sites include Gili Lawa Laut, The Cauldron, Crystal Rock, and Castle Rock.
- Kayak over shallow reefs.
- Optional beach BBQ.
Day 8: Concluding the Adventure
- Location: Labuan Bajo
- Final dive discussions over breakfast.
- Return cruise to Labuan Bajo.
- Photo and memory exchange.
- Farewell from Akomo Isseki crew.
Marine Life Encounters: Bumphead parrot fish, bamboo sharks, marble rays, nudibranchs, dusky sharks, jawfish, bubble coral shrimps, leaf fish, porcelain crabs, pygmy seahorses, schools of barracudas, trevally and mackerel, white tips, black tips, grey reef sharks, turtles, octopus, frogfish, manta rays, dugong, banded pipefishes, mandarin fishes, Wonderpus, and Indian Walkman.
Limited to just eight travelers. The akomo isseki is an ideal pick for families and close-knit groups seeking a more personalized experience.
Stepping into the guest cabins, you’ll be greeted by the rich warmth of teak wood interiors, ample storage space, and natural ventilation only (more on that below).
Modern comforts haven’t been overlooked, with two communal restrooms boasting up-to-date fixtures and efficient flush systems.
Beyond the cabins, the ship offers a variety of communal spaces. From the shaded dive deck to the airy outdoor saloon, there are numerous spots to gather, share experiences, and pore over the day’s captured moments.
And when hunger strikes, the shared dining area becomes the heart of the ship, where a delectable fusion of Indonesian flavors meets Western culinary delights.
The aroma of fresh bread and the allure of hot coffee is ever-present, ensuring you’re refueled and ready for the adventures that lie ahead.
What’s missing? (The cons)
As this is one of the cheapest liveaboards you can find to dive in Komodo, what are you really giving up on?
- Cabin Ventilation: The cabins lack adequate air conditioning and have limited ventilation. The warmest nights can be uncomfortable even with a ceiling porthole and two small fans.
- Electricity Constraints: The generator in the dining area powers all electronic charging. This setup means no electricity during meals and overnight, which can be challenging for those with multiple devices.
- (Very) Low Ceilings: Particularly noticeable in the dining area, the low ceilings might be problematic for some guests. Unfortunately, the boat was built for people the size of the local ones, and I cannot recommend this boat for people taller than 155 cm (unless you are prepared to bump your head several times a day against the ceiling).
- Technical Issues: Several technical difficulties were reported by divers, notably frequent toilet and shower malfunctions.
- No Nitrox: The boat does not offer Nitrox for dives, which might be a consideration. When doing so many dives in a row, Nitrox does help a lot with tiredness and recovery. It is common for budget liveaboards not to offer Nitrox.
- Few night dives: The boat typically doesn’t schedule night diving sessions, or may be one or two during the trip, which may be disappointing for those looking to experience Komodo’s marine life at night. Personally, I think this is a huge bummer, but not everyone feels the same about night dives, and it’s worth noting you will probably be tired at the end of each day.
However, it’s worth noting the standout quality of food – with commendable vegan options – and the excellent service from the crew.
This boat might suit travelers who prioritize diving experiences over onboard luxury. If you want the most dives for your buck, this is it.
Conclusion: Worth it?
The Akomo Isseki offers one of the most budget-friendly liveaboard experiences for exploring the stunning Komodo National Park.
While it presents unbeatable value in terms of the number of dives per dollar, compared to pricier alternatives, it does come with certain compromises.
Expect warmer nights due to the absence of air conditioning, and be mindful of the traditionally low ceilings of this local Phinisi-style vessel.
Additionally, if you’re keen on nocturnal underwater adventures, note that night dives aren’t frequently on the itinerary.
However, if your primary focus is to immerse yourself in the underwater wonders of Komodo without breaking the bank, the Akomo Isseki promises a memorable voyage.
I give it a thumbs up for those prioritizing diving adventures on a budget.