The pristine waters of Indonesia’s Komodo National Park have long been a diver’s haven, with its awe-inspiring marine life and vibrant coral reefs.
But for those looking to elevate their underwater adventure into a more refined experience, the Moana Liveaboard emerges as the jewel of Komodo.
Operating exclusively in this aquatic paradise, Moana Cruising offers a phinisi boat experience like no other, combining traditional Indonesian craftsmanship with modern comforts.
In this review, I delve deeper into what makes the Moana Liveaboard not just a trip but a dreamy escape into the heart of Komodo.
Diving experience on the Moana
The Moana liveaboard (click to view available dates and prices) is renowned for offering a diving journey tailored for a broad spectrum of divers, spanning from the seasoned veterans to the novices.
The experiences conveyed by past travelers aboard the Moana highlight several areas of excellence and a few that could see improvements.
Something I like is the good instructor to diver ratio. With only a handful of divers onboard during a typical trip, there seems to be a personalized touch that prioritizes safety without curbing the thrill of the dive.
In my experience, you can’t have too many instructors or divemasters in Komodo. Currents can make diving there very challenging at times.
Mario, the cruise director, is frequently praised for his astute choice of dive sites, taking into account various factors like currents, winds, and general diving conditions.
Given Komodo’s unpredictable currents, the presence of such an experienced guide can make a world of difference.
Another commendation often extended towards the Moana’s diving experience is the well-timed dives.
The team ensures that their group reaches a site either before or after the main crowd, providing a more serene diving experience.
Dive briefings come across as comprehensive and insightful, with popular dive sites reportedly offering a mesmerizing spectacle of marine life.
However, there is room for enhancement. Feedback suggests that while the Moana team is vigilant and focuses on diver safety, there’s a gap in marine life identification during the dives.
With Komodo’s teeming underwater biodiversity, a more educational dive experience could elevate the overall journey.
At the time of publishing this post, they did not offer nitrox, which is a big let down especially when considering several dives per day. Maybe now they do? please let me know in the comment section.
The onboard equipment is generally reliable and functional.
The flexibility to rent diving essentials even without prior notice is a testament to Moana’s preparedness, although this could vary depending on the number of divers onboard.
Prospective divers might want to clarify the balance between divers and snorkelers.
Some trips reportedly maintain an equilibrium, but it’s essential to determine if all dive sites would cater to snorkelers who might be on board.
In my opinion this is a great liveaboard if you are a mix of snorkelers and divers who want to experience a traditional boat experience on a reasonable budget. For more advanced divers looking for the ultimate diving experience, I would recommend a different liveaboard though.
Accomodation and life on board
Starting with the accommodations, past guests have often remarked about the cleanliness and daily upkeep of the cabins.
They’re modest in size, aligning with the general layout of many liveaboards, which means they prioritize functional space.
Most cabins come equipped with an en-suite shower and toilet, though it’s worth noting that hot water might be limited, with the main hot water shower located on the deck.
The beds seem comfortable with ample under-bed storage space, which travelers find quite useful for storing luggage and diving equipment.
Air conditioning is available and has been described as highly efficient. However, it might be too efficient for some, as the cabins can become quite chilly in the night.
Travelers might want to consider this when packing or might choose to follow in the footsteps of some past guests who preferred sleeping under the stars on the upper deck, a choice that offers the chance to experience the breathtaking night skies and sunrises.
Moving to communal spaces, the main deck has been painted in positive light in terms of its atmosphere and cleanliness.
However, it’s also been mentioned that certain parts of the wooden deck can be prone to water retention. This is relatively common with wooden vessels, and regular maintenance should address such concerns.
Mealtimes on the Moana are reportedly a delightful experience. The spread ranges from fresh fruits and cereals for breakfast to a mix of Western and Asian cuisines for lunch and dinner.
An added touch is the afternoon tea/coffee, often paired with snacks like donuts, biscuits, or banana fritters. The portions are generous, ensuring that guests are well-fed after their tiring underwater expeditions.
Entertainment onboard is more nature-oriented, with the emphasis on soaking in the serene surroundings rather than digital distractions.
The absence of Wi-Fi and TV is intentional, encouraging guests to indulge in conversations, share experiences, and enjoy the tapestry of stars above them.
Books and stories from the crew add to the leisurely evenings, making it a holistic experience.
However, life on board the Moana might not resonate with those seeking luxury. The ambiance leans more towards rustic charm and functionality, prioritizing diving experiences and the natural beauty of Komodo.
In summary, the Moana provides a balance of comfort and authenticity.
While it doesn’t lean into luxury, it offers a genuine, enriching liveaboard experience for those who seek to be close to nature and value the spirit of adventure over opulence.
Komodo National Park and Itinerary
Komodo National Park Overview
Nestled within the vast Indonesian archipelago, Komodo National Park is an emblem of nature’s grandeur and diversity.
Spread over a constellation of islands, it is primarily renowned for its ancient and fearsome residents, the Komodo dragons.
However, beneath its waters lie spectacular dive sites, offering glimpses of vibrant marine life, thriving coral ecosystems, and underwater topographies that spellbind divers from around the globe.
The park’s marine realm promises encounters with manta rays, a multitude of colorful fish species, turtles, and more, set against a backdrop of corals, sponges, and underwater rock formations.
Above the waterline, the undulating terrains, panoramic views, and the moonscape islands paint a postcard-perfect image, making it an essential visit for both underwater enthusiasts and nature lovers.
I have been to a number of marine parks around the globe, and Komodo remains my favorite place for true, raw marine life.
It does not have the clear waters of raja ampat or Polynesia’s wales, but the diving is beyond exciting and if feels like you are in untouched territory. it’s a must in a diver’s life!
Moana’s typical 5 Nights Itinerary
Board your flight from Bali to Labuan Bajo (LBJ) scheduled between 8-9 am. Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted and taken aboard the Moana, anchored in the harbor. For those already in Labuan Bajo, hotel pickups are available.
As you sip your welcome drink, Moana sets sail for your first adventure. The day concludes with a check-out dive, followed by a night dive, dinner, and an overnight stay north of Komodo.
Your day begins with a dive at Crystal Rock. Post breakfast, gear up for a dive at Castle Rock, home to sponges, tree corals, snappers, and octopuses. An afternoon hike presents panoramic vistas of the Komodo Archipelago and Flores. Dive sessions continue at the lighthouse in Komodo’s north and a night dive at Gili Lawa Passage.
Dive into the vivid world of Current City (Batu Bolong) and Tatawa. Revel in the underwater beauty marked by angelfish, wrasse, and corals. The day’s diving continues at Manta Point or Pink Beach, with a possible night dive.
Komodo’s plethora of dive sites awaits. Note that the locations visited this day are based on weather and water conditions to guarantee optimal diving experiences.
Return to the favorite, Current City, for another dive. Enjoy a scenic breakfast as Moana cruises towards Rinca. Be on the lookout for playful dolphins! Dive at Pulau Tengah (Little Batu Bolong), a hidden gem. The afternoon is reserved for a unique terrestrial adventure: a Dragon walk to meet the majestic Komodo Dragons.
Following breakfast, it’s time to sail Moana back to Labuhan Bajo. By approximately 10 am, transfers to your chosen hotel or the airport for your Bali-bound flight will commence.
Note: This itinerary provides a rough outline and includes approximately 16 dives. Dive site specifics may vary, depending on several factors.
The Komodo National Park journey aboard Moana offers an unparalleled blend of tradition, adventure, and comfort.
Tailored for groups with a mix of divers and snorkelers, it’s particularly suited for beginners and occasional divers who wish to immerse themselves not only in the waters but also in the authentic boat life experience.
The culinary delights and the overall on-board ambiance stand as testimony to the attention to detail and the dedication to ensuring an unforgettable journey.
However, for seasoned divers in pursuit of an exclusively advanced scuba-diving escapade, other liveaboards might be more fitting.
All in all, Moana promises a holistic and enriching marine sojourn, underpinned by genuine Indonesian hospitality.