MV Samambaia Liveaboard (Diving Review)

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Indonesia’s pristine waters, particularly around the Komodo region, remain a magnet for marine enthusiasts worldwide.

The Samambaia liveaboard (click to view available dates & prices), a traditional two-mast wooden Phinisi schooner, offers travelers an avenue to delve into this underwater paradise.

However, like every experience, it comes with its peaks and troughs. In this review, we look at Samambaia’s Komodo itinerary – from the ship’s amenities and the crew’s expertise to the environmental considerations and potential areas for improvement.

Whether you’re a seasoned diver or a curious traveler, this review aims to clarify what one can expect from a journey aboard the Samambaia.

Key facts

Year Built: 2015
Max Divers: 14 (Groups of 4 max)
Nitrox: Yes (Free)
Minimum logged dives: 30 Dives recommended
Wifi: Yes
Aircon: Yes

Diving experience on the Samambaia

A journey aboard the Samambaia promises a deep immersion into the marine world, but the experience is as much about the dive as it is about the environment and support that surround it.

Equipment and Maintenance

The Samambaia is commendably stocked with diving gear and equipment. From the BAUER 250-liter compressors to the variety of aluminum tanks available in different sizes, divers of all levels can find equipment tailored to their needs.

The ship’s onboard Nitrox system ensures enhanced bottom time, with the complimentary Nitrox being a definite plus for enriched air-certified divers.

All equipment, as observed and relayed by prior guests, is maintained in top-notch condition.

However, it is always advisable to notify the crew in advance if you plan to rent, ensuring the availability and readiness of your desired gear.


Safety aboard the Samambaia is paramount.

The detailed dive briefings provide a good understanding of dive sites, potential hazards, and points of interest.

Essential safety equipment like emergency oxygen is always on hand, and the dive crew is trained to administer it if necessary.

Moreover, the presence of safety tools such as Buddy Watcher, Nautilus System, and the multiple life-saving devices underscores Samambaia’s commitment to ensuring every dive is conducted with maximum safety in mind.

What to Expect (Komodo Diving)

The waters around Komodo are renowned for their rich biodiversity, and diving here is an experience of vibrant coral landscapes, swarming schools of fish, and the occasional majestic manta or lurking shark.

However, the very factors that make Komodo’s marine ecosystem so lush – namely, the Indonesian Throughflow – also make for dynamic and sometimes challenging dive conditions.

Strong currents are not uncommon, and divers should be prepared to navigate these swiftly flowing waters.

Recommended Diving Experience

While the allure of Komodo’s underwater treasures is undeniable, it’s essential to approach these dives with a healthy respect for the challenges they can present.

With this in mind, I recommended that divers possess a minimum of 30 logged dives before embarking on this journey.

Additionally, holding an Advanced Open Water certification or its equivalent will enable divers to fully appreciate the depth and variety of dive sites the park offers.

The varying depth and currents in the Komodo region mean that less experienced divers might find some sites overwhelming, potentially compromising both their safety and enjoyment.

Komodo diving is truly more challenging than other parts of the world. If you are confident and relaxed with enough diving experience you will find some of the dives thrilling (like i did), but if you are a new divers the diving may be stressful and not that enjoyable.

Life on Board the Samambaia

The marine wonders of Komodo might be the main attraction for divers aboard the Samambaia, but the on-board experience, from plush accommodation to delectable dining, ensures that moments above the water are just as memorable.


the master cabin !!

The Samambaia boasts of well-appointed cabins designed with comfort and functionality in mind.

These spaces are more than just a place to lay one’s head after a dive; they exude a sense of tranquility, offering a private sanctuary amidst the vastness of the ocean.

The effective and silent air-conditioning ensures a cool retreat from the tropical heat, while the availability of ample hot water for showers is a boon after a day of salt and sun.

Regular linen changes and daily cleaning services ensure that the living spaces remain pristine throughout the journey.

The food on board

Meals aboard the Samambaia are not just about satiating hunger; they are an exploration of flavors.

The cuisine is a delightful fusion of Indonesian and Italian, catering to a broad palate. From freshly baked fruit tarts at dawn to multi-course dinners, the culinary offerings are diverse and delectable.

Special attention is paid to dietary restrictions, with prior guests appreciating the meticulous care taken to cater to food allergies. The non-buffet style of service ensures freshness, with beverages such as coffee, soft drinks, and beer readily available throughout the day.

Notably, the inclusion of premium Italian coffees like espresso and cappuccino is a treat for caffeine aficionados.

Amenities and Recreational Activities

Life on board the Samambaia offers a myriad of amenities beyond diving. For those inclined towards pampering, the option to indulge in a massage is available, albeit with the suggestion to book in advance.

Additionally, the vessel provides eco-friendly products ranging from detergents to toiletries, highlighting its commitment to sustainability.

The communal spaces, including the lounge and deck, provide opportunities for relaxation and socialization.

With a satellite phone for emergencies and limited WiFi connectivity when reception permits, the Samambaia strikes a balance between staying connected and promoting digital detox.

For guests wanting to engage in other water activities, kayaks are available, while more adventurous souls can try their hand at wakeboarding.

Komodo Itinerary on MV Samambaia

diver looking at komodo national park

Komodo, a jewel in Indonesia’s vast archipelago, offers divers an unparalleled marine experience, and MV Samambaia promises a meticulously planned journey to savor this underwater haven.

Dynamic Itinerary Approach: The Samambaia stands out with its adaptive itinerary approach. Every journey is uniquely tailored, determined by a constellation of factors, including weather, diving conditions, guest preferences, and other liveaboards’ schedules. This ensures a personalized and ever-evolving dive experience that deviates from the mainstream.

Core Offerings: Regardless of the specific stops, divers can always expect a few constants: at least three hour-long day dives, a sunset or night dive (circumstances permitting), and an assortment of surface interval activities. These range from scenic lagoon cruises and treks to panoramic viewpoints, to cultural village excursions and whale-watching moments, ensuring a holistic blend of underwater and topside marvels.

The sites you’ll dive

Although the exact sites and sequences may vary, here’s a glimpse of what divers might experience (you can find the itinerary map here for a visual representation):

  • Lombok: Known for its sandy critter spots, especially around the Gili Islands. Divers here can marvel at the Frogfish, Ghostpipefish, Seahorses, and even the elusive Wonderpus.
  • Moyo & Satonda: Moyo offers fish-laden walls, a testament to years of conservation efforts. Encounters with Trevallie, Tuna, and sharks are common. Satonda provides both underwater pleasures and a terrestrial adventure with its crater lake.
  • Sangeang: An active volcano, Sangeang’s dive sites present critter hunting against dramatic black sand backdrops. ‘Bubble Reef’ is particularly mesmerizing with its underwater gas bubble fields and hot springs.
  • Banta: Situated on the fringes of Komodo National Park, it promises spectacular wall dives, shark sightings, and manta interactions. The trek offering sunset views of the Sangeang volcano is a must-do.
  • Komodo – The North: Sites like ‘Crystal Rock’ and ‘Castle Rock’ promise adrenaline-filled dives with bustling marine life, thanks to the currents.
  • Komodo Central & Rinca: Divers can expect a variety of experiences here, from ‘Tatawa Besar’ and its bustling fish life to ‘Manta Point’ and its resident rays. The night dive at Wai Nilu is a favorite, promising unforgettable nocturnal encounters.
  • Rinca Trekking & Nusa Kode: The former offers a face-to-face encounter with Komodo dragons under the protective watch of local rangers. Nusa Kode, meanwhile, might challenge divers with colder waters but rewards with a cornucopia of macro critters and prolific coral growth.
  • Nusa Kode Continued & Pantar: More dive offerings in Nusa Kode followed by an enchanting night dive near Pantar, known for its Starry Night Octopus and Frogfish.
  • Komodo Central & North Revisited: This offers another chance to explore iconic dive sites or venture into lesser-known spots based on the group’s preferences.

Concluding Experience: Ending the journey near Komodo Central, divers will get a chance to soak in the pristine beaches before disembarking in Labuan Bajo.


While it undeniably comes with a heftier price tag than other liveaboards (although you can find good deals from time to time) , the value and quality of the experience far surpass the cost.

The diving is nothing short of world-class, introducing divers to the myriad wonders of Komodo’s underwater realm. But what elevates the Samambaia even further is its commitment to luxury and comfort.

The entire trip feels less like a liveaboard and more like a floating five-star hotel. Every detail, from the cabins to the food and amenities, mirrors the attention to quality.

In a world where we often equate value with price, the Samambaia redefines it by emphasizing experience.

Highly recommended for those seeking the pinnacle of diving adventures in Komodo.

Checkout MV Samambaia’s Instagram and facebook page for more pictures from this top tier liveaboard.

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