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What To Expect On A Padar Liveaboard
Liveaboards to Padar, the third biggest island in the Komodo National Park, will show divers the abundant aquatic life that surrounds this island. Fantastic flora and reefs teeming with critters and reef fish are waiting below the surface. and renowned for its beautiful topography and stunning beaches. The island is volcanic like most of the region and enjoys beautiful views from the rugged green hilltops. There are several horseshoe shaped bays with grey volcanic and white sand beaches separated by thin strips of volcanic landscape. Liveaboards visiting the Komodo area will include Padar on some of their cruise itineraries.
There is some terrestrial wildlife as well with wild boars and birds in the grasses. The island was once home to the iconic Komodo Dragon but the poaching of their food sources by humans meant they either died out or migrated to other nearby islands.
The reefs close to Padar island are covered in hard and soft corals, sea fans and colourful sponges. There are countless critters living in the reef and frogfish can be seen disguising themselves amongst the corals. The nudibranch here are beautiful and there are huge numbers of lurid coloured sea cucumbers and sea apples dotted across the reefs.
Padar is also one of the best places in Komodo for caves with nearby dive sites offering chimneys and fantastic swim-throughs. The insides of the caves are lined with soft coral and there are lion fish and box fish hanging out in there too. The only thing to watch out for when doing swim-throughs is the swell which can be quite strong around the island.
The swell can be quite high especially in the more exposed dive sites but the visibility is still good, around 20-30 meters/65-98 ft. on a good day. The currents are strong up to 3 knots in some areas due to the shape of the islands. It is a good idea to stay close to your guide in this area to avoid being caught up in unexpected currents.
Dive Sites Of Padar
Some of the typical dive sites that are visited on a liveaboard cruise to Padar are detailed below;
At the South end of Padar is the three sisters also known as Tiga Dara. These ‘three sisters’ are three huge submerged rocks that start at 3 meters of water and reach down to 30 meters/ 98 ft. The rocks are caked with hard and soft corals and full of brightly coloured nudibranch, sea apples and anemone. This is a macro lover’s idea of heaven with camouflaged frogfish stuck on the side of the rocks and mantis shrimp hiding in sea fans.
The Secret Garden as the name suggests is also home to a rich variety of flora and fauna. Hard and soft corals as well as sea apples and nudibranch light up the slopes of the reef. There are also often groups of mobula rays gliding over the dive site close to the corals. Similarly, the stunning pinnacles of W-reef are home to frogfish, nudibranch and if you are lucky pygmy sea horses can also be seen here.
In the South-east Pillarseen rock offers some great caves and swim-throughs and a riot of colour on the huge underwater pillar and nearby reef. The reef is a gentle slope with corals, box fish and shoals of snappers darting around in the current. The visibility at Pillarseen can be slightly variable with a range from 10-30 meters 32-98 ft. depending on the weather conditions and currents.
Top Tips For Divers
- If you are diving in Padar you should wear extra thermal protection as it can be from 20-25°C /68-77°F in the current.
- Be sure to cover your exposed skin when doing swim-throughs as there are quite often toxic fire urchins attached to rocks.
- The sea conditions in Padar can be rough at times so it is a good idea to bring sea sickness tablets just in case.
Getting to Padar
Padar island can be reached by diving from an Indonesian liveaboard either from nearby Labuan Bajo on Flores island or from Bali. Many liveaboards start in Bali and finish in Labuan Bajo to maximise the time spend diving instead of travelling back to the port of origin. There are various different types of liveaboards to choose from depending on your preference and budget. The traditional Indonesian pinisi, two-masted sailboats that have been converted for diving are very popular, offering a peaceful and luxurious experience. There are also some day trips available from Labuan Bajo for those who only have time for one or two dives.
Bali International Airport (Ngurah Rai) offers regular flights to Asia and connections further afield making it easy to reach liveaboards departing from near here. There are also connecting flights to Labuan Bajo from Bali if the liveaboard is departing from there. If you are feeling adventurous and have time to kill, there is also a three-day ferry between Bali and Labuan Bajo.