Indonesia is blessed with what I would consider some of the best diving in the world. This isn’t surprising when you take into account the fact that it consists of an incredible 17,504 islands. Of these, approximately 6000 are inhabited. Liveaboards offer the best way to experience the diving Indonesia has to offer, covering areas that are distance and incredibly remote.
I have been on numerous liveaboards in Indonesia but the boat I have spent the most time on is probably the Indo Aggressor. My trips were both for work and to collect personal footage and photos. Each has been a memorable experience. I was very fortunate to be back on the boat again not too long ago and it was probably my best trip yet!
Although known as the Indo Aggressor, the name of the vessel is actually the Ombak Biru. Built in Bira, Sulawesi in 2001, the boat joined Peter Hughes Diving and became known as the Komodo Dancer. The Dancer fleet was then bought over in 2008 by the Aggressor fleet and in 2012, the two merged. The vessel then became known as the Indo Aggressor.
The Indo Aggressor takes a total of 16 guests. Most of the rooms are below the main deck with 4 twin staterooms and 2 deluxe staterooms with queen sized double beds up front. Each cabin has its own ensuite bathroom complete with bathrobes and shower amenities.
The upper deck has two larger suites which offer a lot more space including larger ensuite bathrooms. I highly recommend these rooms if they are available!
The Indo Aggressor offers 3 dive itineraries, the main one being Komodo island. The other two routes are Komodo-Bali (or Bali -Komodo) and the Forgotten Islands. At times, there are even expedition trips to explore potential new sites!
The diving experience on board is fantastic. Guests are spoilt by some of the best service you will experience on a dive boat! You will have to setup your own dive gear only on the first day. However, for the rest of the trip, your equipment will be prepared for you each dive (you will still need to analyze your own air if using Nitrox or witness it being done for you). Everything is then brought to the dive boats/tenders including your camera just before the dive.
At the end of each dive after surfacing, guests remove their BCDs in the water and the boatman pulls it on board the tender for you. Back on the mothership, there are hot water showers alongside the deck where you can rinse off and remove your wetsuit. A crew member will then help you rinse your suit and hang it to dry! It is the most pampered I have ever been on a dive trip!
Of all the itineraries offered, I love the Komodo route the most! Some of the signature sites in Komodo can get fairly busy, especially the ones accessible by day trip boats. Being on a liveaboard allows guests to avoid the rush and plan dives accordingly.
Although divable all year round with water temperatures ranging from 24-29C, conditions differ at different times of the year. In the North, the waters are blue and warmer from March till December while the South experiences cooler green waters. This is reversed from December to March when the Southern Komodo waters turn blue.instead. Although both North and South Komodo have their own signature sites, I do prefer the sites on the Northern side.
Here are a few shots that were taken while diving with the Indo Aggressor over the past few years;
At times, the action and the currents can get quite hectic. Komodo is famous for its currents and can be a little overwhelming for new divers at times. However, it is these exact currents that attract so much life in these waters and makes the diving exciting. Divers visiting Komodo should always practice safe diving and follow the instructions of their experienced guides.
Here is a trip highlight reel I created from a 7 day trip to Komodo a few years back with the Indo Aggressor (Then known as the Komodo Dancer).
After each dive and at the end of a long day, there is nothing more comforting to diver than a good meal! On board the Indo Aggressor, a meal is served after every dive! Guests who want something light before their first dive can have toast or cereal with their coffee. Breakfast is served after the first dive, Lunch after the second. After the third dive in the afternoon, a snack is served and dinner is usually after the night dive for those that choose to go for one.
The food is great and there is lots of it! It truly is a dive-eat-sleep-repeat experience! LOL. Meals are usually held on the table outside which is also sheltered. A glass of wine is complimentary at dinner but the beers are all complementary throughout the cruise! Yup…. you heard right! No drinking and diving is allowed of course. That first beer you crack open signals the end of your dive day!
On every boat, it is the effort and attitude of the crew that makes the experience both unique and enjoyable. This crew is fantastic! They truly go out of their way to make your trip a fantastic experience.
The team is led by Captain Kassim Tukloy who has been captain of the vessel from when it was first known as the Komodo Dancer. An extremely experienced captain who knows the best times and locations to dive along the route!
The current cruise director is Diego Salao. A good friend of mine and a wonderful trip leader. He truly cares about the welfare and happiness of guests and crew. I have had the privilege of diving with him for some shoots.
The rest of the crew work hard to keep guests happy and often go above and beyond their duties to do so. On my last trip, one of the crew members found out it was the 9th wedding anniversary of one of the guests and spent much of his free time in the afternoon carving and incredible table setting from fruits and vegetables!
I can’t wait to go back
Writing this article brought back some fond memories of my time on the boat. I once spent almost 4 weeks on board shooting a few episodes of a documentary. In fact, some of my earliest assignments were offered to me because producers stumbled upon some of my footage shot in Komodo and offered me work in the region. I hope to get back there soon.
If you are interested in coming on board and would like to book a trip, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to join me or have a group in mind, please do let me know in the email as well!
The Indo Aggressor is currently running a special to the Forgotten Islands up till the end of May 2020. An incredible 2 for the price of 1! Do shoot us an email quickly if you would like to know more!