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Testimonials: Diving Halmahera with Grand Komodo
About Misool Halmahera trip – April 20/May 05, 2009 on mv TemuKira
Dear Ibu Reno, we want to thank you again for our fantastic trip Sorong-Misool-Halmahera aboard the Temu Kira April 20-May 5, 2009. As you well know, since 1991 we have done many trips and about 2000 dives in all the major --and some less well known--diving destinations in Indonesia.This last trip was one of the most exciting and interesting ever. It has been a long time since we have seen so many new things in one single trip. Our companions are even more experienced Indonesia divers and they were equally excited.
We had a very good variety of dive sites, some coral gardens, walls and passages with beautiful scenery and the usual --and some rarer—tropical fishes, some pinnacles and points with abundant marine life including a school of 500+ barracudas, schools of surgeonfishes and a very dense schools of neon fusiliers. We saw blacktip sharks, leopard sharks and --thanks to your guide-- on one night dive we filmed what we thought may be the first video of the walking epaulette shark, discovered in 2006. We did exploratory dives in some areas, but the dive masters did all the preliminary explorations so that once we got underwater we never had a disappointing dive.
But every one of the great diving areas has something that makes it special. In this trip some of the best dives were "muck" or "critter" dives. We must confess that we were doubtful about our first dive of the trip in a black sand slope in an area of Pulau Batanta that we had not explored before. That lasted until 15-20 minutes into the dive when we found a pair of pygmy octopi mating, then a leafy filefish, really strange nudibranchs, etc. The second dive had a mimic octopus feeding in the open...we were hooked!. One of the best dives was in a small village jetty --and also local garbage dump-- where besides many stone fishes of two different species, lots of eels, cool nudibranchs and many other interesting things, we also found the largest, densest school of thousands and thousands of sardines that any of us had ever seen. I spent about 30 minutes in one dive watching a flamboyant cuttlefish hunting and almost as much time on another dive happily trying to get good video of the flasher wrasses in the late afternoon. Yes, we saw 3 or 4 places with old bombing damage, but they also were some of the most rewarding in terms of nudibranchs and macro life. Overall, the health and richness of the reefs was very good to excellent.
Our last two dives in a shallow sandy slope in Tidore were definitely of the wow !! kind. The accommodations and service in the Temukira were up to your usual great standards. We agree with the other guests that you have the best captain we have found in Indonesia. He even fixed a broken valve cover in my BCD –that would have prevented me from diving-- in a few hours with a plastic cap, some aluminum foil and glue. The people at our dive shop were very impressed. The cook prepared some of the best, more varied meals we've had in the last several trips. You know we care more about "gourmet" diving than "gourmet" food, but he came close several times. But it is really unfair to single out individual members of the crew. What we really like is the way they always work together,everyone doing whatever needs to be done to make our trips so enjoyable.
We have been diving all around the world and the phrase "world-class diving" is overused, but it has been a very long time since we have come up from a dive as excited as we were after some of the dives in this trip. The small sampling that we were convinced is that this is an area with a tremendous potential, perhaps replacing Lembeh as the best place for critter and macro life in Indonesia. It certainly is superior to Wakatobi and Bunaken for variety of topography, diverse and unusual marine life. Please continue your trips there. We certainly want to return. We are sure that this area will attract many divers who, like us, have thought that Komodo and Raja Ampat were the only great areas in Indonesia. Please feel free to share our comments with any of your clients or refer them to us for additional comments. The land part of our trip in Sulawesi was also great. Thank you again to you Ibu Reno and Pak Nyoman and the Grand Komodo family. -- Jose Miguel and Peggy Duran (USA) (14th time with us)
Halmahera news by Graham Abbott...
I've just finished up another Sorong - Halmahera trip which was better than I ever could have expected.
We found many world class sites for both critters, reef scenery and fish life. We hit a great fishy site with a reliable school of about 500 or so barracudas, long nose unicorns, surgeons, and sharks responding to the bottle as well, with great colorful corals and whip bushes on the slope here too. We dived an uncharted pinnacle with the most densely packed and vast amount of neon fusiliers I've ever seen, the blue flashes of these fish as they zip over this reef is simply awesome. The site was so cool I named it after the skipper of the Temukira who found the pinnacle whilst trawling for dinner. There's also a magnificent lettuce coral formation on this site too with some scattered colorful corals for the foreground.
It would be great to open up a new destination in Indonesia! What with 2 reliable flights a day from Manado and only 1 overnight crossing from Bitung it has way more potential than the Triton Bay area has, plus reliably decent viz too! We came across the most dense school of sardines I've ever seen on a jetty critter site, good enough viz for awesome wide angle, just being in amongst this school is mindblowing! Now I know what the African Sardine Run must feel like, ok no sharks but it was enough for me to get the vibe! We only done the first two morning dives here before we headed off for more diving, a full day here would be great.
Now I can't wait to get back there for afternoon and night dives. There were some pelagic fishes around so I'm sure these pelagics will feed like crazy on this school of fish in the late afternoon! The locals told me they don't net this school or anything, just kids using hand lines, so they should reliably be on this site. On another great critter area, so far we've found seahorses, cool nudibranchs, a whole range of shrimps including plenty of tiger & tozeuma shrimps, ghost pipefishes, flasher and fairy wrasse galore at really shallow depths, there's possibly a new species of waspfish, this thing is way bigger than the usual waspfish and not in any of my ID books either, we even had a Flamboyant cuttlefish and lots of pigmy octopus of a species I'm too sure of! In all the Halmahera area has great potential that we've only just tapped into. Can't wait to get back for more. -- Graham (UK) (8th trip with us)
About diving Halmahera on October 18-28, 2007 aboard mv TemuKira
THE DIVING WAS REALLY GOOD. ONCE WE GOT TO THE BACAN ISLANDS, THE DIVES WERE EXCEPTIONAL WITH PLENTY OF FISH, GREAT SOFT AND HARD CORALS, NUDIBRANCHS, RIBBON EELS, ETC. THE VISIBILITY WAS ABOUT AS GOOD AS IT GETS …….PERFECT. THE DIVE CREW WAS EXCEPTIONAL IN SHOWING US CRITTERS, DROPPING US OFF AND PICKING US UP DURING THE DIVING. EVERYONE WAS VERY HELPFUL AND FUN TO BE AROUND.
THE BOAT ITSELF WAS VERY COMFORTABLE WITH THE AC IN THE DINING AREA, NEWER CHAIRS ON THE UPPER DECK,ETC. THE ROOMS WERE KEPT VERY CLEAN AND I HAD PLENTY OF ROOM FOR MY GEAR. ONE OF THE MOST MEMORABLE EVENTS FOR ME …….MAYBE BECAUSE I COOKED FOR A LIVING…….WAS THE GREAT FOOD PREPARED BY YOUR COOK. I PARTICULARLY ENJOYED HAVING FISH WITH ALMOST EVERY MEAL. WE ALWAYS HAD FRESH VEGETABLES, FRUIT AND OTHER FLAVORFUL DISHES AND PLENTY OF IT. I HAD PLANNED ON LOSING A FEW KILOS, BUT INSTEAD I GAINED A FEW…..HA, HA! I WOULD GLADLY RETURN THERE AGAIN.
-- Mike Harder (USA) (7th time)
About diving Misool & Halmahera on Oct 02-16, 2007 aboard mv TemuKira
We have just returned home from Indonesia after spending two glorious weeks diving aboard the TemuKira. The TemuKira is a beautiful boat whose crew made us feel safe, well cared for, and well fed. The diving was so spectacular that we were overwhelmed. You have excellent dive guides. We were very pleasantly surprised to see Anton, who was our dive guide on the Nusa Tara last year, at the airport when we arrived in Sorong. Diving in 1-2 knot currents was safe because the dinghy driver was such competent. We knew that if we got into trouble, we could surface and he would be right there to pick us up. The entire crew helped us gear up and get on and off the boat. Crew members handled our cameras as carefully as we do ourselves. All equipment on the boat functioned well, and the boat was kept very clean. Your cook prepared the best meals we have eaten anywhere in our Indonesian travels. We enjoyed a wonderful diving holiday, thanks to the crew of the TemuKira. We look forward to diving with them again.
Diving : the reason we came. The diving was some of the best we have done. Our dive guides were great at showing us the big & small creatures of Indonesia’s seas. We always felt safe on our dives even when the currents were going strong because the dinghy was overhead during the dive and right there when we surfaced. On the dive deck, the crew was right there to help with gear and getting in and out of the dinghy. We always learn about diving when we dove with GK.
Service : Our cabin was great, kept clean and well made. Our food as some of the best we have had on a liveaboard : well prepared, tasty and the variety kept it interesting. If we had any problem it was handled quickly and completely.
-- Rickie Sterne & Chrisanda Button (AR - USA) (2nd time)
Good diving, good service, very friendly staff. Ship : clean and well maintained, good accommodation and facilities. No suggestions for improvements.
-- Louis Dijkshoorn (Netherlands) (1st time)
About diving Halmahera – SEP 20/27, 2007 aboard mv TemuKira
South & West Halmahera definitely is one of the best macro paradise in the world. Easily found were Squat Lobster, Imperial Shrimps, Pigmy Sea Horse, Orang Utan Crab and so many varieties of Nudibranches and many more. We saw many Trevallies, Spanish Mackerels, Dogtooth Tunas (some even would reach 60 kg!), and many varieties of Sharks : Leopard, White Tip, Black Tip, Grey Reef. We even saw Hammerhead ! Also we saw Black Crocodile fish with White Strip on its back ….. first time I saw after my 800 dives. Many excellent dive sites ….. lots of colourfull coral walls and slopes . Visibility was excellent in many areas, reaching 30 m. I am considering Halmahera among the top 10 best dive destinations in the world. I thank Grand Komodo for this beautiful moments during the trip and await to have next trips soon …
-- Agung & party (Indonesian) (7th trip with us)
Team work is our strength, Quality our tradition …..
INDONESIA …… Unity in diversity ……