Actually – I’ve had two of the best dives EVER so far this trip. Dive’s so outstanding that you will remember them forever – Dives that had everything. And we’re only on dive 8 of 18. What will they pull out of their hats this afternoon, tomorrow, the next day.
Castle Rock and Crystal Rock are comletely amazing dive sites – with the one we just finished – called Shot Gun a very close second.
I’m not going to bore you with a list of the types of fish we saw – lets just leave at a zillion and all be happy. These sites rocked because of the close encounters of the fishy kind – running into multiple turtles, 10 sharks, unknown scazillions of fish. And they rank amazingly high on the topography mark as well.
Let’s start with Castle Rock. On the surface, there is nothing to see, it’s all hiding below on an exposed rock mound that is teaming with fish and corals, both hard and soft. Because it is so exposed, and because the tides here run in and out – there’s a lot of current around the rock. This makes it an ideal place to see schools of fish darting in and out of the coral, or swimming idlely around and around the rock. Sharks of course love to see circling fish – so we get treated to several circling sharks! Denny, my dive master and buddy extraordinare – shows me how to hold on to a dead piece of coral in order to watch the show over/above/around us. It was awesome.
Crystal Rock – similar name, simlar geography – differes only in that there are actually 2 reef areas – separated by what Denny calls ‘The Fish Market’. I’m guess that is because it is here that Sharks come to pick up lunch. We enter with a fast decent to get below the surface current – and stablize at about 70 feet to enjoy the show. Denny is an expert at spooting Nudibranches – there are lots to see too. Brightly colored, these reef dewlers makes for nifty micro diving. We swim over the rubble to the Pinancle, circle it admiring all the brightly colored inhabitants – then swim back to the main rock to accend. Denny says we’ll do this dive again – and I’ll thrilled.
Crystal Rock – 2nd Time. This time we do Crystal rock first thing in the morning. Timing matters because different fish are active at different times of the day – with early morning seeing the most activitiy. I love the slanting light in the early morning better too. The Sisters convince Sarif and Denny – our 2 dive masters – to schedule this dive at 7:00 am – with the briefing at 6:30. Remember – these are all boat dives so after the briefing – we have to board a small boat, drive to the dive site, then get wet. Denny and I head off in one drection, the rest in another. Back roll off the boat – and we immediately spot a black tip shark, who is as surprised to see us as we are to see him. He makes one lazy circle between Denny and I – giving me a hard cold stare. Am I breakfast? Do I look yummy? Or too bony?
Fortunately, he decides against a taste – and swims off into the blue. Whew.
We continue our decent, round the corner of the pinnacle – and there’s another shark asleep in the sand. Ok – asleep is good. Further on – two small baby sharks are there to be found, also lounging around doing nothing much. But that’s not the end of it. We continue to circle the mound, and come upon 3 more sharks – in hunting mode! Denny grabs me and pushes me on his back. I get it – this is not about thinking I’m cute – this is about making like a really really big fish – so the sharks will decide to try for easier game. They criss cross in front of us twice – and again decide for easier stuff – and make for the blue.
Ok – that’s a lot of shark sightings for a dive that isn’t a ‘shark dive’. For once I’m going to be lowish on air. Lowish for me means coming back with less than 1000 lbs – and I’m already at 700. I signal Denny that we need to do our safety stop – and on the way up to 15 feet – there’s a gigantic turtle – stuffing his face. He’s using his front fins to hold the food, and munching away. Honestly – it’s so human – it’s scary! The turtle is probably 1/2 my size, and comletely un-interested in us. So we get the best decom ever – 5 minutes of turtle watching. And for the icing on an already over the top cake – a unicorn fish – large of course like everything here in Komodo National Park – swims right by. 5 Stars!
Oh yes – and somewhere in amongst the shark and turtle sightings – Denny also finds a Pgymy Seahorse, 2 huge Morays, 2 star fish, green coral packed full of little fish that poke their heads out – and dodge back in as soon as I wave at them.
Our 2nd dive of the day is called Shot Gun – and I’m thinking – how can you possibly compare with Crystal Cave. And yet – it does. This is one of those cool topography dives – where the briefing takes 30 minutes to cover all the different things we need to think about. The dive starts on a zen voyage thru a sandy field spotted with sea eals, coral mounds, and the occasionally huge Sweetlips (that’s a type of fish). But we gradually are swept by the current into a funnel between two island peaks – and the current picks up steam. A ring around a ravine and we can look up to see dozens of difenent schools of fish swimming in all directions. We climb up the ravine, and then grab a hand hold at the top to prevent the now extremely strong current from sweeping us further away. After a time admiring the schools from the top – we let go – and are swept away over the coral heads. It’s like flying surounded by water! At the end of our wild ride, we decom over a field of soft corals larger than I’ve ever seen before. Stellar dive.
Signing out because we are diving again in just a few minutes – The Soup Lady