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“Adventure of a lifetime” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Wicked Diving, Komodo

Wicked Diving, Komodo
Jl. Soekarno Hatta, Labuan Bajo, Flores 86554, Indonesia
+62 812-3946-1143
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Ranked #6 of 31 Activities in Labuan Bajo
Type: Water sports, Adventure
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Owner description: Diving the Komodo National Park each day! Our staff are safety focused and passionate about marine life. You can join our Diving day trips, our liveaboards or sign up for a course. We also conduct expeditions and Manta Ray Research. With brand new equipment, our own dive medic on staff and the best diving found anywhere - the only thing missing is you.
Canberra, Australia
2 reviews
“Adventure of a lifetime”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 22, 2013

We are a family of four, boys are almost 10 and almost 13. They are both quite fit and good swimmers. We did the three day liveaboard snorkelling trip around Komodo National Park. What an amazing adventure we had. From the moment we contacted Wicked Dive (based on the reviews in Trip Advisor) everything went smoothly. We organised dates via email and paid via Paypal. We used the dive shop equipment and it was all perfectly good. The boat was a real experience. It is definitely not a luxury vessel, sleeping is on mattresses on the floor downstairs, the crew sleep all over the deck (5 crew and 2 dive guides). It was a bit stuffy sometimes but Captain Rudi always tried to put the boat where there was little rocking and a bit of a breeze. The food was endless, not grand, but good and wholesome. There is no seafood as the company is very focused on their responsibility for maintaining the biodiversity of the area. The snorkelling was fabulous, day one we were blown away, but little did we know they were seeing how competent at swimming we were, and the next morning we were taken to a trickier site that revealed the most amazing underwater scenes. We tried really hard to see Manta Rays but during our trip they were somewhere else, the crew the guides everyone kept apologising but we really didn't mind, the reef sharks, the turtles, the sea snakes, the endless species of fish, the corals, the clams, the octopus, made up for it 100 times over. Both nights we put in at secluded beaches where the kids swam, we lit small fires, had a beer and climbed the hills for even more amazing views (the photos are spectacular). The second night we watched the fruit bats fly overhead to Flores, an unexpected surprise. Our trip to Rinca to see the Komodo Dragons was a highlight, we saw plenty (and they looked a bit hungry). Our guide there was a delight. We bought a couple of wooden dragon souvenirs from a fisherman who popped up from nowhere during the evening. On our final day we swam around an entire island, the boys were stoked about that. The crew were a joy, the boys were even a bit overwhelmed at how much of a fuss they made of them (I do wonder whether some if them may have been missing their families, they really did love our boys a lot). We are not a fussy family, we just like adventures, and this trip met our every expectation, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Visited April 2013
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WickedDiving, Owner at Wicked Diving, Komodo, responded to this review, April 25, 2013
Thank you SO much! What a great review, and we are very happy that we made it a success for you guys as well :)

We all work hard to adapt our trips to each group of guests. Realizing that no trip will ever be the same we are as flexible as we can be, within the limits of safety.

With a family like yours, and the options available - it was much wiser for you to simply charter the smaller of our two boats (we take a maximum of 6 guests on the small boat) and have this trip to yourselves! We could then change each days itinerary as needed - or wanted :)

It is a shame to miss the Manta Rays, but as you pointed out, there is so much more to Komodo park than simply one species! We can never be sure what Mother Nature will do for us, so we try our best to just swim and enjoy :)

All the crew is glowing with your kind words and sure hope you can come back and visit us again!
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Hong Kong, China
Contributor
20 reviews 20 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
“Fantastic experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 16, 2013

We participated with my husband in a 3-night liveaboard mid-March, towards the beginning of the dry season (great to see very green islands). It was an excellent experience:

1) extraordinary diving, with what we thought was a perfect combination of amazing colourful corals and diverse fish including big ones. We are leisure divers with limited experience but we always found ourselves in areas where we either saw big fish but sandy reefs or nice corals but small fish. In Komodo it was splashes of colors plus mantas/sharks/turtles etc. with the occasional nudibranchs. To see mantas dancing in front of you is a joy-filling wonder...

2) a very professional organisation in a pleasant client-oriented environment: you can feel safety is important just by glimpsing at the dive team debriefs before and after dives. Incidents do happen - nothing serious for our trip - but it confirms things can go wrong when diving if safety is not a priority. Now there is also a life after diving and the experience wouldn't be complete without the wicked team's openness and willingness to share time with guests.

As transparently and proudly advertised by Wicked Diving this is neither a luxury trip nor a mad-diving trip ("only" 9 dives for 3 nights, which was perfect for us) but it is a very safe, knowledgeable and affordable one in great human conditions. The Jaya is a beautiful traditional schooner, comfort on board is good (we had no trouble sleeping, maybe exhausted by the awesome dives! and everything was clean), food is pretty good for the conditions. It is all about the experience. So is travelling and discovering. Many thanks to the Wicked team!

Visited March 2013
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WickedDiving, Owner at Wicked Diving, Komodo, responded to this review, April 17, 2013
Thank you!

It is true - the diving here is top-notch and is worth experiencing - not matter the amount of dives behind you! We certainly never get tired of seeing Mantas and have the same sense of joy and awe that you expressed too :)

As you mention, things can wrong, and we continually prepare for and plan for the worst. Safety in Komodo is the most essential aspect of any dive trip. We know it's been said at many a dive center in many a location - but the currents and conditions that arise in Komodo are quite simply some of the most challenging anywhere! Each trip is carefully planned to deal with - and avoid - any risks or threats to our guest safety. This often includes canceling or rescheduling dives.

You are a star! We are very proud and base our whole operation on not being a luxury dive boat or focusing on the "dive, dive, dive" type of journey. There is so much more to see and experience in this region and we seek and cater to the guests that feel the same way. It is very warming to be acknowledged for the effort and intention we put into that.

Thank you for posting, but thank you for choosing Wicked Diving Komodo for your trip! We hope you can join us again!
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Los Angeles, California
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5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Wicked. Wicked Awesome. Wicked Freaking Awesome, Man.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 13, 2013

We had an amazing time with Wicked Diving! As a group of young 20 yr. olds we had high expectations for our tight budget and this did not disappoint. I've dived at the Great Barrier Reef and can honestly say that the I enjoyed the diving here more. Manta rays, devil rays, turtles, sharks, all in great abundance. We did the 3 day 2 night live aboard with 8 dives and had a wicked time. The staff on the boat was great, the food was delicious, and our guide, Mickey, was very helpful and fun to be around. Very much recommended!

Visited April 2013
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WickedDiving, Owner at Wicked Diving, Komodo, responded to this review, April 18, 2013
Thanks for the nice words!

Mickey said she loved the trip as well!

We can't always see Mantas, Devil Rays, turtles and sharks...we wish it were so! But we try :)

We hope you can come back and join us again!
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Frankfurt, Germany
Senior Contributor
43 reviews 43 reviews
10 attraction reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
44 helpful votes 44 helpful votes
“I wanted to love these guys, but...”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed April 3, 2013

My wife and I just returned from a 6-day dive trip aboard Wicked Diving's Jaya. We completed 17 excellent dives in that time frame. The Komodo National Park is a very special and unique part of Indonesia. Both my wife and I felt privileged to have had the opportunity to explore this beautiful area.

I like to contribute to Tripadvisor (TA) as I use it regularly to scout for service providers when I am in the planning stages of my next adventure. I have found TA to be very accurate and with a little prudent reading between the lines one can usually determine what is actually going on, and generally make wise decisions. So it was when I booked our dive trip with Wicked Diving (WD). Their glowing TA reviews are mostly accurate...I say mostly. In fact, I would agree with everything that has been written about WD with respect to the staff, the dive guides (our dive guide Valentino was brilliant!), the diving, and the booking procedures; all are excellent. Where the thing went pear-shaped for me was the actual boat, more specifically, the conditions of the cabins and the subsequent lack of sleep that accompanied those 6 days. Because of the lack of ventilation or proper cooling, trying to sleep at night was almost impossible for both my wife and I. It is not until the last couple of hours before dawn does the body finally succumb to sleep, purely out of exhaustion. Sleeping on this boat is miserable and nearly impossible.

I decided to do a little research to see if I could get a handle on this boat. The Jaya is a traditional Indonesian boat built in the Phinisis style. She has beautiful lines and was built in 1999 specifically to cater to diving. A quick search on line provides background to the boat and its history. You can look at the site at Explore Komodo for more information. The description of the boat is an interesting read.

Firstly, the site talks about the cabins on Jaya as having "natural ventilation". In fact, in these cabins, there isn't any! Secondly, there is reference to the 24v fans allegedly "keeping you cool" - no they don't. The fan we had in our room was completely ineffective. Thirdly, one has the opportunity to "wake up to the sounds of the water against the hull", which is only possible if one actually slept. It probably should read, "lay awake all night, with the sounds of the water against the hull." And finally, the one reference that really annoyed me: "Air-con can be run on request." There is no air-con! If there were I wouldn't be writing this right now. Incidentally, this problem was not just obvious to me. Every night on board had guests opting to sleep on the open deck. At one point on the cruise, fully 10 of the 14 guests chose to sleep on the open deck to get out of their cabins. This fact does not indicate how charming it is to sleep under the stars; it demonstrates there is a problem with overheated cabins. Why would you pay for a cabin if the intention were to sleep outside?

The last aspect I would like to comment on is the general cleanliness of the boat. The crew works hard to keep the common areas clean and can be seen "swabbing the deck" in those areas many times during the day. The problem is the kitchen area and the toilet areas. These areas are definitely not clean. There is a cockroach problem on the boat as well, likely a result of the kitchen. My wife and I had these unwelcome guests in our cabin, which was next to the kitchen. In fact, on four occasions, my wife had a roach crawling on her in the night. I had this unnerving experience once. You can imagine how one feels after an incident like this.

So, what does this all mean? For me, it means I will definitely return to Komodo to dive, this is for sure, diving there is outstanding and the region is stunningly beautiful. However, I will not be using Wicked Diving as my service provider and I will not be recommending them to my friends or colleagues. I distinctly remember our first briefing just after arriving on the boat. Jo Marlow, the then cruise director used a phrase during her briefing that resonated with me at the time. She said, "this is a very special boat." What that demonstrated to me was a pride of ownership in the Jaya and it really set my expectations very high. I really wanted this to be true. Because of that I spent the rest of the week trying to accommodate all of these shortcomings by either ignoring them or thinking that I was being overly sensitive. However, after being worn down by lack of sleep and getting more annoyed as time went on, I came to realize I was not being overly sensitive and there are fundamental expectation of cleanliness, comfort, safety and service when one pays these type of fees to be on this boat (WD has the last two right). Let's not forget that this is a for-profit business and they are not inviting you on this trip for free. What WD does not seem to get is that there are many other diving operations in the area with similar boats. This is my 11th live aboard diving experience since coming to Asia. I am fully aware of what can and cannot be done on dive boats, for WD to ignore these fundamentals is inexcusable.

It is truly a shame that these problems exist. WD has the ingredients right for what could be the perfect experience; the people, the location, the expertise. In the service industry, a provider will not be judged on the first 95%; it is always the last 5% that will ruin any experience and will always be the focus of the criticism. WD needs to deal with the last 5%...and it's so easy.

Visited March 2013
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WickedDiving, Owner at Wicked Diving, Komodo, responded to this review, April 5, 2013
This is an awkward situation for us. This review has been removed twice for making false statements and basing information on a different company's website.

"Explore-Komodo" is the website and it also clearly states that the boat was sold in 2009 top a company in Thailand. That's us! Wicked Diving bought the Jaya, brought her to Thailand and did extensive refurbishing and redesign. We then decided to open our Komodo dive center and moved the Jaya back down...after doing even more extensive refurbishing.

Throughout our site, in our email contacts with guests and even here on Tripadvisor we clearly and succinctly state that our boat is neither luxury, not meant for those seeking air-conditioned cabins. In fact we have no entertainment system on the boat, beyond some speakers people can pop their Ipods onto. We are very deliberate in making sure that we state that this is an adventure boat, not a luxury liveaboard. We intend for our potential guests to be aware that we are in Indonesia, that life is simple aboard a hand-built wooden sailing schooner and to relax into a different pace of life. There are more than two dozen other liveaboards working in the Komodo region that can offer more amenities and we are happy to recommend them for people seeking such as our goal is happy guests, not bookings on false pretenses. By that same token, we are one of the lowest priced boats in the region.

When we purchased the vessel, we cut large vents into each cabin, added new fans, and also created air vents above each door so that air could circulate. What came as a surprise to us, was the demand for blankets! There is not now, nor have we EVER had air-conditioning, nor claim such. Our goal is offer the traditional experience of a sailing schooner. The Jaya is made of traditional woods and she creaks - it's a wooden boat. She's a sailboat, so she's also a treat to sail on. We decided very early to avoid generators at night or sounds that detract from the experience of being moored off uninhabited islands in the far reaches of Indonesia. This is something we savor each and every night. There are simply people that want to step outside the modern world and experience the world as it exists...we are among those, and we strive to make sure our guests are too.

There are kernels of truth to be found here. This IS the equator, it does get hot. It takes some acclimatization which we hope the travels to Labuan Bajo and the days before our trips depart do something to assuage. The nights are typically between 20-24c and most people find this comfortable. Some do not.

What comes as the biggest surprise to us is the mention of the cockroaches. This was a 6 day trip, made up of two three-day segments, with an afternoon break in Labuan Bajo before going back out again. The staff were not informed during the first 3 days, the staff in the shop were not informed, and again on the second leg of the trip, there staff were not informed. After the trip was completed and we supplied each and every guest with a comments and suggestion form, there was no mention of this.

With this trip being broken into two legs, with an afternoon spent at our shop in Labuan Bajo, there was ample opportunity to mention any shortcomings of the trip...or even abort the trip. In these situations we are happy to arrange some sort of refund, supply accommodation and even assist in arranging flight changes. Yet no guests from this trip exercised that option or even expressed interest in such an option. It is also easy to accommodate requests for cabin changes on the boat while the trip is underway, but especially simple when a trip is broken into two legs and new guests are arriving. Oddly, the only issue brought up to staff or management at this time was that the dive times were too short! We took this to mean that the guests were satisfied with the conditions on the boat.

However, we did consider the issue of pests and vermin when doing this years rebuilding of the galley (completed in February). All the cabinets were lifted and re-made so that we could clean and spray under. In addition, the freezer and cold storage areas were rebuilt to allow for cleaning underneath and for proper drainage. In addition to removing these after each 6-day trip and cleaning and spraying, we also do a monthly spray with a commercial restaurant-grade fumigation service. Pests are one of the deepest fears on any vessel and we do our utmost to prevent them from ever occurring.


We very much seek and appreciate the feedback from all our guests, good or bad. It is our goal to constantly improve the experience for our guests and offer the highest standards in safety. However, we can not address issues from websites that are not owned or controlled by us and refer to a boat that not owned or operated by said website.
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Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Awesome & Wicked”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 27, 2013

It is difficult to attribute all of the things that make a Wicked Diving experience an amazing one. Sure the service you get from booking to boat is exceptional, efficient and speedy, but it is more than that.

The beautiful schooner Jaya, the incredibly accomplished Dive Guides and Crew, the flora, fauna, environment and weather; the company of great friends and the guests themselves make for a unique experience.

I know I will go with Wicked again, but I also know my experience will be different each time; that is what is so appealing.

If you want a safe dive with passionate adventurers and still enjoy good food, a comfortable boat and a lot of laughter I really urge you to try out Wicked Diving.

Thanks to Wicked Diving Komodo for helping me find the fun in diving again.

Visited March 2013
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WickedDiving, Owner at Wicked Diving, Komodo, responded to this review, April 18, 2013
Wow...we are all blushing here :) Such kind words - and deeply appreciated!

We really do hope you come visit us again!
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