At the end of December, I spent 7 days aboard the Indo Aggressor. The Indo Aggressor is a ship designed for scuba diving expeditions. It’s about 98 ft. long and can hold 16 scuba divers in 8 staterooms plus a crew of 18.
For this adventure, the boat is based out of a port in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia. Our plan was to dive mostly around the islands of Komodo and Rinca. Getting there was quite easy, I flew from NYC to Bali and then took a short 45 minute flight from Bali to Labuan Bajo.
Before boarding the Indo Aggressor
I’m pretty familiar with Bali, so I decided to spent a few days before the expedition hanging out in Seminyak. Seminyak is a mixed tourist residential area on the west coast of Bali. I like using this area as base when I’m visiting. It helps me transition from NYC life to a slower pace. And one of my favorite hotels in the world is located in Seminyak, the dash hotel.
The dash hotel is not the typical boring hotel where everything is uniform. It is very campy with lots of character. Most notably are the mannequins positioned all over the hotel including the balconies. Also throughout the hotel there is strategically placed and amusing signage. The hotel has a fun rooftop pool and bar area with decent views of the ocean from a distance. Watching sunsets from the roof was spectacular. The hotel is pretty central and walkable to many restaurants, bars, shops, barber shops and the beach.
While in Bali, I also spent a day diving with the team from Atlantis Diving Bali. We planned scuba dives off the eastern coast of Bali at a site called The Gilis. You can read more about those scuba dives here.
Boarding the Indo Aggressor
I left Bali on an early flight to Labaun Bajo. The team from the Indo Aggressor picked me up at the airport as planned and immediately took me to the boat. In the pre-trip information package supplied by the Aggressor Fleet, boarding began at 3pm. So, I was extremely surprised when they let me board the boat around 11am-ish. I immediately unpacked my scuba gear, cameras and settled into my cabin.
Before unpacking, I grabbed a Bintang which is one of the local Indonesia beers and introduced myself to the crew. The dive team was led by the cruise director, Garry Bevan. All of the staff on the boat were very helpful and friendly throughout the trip. They tried their best to make sure we dived sites that had good visibility and interesting marine life. For example, the crew went out of their way to find a rare Rhinopias. Needless to say, we saw a lot of fascinating marine life during the week. Shortly after the dive trip, I posted an underwater image gallery here.
Nearly every meal was served on the main dive deck. It was so relaxing to have breakfast, lunch and dinner outside surrounded by open water or island views. Only one meal was served inside due to a short windy rain storm. The inside gallery is nice but outside is better. Nonetheless, the food was very good. It was a mix of Western and Indonesian food. I enjoyed every meal. Also, there were plenty of snacks and soft drinks between meals and dives.
- Gili Lawah Laut, Gili Lawah Darat & Wainilu
- The Linta Strait, West Padar & Lehoksera
- Gili Lawah Laut, Batu Moncho & Gili Banta
- Gili Lawah Laut, The Linta Strait, & Wainilu
- The Linta Strait & Loh Buaya (2 dives + Loh Buaya Wildlife Trek on Rinca Island)
All scuba diving is executed off of 2 tenders. The dive team manages your gear once you set it up. We backrolled into the water in the beginning of dives. And at end of dives, we were asked to take off our gear in water and hand it to the crew who hoisted back on to the tender. It would have been nice if I didn’t have to take my gear off in the water. I find it easier and faster to climb out of the water with my gear on.
Overall, diving was remarkable! We were able spot very small Pygmy Seahorses to giant Manta Rays. The dive masters did a great job of managing all of the photographers, videographers, and just divers. The dive crew was also very thoughtful when it came to selecting dive sites. We dove a few sites twice because the visibility was poor during the first attempt. The dives were good even with low visibility. However, when we would return the following day, the dives were amazing and worth diving twice. There were a few dives that had very strong current. I brought my reef hook but I never used it. The dives that had strong current were also the dives where we saw a lot of Manta Rays. I stopped counting but at least 15 different Mantas on just one dive.
We finished up the scuba diving expedition with a walking tour on Rinca Island. Komodo Dragon’s live on a few islands around Komodo. On Rinca, you can get pretty close to the Dragon’s. Besides the Dragon’s, we saw a few Macaque, Water buffalo, and few different species of birds.
I was quite pleased with the condition of the ship and attention the crew provided to guests. I definitely recommend this ship and dive tour.
The ship has several itineraries, next time I will try the Forgotten Island tour. The Forgotten Island are part of Indonesia’s south Maluku providence, a region located at the south east boundary of the country and less than 200 nautical miles from the northern tip of Australia.
I shot all of these underwater images on either a Gopro Hero 8 Black or Sealife DC2000. Photographs out of the water were taken with an iPhone 8 Plus. Here’s a link to my current underwater camera set-up.