Dragons and Fierce Currents
Komodo Island is most famous as the habitat of the Komodo dragon, the largest lizard extant. Varanus Komodoensis is a varanid or monitor lizard what the Australians call a "gonna" an alert and agile predator and scavenger that can reach 2.5 meters in length and 125 kilos. Locally called ora, about 2000 of the dragons inhabit Komodo and about 600 live on Rinca Island. There are reports of a small population on Florest.
Komodo village is a stop over on the ferry from Sape, Sumbawa to Labuhanbajo, Flores, and has become a very popular tourist destination. In the past, tourist would visit this dry, rocky island to watch the great beasts tear apart goats that have been hung at carefully monitored sites by Indonesian Park service. Today, the service has stopped the organized feeding, and the impressive animals can be seen from a watering hole blind.
Labuhanbajo is a quiet little Muslim Fishing village of about 3000 people on an attractive harbor in northwest Flores. Because of tourist interest in Komodo's dragons, Labuhan-bajo has enjoyed a small boom of late, with more losmen being built.
Geologically, Komodo and Rinca are part of Flores, separated from Sumbawa to the west by the Sape Strait. In the middle of the strait, the bottom drops to almost 300 meters. The many islands and relatively shallow seas between Flores and Komodo 's west coast mean very fast currents at tidal changes.
By "fast" we mean more than 8 knots, which is a problem no matter how experienced a diver you are. Because of upwellings, it can also get very, very cold. Don't dive here with a super thin, high-tech, pantyhose type suit. Bring a proper, thick suit. Even a hood wouldn't hurt.