Castle Rock is regarded by many as the best Komodo dive site, and one of the best in Indonesia, and even the world. Only suitable for experienced divers. Good chance of seeing sharks, rays and special macro species.
Castle Rock is possibly the best dive site in the Komodo National Park. It’s certainly among the most popular. It’s a huge underwater seamount, located just off of the island known as Gili Lawa Laut, which itself is at the north-northeast end of Komodo Island. Castle Rock is not suitable for new or inexperienced divers because the currents are often medium to very strong. However, these currents are what feed the vast quantity of marine life, both resident and pelagic visitors.
Depending on the tide, the summit of Castle Rock is just a few metres from the surface, and the bottom is around 30 metres below. Of course, the tides also affect the currents, which can be strong and normally go east at falling tides and west on rising tides. Divers are advised to jump in 50m+ up-current from the top of the dive site and to descend as quickly as possible. There are plenty of places to get shelter from the current, including at the safety stop. Due to the location, surrounding depths and currents, the visibility is generally excellent at Castle Rock. Don’t be surprised if the visibility can exceed 30 metres sometimes.
The best weather and sea conditions at Komodo are from April until October, with July & August being the very best. However, it’s possible to dive all year round in the Komodo National Park. Although Manta Rays are more often seen from December to February, the weather conditions are not ideal, and this affects the surface of the sea.
Reef / Sea mount
Castle Rock is located north of Komodo’s main island, just off of Gili Lawa Laut. There are dozens of islands in the Komodo National Park. Komodo and Rinca are the two largest islands, with Komodo to Rinca’s northwest, and Rinca nearer to the large island of Eat Nusa Tenggara. To Komodo’s north are Gili Lawa Darat & Gili Lawa Laut. Castle Rock lies less than two kilometres north-northwest from Gili Lawa Laut.
Getting to Castle Rock is mostly done by Komodo liveaboards, which sail from Labuan Bajo, Bali and Maumere. It’s possible to join by day trip diving boat, but only from local areas, such as Labuan Bajo.
AOW 50+ logged dives Castle Rock is not suitable for beginner or inexperienced divers. Although some dive boat operators and websites may claim that it’s ok for new divers to join when the tide is slack and currents weaker, we disagree. The thousands of inter-island channels in Indonesia are known for strong and unpredictable currents. Only experienced divers with Advanced certification or higher can really enjoy dive sites like this, without endangering themselves or inconveniencing others in their group.
The list of possible species that you can see at Castle Rock is endless. Everything from the tiniest shrimp or nudibranch up to the largest pelagic sharks & rays. Huge shoals of reef fish are everywhere, and in turn there are shoals of predatory fish hunting them.
One of the very best dive sites in Komodo, Indonesia and even the world! Castle Rock is always teeming with life and should be on every serious diver's bucket list. Diving there by liveaboard is by far the better option, as it gives you more time to explore, plus the opportunity to dive in before any local boats arrive, or after they have gone. Currents can be strong, but there's always shelter. And don't forget that currents mean more life!