Komodo Manta Ray Research, Coral Triangle & Dragons

Komodo and its idyllic tropical waters off western Flores in Indonesia, are home to more than 1,000 identified Manta Rays. The area is also within the Coral Triangle with some spectacularly healthy and diverse corals reefs; and home to the World's largest lizard: the Komodo Dragon.

Our Manta Ray Research experience enables you to join Aqua-Firma Marine Scientist and expert from the Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF) as they undertake research into these majestic Ocean Giants. You will also be able to scuba dive, snorkel and photograph some of the World's best coral reefs; and step onto the Komodo Dragon sanctuary of Rincon Island where you can engage with these huge animals as close as is safe to do so.

Manta Ray Komodo Indonesia scuba dive snorkel freedive

We will be based in western Flores at a comfortable hotel on a beach set within a calm bay. For all but one of our full days here, we will head out in traditional wooden boats amongst some beautiful islands in search of Manta Ray hotspots. Sea, current and wind conditions will dictate where we are best to search for Manta Rays. Our expert team will use their experience to select the best potential sites, including cleaning stations and feeding areas where manta rays will be busy gorging on plankton brought in on Komodo's legendary currents.

Our primary aim is to help you to experience some unforgettable encounters with manta rays and some of Komodo's best coral reefs; but you can assist with Photo IDs and behavioural observation if you wish. One of MMF's key research aims for Komodo has been to assess the risk that tiny fragments of plastic (microplastics) pose to filter feeders like Manta Rays. Latest research on this and all things mantas, will be presented to you during an evening talk and through explanations when out at sea. You will have ample opportunity to ask any questions you can think of.

Komodo Indonesia coral reef garden best snorkel

In addition to sites where we hope to interact with Manta Rays, you will also have the chance to dive and snorkel at some simply stunning coral reef sites. Do not be surprised to come across areas where coral cover is 100% from shallows to 30 metres. Here we can often find lots of Green and Hawksbill Turtles, large schools of sweetlips and other fish, giant sea fans, beautifully coloured corals, sponges and more.

No trip to Komodo is complete without seeing the Komodo Dragons, so we will take an afternoon to land on Rincon or Komodo Island (subject to permit availability) and enjoy guided walks amongst, yet safely distant from them. We will be able to enjoy the savannah scenery and see water buffalo and Timor Rusa Deer, whose lives are continually under threat from the dragons. You might even see an apparently docile Dragon lunge from the shadows in a sprint towards one of these large mammals. Stick with us and you won't become a target yourself!

We can hope for some excellent photo opportunities with manta rays as well as coral reefs. Guidance will be available throughout on underwater and above water photography, plus use of software to edit your hard-earned images. We can also assist you in advance, with advice on kit, be that starter level waterproof cameras to advanced underwater camera systems.

Your participation in this trip helps to fund Manta Ray research in Indonesia, in the same way that our Whale Shark Research experiences do at Mafia Island in Tanzania, northern Madagascar, the Galapagos Islands and the Yucatan of Mexico.

This trip starts and ends on the Indonesian island of Flores. If you are keen to see more of Indonesia and other parts of South East Asia, then we can make travel arrangements for you as needed, such as incorporating more time on Bali, Raja Ampat, Sulawesi, Borneo, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. Many airlines fly into and out of Bali, so there is a great deal of choice amongst airlines.

Photographs by Charlotte Caffrey, Ralph Pannell & Dr Simon J Pierce


Komodo Itinerary (2023)

This trip starts and ends on the Indonesian island of Flores. If you are keen to see more of Indonesia and other parts of South East Asia, then we can make travel arrangements for you as needed, such as incorporating more time on Bali, Raja Ampat, Sulawesi, Borneo, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. Many airlines fly into and out of Bali, so there is a great deal of choice amongst airlines.

Day 1 (27 Oct '23)

Arrive Labuan Bajo in western Flores where you will be met and transferred to our beach hotel base.

Days 2 - 6 (28 Oct - 1 Nov '23)

Each morning we will head to Labuan Bajo dock and board our research boats and out to sea amongst the islands. We will focus on three Manta Ray / coral reef sites, so up to 3 scuba dives / snorkels, except on one day when this will be 2 and we will take you on to Rincon or Komodo Island to observe Komodo Dragons.

Day 7 (2 Nov '23)

Today you can relax and enjoy the hotel.

Alternatively, you can take the opportunity to join us in seeing something of Western Flores, including its cave systems, waterfalls and canyons (tour price £95).

Day 8 (3 Nov'23)

We will transfer you from the hotel to Labuan Bajo airport for your flight out.


Enquire / Book 27 Oct - 03 Nov 2023 - from £ 2,290
from US$ 2,790

with Aqua-Firma Marine Scientist, Charlotte Caffrey & researcher Dr Simon Pierce, co-Founder of Marine Megafauna Foundation

Enquire / Book 19 - 26 Sep 2024 - £ 2,450
US$ 2,990

with Aqua-Firma Marine Scientist, Charlotte Caffrey & Manta Researcher from Marine Megafauna Foundation

Scuba diving & dive kit rental supplement £290 / US$375

Single supplement     £355 / US$450

Price includes
All accommodation
All meals
All snorkelling
Snorkel kit rental
All transportation by land and sea
All trips within itinerary
Contributions to funding the research
Water when out by boat
Evening talks / Q&A at sea about manta ray biology and latest research findings from around the World

Not included
Optional day trips on day 7 (£95 per person)
Travel insurance
Optional Bali Connect itinerary below

Optional Bali Connection

Bali is the ideal start and end point for this trip from the perspective of international flights. We can add the following itinerary if you wish as well as longer itineraries for sightseeing, snorkelling or diving on Bali:

25 Oct '23 / 17 Sep'24

Arrive on the island of Bali.

You will be met upon arrival and then be transferred overland to Bali's cultural heart of Ubud where we will stay in a boutique hotel for 2 nights (b&b basis). This will give you a chance to clock into the time zone and provides a buffer in case of any flight delays in reaching us.

26 Oct '23 / 18 Sep'24

You can use today to relax and enjoy your setting in Bali.

Alternatively, you can relax early morning; and then at 11am you have the option to join a tour of some of the highlights of central Bali, including some of its stunning rice terraces (price £65 pre-booking is essential). Lunch and dinner are only included if you join the tour.

27 Oct '23 / 19 Sep'24

Today we will take you back to the airport and fly from Bali to the town of Labuan Bajo in western Flores.

3 Nov '23 / 26 Sep'24

Flight Labuan Bajo - Bali

Price £690 / US$865 pp sharing

Single supplement £240 / US$295


  • Komodo Manta Ray Mobula Alfredi (c) Ralph Pannell AQUA-FIRMA Indonesia snorkel freedive dive.jpg
  • Komodo Dragon (c) Dr Simon J Pierce Indonesia wildlife photography-lizard-reptile-Indonesia dive snorkel holiday tour Rinca Island.jpg
  • Moray Eel Komodo & rich coral reefs of Indonesia scuba diving dive snorkel-Dr-Simon-Pierce underwater photography travel holiday MMF.jpg
  • Acropora Table Coral, Komodo, Indonesia
  • Reef Manta Ray in Komodo - photo: Ralph Pannell
  • Banded Sea Snake Komodo Dr Simon Pierce Indonesia scuba dive travel diving holiday coral reef fishes biodiversity MMF.jpg
  • Komodo Dragon Rinca Island (c) Dr Simon J Pierce Indonesian wildlife photography travel dive snorkel holiday tour.jpg
  • Turtle Resting on Coral Reef at Komodo (c) Ralph Pannell Underwater Photography AQUA-FIRMA scuba dive diving travel holiday.jpg
  • Muck Diving Macro Underwater Photography Komodo Flores Indonesia Dr Simon Pierce photographic holiday travel Aqua-Firma dive diving.jpg
  • An almost entirely black Manta Ray in Komodo photo: Dr Simon Pierce


Trip Reviews: Indonesia

  • Manta Ray Komodo banking towards underwater photographer freediver Ralph Pannell snorkel coral reef Indonesia AQUA-FIRMA research MMF microplastics Ocean Giants
  • Nudibranch on Komodo's Coral Reefs photo: Dr Simon Pierce
  • Hard & Soft Corals - Komodo Photo: Ralph Pannell
  • Komodo Manta Ray (Mobula alfredi) Photo: Ralph Pannell AQUA-FIRMA
  • Water Buffalo on Rinca Island
  • Turtle Rest on hard corals of Komodo
  • White Tip Reef Shark over shallow reefs in Komodo
  • Komodo Manta Ray (Mobula alfredi) Photo: (c) Ralph Pannell AQUA-FIRMA
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