Kalimaya Resort is equally as charming, discrete and as small as Alumi Alor however it is very slightly more rustic and less boutique. This actually makes it more welcoming and easier to feel at home, relax and be part of the Kalimaya family. It also has a small pool which was absolutely the centre piece around which we often congregated, particularly after night diving, when the pool was wonderfully warm as we chilled with a Bintung or a Prost.
The couple who run the place, Eric & Lauren, are simply wonderful hosts, full of joy and energy – just naturally great company. They had Eric’s father staying who was a delight too. There were between another three to five guests rotating during our 11 day stay and everyone just got on with being together – the building design with its huge thick hard wood long dining table helped as we all ate communally.
I might have suggested it’s not a place for single folks but two singles joined and had a great time. Eric’s dad, Ian, wasn’t a diver and if you want to read and relax then that’s great too, but it is a divers place for divers.
The dive sites were a mixture of an hour or so boat journey across the straits to West Komodo or the islands close to W K, or along Sumbawa with some good muck diving. The House reef was pretty good too, boasting a few Frogfsh and Rhynopia.
The routine employed two dives in the morning and a return to base for lunch. Afternoon or night dives on the house reef were always available too.
There is some awesome current about especially as we were present at full moon and often we’d arrive at a dive site and “J” the dive manager would test the water snorkelling only to have to move elsewhere due to over strong current.
Due to this extreme down current and the water movement around full moon being a little unpredictable and extreme, divers do need to be experienced, however the underwater scenery can be simply stunning, especially the vast array (in species and colour) of sponges.
You will always have the dive sites to yourself (the odd live aboard does venture west of Komodo) and you might even dive a completely unknown exploratory site if you visit soon.
Perhaps this is a good time to mention Jay. I think he is probably the best dive guide I’ve ever had the pleasure to dive with as far as safety and confidence in him in often very challenging dive scenarios (current). His was just calm, thoughtful, briefed exceptionally and communicated underwater in a crystal clear manner – just a superb fella, didn’t need to prove how macho he was – just a considerate and passionate diver with a love of the marine environment which he wanted to share. Jay, thanks indeed.
Water temperature was between 24-28 degrees so I used my 3mm wetsuit mostly – did a couple of dives in shorts but that was when the sun was blasting. As we visited in Mar the weather was mixed with some windy days and some rain, occasionally torrential. This latter did really reduce visibility occasionally down to under 5m and perhaps dive site selection could have been a little wiser sometimes, however the sites might have been selected based on current.
From a fun dive point of view the canyon dive with its “rocket launcher” at the end of the canyon was great fun but at all times (due to great briefing) felt safe.
Fish life is abundant and the variation of critters is again right up there with the best. Due to the colder water perhaps, no coral bleaching observed at all. First time diving with large Bamboo sharks swimming and not sleeping under a table coral. Plenty of white tips too and the odd manta, marble rays and tuna etc, however the variety of nudibranchs was just awesome, and Eric is something of a Nudi nut (expert for those translating from English!)
On the surface the scenery is as beautiful as you can imagine and the rain meant the usual desert brown mountains were lush tropical green. The fitting out of the resort is delightful and welcoming, the photos are accurate on their website, perhaps doesn’t portray the resorts position with respect to neighbours which were shrimp farms and an idyllic traditional fishing village which took great pride in both their houses and boats.
A suggestion that Eric and Lauren might wish to consider is a full day out to West Komodo with a picnic and then a short foray into the island with the ranger to see the dragons. I think most folk would welcome the opportunity having come to such a unique destination.
The food was enjoyable, however one of the guest divers was a chef from a bespoke luxury yacht and he cooked a couple of excellent meals. Breakfast was also a highlight with fresh fruit in copious supply. You only get the meal that’s served but that was perfect for me.
Lauren was very keen on her plants and she even grew peanuts which we ate fresh from the ground as well as sun roasted – v different to roasted pub nuts – a first for me and a real treat.
The rest of the staff were all local and they really added to the warmth and charm of the place – I’ve never seen so many huge broad smiles and they were extremely friendly and helpful.
Once a familiarisation dive has been conducted on the house reef, it has free access and the team will prepare all your kit for a beach entry. Due to the soft mud and rocks this needs a wee bit of strength but we managed on many occasions including a few night dives, however there is a jetty in build that once complete will make the house reef and boat access so much easier.
One of the best dive sites I’ve ever dived was Bubble reef underneath the truly awesome semi active (whatever that means) volcano – Sangur! In fact we loved it so much we coined a new phrase “double bubble” as we dove it twice – the second time in reverse. The colours are simply unreal, the volume and variety of nudis, also unreal, the hot water and sand was actually v hot, and the volcano is right out of Jurassic Park – it even had a light grey and a dark grey recent lava flow cutting through the lush green vegetation.
Final point is that there is no wifi and barely a phone signal which is ok but worth noting and this also means that credit cards can’t be accepted.
All in all this place truly can be called another paradise for divers and one we will definitely return to (perhaps around Sept time when the blue whales – yes you read correctly – migrate through the straits.)0