Castle Rock – Bucket List Dive Site

In a country with over 17,000 islands, there are a lot of places for scuba divers to explore. The diving in Indonesia is known as one of the premiere destinations in the world. On the Samata, we love introducing our guests to the best diving Indonesia has to offer. Whether you are an experienced diver or partaking in an introductory dive, we know the perfect dives to suit everyone’s skills. Of course each area that we visit has “bucket list” sites that we take our guests to. In the Komodo National Park, that site is “Castle Rock”, a submerged pinnacle alive with fish.

Schooling Snapper Castle Rock
Schooling Snapper at Castle Rock

Diving the Castle Rock Pinnacle

Castle Rock is located in the northern part of the Komodo island off of Gili Lawa Laut. Other top quality sites in the area include Crystal Rock, Lighthouse, and Shotgun. Located a kilometer from shore, this submerged reef enjoys clean water and a constant stream of current. It’s prime location is why this site is one of the world’s best dive sites. The pinnacle rises out of water 100s of meters deep with the top located just 5 meters under the surface. Similar to an oasis in the desert, the isolated pinnacle attracts large schools of fish seeking shelter and food.

Fusiliers Castle Rock
Schooling Fusiliers

The key to the Castle Rock ecosystem lies with the extensive population of baitfish. The sheer numbers of fusiliers seeking shelter on the reef brings in a plethora of predators. White tip and grey reef sharks are abundant throughout the site. Roving gangs of blue fin and giant trevally are a constant presence. Not to be outdone by their competitors, numerous snappers and Napoleon wrasse are ready to pounce on their prey. There are large schools of batfish and surgeonfish in the water column feeding on the plankton. Not to be outdone by the fish, the pinnacle is also home to numerous octopus, pygmy seahorses, and turtles. In fact, the resident hawksbill turtles are often the stars of the show. These endangered turtles aren’t bothered by the presence of divers who can watch them feed on tasty sponges.

Current or No Current

A dive on Castle Rock can be done with or without current. It’s recommended to dive this wonderful site both with and without current. This offer two completely different experiences for divers. For a relaxed experience it’s recommended to dive with little to no current the first time. This allows for a relaxed entry and opportunity to explore the entire reef. As the site is not large, it’s easy to circumnavigate the pinnacle on one dive. Head to the deeper parts to observe the white tip sharks or marvel at the large schools of snappers, surgeonfish, and batfish swimming in the water column.

Hawksbill Turtle Castle Rock
A Hawksbill Turtle

Slowly swimming along the reef is the best opportunity to encounter turtles. Dive guides will be able to point out the tiny pygmy seahorse which live on a particular species of seafan. In the shallows, it’s not uncommon to find a reef octopus crawling along the reef. It’s fascinating to observe these wonderful creatures going about their lives. The safety stop is done in the shallows which affords a great opportunity to watch colorful anemone fish playing in their home anemones.

Current on Castle Rock

When the current is running, Castle Rock is a completely different experience. We suggest only experienced divers do this site when the current is strong. Experienced guides are essential to navigate the boat to the perfect descent point. Divers must descend immediately or risk being pushed off the pinnacle by the current. Once at the bottom, the group stays in place to watch nature at it’s finest. The currents bring all of the baitfish to one side of the reef where they feed on nutrients in the water. Of course this also brings out the predators! Marauding groups of trevally, snappers, and wrasse constantly attack the bait fish which creates an amazing scene. Not to be outdone, white tip reef sharks will also join the fun and chase the fish under coral heads.

Diver on Castle Rock
Diver Surrounded by Schooling Fusiliers and Hunting Trevally

After 20 minutes of watching the show, remaining bottom time will decrease which means it’s time to go. Unlike the relaxed tour that can be had when there is no current, a strong current means the dive will end quite quickly. Guides will lead everyone behind the pinnacle to the lee of the current where we can hide and perform the safety stop. Everyone then gathers together and surfaces as a group.

A True Bucket List Dive

Soft Corals Castle Rock
Soft Corals

Komodo National Park is home to many amazing dive sites and Castle Rock is one of the best. The surrounding area provides a wonderful anchorage for the Samata and a myriad of activities such as snorkeling and hill walks. For those who aren’t quite ready to tackle an advanced dive site, there are plenty of others in the area to practice skills and enjoy a leisurely adventure on the reef. We also offer introductory dives for those who have never tried diving before. We know that once you get a taste of the wonderful marine life of Indonesia, you will want to visit it time and time again! Check out “Magic Mountain”, another bucket list dive in the Raja Ampat region.

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