Ever since I discovered freediving, a freediving liveaboard has been an item on mine and my husband’s bucket list. We wanted to spend our days freediving the most beautiful dive spots in the world during the day and our nights on a peaceful charter in the middle of the ocean, all while being surrounded by other like-minded freedivers. After tons of research online and several e-mail inquiries, we found that Tradewinds Adventures was hosting a 5-day/4-night freediving liveaboard trip to Komodo National Park that was within our budget (990USD per person) and had stellar reviews. We immediately reserved our spots and waited impatiently for our freediving dream vacation.

Made by freedivers for freedivers, their diving charters are not just a scuba or snorkeling charter that you tag along on and hope the dive sites and conditions will be suitable for freediving. They know the ideal dive sites and conditions for freedivers and the correct safety protocols and surface interval times to adhere to. Tradewinds Adventures also tailors each trip to the capabilities of the freedivers joining, whether you have just recently discovered freediving or are a seasoned veteran of the sport. So why should you choose Tradewinds Adventures for your next freediving liveaboard trip?

Accommodations

Master cabin accommodations. Photo by Yahia Barakah.

Our boat was the picturesque Mikumba II, 4 spacious levels of wooden magnificence. We booked a master cabin with an ensuite bathroom, which gave us such a feeling of luxury the entire trip. The room was elegant, air-conditioned, super well-organized, and had so many hidden spaces to unpack our things; this left us feeling cozy and forgetting we were even on a boat. We were especially in love with the bathroom and how picturesque and charming it was, definitely better than our bathroom at home!

En-suite master cabin bathroom on the charter. Photo by Yahia Barakah.

There were one other en-suite master cabin and 4 standard cabins with 2 shared bathrooms. The whole boat can house up to 10 guests, which definitely made our trip feel much more personal than an over-packed, super touristy snorkeling boat. The open-air lounge at the very top of the deck was where we ate our meals, tanned, read, relaxed on bean bags or napped on the couch. There, we enjoyed evening beers and conversations with the other passengers under the stars. There was also a saloon downstairs that acted as an indoor eating area or lounge to relax in with a small library and collection of games. I truly did not expect so much luxury for our budget, but was pleasantly surprised!

Second floor deck of the charter. Photo by Yahia Barakah.

Food

Freedivers enjoying lunch on the charter.
Freedivers enjoying lunch on the charter. Photo by Yahia Barakah.

Tradewinds Adventures understands that freedivers need fuel, so we always had plenty of nutritious and super delicious food to fill up on. Breakfasts included hearty mounds of scrambled eggs, toast, Nutella, crunchy muesli, fresh fruit, juice, and hot tea/coffee. Lunches and dinners consisted of a wide variety of dishes, from Indonesian cuisines such as mee goreng and bakwan jagung to western favorites such as fresh salads and pasta dishes. We could order snacks whenever we liked, and after dives, the boat crew brought us fresh juices. It definitely did not feel like we were eating on a boat in the middle of the ocean, and food is really important to us, so this was definitely a highlight of our trip.

Dive Spots

Freediving with manta rays with Tradewinds Adventures. Photo by Yahia Barakah.

Since our trip was in the best season for Komodo, we were able to enjoy sea temperatures of 29°C (84°C) and balmy, tropical air temperatures with cool, breezy nights. Visibility was almost always 25m+ (82ft+), and we were able to see larger marine life, such as blacktip reef sharks, giant trevallies, sweetlips, bumphead parrotfish, napoleons, eagle rays, and even fought through the current with squads of manta rays, which was one of the best moments of my life! Reefs were world-class and pristine, with plenty of drop-offs and walls for us to enjoy. Our dive guide, Kwab, knew all of the best dive spots and drift dives, which conditions were best to dive in, and made sure to cater to our group’s different freediving levels. We even had the option to train on line one of the days, which I really enjoyed.

Heading out to a dive site with Tradewinds Adventures. Photo by Yahia Barakah.

Activities

Open-air lounge onboard the charter. Photo by Yahia Barakah.

Apart from diving three times a day, Tradewinds Adventures made sure that there were plenty of activities to fill our spare time with. Mikumba II was equipped with stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, a subwing, and dry activities included trekking up a hill to watch the sunset, visiting Komodo dragons in the national park, and a small library with a few games onboard. Yoga classes were also available upon request. We mostly used our free time to relax in the open-air lounge or nap, but we did take a kayak to a remote beach one of the days and enjoy some non-freediving time in the water.

Kayaking back to the charter. Photo by Yahia Barakah.

Booking

Chartered boat of Tradewinds Adventures. Photo by Yahia Barakah.

The ease of booking, arriving to, and leaving the trip made our vacation that much more pleasurable. Booking online was simple and easy, there were multiple options for leaving a deposit for the trip, and Tradewinds Adventures had clear instructions for how to get there. They gave us options regarding how to arrive in Labuan Bajo, and when we had trouble finding plane tickets, they directed us to the specific budget airline website with the cheapest tickets. Tradewinds Adventures also arranged for us to be picked up and dropped off at the airport, and made sure to stop at a store before we got to the boat to grab anything else we needed. The hassle-free experience is what we really appreciated since that can sometimes take away the fun of the vacation before it even begins.

Conclusion

Chartered boat of Tradewinds Adventures. Photo by Yahia Barakah.

We have tons of amazing photos and memories from our freediving liveaboard trip to Komodo with Tradewinds Adventures. Originally, before we found them, we were considering just hopping on a scuba liveaboard or snorkeling boat to explore Komodo, but after this liveaboard, I realize that freedivers need trips and excursions that are organized by other fellow freedivers. Tradewinds Adventures anticipated everything that a scuba or snorkeling charter would miss, such as dive locations, equipment, dive conditions, and even the other people on the boat with us. You cannot go wrong booking your next freediving trip with Tradewinds Adventures; I highly recommend it and look forward to joining them on a future trip to Raja Ampat or Banda Islands!

What You Need To Know

Getting There

Getting to Labuan Bajo is possible by airplane and/or ferry travel. There are multiple domestic flights available from cities such as Denpasar, Jakarta, Surabaya, Bima, and Mataram, while there are ferries running from Sape, Makassar, and Lombok to Labuan Bajo. Be sure to check the ferry schedules ahead of the trip. There are also tour companies who organize boat trips to Labuan Bajo, but this take can take 2-3 days to arrive and may not be the most comfortable option.

When to Go

Komodo National Park is best to visit from April to October. This is the dry season for this season, so the visibility is outstanding with favorable winds. Nighttime rains may still occur, but the days are filled with sunshine and blue skies. Cool ocean breezes will keep you feeling pleasant in the midst of the daytime heat and refreshed at night.

Currency

The currency in Indonesia is Indonesian Rupiah (IDR), with the exchange rate being roughly 1 USD/14,236 IDR/0.9 EUR. Bring extra rupiah for buying supplies in the shop, tips for the boat crew, or for extra drinks onboard.

Cellular/Internet Access

While you may have bought a data package for your cell phone, do not expect data coverage for your cell phone throughout the trip. There will be some hours, or days, where you are forced to tear your eyes away from the screen and concentrate on the people and the beauty around you.

Find Out More

You can find out more about Tradewinds Adventures Liveaboards and how to book one by visiting their website – www.tradewindsadventures.com

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Accommodation
Diving
Location
Value for Money
Kristina Zvaritch
Kristina, an AIDA and PADI Freediving Instructor, discovered her love for the sea as a PADI Divemaster in Dahab, Egypt, where she shared the Blue Hole with freedivers and developed a serious passion for the single-breath sport. Nowadays, when she isn’t nose-deep in a novel on the beach, Kristina trains for depth with her partner and pretends to be a mermaid when he’s not looking.

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