Tatawa Islands are nicknamed the “Anthias Capital of Indonesia.” It is in surrounding coral reefs, where you’ll discover this small, resplendent fish in colorful droves. The Tatawa Islands, be it Tatawa Besar or Tatawa Kecil, contain extraordinary sea life and some of the best snorkeling spots in Komodo National Park. For the lucky ones, encounters with elusive Dugong are quite common.
Tatawa Besar is painted with coral gardens visible near the surface from around 5 meters. Snorkeling around Tatawa Besar is sublime. And as you dive deeper, a combination of soft and hard corals with orange-reddish hues will take your breath away. It is a common sight to swim with a large school of fusiliers in synchrony as you find yourself drifting along with the current of the sea, with the occasional sighting of a manta ray. Tatawa Besar is a famous spot for macro-photography. Much alien-looking marine life can be spotted diving here. Including batfish, nudibranchs, leafy scorpionfish, and moray eels hide among the boulders scattered everywhere on the island. Under perfect currents, Tatawa Besar promises an excellent drift over a vibrant underwater landscape.
The smaller island of Tatawa Kecil is where conditions for snorkeling could prove to be less favorable as currents can be strong at times. Yet still, Tatawa Kecil is a popular site for diving with fascinating topography. You can start descending into the waters in the south-west corner of the island where eagle rays, giant trevallies, and occasionally, sharks are in abundance. The walls are painted with small invertebrates that will pique your interest, and they serve as the cleaning station for the oriental sweetlips too. You will find yourself in the company of more marine life, including batfish, moray eels, and fusiliers, which populate the entire coral garden around Tatawa Kecil.
Nearby Tatawa islands, there is another hidden gem – Mangiatan island. Some tourists know the island by its other name – Sembilan Island – because this peculiar island is shaped like the number 9. The island sits on shallow waters, promising safe and easy snorkeling and swimming. However, the real highlight of Mangiatan island is its many natural ponds that are home to rare, small stingless jellyfish. Snorkeling in these ponds is a fascinating experience as it feels like swimming in a tropical aquarium. Overall, avid snorkelers and divers should not miss the underwater paradise surrounding Tatawa Islands.