Labuan Bajo to Bima via Komodo, Banta & Sangeang
Komodo dragons, colorful coral reefs and abundant marine life! Experience the worlds' best critter diving combined with incredible topside views and land based aventures. This cruise departs from Labuan Bajo, Flores and ends in Bima, Sumbawa visiting Sangeang, Banta, Komodo, Padar, and Rinca Islands.
Detailed daily itinerary for Labuan Bajo to Bima, ten nights. Please note that this itinerary is subject to change depending on local weather and diving conditions and that all times are approximate.
Day One: Labuan Bajo, Arrival & Boarding
A 1 hour and 10 minute flight from Denpasar, Bali and you will arrive in the small port town of Labuan Bajo, Flores. Kararu Dive Voyages staff will pick you up at the airport for immediate boarding and departure.
Less than 15 km from Labuan Bajo’s harbor, lies a small island with exceptional diving including bronze sweepers, lionfish, eels, and the resident ghost pipefish which makes the perfect “warmup dive”. The staggered tiers of the neighboring patch reef is home to many different species of nudis, pipefish, crustaceans, and even a few twinspot lionfish.
Day Two: Gili Lawah Laut & Gili Lawah Darat
Literally “Island Facing the Sea”, Gili Lawa Laut is home to two of the best pinnacles in all of Indonesia, Crystal and Hard-2-Find Rocks. These two pinnacles, both displaying an impressive amount of soft and hard coral cover, are also the gathering ground for huge schools of jacks, giant trevally, white tip reef sharks, surgeonfish, and a whole host of smaller reef fish that float amongst the fields of staghorn coral. Often times dolphins will make an appearance, chasing the large schools of fusiliers around the pinnacles, putting on quite a show.
Apart from the pinnacles, Gili Lawa Laut also features a dive known to many as the Washing Machine. The swift moving current between Gili Lawa Laut and its neighbor Gili Lawa Darat moves divers down a shallow channel and empties into a large bowl-shaped depression with walls 10 meters high. The vortex effect caused by this seems to appeal to sharks, mantas, and jacks, who will often spend time swimming around the bowl, waiting for something good to drop in for lunch.
Day Three: Komodo National Park
Early in the morning or in the afternoon depending on our dive schedule, we will begin our breathtaking walk of Komodo Island to see the infamous dragons. Usually a few hours is spent on shore viewing the dragon and we are back in the water by noon.
Pantai Merah: “Pink Beach” lies just across a large bay from Kampung Komodo, the only village on the island of Komodo. A beautiful white sand beach, popular with snorkelers for it’s rich shallow coral reef, the diving is just as popular. A rocky pinnacle, Valerie’s Rock, rises to the surface at its southern end and shelters large schools of reef fish, cuttlefish, and a few giant frogfish. In addition to the abundant fish life, macro is also on the menu. Nudibranchs and pleurobranchs as well as longnose hawkfish and pipefish make their home amongst the black coral covered slopes. Pantai Merah is often subject to strong currents and at times a challenging down current.
Days Four & Five: Padar / Rinca
Sitting in the channel between Komodo and Rinca, Padar’s claim to fame is W-Reef. Home to some very unique species of nudibranch, including the Nembrotha Purpolienolata and gorgeous Ceratosoma Magnifica (formerly Miamira Magnifica). The coral pillars of W-Reef, which sit in a strange “W” shaped configuration are literally alive with color. Holothurians cover almost every bare surface, from the bright red and purple sea apples, to the yellow and white cucmbers that clean the reeftop. Lionfish and wrasse populate the tops of the pillars, some coming with 5 meters of the surface. Subject to strong currents and an almost permanent surge, this can be a challenging yet beautiful dive. A quick hike up the gentle slopes of Padar provides an outstanding view of both Komodo and Rinca Islands for those so inclined.
Manta Alley, Komodo: A group of large rocks break the surface of windswept Langkoi Bay on Komodo’s southeastern tip. A small channel between two of the rocks, and the cleaning stations on the surrounding reef, make this area popular with Manta Rays. Currents can easily reach to the 4+ knot range at this site. Luckily, one particular bay seems to remain current free yet still seems popular with the mantas, a definite uniquity when it comes to manta stations. With the number of mantas sometimes in the double digits, this site is large enough to allow divers to spread out and have a manta station all to themselves.
Day Six: Rinca
Horseshoe Bay, Rinca & Nusa Kode: Horseshoe Bay is shaped like its namesake with Rinca Island forming the outer arc and Nusa Kode forming the inner one. The colder plankton-rich waters of the Indian Ocean make this area slightly colder than the northern regions of the Park. Despite the temperature drop, the incredible amount and bizarre array of sea-life still gets everyone in the water at least four times each day.
Home to some of the most written-about dive sites in Indonesia, Horseshoe Bay is a literal treasure trove of things large and small. The Indian Ocean waters cause the dive sites here to be overflowing with life, from huge amounts of yellow and orange softcorals to schools of fish so thick they block out the sun. The reef-top of famous Cannibal Rock is littered with anemones, soft corals, and wrasse-choked hard corals. The deeper rocks provide hiding places for an unbelievable array of nudibranchs and crustaceans. Frogfish of different species populate the walls and slopes. Sea apples and other holothurians abound on the rocky tiers.
Torpedo Alley, in addition to being home to the electrified rays it gets it name from, is also home to ghost pipefish, frogfish, and it’s own share of the dazzling array of nudis that call Horseshoe Bay home. Yella Wall O’Texas’ lady-bug covered soft corals share space with huge sea fans that are home to several kinds of Pygmy Seahorses. With everything from turtles, mantas, and whale sharks coming by Horseshoe Bay is well worth the extra neoprene.
Day Seven: Komodo National Park
Tatawa Besar gives us one of the most colorful drift dives in all of Komodo. The eastern stretch of coastline is alternating parts rock and mangrove. A gentle slope runs out from the coastline to about 30 meters where it becomes a sandy flat. During rising and falling tides, the soft corals covering the slope open up for the passing divers. Eagle Rays and Turtles are typical customers along this rich coral slope. The coastline is long enough that the drift can last up to 40 minutes and cover almost 2 kilometers.
Day Eight: Banta Island
Banta’s large north facing bay makes for a calm and visually stunning anchorage. With Sangean’s huge silhouette off to the northwest and Banta’s own steep barren slopes to the south, even the largest liveaboard looks a rubber duckie in a swimming pool. The diving on Banta comes in every shape and size. GPS Point, the football field size pinnacle off the eastern tip, is home to large schools of fish, traveling pelagics, and some impressive coral gardens. It’s orientation in the channel between Indian and Pacific Oceans makes it a convenient migratory animal attraction.
On the white sand slopes of Banta itself are multiple dive sites that are home to stargazers, leaf fish, and snake eels. In some spots, huge bommies play host to passing manta rays, resting white tip reef sharks, and huge cuttlefish.
Days Nine & Ten: Sangeang Island
The ship arrives early morning in one of the most beautiful islands on our trip. Depending on conditions we dive either the South or North of Sangeang Island. A full days diving can be spent at these spectacular dive sites.
Sangeang is an active 2000 meter high volcano that sits just to the northwest of Komodo National Park. There are numerous inviting black sand beaches and bays that surround the island, providing us with multiple dive sites. Though each site is different, they all provide for a macro bonanza. Ghost Pipefish populate the almost fluorescent green Black Coral bushes. Frogfish hide along the reefs and walls that border the broad black sand slopes. Nudis of every shape and size graze along the patch reefs and open sand flats. Juvenile nudis and frogfish seem to appear out of nowhere in the rock-strewn surf zone.
The contrast provided by the beautiful reefs against the black sand backdrop make for some unique and interesting wide angle opportunities. The occasional wandering pelagic, the ever present squid, and the large broadclub cuttlefish vie for attention with the macro loaded sand slopes. A theme for the entire Komodo region, the night dives here are not to be missed. At Bontoh, frogfish, ghost pipefish, boxer crabs, and an unbelievable amount of nudibranchs…all in less than 5m…make this a great way to end a day at Sangeang.
Day Eleven: Bima
You will be served breakfast and afterwards prepare for disembarkation. At 9:00 AM, you will be transferred to the Bima Airport and checked in by Kararu’s staff. Estimated time of arrival after your 1 hour flight back to Bali is around 1 PM.
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