Komodo National Park 6-7 Nights
Gili Banta, The Sape Strait: The imposing and impressively desolate island of Gili Banta sits in the Flores Sea at the top of the Sape Strait, the current washed channel that separates the islands of Komodo and Sumbawa. There is little in the way of vegetation on Banta save for a few sparse trees and bushes growing on the rocky slopes and ledges above the beaches. Majestic sea eagles have made their homes on the vertical rock faces that plunge into the deep blue sea and are frequently seen soaring, swooping and even fighting with each other while hunting for a meal. Gili Banta's main dive sites are situated in and around this north facing bay close to the edges of what is almost certainly the caldera of a massive but long extinct volcano. There are two points on the east and west ends of the bay; one a picturesque and teeming coral reef underneath a rocky peninsula (Starwars), the other a current swept promontory with breathtaking marine architecture ( Rollercoaster). For divers wanting a more sedate time there are some pretty white sand and coral reef sites such as The Circus and K2. These two sites are inside the bay and regularly come up with unusual marine critters and are ideal for underwater photography and night dives in easy calm conditions. The main attraction at Gili Banta however is the infamous GPS Point, a high voltage coral covered underwater mountain and one of the most unpredictable and demanding dives in the Komodo area; but so rewarding when dived in the right conditions at the right time.
Gili Lawah Laut & Gili Lawah Darat: Located on the northern edge of the Komodo National Park the Gili Lawah area comprises of two bays on north Komodo and two islands, Gili Lawah Laut and Gili Lawah Darat. The terrain here is rocky hilly savannah and the two islands support big herds of goats as well as the ubiquitous sea eagles and blackbirds. There are some very scenic hikes up onto the tops of the hills here and the climber is rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding islands and waterways, especially at sunrise and sunset. The diving here is some of the very best in the area, if not the world. Spectacular sea mounts, glittering reefs, current swept channels all in a relatively small area make diving here a must on every visit. Recently on two of the sites hunting dolphins have been sighted with an entourage of grey reef sharks and giant travelley. On other sites here there are families of manta rays and even a rare dugong was spotted on one dive site in this area.
Sangeang and Satonda: Sangeang Api, a huge twin peaked volcano thrusting out of the ocean is one of the most active volcanoes in the Lesser Sunda Islands. Two large volcanic cones, 1,949m/6500ft - high Doro Api and 1,795m/5980ft - high Doro Mantoi, are in the centre and on the eastern rim, respectively, of an older, largely obscured caldera. Aside from the stunning mountainous scenery, wild horses and domestic buffalo can sometimes be seen on the beaches. The underwater world of Sangeang is every bit as impressive as the island itself with caves, canyons and mysterious reefs bubbling like champagne due to the volcanic activity below. These volcanic islands have ideal muck diving conditions. Bury your head in the sand to find a whole cache of hidden creatures, such as ghost pipefish, seahorses, frogfish, flatworms, arrow crabs and sea moths, plenty to keep photographers happy.
Batu Bolong: At the surface, you can just see a small rock with a hole in it, but underwater it goes deep into the blue down to 70m. The rock is full of marine life with an amazing hard and soft coral cover and numerous cracks. There are some huge schools around the surface, many pelagic fish such as dogtooth tuna, giant trevallies and Napoleon wrasse . Deeper down you can see white tip sharks sleeping on the slope. The current can be very strong and divers must be experienced and take care.
Horseshoe Bay (Nusa Kode) at Rinja Island: One of the top 10 dive sites in the world and a diver’s paradise. The Yellow Wall of Texas is one of the Komodo National Park's signature dive sites, so called because of the proliferation of robust sea cucumbers - they are all over the place and their bright yellow hue dominates the vista. You can also feast your eyes on clown triggerfish cruising around the reef amongst the thousands of fork-tailed fairy basslets and butterflyfish. Not only does the wall itself promise much in the way of entertainment but sharks, manta rays and turtles are all frequent passers-by. Torpedo Alley is famous for its electric rays and one of the best night dives you will do for critter sightings. Cannibal Rock has been described as being in the top five dives on the planet, the site has marginal visibility but more than makes up for it in terms of density of life. This small seamount rises to within a few feet of the surface, and it is easy to circumnavigate in a single dive. Sea apples and other varieties of the sea cucumber family are especially abundant here, as are nudibranchs, puffer fish, octopus, and all weird and wonderful manner of blennies.
Manta Alley: The water clarity can sometimes be only about 40 feet, but the plankton that clouds the visibility also consistently attracts manta rays. Here divers can see manta rays cruising the shallows along the sloping face of the reef, and with a bit of luck and a careful approach can get fairly close.
Pink Beach: An amazing dive site in a small area around a rock that breaks the surface only at low tide. There is a great variety of marine life here with a good selection of critters such as leaf scorpionfish, blueribbon eels, crocodile fish, nudibranchs and more. This site is also excellent for night dives.
Lighthouse Reef: On the corner of the reef behind a very large rock there is a drop off covered in boulders, with many swim holes in between. This is excellent grouper country and if divers are there at the right time, especially in October and November, they will see many aggregate to spawn. Other highlights are the numerous golden trevallies, snappers and occasional huge napoleon wrasses.
Crystal Rock: A sea mound covered with nice soft coral. The fish life is excellent with whitetip and blacktip sharks and grey reef sharks in deeper water. There are also batfish, giant trevallies and dogtooth tuna. The current can be very strong but the water is extremely clear