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What To Expect On a Banta Liveaboard
Liveaboards to Banta Island explore the waters around this small island and are home to some of the most famous dive sites in the region. The underwater bank which on the North side is home to some strong plankton rich currents which bring spectacular wildlife. There is a great range of diving here, there is muck diving with lots of critters on the sea mounts and in deeper water sharks and pelagic fish as well. A number of different Banta liveaboard options are available which offer diving in Banta as part of their itineraries.
Sitting to the North West of Komodo Island close to the edge of the Komodo National Park in the Lesser Sundra Islands. The island is volcanic with beautiful sloping green hills and sweeping bays that make for some beautiful views. Although the island is not currently included in the Komodo National Park, it is one of the proposed extensions of the protected area. The coral in the area was severely damaged by dynamite fishing in the 90's but the hard and soft corals have been recovering in recent years and the reefs are still full of life.
For those who have been diving in other areas of the park, the waters around Banta island are noticeably colder with stronger currents. The underwater mount is subject to currents of up to 3 knots and the conditions can be quite challenging but the abundance of wildlife makes this one of the best diving locations in the region. The dives normally involve dropping down onto the sea mount and trying to stay out of the current as much as possible. The currents mean that most of the dives here are at least partly drift dives.
The Banta area is a fantastic spot for sharks, boasting white tip and black tip reef sharks, nurse sharks and even hammerheads in deeper water. Sharks aren't the only big fish either, there are other pelagics such as tuna, sturgeon and barracuda feeding in the currents. Macro lovers won't be disappointed in the corals and critters on the mount especially when night diving. The underwater bank is rich with coral and there are plenty of shrimps, nudibranch and frogfish living there.
Dive Sites of Banta
Banta liveaboards will visit many dive sites in the area, but a few examples of some that may be visited are shown below;
GPS Point is the most well-known dive site in the Banta area, which is thought by many to be one of the best dives in the region. The current at GPS point can be phenomenal, sweeping over the sea mount, and it can make the descent challenging. This current and deeper waters attract sharks, with white and black tips in large numbers as well as the chance to see hammerheads coming up from the deep.
Rollercoaster or also known as Tondok Rasa sits at the North West tip of Banta island and it definitely lives up to its nickname, the currents here can be a very wild ride. Upwards and downwards currents can take divers and sometime even wildlife by surprise. The rollercoaster is a great place to see whitetips and grey reef sharks all around in the deeper water.
StarWars There are even more big fish and sharks on offer at this site in the North of the island. The same goes for Galley rock although the currents are very strong in both areas meaning these sites are not really ideal for beginners.
Top Tips for Divers
- Cold currents from Flores mean that the water here is much colder than other areas so divers should bring extra thermal protection.
- The currents can be very strong here so it might be a good idea to bring good lanyards and clips to keep extra equipment like cameras doubly secure.
- The currents here also mean that a negative descent is common and holding onto a particular part of the rock can be the difference between one dive profile and another.
Getting to Banta
Banta island is to the North West of Komodo and so it is accessible by diving liveaboard from both Bali and Labuan Bajo. A liveaboard really is the best way to visit Banta, the variable currents mean there is a great deal of planning and changing of dive sites in the area.
There are a number of different kind of Indonesian liveaboards available both motor vessels and traditional Indonesian phinisi, twin-masted sailboats converted into luxurious diving liveaboards. These sail boats offer a tranquil and smooth diving experience when you are visiting Banta. If you only have time for one or two dives though there are also day trips from Labuan Bajo.
Bali International Airport (Ngurah Rai) has flights throughout Asia and connections further afield as well as regular connecting flights to Labuan Bajo. There is also a three-day ferry boat between Bali and Labuan Bajo for those visitors looking for a more adventurous transit.