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Liveaboard Diving in Golden Passage
What To Expect On A Golden Passage Liveaboard
Golden Passage liveaboards will usually visit this site as part of a Komodo Islands cruise. The dive site is situated in the channel between the small islet of Gili Lawa Darat and the main island of Komodo. The entire island, including Gili Lawa Darat, is protected by the Komodo National Park, which conserves flora and fauna both on land and underwater. Lawa Darat is one of the smaller of the islets and is famed for its excellent marine life and strong currents. The islet is volcanic with sloping green hills and beautiful sweeping bays, although there is limited flora and fauna on land. A good choice is available for Komodo liveaboards that will visit this dive site.
The reefs beneath the surface are also made up of volcanic rock, but they are teaming with life. In the shallower water there has been some damage from cyanide and dynamite fishing and bleaching of corals. In deeper water though, the reef is still mostly intact and caked in hard and soft coral.
The channel between the islands where Golden Passage is, has some of the strongest currents in the region. The change in depth and shape of the sea-bed in the area, means that cold deeper currents pass through. These currents can reach several knots, so most dives at Golden Passage are drift dives. There are some small bays close to the islands though, and these make a good easy entry point before you are taken by the current out into the channel which is around 20 meters deep.
What You Can See
Liveaboards to Golden Passage take divers to a stunning coral reef, growing on the volcanic rocks along the side of the passage. There are a huge variety of bright coloured hard and soft corals, with a host of interesting critters hiding in amongst them. Hundreds of different kinds of reef fish and even white and black tip reef sharks can be seen on hunting over the corals. Due to the damage caused by dynamite fishing in the area, the deeper down you go the richer the life becomes. The reef also attracts hawksbill turtles and trevallies which love to feed smaller fish.
The currents run very fast through the passage as well, which brings nutrient rich waters that attracts the bigger life too. Mantas can be seen swimming through the passage above and below divers, with their mouths wide open to filter plankton. There is also a chance, that divers will be surprised by pods of dolphins which come to the reef to feed as well.
Getting To Golden Passage
The Golden Passage is to the very north of Komodo, in the heart of the Komodo National Park. The area is around an hour by boat from Labuan Bajo on Flores, a popular departure point for dive tours and cruises. There are some day boat trips leaving from Flores to Golden Passage if you only have time for one or two dives. The most popular way to visit this area though, is by diving liveaboard.
There are a few different kinds of Komodo liveaboard boats to choose from, depending on your taste and budget. The usual motor vessels converted into custom dive cruising ships offer a comfortable and sleek cruise. The most popular choice in Komodo however is a week or two weeks aboard a traditional Phinisi Indonesian sailing boat. These beautiful ships offer a combination of peaceful sailing and custom built diving facilities.
Most Indonesian liveaboards depart from either Labuan Bajo on Flores island or from Bali. A number of them start in one and finish in the other, giving you the maximum time diving. Flights to Bali International airport are available from many international destinations and from there, connecting flights go on to Labuan Bajo.