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What To Expect On A Sangeang Liveaboard
Liveaboards to Sangeang, to the North West of Komodo Island in the direction of Bima, will trasnport divers to a special area for diving. Sangeang is a volcano towering over the surrounding Lesser Sunda Islands. Also known as Gunung Api, the volcano is still active, and since 2015, it has been smouldering with plumes of smoke visible from nearby islands. These smoky clouds and sloping green hills make Sangeang one of the most beautiful and atmospheric islands in the region.
Although the island has been sparsely inhabited for many years, liveaboards still visit this area and now it is home to only one tiny fishing village, likely due to the volcanic activity. There are some local groups that still farm the fertile ground around the volcanic cones. Most of these groups have been evacuated during several of the eruptions in recent years to avoid any casualties. The volcano has also been the cause of numerous ash clouds which have grounded flights around the area. A selection of Indonesian liveaboards offer dive itineraries to the Sangeang area.
The active nature of the volcano can be seen underwater as well with beautiful topography and even hot rocks and sand on the bottom. Volcanic lava flow has created fantastic rock formations on the bottom, as well as jet black sands. Underwater vents from the volcano also mean that divers aren’t the only ones causing bubbles. There are endless air streams coming though the sand around the island. Although this is an amazing diving experience, it is worth noting that it can sometimes cause the normally excellent visibility to be severely reduced.
The reefs are home to a huge variety of soft and hard corals as well as anemone and they are rich with colourful reef fish. The sight of beautiful fish amongst black corals and dark volcanic rock is quite stunning. There is also ample muck diving in the area, with hordes of critters living both on the reef and on the bubbling sand. Lurid coloured flatworms are often seen down on the bottom and pygmy seahorses and glowing flame file shell are this area’s ‘something special’.
Dive Sites Of Sangeang
Bubble Reef is probably the most famous of Sangeang’s dive sites. This is in no small part because it offers the opportunity to dive in the streams of bubbles, coming from deep underground volcanic vents. The effect is quite spectacular, as is the number of fascinating critters that can be found such as flatworms, seahorses and ghost pipe fish. The site boasts not only sand and bubbles but also a reef of hard, soft and leather corals. Hot Rocks dive site also shares Bubble Reef’s level of volcanic activity. Here the bubbles and heat from the sand and rocks make the water much warmer than other dive sites. Hot Rocks also enjoys a beautiful reef full of gorgonians and critters including nudibranch and pygmy seahorses.
Lighthouse Reef is also home to a beautiful coral reef and patches of volcanic sand. This is a great place to see frogfish clinging onto the volcanic rocks to disguise themselves, as well as nudibranch and shrimp. Flame file shells are an interesting sight divers can also experience here, they appear to glow with bright and luminescent colours which can be spectacular, even when you know it is really just a reflection. Conditions at Lighthouse reef are great for newer divers too, as currents are much less here. The Estuary dive site is also a more sheltered option offering gorgonians, nudibranch and ghostpipe fish in gentler currents.
Top Tips For Divers
- Sangeang is a top destination for muck diving, so photographers should be prepared to be showered with macro opportunities.
- The water in some areas can be slightly warmer than surrounding islands due to the heat from the volcano. Divers should adjust their thermal protection accordingly.
Getting To Sangeang
To make the most of a trip to Sangeang, an Indonesian liveaboard dive boat is the best option. Not only do you get to be first in the water at this popular sight but floating off the coast of the volcano, you couldn’t ask for a more magical view. There are a few different kinds of vessel to choose from, including motor vessels of various sizes. The most popular and luxurious way to travel though, is by a traditional Indonesian phinisi a twin-masted sailing boat. A number of these boats have been converted into luxury diving vessels and make for a peaceful and authentic trip. There are also some day trips to Sangeang which offer two or three dives and depart from Labuan Bajo in Flores.
Most of the liveaboards depart from either the ports in Labuan Bajo or Bali. Bali International Airport (Ngurah Rai) offers regular flights to Asia and connections further afield. This is also where you can connect to fly to Labuan Bajo. There is also a several day long ferry to Labuan Bajo for those who want even more of an adventure.