Sangeang Island Volcano
Indonesia is a part of what is known as the “Pacific Ring of Fire”. This refers to a belt of convergence and subduction zones of the planetary plates. These zones are where the Earth’s volcanoes are located and where the vast majority of earthquakes occur. We won’t get into a discussion of plate tectonics here but learning more about it is a fascinating insight into our living Earth. Suffice it to say that as part of the “Ring of Fire” Indonesia is home to more volcanoes than any other country. One of the most fascinating volcanoes in the country is a part of every journey to Komodo, Sangeang!
Classic Volcano Cone
Sangeang island dominates the horizon to the west of Komodo like only a volcano can. When viewed from the east it appears as the classic cone shape of a volcano. However, it’s more than just a simple volcano. The island itself boasts twin volcanic peaks of almost the same height. With a diameter of only 13km, the island itself is basically one large volcano. The two peaks are named Doro Api and Doro Mantoi and they soar almost 2000 meters above sea level. Doro Api is the more active with most recent volcanic activity originating from its peak. However, there are several active vents located on both.
One of the more fascinating things about Sangeang is the fact it’s a very active volcano. Since 2014, the Doro Api peak has had almost constant venting. This manifests itself either as a light amount of smoke trailing out of the peak or the occasional puff of ash. These small puffs of ash look incredible when viewed from aboard Samata while we are cruising close to the island. Its also an amazing addition to sunset photographs from Komodo. One of our favorite anchorages in Komodo is on the NW of the island at Batu Monco. This west facing bay offers a commanding view of Sangeang. This is a spectacular location to spend sunset as the pink and red skies create a beautiful backdrop for the volcano.
Diving at Sangeang
Not only are Sangeang island landscapes impressive to view, the underwater environment is also unique. As an active volcano, there are hotspots all around the island in the form of hot springs. However, these hot springs happen to be found underwater as opposed to on land. They take the form of fountains of bubbles that seep out from the sand. They are found on a number of dive sites and can vary in intensity. Divers can watch the amazing fountains of bubbles streaming out of the black sand. Curious divers can also stick their hands into the sand where the bubbles are located and feel how warm the sand actually is! This is a very unique phenomenon found in very few other places in the world.
If the bubbles aren’t enough, then the marine life is also a great attraction. The volcanic sand offers interesting environments for different creatures than the coral gardens of nearby Komodo. A vast array of cool and colorful characters such as nudibranch, ghost pipefish, frogfish, and even bobbit worms are found here. This is one of our favorite spots in all of Indonesia for a night dive.
The People of Sangeang
With rich volcanic soil, the western slopes of the island offer wonderful farming opportunities. The gentle slopes are filled with orchards and crops of all sorts including peanuts and cashew trees. Many of these farmers live on the neighboring large island of Sumbawa where they sell their cash crops. There is also a small permanent village on the island of just a few dozen people. The village of Bonto is home to a few families of farmers who tend the crops and cattle. They also build fishing boats to supplement their income.
Sangeang is certainly one of our favorite attractions in the Komodo area. The beautiful shape of the island mixed with the volcanic features creates a fascinating destination. When the island is in sight it always attracts the eye in the faint hope of witnessing a small volcanic puff. Cruising close to the island offers a wonderful view of an active volcano in action. The latest eruption cycle has created a flow of rock down the eastern side of the island. For anyone interested in volcanoes, Indonesia is one of the best destinations in the world to visit. In a land of volcanoes, Sangeang Island is truly one of the most interesting of all. The island is a part of all of our Komodo National Park itineraries, please let us know if you would like to include a visit on your next Samata trip!