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If it´s hammerheads you want to see skip Layang Layang and other Southeast Asia destinations and go to the Galapagos Islands, there you can do land based diving and hammerheads are garanteed! I can recommend Scuba Iguana in Puerto Ayora with those 1700 USS you´ll be able to do like 20 dives. You can also go to Cocos Island in Costa Rica for Hammerheads but Liveabord is your only choice and it´s expensive.
My question regading hammerheads is why do some of the posters say that LL is better than Sipadan. Is it only because of the limits at Sipadan or because believe hammerhead action is truly better at LL? I ask because I saw hundreds of hammerheads at Sipadan but that was just before the island closed.
I think hammerheads at Sipadan are a much rarer occurrence, certainly compared to LL in April - June but it sounds like you had a great trip.
In overall experience though, I preferred my trip to Sipadan more than my trips to LL but my only Sipadan trip was when I could stay on the island and do the early morning and evening / night dives every day. I am pretty sure that I would not prefer a Sipadan trip now to one in LL. Note that I am biased in reality (because I get to dive the other nearby reefs to LL, in addition to the normal sites) and in appearance (because I work for a company doing LOB trips to LL).
Thanks Zippsy. Yes, it was a wonderful trip and had mantra action too. I also have quite wonderful memory of a late afternoon snorkel as the bumphead parrotfish met me head on as they headed out of the shallows towards the wall to find their beds for the evening.
The White Manta steams from Kota Kinabalu which most people think is a positive. The benefits are that you don't have the cost of extra flight and you don't have to worry about overweight baggage (which is a HUGE worry on the plane to LL). Also, some people don't enjoy the ride on the tiny propeller planes.
The drawbacks of sailing include time (it's about a 17 hour sail) and if you are prone to seasickness, that's a lot of open seas although it is normally calm during the season we are there. I do not think sinking would be considered a real worry but I need to be careful what I say about that. :p
The differences being on a LOB, compared to the resort include that you get to dive from the LOB at dive sites not accessable from the resort (Dallas Reef, Marivelles Reef, Usukan wreck) and there are no noticable commutes to dives. Disadvantages include that you don't get wi-fi, dives at the pier or hard ground under your feet.
Another strange advantage is that you seem to be guaranteed hammerheads on the LOB. I've been to the resort twice and saw a single HH and judging from other divers' experience, I'd say you have a 50% chance of seeing them over 5 days of diving. On the boat last season, ever diver diving with our guides saw them.