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Derawan - Maratua - Sangalaki - Kakaban islands trip report (East Kalimantan) September 2019

Discussion in 'Indonesia' started by kkshxt, Dec 3, 2019.

  1. kkshxt

    kkshxt Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Taiwan
    20
    37
    13
    Hi all,
    I did this trip on September 7 ~ 15 2019
    dive resort: Home By Borneo Diving
    It is Chinese owned and managed onsite by a local manager.
    They offered me a 7D6N package
    5 days of diving
    first 4 days, one island per day, and the 5th day we can choose one island on our own.
    The first day is for check dive so we dived the Derawan main island.
    All 3 dives including a night dive we did at the jetty, which was very nice.
    there is a small wreck at 2x meters deep, full of soft corals.
    and the jetty itself is full of fish. The motorbike is near the jetty in the shallow.
    48797268126_345bc9777c_z.jpg
    48797408457_2c7f10f2c3_z.jpg

    Day two we challenged the Maratua island!
    the highlight is the Big fish country, for the schooling barracudas!
    48797408077_589e68b211_z.jpg

    the current was so strong when we dived, I can hear wind sound!

    48796910213_0e4ab47899_z.jpg

    besides barracuda, there are some sharks and lots of turtles.
    During the surface interval, the local children at Maratua imitate everything we do :D
    49161806378_b8dcdf1339_z.jpg

    day three we went to the Sangalaki island for the mantas.
    It has been told the manta sighting is unpredictable, and two of our dive buddies are worried because they have failed to encounter manta in the German channel(Palau) and Ishigaki(Japan). I tried to comfort them that even if there is no manta, the coral reef will be beautiful. One of them asked me please don't say anything about the coral if we really don't see any manta, just don't.
    Fortunately, before we enter the water of Sangalaki, we saw mantas already!
    On that day, we saw more than 50 mantas, if not 100 ~~~
    48797267656_a78b2e2bc5_z.jpg
    here is my best shot of the 3 dives.

    In the evening, the ranger in Derawan says Hatchlings will swim toward the moonlight by instinct, but the modern lighting always confuses them. So on a night of the full moon, he carefully picks a dark beach to send them home. I go into the water and wait with a snorkel. I try to capture the swimming babies but they swim so fast and it's extremely hard to focus. Finally this Tukik (Indonesian) comes to say goodbye on its way home. I hope it has a safe journey despite all the predators and threats it is going to encounter.
    48797267696_a0002880bc_z.jpg

    4th day we went to Kakaban island, but the weather wasn't great and viz degraded.
    We didn't see the big animals(some other groups saw schooling hammerhead and thresher sharks), but the coral walls and jellyfish lake were very nice.

    48796910563_63202af7de_z.jpg
    49162565582_8dc623c850_z.jpg

    the 5th day we wanted to dive Maratua again, but the wind was too strong, so we can dive Derawan only. It was fun, but nothing to write home.

    On the way back home, we realized that the bad weather was a big problem, because it caused a forest fire in Borneo, and the smoke shot down the airport in Berau for days!
    We all had to get back to work, so we took a car ride (17.5 hr) to Balikpapan airport ... of course, we missed our original flights and hotels, and the car ride was an adventure.

    useful information:
    the manager told me the most stable weather is in April - May and not so crowded. Try to avoid the national holiday in October, it's super crowded.

    PS.
    There are a lot of cats on Derawan island, and they may need vet and ligation.
     

    Attached Files:

    chillyinCanada, Dan, DSR-3 and 5 others like this.
  2. Trailboss123

    Trailboss123 Divemaster ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Tacoma, WA & Channel Islands, CA- USA
    1,999
    2,079
    113
    Thanks and what were the costs associated with this package? I went to the website, but am not seeing anything on cost for accommodations, meals, diving.
     
  3. Luko

    Luko Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Paris, France
    2,025
    1,581
    113
    Nice report and excellent photos as usual, though I'm still perplex about the destination, I have had very different feedback on the overall quality, many don't match.

    On the positive side I read mantas galore and kakaban jellyfish lake however :
    - Big fish city, I'm yet to be impressed with the 'cudas school. I guess you've been to Sipadan, from what I see on the images, I've sometimes seen equivalent sized if not bigger schools in Sipadan without the current conditions and transport bother. What do you think about the comparison?
    Proof in Sipadan:
    5346909045_7354e7ca72_z.jpg

    - coral and coralfish life: some of friends say it's often disappointing, lots of barren areas. (Your photo of gorgonians is good, however fish and gorgonians often won't match together) What would you compare with?

    - On the number of dive sites. Friends say it's limited and you're soon to dive on mundane spots.
     
  4. Tippytoes12

    Tippytoes12 Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: UK
    1,033
    454
    83
    Great report and photos, thank you so much for sharing it. I love the picture of the baby turtle in the water, so so so cute.
     
    chillyinCanada likes this.
  5. kkshxt

    kkshxt Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Taiwan
    20
    37
    13
    Hi Trailboss123, the cost was USD1320 including everything you mentioned, and it was quoted in late 2018. I planned this trip one year in advance :D
    thank you Tippytoes12 :D
    That one is my favorite too!
     
    Tippytoes12 likes this.
  6. kkshxt

    kkshxt Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Taiwan
    20
    37
    13
    Hi Luko, I haven't been to Sipadan yet, so I can't compare them. Some of my friends who had been to both told me that the cudas school encounter in Sipadan is not guaranteed, at least they didn't see it. But another group of my friends also failed to encounter the school in the big fish country... As for transport, yes, it's very tiring. I think I should visit Sipadan asap so I can properly reply you ~

    As for coral and fish, I guess it's depend on the dive guide very much.
    Our guide were two very senior locals, they planed our dives very well, we didn't dive any barren areas, even in Derawan main island. I guess they skipped those unhealthy sites?
    As for fish, the Derawan island jetty site is comparable to Sawandarek Jetty in R4 in my point of view.
    But as you mentioned, gorgonians with fish, I didn't find a good mix during the trip. For coral mixing with fish, the best condition I got so far was in Taiwan ~

    Dive site is limited, at least for the good ones. In 4 days you can dive all the good sites, longer than that you start to repeat. Kakaban and Maratua are mostly walls, which are not my favorite type. At the corner of the walls we always see some random sharks, they are not easy to photo but it's nice to see sharks ~ As for Sangalaki, if there is no manta, it's tragedy... all the sites looks like safety stop.
     
    chillyinCanada, paolobl65 and Luko like this.
  7. diveUAE

    diveUAE Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Abu Dhabi
    170
    108
    43
    Thank you for sharing! Great photos- my favorite is also the tiny turtle, so cute:)
     
  8. Luko

    Luko Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Paris, France
    2,025
    1,581
    113
    Change your friends, they're all black cats! :D
    I 'havent' been back to Sipadan for a while but in the 5 times I went I saw the cudas everytime.

    Wow... I really must come to Taiwan for diving (It's been 2 years I've been planning that). Which part are you refering too?
     
  9. kkshxt

    kkshxt Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Taiwan
    20
    37
    13
    Please come!
    It's the north east coast of Taiwan
    season is between June to September
    for wide angle shots, we have to charter a boat.
    I took this shot this summer
    海雞冠之家.jpg
     
    chillyinCanada, paolobl65 and Luko like this.
  10. kkshxt

    kkshxt Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Taiwan
    20
    37
    13
    thank you diveUAE, you can see the baby turtles on both Sangalaki island and Derawan island. They are really cute ~
     
    chillyinCanada likes this.

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