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Sipadan vs East Kalimantan

Discussion in 'General Asia' started by FilmDork, Jan 13, 2020.

  1. FilmDork

    FilmDork Registered

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Los Angeles
    19
    4
    Hey scuba team,

    Planning a dive trip for late June or early July to either Sipadan or East Kalimantan (probably would stay on Maratua) and am having a hard time deciding between the two. Unfortunately won't be able to do both, so I'd love to hear from those of you who have been to both (or either) on what your experiences were like, which location you preferred, and the reasons for your preference.

    Obviously any tips you picked up at either location would be welcome too :)

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Centrals

    Centrals Contributor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Hong Kong
    10,486
    3,950
    Either places are good but if you have never been to anyone of them. Then you should work out how many days and dives you could be actually diving in either places.

    The more the merrier!

    I prefer East Kalimantan because of diversity and no issue with permit!

    Have a nice one.
     
    Dan, ScubaBackpacker and FilmDork like this.
  3. FilmDork

    FilmDork Registered

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Los Angeles
    19
    4
    Thanks so much for feedback! Can I ask who you dived with in EK and for how long?
     
  4. Centrals

    Centrals Contributor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Hong Kong
    10,486
    3,950
    Scuba Junkie for a wk few yrs ago.
    Transfer is long and tedious.
    Sipadan is relatively easier to get to.
     
    FilmDork likes this.
  5. CarcharodonCarcharias

    CarcharodonCarcharias Contributor

    564
    240
    For my money, I'd go with Derawan/Maratua/Sangalaki as @Centrals had suggested. Much more diversity and many more things to see.

    Sipadan is nice but nothing over the top to be honest. The permit is a pain in the neck and the diving around the area is quite boring and poor. The surrounding areas are all fished out.

    Scuba Junkie and Tasik Ria have operations in Derawan. I went with Tasik Ria quite a few years ago before their lodge got burned down in Derawan. But I've heard that they are back in business again.

    There is an airport in Maratua now but I think it is only a chartered garuda airline flight for few hotels. It flies every Saturday from Balikpapan. Or you would have to fly to Berau and take a trip to Berau City and ask the resort to send a boat to pick you up. I've heard the new road is much faster. When I went there 5 or 6 years ago, the trip from airport to Berau City took 3-4 hours and the boat ride to Derawan was about 45 min.
     
    Dan and FilmDork like this.
  6. FilmDork

    FilmDork Registered

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Los Angeles
    19
    4
    Really appreciate the info and the advice. Thanks!!
     
  7. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid ScubaBoard Supporter Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Atlanta, USA
    10,339
    7,189
    If I may butt in, how does the diving in Derawan/Maratua/Sangalaki compare with north Sulawesi?

    I wasn't really aware of this dive region--had heard some of these names but wasn't aware of their location. Some years ago (10?) I flew right past this region, from Tarakan to Balikpapan on the way to Manado.
     
    chillyinCanada likes this.
  8. Centrals

    Centrals Contributor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Hong Kong
    10,486
    3,950
    Bangka/Bunaken/Lembeh vs East Kalimantan
    It is difference in many ways.
    A lot more pelagic in East Kalimantan and because of this, I suspect, macro is being overlooked.

    Both are winner!
     
    Dan, FilmDork and Lorenzoid like this.
  9. CarcharodonCarcharias

    CarcharodonCarcharias Contributor

    564
    240
    Quite a different offering and dive conditions between North Manado and Derawan/Maratua/Sangalaki .

    Bunaken offers excellent visibility, beautiful wall dives, tons of turtle and smaller reef fish. Lembeh is obviously well known for muck diving and marcros so I won't repeat what is common knowledge.

    Diving in North Manado is more laid back where you don't get too much currents and the currents are usually not that strong. Getting in and out of Manado is quite easy with direct international flights from Singapore and Shanghai.

    Derawan/Maratua/Sangalaki is a different creature all together. The entire stretch is also known as the "Manta Highway". There is really not much diving around Derawan but there is a turtle hatchery and conservation center. You can go see turtle hatching at night and help release the baby turtles back to the ocean. Most of the diving are done around Maratua/Sangalaki/Kakaban. Kakaban has the brackish lake with freshwater jellyfish like the ones that you will see at Palau. You can snorkel in the lake. Sangalaki if I recall correctly is mostly reef dive and mostly white sandy bottom. It was very colorful and I really enjoyed Sangalaki. Lots of reef fish and a great diversity of fauna. Maratua is where I've experienced the worse current ever and I ended up doing gecko diving (down current was so bad that I had to climb the wall to surface) and one of my dive mates had his sold SS pointer bent 45 degrees because he did not have a reef hook and had to use the pointer to stop him from flowing all the way to Australia. You sees lots of pelagics at Maratua but the currents can be quite strong. The channel in Maratua is quite an exciting dive with the currents. Maratua has the largest barracuda vortex I've ever seen and the curdas are huge. It puts the barracuda vortex at Sipadan in shame. Great wall dives in Maratua as well. The walls have lots of macros and you will not be disappointed.

    I've heard that there is a new whale shark feeding show in Sangalaki just like the ones that you get in Bohol and Oslob as well. It's a recent phenomenon because that did not exist when I went there few years back.
     
    FilmDork, Centrals and Lorenzoid like this.
  10. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid ScubaBoard Supporter Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Atlanta, USA
    10,339
    7,189
    Thanks for the information! Everyone flocks to Sipidan, but I think what you said has merit.

     
    CarcharodonCarcharias likes this.

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