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Best Diving Season and Recommendation for Sangalaki, Maratua, Kakaban

Discussion in 'Indonesia' started by xtraspicy, Jul 24, 2019.

  1. xtraspicy

    xtraspicy Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Malaysia
    12
    4
    3
    Hi All,

    I am planning for a trip to Sangalaki, Maratua and Kakaban next year.

    Most of the topic in this forum with regards to the above are quite dated.

    Can anyone share their experience to the best diving time/season at the area? As well as their favourite resort?

    I have looked at Scuba Junkie Sangalaki:- I have travelled to Scuba Junkie Mabul and took my DM with Scuba Junkie Komodo, but Scuba Junkie Sangalaki is based at derawan, which based on my research is more for macro, I enjoy pelagics more so would preferably based in Maratua/Sangalaki
     
  2. bintang_shrimp

    bintang_shrimp Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Texas, USA
    51
    11
    8
    I was just at SJ in early June. The distance to islands isn't an issue. Boat ride is only 45min so you do normal 3 dives and come back. Sangalaki and Kakaban have no resorts. Maratua has a bunch of them, but they all seem much more expensive than SJ, and have limited info on their prices and diving plans. Nabucco has the most normal description of prices but they're pretty expensive and mostly dive around Maratua, with surcharges for going to other islands.

    As for best season, I think during winter months it gets choppy and rainy, otherwise should be fine. FYI, don't expect to see many mantas in Sangalaki. I saw only a few in 3 full days of diving there. SJ told me in the past year they've been very hit and miss (mostly miss) and nobody has any idea why.
     
  3. xtraspicy

    xtraspicy Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Malaysia
    12
    4
    3

    Hi Bintang, What is your favourite and most memorable dive sites in all 3 island (or 4): Sangalaki/Kakaban/Maratua and Derawan?

    How was the diving with Scuba Junkie? You must have been with them for a long time, if not mistaken they go to Sangalaki once every few days right?

    I am penciled into diving there end april next year.
     
  4. bintang_shrimp

    bintang_shrimp Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Texas, USA
    51
    11
    8
    Scuba Junkie is good! They're a solid operation and this Derawan location is very small and low key. They don't have nitrox or bigger tanks, which would have come in handy, but from reading descriptions of most dive resorts, seems like few of them have it anyway.

    I was there for 8 1/2 days and had a chance to dive all the islands.

    Derawan itself is very shallow sandy / small reef. Only did 2 dives here. There's some minimal macro of interest but a few guys who just came from Lembeh said it was nothing of interest. You have to get really lucky.

    Sangalaki is mostly shallow (up to 15m) dives, and have tons of nice coral bommies or coral along the bottom. But it gets repetitive if no mantas show up, which is how it was for us. We saw barely any.

    Kakaban has the Barracuda Point drift dive, IMHO the best site of the islands from what I've seen. A drop to about 25-30m, then a shelf with strong currents and tons of sharks, rays and schools of barracuda hang out there. The rest of Kakaban is a nice wall of hanging coral. Some interesting marco, but most prominent were pygmy seahorses. They're not very common, but fairly consistent.

    Maratua has a few barracuda dive sites. It's a big island so I only covered a few spots and mostly on the west side. The non-barracuda sites are either very steep almost wall-like features, or a sharp slope with corals. Not much to see here in terms of fish unless you're lucky, but nice corals and Turtle Traffic lived up to it's name.

    Overall, I'd say it's a good place to visit just to see it. Very few other divers around, but it wasn't anything astounding. Just like Sipadan, you have to get really lucky for it to be truly special. At least it's pretty affordable if you dive with SJ. I wouldn't waste money on the liveaboards or very expensive resorts on Maratua. You'll have to ride the boat for 30-45min either way, regardless of where you stay, if you want to visit every island.
     
  5. Centrals

    Centrals Barangay Pasaway

    # of Dives:
    Location: Hong Kong
    6,910
    2,322
    113
    SJ is base on Derawan and quite a distance from the other three islands. And SJ tends to rotate the schedule among the four so unless one is staying for several days, the chance of re-visiting is quite rare. However, they might bow to the big demand though.

    Late May onward is better.
     
  6. xtraspicy

    xtraspicy Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Malaysia
    12
    4
    3
    Thanks alot bintang!

    Hi Centrals. Well I guess is that why the liveaboards are there during late May onwards? Or is the liveaboard there because of moving out from Raja Ampat for example..

    I was also told starting from July it is windy season so diving is affected as dive sites are limited.. in addition to that, from SJ website, the whalesharks bagan moves further away due to the same winds..

    Is there a reason why late may onwards theres better diving?
     
  7. SpeckledGrouper

    SpeckledGrouper HSA Instructor

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Florida
    152
    38
    28
    We were at Virgin Cocoa in middle/late May. The resort was wonderful but the diving was not very impressive. The viz was pretty mediocre. No Mantas at Sangalaki. No big fish at Big Fish Country. The Thresher Shark site had one shark. The rest of the week we dove the house reef which was just ok. Considering it took us "days" to get there (they had cancelled the direct flight from Balikpapan to Maratua and we had to fly to Berau and then take the boat for 2.5 hours), it was not worth it.
     
    ScubaBackpacker likes this.
  8. Centrals

    Centrals Barangay Pasaway

    # of Dives:
    Location: Hong Kong
    6,910
    2,322
    113
    Supply and demand for the LoB. The area is very isolated from other favourite diving areas.
    Rainy season is supposed to end at Mar so to give it an extra month for the unexpected.
    Daily communting on a speed boat on rough sea is NO fun. And the diving boat that SJ used is quite small.
     
  9. thesyntax

    thesyntax Regular of the Pub

    18
    4
    3
    We stayed at nabucco resort in november. Little to no rain and calm sea.
    They go to the channel whenever possible which is a really good spot.
    We even saw a hammerhead there.
    Schooling barracudas each time. If you can choose then go when the incoming tide is generally in the morning.
     
  10. Madacub

    Madacub Barracuda

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location:
    212
    24
    18
    Hi Xtra, you have not said *why* you are plannnig on going there. If you are already going to be in the area, that is one thing. But I would not recommend going there especially to dive. Many, many better places in Indonesia, even if you repeat destinations that you may have been to earlier. I was at Maratua Paradise 5-6 years ago in Feb/Mar. The diving was good, but not compared to other Indonesia quality destinations. We did not see any mantas despite trying 2-3 times. Others have said the same thing about mantas. The stingless jellyfish (Kakaban I think) were good. The channel diving was good. The resort itself was not too good, although the dive guides were good.

    Hope this helps.
     

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