Sipadan vs East Kalimantan

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CarcharodonCarcharias

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Thanks for the information! Everyone flocks to Sipidan, but I think what you said has merit.
You are welcome!

My Sipadan experience was ok but nothing to write home about. I stayed at Seaventures (the oil rig) and the house reef underneath was actually the next best diving spot after Sipadan. The diving sites around Mabul and Kapalai are boring and quite lackluster. Not to mention that there were three police personnels that stationed at the oil rig at night with full-automatic rifle to defend against the kidnappers.

The local government and the park office can't seem to work out the permit issue hence instead of diving in Sipadan during most of the trip, you are being forced and bundled to do other lousy dives in the nearby area and the dive operators can only guarantee one day of Sipadan diving. But for the record, after the second dive during the day that we were in Sipadan, I was over it. I think once an individual has dived enough of the hot spots in Indonesia, he/she won't miss much if he/she chooses not to dive in Sipadan.
 

FilmDork

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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.

Wow, this is really fantastic information, especially RE: the current in The Channel! I've gone diving in some seriously current heavy spots (Komodo x2, Raja, Nusa Penida), but that sounds absolutely nuts. Can I ask how the guides you were diving with handled that situation, and (if you've been there before), how the places I mentioned?
 

CarcharodonCarcharias

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Wow, this is really fantastic information, especially RE: the current in The Channel! I've gone diving in some seriously current heavy spots (Komodo x2, Raja, Nusa Penida), but that sounds absolutely nuts. Can I ask how the guides you were diving with handled that situation, and (if you've been there before), how the places I mentioned?
I just got back from Komodo and I was in Bali last year as well. R4 was few years back. The currents at Derawan that I've experienced were worse. But the again, my Komodo dives were during the 1/2 moon period so the currents were not as strong as it could've been during full moon or new moon.

The gecko dive I mentioned, the guide was not experience enough and he got scared hence we were all told to cling to the wall. I thought of swim out to the open and then ascend but I did not want to leave the group.

The channel dive was a bit tricky because it was a drift dive to start off. The channel ran perpendicular to the wall so depends on how fast is the current, you might have to hook yourself up and wait for people behind you to catch up. It is a 90 degree turn into the channel and you cannot miss the turn. The tricky part of that dive was to make sure that you get anchored at the entrance and then fin for your life to get into the channel.
 

CarcharodonCarcharias

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Tempting... :confused:
Don't blame you. :) The channel is a great, exhilarating dive with lots of pelgaics but you really need to know what you are doing - and you've got to be comfortable with currents, especially when it can get up to 6 knots or more.
 

drk5036

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I love these kinds of threads. And I’m happy for you, because either option you’re going to absolutely love, I guess. I haven’t been to Sangalaki yet, so I can’t accurately compare the two the way others so eloquently have. I CAN say I think seaventures/Sipadan has a slightly worse average rating on scubaboard than is warranted. I was there this past August, after having gone to Komodo with scuba junkie in May. I enjoyed Sipadan more, actually! I was completely blown away by it. I mean, just look at these bumpheads! And there were multiple sharks on every one of the 6 dives we did at Sipadan. You’re only guaranteed 1 days of permit to Sipadan, but unless it’s absolutely packed to the gills, you’ll get at least two days of you stay four at the rig, I’m guessing. One women who was there when we were stayed 6 days, and got 5 permits. So YMMV.
 

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jjmochi

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You can do both if you have time. I've looked into Scuba Junkie's Sipadan-Sagalaki combo when I booked my Sipadan trip last year. There is a Monday direct flight from Tawau to Tarakan and they do transfers directly from Tarakan to Derawan. You save 15% on Sagalaki package. I ultimately only did Sipadan because I couldn't make my vacation days stretch enough to do the combo and Sipadan was more famous/mentioned as a top site in like every article. It is still the best place I've been to so far in terms of reefs/biodiversity but Mabul/Kapalai which you're also forced to dive is not that great. We had 2 days of guaranteed permits for a 4 night stay. The permit system is quite inconvenient and Semporna which you're forced to transit through (and likely overnight in) is a dump. I did want to return to the area and recently decided to do Sagalaki/Maratua/Kakaban in 2021 on White Manta instead of going back to Sipadan and wasting at least half my days on Mabul/Kapalai. I think getting 5 out of 6 days at Sipadan is quite rare, most places you're only guaranteed 1 for a 4 night stay. The place we went to (Billabong Scuba) guaranteed 2 but was very basic and not the most comfortable.
 

chillyinCanada

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You can do both if you have time. I've looked into Scuba Junkie's Sipadan-Sagalaki combo when I booked my Sipadan trip last year. There is a Monday direct flight from Tawau to Tarakan and they do transfers directly from Tarakan to Derawan. You save 15% on Sagalaki package. I ultimately only did Sipadan because I couldn't make my vacation days stretch enough to do the combo and Sipadan was more famous/mentioned as a top site in like every article. It is still the best place I've been to so far in terms of reefs/biodiversity but Mabul/Kapalai which you're also forced to dive is not that great. We had 2 days of guaranteed permits for a 4 night stay. The permit system is quite inconvenient and Semporna which you're forced to transit through (and likely overnight in) is a dump. I did want to return to the area and recently decided to do Sagalaki/Maratua/Kakaban in 2021 on White Manta instead of going back to Sipadan and wasting at least half my days on Mabul/Kapalai. I think getting 5 out of 6 days at Sipadan is quite rare, most places you're only guaranteed 1 for a 4 night stay. The place we went to (Billabong Scuba) guaranteed 2 but was very basic and not the most comfortable.

Have you considered staying over in KK on your way instead of doing such a long day of travel and then having to stay overnight in Semporna?
 

Luko

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Have you considered staying over in KK on your way instead of doing such a long day of travel and then having to stay overnight in Semporna?
Or a stay in Tawau, at least they have decent places where to eat.
 
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