Derawan and Sangalaki Dive Trip, Aug 06


Living, Food and Diving:
Last year we came away from Sipadan/Mabul with a feeling that the diversity there could not easily be matched. Getting to Sangalaki (actually, we stayed in Derawan) wasn't easy -- but the experience matched, and perhaps beat Sipadan in some ways. I mean, in six diving days, we snorkeled with a rather large group of Mantas, played with giant turtles in the shallows outside our beach-bungalow, swam in the jellyfish-lake at Maratua... and then there was the scuba-diving !

As usual, we booked a tour via Sun-and-Sea in HK; the travel was HK
SingaporeBalikpapan Berau, and then a 2-hour speedboat to the Derawan Beach Resort. The flights are 3hr, 2Hr, 1Hr; plus the downtime at each port.

The resort: Derawan resort is not as high-end as Mabul Water Bungalows; but there is 24 hour hot water, spacious rooms, ocean-facing patio. The dining is all-inclusive, the food is largely Asian, though the chef is very friendly and will do requests -- he had my fried veggies & potatoes each morning just as I wanted.

Derawan is small -- you can walk around in 45 mins; or you could use that time swimming out front with turtles. There's a turtle conservatory on the Island; you can watch turtles trundle up to the beach to lay eggs before midnight around high tide.

The diving: This area has four islands. Derawan has around 10 sites, mostly for macro. In 45 mins, you can speed-boat to any of the other three. Sangalaki has mantas. Maratua has sharks and barracuda; and Kakaban has barracuda, sharks, and inland, a lake with millions of sting-less jellyfish -- we snorkeled among them for little under an hour. Our diving schedule was:


Day 1: Arrive Derawan at 5:00pm; Check-out dive was night dive at Sunset Jetty. (Mandarin fish, Night pygmy seahorse, Ornate Ghostpipefish, and the other usual suspects).
Day 2: Derawan (Coral canyon, Jetty point, Coral mountain, and another night dive at Sunset Jetty).
Day 3: Morning dive at Derawan (Derawan wall), speed-boat to Maratua (Lighthouse, lunch at the Nabucco Resort premises -- nice looking resort, that, and Big fish Country -- otherwise known as Channel point).
Day 4: Morning dive at Derawan (Dharma point -- what a site! we must have moved 10m in one hour: Blue ribbon eels, Saron shrimp, Emperor angels getting cleaned...); speedboat to Sangalaki (Manta point -- saw only a couple of mantas, disappointed; came up, and found all Mantas were feeding around the boat on the surface. So we jumped in and spent a good 30 min swimming with Mantas passing within touching distance every minute or so. What an experience! Next dive at Manta run -- school of barracuda, Mantas, and tons of colorful fish).
Day 5: Derawan (Coral canyon, Lighthouse -- spent 20 min at 18m scanning a Gorgonian for pygmy seahorses but couldn't see any. So the DM, nice fellow called Mike, went next dive to Snapper run - found a small fan, and we located four pygmy's! Night dive again at Sunset jetty, for some more Mandarin fish mating scenes).
Day 6: Kakaban (Dived at Barracuda point; next we hiked 15 mins to the Jellyfish lake, and spent 30-40 mins swimming there; lunch on the beach, and again a dive at Barracuda point); return to Derawan for third dive (Cleaning station).
Day 7: Morning dive at Toturga point (toturga is turtle in Spanish) - but no turtles there. Lots of Gobies and other muck critters. That was it for the diving in this trip. But we spent the evening swimming out front, with bunch of turtles.

About the photos: This time, Kitty got more into the photography thing, and we are beginning to figure out the Canon S80 a bit better; some nice shots with it (thumbnail captions in red); I am still shooting with my Oly C5050 with an Inon macro lens, and Inon Z220s strobe. Click on the thumbnail for a larger photo. The photos were edited (sometimes a lot) using Photoshop-Elements.


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If you'd like to get the original of any of these, send me email. This thumbnail-page was created by IrfanView, followed by much editing.