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The Derawan Islands

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Hi,

 

So as I have posted before - my girlfriend and I (And my new E-M1.. woo!!!!) are hitting Indo next year and we'll be going to Komodo and Alor for diving.

My girlfriend has suggested we go to the Derawans, too - jellyfish, etc.. Plus I think she is stoked she found a cool place, too :D

 

But it looks expensive...

 

What is the diving like, really? What are the places to stay like? I'm looking and they're starting to remind me of Mabul.......

 

Cheers

Adam

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Derawan is a very relaxing small island with lots of turtles, we saw one big female turtle laid egg at midnight and on the long wooden jetty you can easily see tens of turtles swim by.

Underwater it was mostly about small critters and turtles, it was not particularly amazing.

 

There are three islands close to Derawan which make the diving amazing : Maratua, Kakaban and Sangalaki.

 

Kakaban Island is the place with a jellyfish lake, they were some good drift diving as well at the Barracuda point.

Sangalaki was famous for Manta ray congregation, but I saw only one from the boat. Underwater we saw some leopard sharks.

Maratua is 1.5 to 2.5hr of boat ride from Derawan but it was a place for pelagic, we saw endless barracuda at the channel (Big fish country) and a really big gray reef shark patrolling. we also saw some eagle rays at close range and I heard that it is possible to see thresher sharks.

 

That was my experience way back in April 2007.

Edited by kkfok

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I recommending splitting the trip between Nabucco and Derawan. Derawan is a nice resort but mainly a sandy critter hunt with as KK says with the turtles.

The ride over to Maratua is very long and I'd rather not spend over 4 hours on a boat for 3 dives, especially when it's easier to time the channel dives at slack on incoming tide. I'd hit Kakaban and Sangalaki from Nabucco, which is closer. There use to be a resort on Sangalaki, but I heard it's closed now. I would research that as a 3rd spot if you have the time.

 

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Sangalaki area is one of my favorites for the diversity of diving experiences. I stayed in Derawan a few years ago, and a pretty nice bonus there was waking up to find turtles grazing on leaves outside your water-bungalow window. On my secind trip to the area, we stayed at Maratua paradise, which I think is slightly better to live in. The house reef is splendid. The resident thresher shark didn't show up during our stay (this is why we chose Maratua), but we nevertheless enjoyed loads to time with grazing bumpheads, an occasional eagle ray floating past.

It's easy to make day trips to Sangalaki -- which has fantastic dives. Or, as Drew suggested, you can split your stay with some time in a resort on Sangalaki (Nabucco looks nice, I think we had lunch there on a day trip once).

 

By the way, I am not sure of the science on this, but maybe you can find out if more Manatas prefer to show up during some phase of the moon or another.. if your dates are flexible, it couldn't hurt to try and improve your chances.

 

Our trip reports and photos are linked from here:

http://iez152.ieem.ust.hk/DERAWAN_AUG06/DERAWAN_AUG06.html

and

http://iez152.ieem.ust.hk/MARATUA_AUG11/MARATUA_AUG11.html

cheers

Ajay.

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See my video here: http://www.peterwalker.com/sangalaki.html

 

Check with www.whitemanta.com to see if they are still doing it as a liveaboard destination. The islands are too spread out to be done from one location.

 

Regards

Peter

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