Diving in Sangalaki
The Manta Expressway
Just over the border from Sabah, Malaysia in Indonesian Borneo is the island of Sangalaki - a superb dive spot that can be visited by liveaboard where big numbers of manta rays frolic all year round.
Many destinations claim that mantas are frequent visitors but few can truly lay claim to having resident mantas all year round, and so many of them! Locations may hold encounters with mantas if you're lucky, but when you're scuba diving at Sangalaki, luck is not a pre-requisite. Nature is on your side, guaranteeing manta rays on almost every dive.
In the waters around Sangalaki there are numerous manta cleaning stations - cleaner wrasse are found aplenty here, which obligingly clean all the grime and parasites off the skin and gills of the manta rays. Mantas gather here for their regular cleaning sessions. If you head out to one of these cleaning sessions, you have quite an experience in store for you. You'll find yourself eye-to-eye with the mantas as they are generally inquisitive and quite friendly by nature and will probably approach you.
The manta rays are found in huge numbers at the dive sites found on the east coast, namely Manta Avenue, Manta Parade and Manta Run. Usually, you'll find these graceful creatures near the surface with their gills wide open as they feed on the rich plankton to be found in these waters. The mantas can also be found cruising the seas or less often foraging for sustenance down on the sea beds.
Add great macro diving sites and the Jellyfish Lake of Kakaban and it is clear why many people believe Sangalaki diving is without rival in the region. It's like being in several great dive destinations at once - manta rays, macro, enormous numbers of green turtles, Jellyfish Lake and splendid wall dives, a winning combination.
Manta Parade - As with the several dive sites with the word 'manta' in the title this dive normally begins when you can see the manta rays all around your diving boat. They may not be huge oceanic manta rays but you will have no complaints if you find yourself in the middle of 6 or 7 mantas swooping all around you.
Another highlight of Sangalaki diving is the site known as Jellyfish Lake on nearby Kakaban Island - the sight of thousands of jellyfish floating around you has an almost other-worldly beauty to it, and you need have no fear of stings while snorkelling here (you can't dive in the lake). There are 4 different varieties of jellyfish in the lake situated in the middle of the island. With no access to the open sea, the jellyfish here have had no encounters with their natural predators and as a result have lost their sting.
How to Dive Sangalaki
There only resort on the island of Sangalaki is Sangalaki Dive Lodge, which is undergoing a major renovation. For ease of travel, and if you want to be on the doorstep of the most amazing manta dive sites, then we recommend a Sangalaki liveaboard.
Got a question?
Have a look through our Frequently asked questions
Being only 2 degrees north of the equator means that Sangalaki isn't really visited by a monsoon season so the diving and weather conditions are steady and fine throughout the year.
Good for: Large animals, underwater photography and advanced divers
Not so good for: Non-diving activities
Depth: 10 - >40m
Visibility: 10 - 30m
Surface conditions: Can be choppy
Water temperature: 28 - 30°C
Experience level: Beginner - advanced
Number of dive sites: 13
Recommended length of stay: 6 - 8 days
Dive Site Descriptions
For further information and details on the Sangalaki dive sites:
• Sangalaki travel information
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