Diving in Sangalaki – Facts Sheet
Temperature: 28 – 30°C (80 – 86°F)
Typical Visibility: 8 – 35 m (30 – 130ft)
Season: October to March
How to go: Flights from Balikpapan, Indonesia and a boat-ride down the Berau River.
Diving in Sangalaki offers something different to the usual destinations. Here there are huge manta rays gliding in shallow waters providing divers with a close-up look at these majestic creatures. Manta Avenue, Manta Parade and Manta Run are all aptly-named spots to experience manta rays feeding on the plankton-rich waters off this Indonesian island.
Manta rays come here in large numbers to feed on the plankton. There are often so many that you are encircled by them and can really take in the gracefulness of these animals as they swim and glide around you. The best time to see them is during a full moon. There may be as many as 20 manta rays hovering above the cleaning stations that they look for between bouts of plankton-eating.
It’s not only manta rays that attract the divers to Sangalaki. Turtles come here every year to lay their eggs on the beach. Divers can swim amongst the thousands of turtles off the coast while the turtles locate the perfect beach to lay their eggs. During the nights, turtles begin to hatch from the eggs placed under the sand and scurry down to the sea.
It really is a wonder to behold – thousands of baby turtles making their way to the water’s edge and beginning on their own voyage of discovery!
Coral reefs dot the seas surrounding Sangalaki. These reefs vary in many ways such as the types of coral and marine life living at each site so there is never any chance of being bored whilst diving at these sites. Coral Gardens is one such reef. Found south of Sangalaki, Coral Gardens is a small coral reef with a sandy bottom that houses a variety of coral species in addition to gorgonian sea fans, reef fish and green turtles.
At Lighthouse Reef you can dive down to view two wrecks and see nudibranchs, gobies, scorpion fish, mandarin fish, clown fish, jawfish and a host of others, not to mention the ribbon eels and giant clams.
There are a couple of spots to do some wall diving and cave diving. Kakaban Island is about 20 minutes from Sangalaki and the cave dive there is described as thrilling. Definitely a must-do on your diving trip. Not far from the wall you will encounter a number of shark species including leopard sharks, grey reed sharks and an occasional hammerhead. There is also a permanent safety line to assist you in getting back to the shallower waters as the current is quite strong and will whizz you along.
The real positive of Sangalaki is its draw to all divers. Many of the dive spots can be snorkeled, while others cater for more experienced divers. Sangalaki is located off the coast of Indonesian Borneo and is uncrowded, has amazing diving and all manner of exotic marine life.