Diving Indonesian Borneo
Asian divers have been making the trek to Sangalaki Island since 1993 when it was first opened to divers. Despite the effort required to get there divers still find the trip worthwhile because the diving was so breathtaking.
Sangalaki diving is most famous for the large amounts of manta rays that come to feed on the plankton and visit cleaning stations here.
Sangalaki dive sites
Sangalaki dive site names highlight the manta ray proliferation, like manta avenue, manta parade and manta run. It’s common to see 15-20 manta rays at one time, particularly around the full moon.
The manta rays are usually seen filter feeding near the surface, their wings often breaking the water, so snorkelers can enjoy the spectacle as much as divers. Manta rays can also be seen foraging on the sanding bottom for food, a sight rarely seen in other places.
Although the mantas take centre stage, after a few dives you may start to look around for something else of interest underwater. The reef life around Sangalaki is very healthy, partly due to it’s protection under Indonesian Marine Park status.
Colourful hard and soft corals abound along with sponges, seafans and crinoids. Schools of reef fish are large and varied and macro diving is also excellent at Sangalaki. Frog fish, leaf scorpionfish, cardinal fish, fire gobies, ornate ghost pipefish and numerous nudibranchs are just some of the critters that eagle eyed dive guides will be able to point to.
Sangalaki is also famous for the green turtles that nest on the beach. They come ashore at night to lay their eggs. On the west of the island the dive sites called Turtle Town and Coral Gardens are where turtles are seen in abundance.
On the eastern side of Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) are a number of islands with dive resorts. Resorts take time to reach with boat and plane transfers but divers are rewarded for their effort with exceptional diving.
The area is renowned for high concentrations of manta rays and turtles as well as a jellyfish lake. As you would expect in Indonesia, the macro diving is also superb.
The best time to dive the area is the April to October dry season. All the islands are close together so it makes sense to dive them all while you’re in the area.