Macro: diving with the manta rays of Sangalaki became one of Site (s the best known of Borneo. TheIndonesia is one of the countries with the largest population of manta rays. Less known than other places (Raja Ampat, Komodo, Bali…), Sangalaki, Derawan Islands, has nothing to envy to others and on the contrary the advantage of having many fewer people on the site! Still a bit complicated to access, if you are planning a diving trip to Borneo, Sangalaki is a mandatory passage (just like Sipadan in Malaysia for that matter) !!

Background: Sangalaki is part of my 3 month trip to Asia during which I wanted to do all the best diving spots. I stayed two weeks in Derawan and did 2 dives and 2 snorkeling in Sangalaki.

# Overview 
# Presentation 
# Manta rays
# Diving with manta rays 
# Other dives 
# Diving around Derawan 
# Season and conditions 
# Dive centers
# Liveaboard diving cruise 
# Accommodation 
# Get to 
# My diving review

raie manta sangalaki derawan borneo indonesie


Black manta (Derawan)-min

  • Sangalaki : a cleaning station with mantas rays.
  • Best diving season Sangalaki : March to November.
  • Manta ray season Sangalaki : all year.
  • Best Sangalaki dive sites :
  • No accommodation on Sangalaki.
  • Access : from Derawan or Maratua
Logo-plongeur-baroudeurRecommendations by category of divers:

> New diver : good for baptism or snorkeling.
> Confirmed : to do absolutely if you are in Derawan.
> Experienced : to do absolutely if you are in Derawan.
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Where is Sangalaki

  • photo sangalaki-minSangalaki is a beautiful little island which is in the sea of Celebes off the coast of the Indonesian part of Borneo.
  • It is part of the archipelago of the islands of Derawan (composed of 31 islands) in the same way as Derawan, Maratua and Kakaban.
  • It has superb beaches and is surrounded by a splendid lagoon.
  • There is nothing on the island: no village, no accommodation, no diving center, only the turtle sanctuary (the Sangalaki turtle sanctuary).

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Sangalaki: a turtle sanctuary

sangalaki turtle 1-min

  • Sangalaki is one of those islands where turtles are born and return to lay their turn. So you have (in addition to manta rays) turtles all around Sangalaki!
  • There is a turtle conservation program on the island. They collect turtle eggs and protect predators.



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Sangalaki is a manta ray cleaning station

6Black manta (Derawan)-min

  • Sangalaki is what is called a " cleaning station " at manta rays.
  • That is to say a place where manta rays gather to be "cleansed" by cleaning fish.
  • The latter rid them of their parasites, dead skin, damaged tissue ...

The full article on cleaning stations here.

An exceptional experience

2Manta - side close (Derawan)-min

  • I did 2 dives and 2 snorkeling with the mantas rays of Sangalaki. I saw dozens of mantas each time!!
  • On a dive I must have seen 30 !!!
  • I was probably lucky, there are periods when we see more than others (around the full moon normally).

Sangalaki manta ray diving video

Sangalaki manta ray pictures

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The 10 essential info on manta rays here

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How to dive with Sangalaki manta rays?

Dive with mantal rays from Sangalaki from Derawan

  • 8Manta - shallow x 2 (Derawan)-minAs written below, There's no (or rather there are more) housing on Sangalaki.
  • To come and dive (or snorkel) in Sangalaki, you must leave the main island of Derawan (see Maratua)

Not many centers or divers

Diving is not yet highly developed on the Derawan Islands, so there are not many dive centers or divers.

The roadmap from Derawan to Sangalaki is expensiveBlack manta (Derawan)-min

  • Journey from Derawan to Sangalaki takes about 1h.
  • The price per trip is fixed and goes to divide by the number of people, so the more you are, the less you will pay!

Have time and look for people on the spot

That's what was complicated to manage for me: the long journey, which costs expensive and not many people with whom to organize it : 

  • July AugustIt's high season so I think you will not have a hard time finding people to go with you.
  • Out of seasonif you are alone, it will probably be like me, have time on site and look for other people and you group on a dive center.
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Very honestly from what I saw, it's not really worth the dive other than for the mantas rays around Sangalaki (it is better to dive on Maratua and Kakaban, see the article on Derawan here).

But here is the map of Sangalaki dive sites :



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Anyway, even if you come for dive with the manta rays of Sangalakithere is a good chance that your stay will also be organized with dives on Maratua (several cool sites) and Kakaban (the island where there is the lake of harmless jellyfish).

The full article on Derawan diving here.

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Manta rays are there all year round in Sangalaki, but but the best diving season in Sangalaki from April to November.

18Manta - side close (Derawan)-min

When to dive with manta rays in Sangalaki?

  • If you can, dive around the new moon and the moon trouble, the currents are strong and bring more plankton to Sangalaki.
  • Avoid the rainy season in Sangalaki from December to February, but being located almost at the equator, Sangalaki is very little subject to typhoons or other tropical storms.

Diving conditions Sangalaki :

  • Visibility in Sangalaki : 20 m.
  • Sangalaki water temperature : 26-28 °.
  • Current Sangalaki : there is not too much current.
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Dive centers Sangalaki

  • There is no diving club on the island of Sangalaki.
  • You will have to dive with a Derawan or Maratua club.

Best Sangalaki Dive Clubs

So that's one of the problems in the Derawan area, not many dive centers.

  • The 2 biggest dive centers in Derawan are Derawan dive lodge and Derawan dive resort
  • Scuba junkie : Since my passage, Scuba Junkie has opened a center on Derawan (they also have centers to Sipadan and to Komodo). I did not dive with them, but they did very good reputation.
  • Derawan ocean divers : I dipped with them, everything went well. It is rather a "local" center, they will surely be at the level of service quality of the other 3 higher but nice and flexible.
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All diving cruises for Borneo, Derawan and Sangalaki here

  • TamboraAs written above, the boat trips to Sangalaki are:
    • Independent of the price of the dive itself and can be quite expensive
    • Depending on the number of people
  • There are some liveaboards that offer diving cruises at certain times (roughly from May to August), such as Tambora, theIllike or theAggressor.
  • In the end, when we add up all the costs, the diving cruise is a good solution for experienced divers to take full advantage of all the islands around Derawan (Sangalaki, Kakaban and Maratua).
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No accommodation on Sangalaki

  • So it's simple, there is no accommodation on Sangalaki!
  • There was a resort before, but it closed.

derawan dive resort-min.jpg

Derawan diving hotel


Maratua diving hotel

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As written above, there is no no accommodations in Sangalakiso it will take from Derawan, see Maratua.

carte comment aller aux iles derawan sangalaki borneo indonesie

Berau to Tanjung Batu

The easiest way is to take a taxi (around 2-3h / 500,000 RP).

Tanjung Batu to Derawan journey by boat

  • Once in Tanjung Batu, you will have to take a boat to go to Derawan (or Maratua).
  • So, it is not organized like in other destinations in Indonesiathere is no no public boat. It will take take a private speedboat.
  • You will probably have to negotiate surely negotiate and be patient (Speed boats leave when they are full).
  • A reasonable price seems to be 200,000 RP, but they will surely announce 350 000 RP at the beginning ...

I did not do it so I do not have any info, but I know that you can take a boat from Terakan to Derawan directly (3-4h).

If you already know where you go to sleep, the best is really organize transportation from Berau to Derawan with your accommodation (taxi + boat).

Derawan to Sangalaki route

  • There are no daily boat or other from Derawan to Sangalaki.
  • You will have to organize your own transport.
  • Basically the speed boat trip costs 1.5M RP, price that will have to be divided between the number of people.

Maratua to Sangalaki route

  • There are no daily boat or other from Maratua to Sangalaki.
  • You will have to organize your own transport.
  • The price of the journey will have to be divided between the number of people.
#Overview #Manta rays #Diving #Bira #Center #Liveaboards #Accommodation #Get to #My diving review


I am not disappointed with my visit to Sangalaki and Derawan. These two days of diving with mantas have been fabulous. Then I will say that other dives around Derawan were exceptional (apart from one or two in Maratua), so a short week of diving there is nice, but don't expect the level SipadanKomodo or Raja Ampat!

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