KM Raja Manta Trip Reports

Aug 1, 2017

Sangalaki, Kakaban & Maratua July 2017


KM Raja Manta’s 2017 Sangalaki season will soon be coming to an end, with just two further trips in the area before we return across the Halmahera sea to renew our Raja Ampat & Banda Sea adventures. With time to explore and discover more about this region, guests and crew have enjoyed some spectacular highlights & amazing interactions both above & below the waves here in Sangalaki and this trip, departing from Tg Batu on July 25th would prove again that this dive destination is one not to miss!

After braving the long journey to meet KM Raja Manta at Tg Batu pier our group of intrepid divers were warmly welcomed onboard throughout the first day. For this trip we were happy to welcome back a number of returning guests and it was great to see so many familiar faces! Travelling from Singapore our good diving friends Hayley, Jonathan, Michelle, Melody, Kit-man, BL, Eng Guan, Sam & John all settled in to their home from home! We were also very glad to see our friends Shamus & Ledi back on board as well as new faces from Japan; Meiko & Shozo and from the UK Benita & Po, it was also fantastic to see Sue from Korea, who had previously worked with many of our team onboard the KM Black Manta. By the end of the day we were just one guest down, another returning guest, Jane from China, had the bad luck to have her flight cancelled from Tarakan, luckily our amazing ground team were able to help and a last-minute speed boat & taxi ride enabled Jane to reach us, a little later than expected, maybe a little bit tired but certainly ready to dive!!!

All the travelling & long journeys would soon be forgotten however as the many highlights of the region revealed themselves throughout the trip, island hoping from one gorgeous paradise island to the next. After a fairly windy first evening we were to be blessed with spectacular weather throughout the trip, with calm seas and blue skies perfectly framing the amazing natural attractions on display.

At Sangalaki the colourful reefs and clear waters played host to a young Manta Ray searching the long reef corridors for it’s favoured cleaning & feeding areas while curious turtles and cautious Cuttlefish proved popular with photographers. The highlight of the day was undoubtedly our visit to the Turtle hatching project based on Sangalaki island; watching the sun go down as new born hatchlings dashed across the beach to their new watery home truly was a once in a life time experience for all of us, an amazing sight that must not be missed on any trip to this region.

 

The island of Kakaban provides another slice of paradise; stunning tropical jungle lines the coast, rising above sheer cliffs & white sand beaches, these picturesque vistas hide an even greater secret as the island is actually the last remnants of a long extinct Volcano, in place of the hot lava that once filled it’s crater is now a tranquil salt water lake, home to millions of jelly fish. Protected from predators & threats from the open ocean and evolved in isolation these Jellyfish have lost the need to develop stings and so visitors can freely swim and snorkel through huge numbers of these amazing creatures, a truly unique experience!

Kakaban also provides a great action packed drift dive at Barracuda Point, where the sometimes fierce current attracts all manner of sharks & pelagic action and this trip was no different with a number of Grey Reef and White Tip sharks cruising the outer walls along with huge tuna, Jacks & of course Barracuda! After the action of the drift the calmer shallower waters at the end of the dive play host to some of the best hard coral gardens found on the entire cruise, another island full of trip highlights!

On to Maratua and for most of our divers the highlight dive of the trip, “Big Fish Country.” Located at the mouth of a small channel that leads from the open ocean into Maratua’s protected lagoon, this dive site can play host to some truly epic currents, which in turn attracts some equally epic marine life. Whilst Sharks, rays, Tuna & Jacks all make an appearance the undoubted stars are the unbelievable schools of Barracuda that gather in the current at the mouth of the channel. It is a truly staggering sight to see this seemingly endless wall of predators tower over divers, hooked & hanging on in the stiff current, words really cant do justice to this divesite, when at it’s best it must be in contention for the top “must do” dives in the world. Simply amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

To add the the growing list of highlights many of our divers were even treated to an impromptu dolphin display after our last late afternoon dive! A pod of around 15 individuals came to visit our support vessels whilst we brought divers back to the Raja Manta, so friendly were these dolphins they even allowed many of our guests to enter the water with them, showing off with acrobatic underwater movements before disapearing into the blue, another once in a life time moment! 

After so many highlights the question becomes, how to end the trip on a high? Luckily our Sangalaki, Kakaban & Maratua trips have one more marine megastar that makes a regular appearance. Local fishing Bagans (fishing platforms) have recently reported young, juvenile whale sharks are attracted to their fishing lights and will happily stay close to these platforms for a few hours in the early morning, feeding off small bait fish supplied by the fishermen. This affords our divers the chance to enjoy a shallow water dive close up & personal with these super stars of the diving world. This trip was no different with a number of sharks gliding by & stopping to enjoy the free feast, an absolute bounty for those with a camera as the Whale Sharks were happy to approach our divers closely and pose for countless photo & video opportunities.

After such a wonderful trip it was only right that we should celebrate the end of the journey with a mixed grill BBQ and some live music provided by our talented Indonesian DM’s, as the sun set on another cruise memories & emails were exchanged and all promised to be back soon.. we will be waiting and are looking forward to welcoming this group of divers back very soon!! To all who joined us on this adventure, thanks for choosing to dive with us again, it was truly a pleasure to dive with you all.. let’s do it again soon and remember… Dive, Dive, Dive!

Trip: RMSGA8 25-31st July 2017
Author: Mike T