KM Raja Manta Trip Reports

Oct 17, 2013

WMS15 11-15 Oct 2013 - Whale Shark and Manta Ray at Acasta Wreck & Reef; Badas Islands and the Garden of Eden


A long weekend in Singapore can mean only one thing... A White Manta diving trip to little explored and remote diving destinations!!! This Hari Raya holiday was no exception, and for those lucky guests who joined us - it proved to be one of, if not THE best, trip of the season! On this longer 4D4N trip we set out from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT) to the distant submerged reef of Batu Acasta; almost 150nm from Singapore in the azure Indonesian waters of the South China Sea.

 

Photo courtesy of Russell Dark

We would sail overnight and most of the first day to reach this remote submerged reef where the Garsa Dua wreck found it’s final resting place, but it proved to be more than worth the wait!

As our divers descended upon the wreck, all were amazed at the crystal clear visibility, the stunning reef and the abundance of marine life, not to mention the eerie silence of the huge wreck leading from the depths to the shallow reef. During the dive a number of lucky groups were flabbergasted to spot a juvenile Whale Shark cruising over the shallow reef top.. what a start to the trip!

Both images courtesy of Russell Dark

However it just got better! After the dive the whale shark decided to pay us a proper visit and swam in shallow water around the boat for an hour, allowing us to don snorkels and masks and watch this gentle giant cruise by. The massive fish often seemed curious and interested in us, chasing the snorkelers and forcing us to make last minute manoeuvres to avoid a collision! It was a truly memorable highlight of the trip... all before the second dive!

 

Of course this is White Manta, so a whale shark turning up on the first day just isn’t enough.. we were also treated to a manta ray flyby on dive two at the Garsa Dua wreck! What a first day!

 

Day two was to be an exploration dive day at the remote and rarely visited Badas Islands a further 90nm due SE. We found some amazing divesites, a beautiful submerged pinnacle with abundant soft corals along with some stiff currents! Turtles, moray eels and stingrays amongst impressive schools of jacks, fusiliers and snappers during a fast moving drift over the top of the seamount. Tangaru island was also popular, despite some obvious dynamite fishing damage, areas of the reef were simply stunning with huge black coral and sea fans creating a beautiful underwater garden to explore. More turtles, nudibranchs and a few blue-spotted rays providing the animate marine life highlights.

 

Day three was largely spent at the stunning location of Tokong Kemudi, a real tropical dream island, with sheer limestone cliffs, palm fringed beaches and clear blue waters with a shallow fringing reef. The divesite ‘Garden of Eden’ is aptly named as the coral life that covers this series of submerged pinnacles is simply astounding! With a very challenging current it proved to be an adrenaline filled dive, but was worth it for what proved to be one of the most beautiful dives of the trip! Checking the current Chris even spotted an eagle ray cruising along the reef upcurrent of the pinnacles. To finish the day we did two relaxing reef dives along the fringing reef of Kemudi, here the huge schools of rainbow runner and golden trevally hunting massive schools of glass fish made for a couple of outstanding dives!

 

The final day was spent at one of our regular wreck dive haunts the 'Igara’. True to recent form - the wreck was a hotbed of fish action! The visibility was good and the stiff current created a perfect hangout for a large schools of pickhandle barracudas, striped tunas, various trevallies, thousands of fusiliers, and hundreds upon hundreds of snappers! A fantastic end to what was a superb trip, one which all on board will remember for a long time to come!

 

Thanks to all our guests who joined us, we look forward to diving with you again soon!

Special thanks to Andrea Acri for sharing his superb photographs taken during the trip.

Trip: WMS15 11-15 Oct 2013
Author: Michael Thomas and Christopher Hutton