Manta Ray, Thailand, 2006.

Dreams of mantas

  Borneo [Malaysia and Indonesia] - July 2009

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 

I dream about it, I want to see them, the mantas of Sangalaki. Will they be there? Will I have the chance to meet them, to admire the graceful underwater ballet of these harmless giants?

Stories and images from other travelers

The pre-departure is also a journey... Dreamed, fantasized. Nourished by images and stories of other travelers.

I ride again, this superb Pierre Poilloux's gallery (click on the image to see it):

Manta rays

I read again and savor with envy the words of Yann Senant :

Facing us, mouths open, the divas fly, whirl, brush against us, move away in a magical turn and iron so close that we could caress them.
Huge. They are huge. Between four and five meters wingspan for those with white belly. Blacks are gigantic, more impressive and more fearful too.
In a formidable energy, they want to show us that they are beautiful, majestic, elegant, graceful, agile.

I revisit the page dedicated to them on the site Sangalaki is renamed here "The Manta Expressway". Oh, my! This kind of tourist propaganda has a real effect on me...

Thailand, February 2006

The first time I saw mantas was in February 2006, in Thailand, during a diving cruise in the Similan Islands.

This trip is not listed here on Bubbles Underwater & Beyondbut I had put some pictures online, on my very first websites of the time:

Similan Islands - Thailand 2006
Similan - Sub Pictures - Thailand 2006

The manta rays appeared at the end of the dive, while I was back on the boat with the rest of the group... I immediately put on my fins, mask and snorkel, and jumped into the water to admire them, snorkeling!

Superb vision, magical moment. I flipped all the way, with all my strength. I flipped like never before, to follow them. They are fast, despite the majestic slowness of their "flight". My emotion, my excitement were such, that I didn't feel any fatigue. Quite an adrenaline rush!

Below is the little shaky video I made at the time:

Indonesia, Nusa Penida, July 2008

The second time was last summer (July 2008), in Indonesia, in the waters of Nusa Penida, off Bali.

Difficult conditions: ice-cold water, exhausting current. They swirled around the well named rock of "Manta point". Fascinating spectacle that their incessant carousel in the blue fog... And here is one, and another one, and another two !!!...

You can find the story of this dive at the end of the link below :

→ The mantas ballet (July 16, 2008)

A manta ray emerges in blue fog. Manta Point, Nusa Penida. Bali.

Will there be a third time in Sangalaki?

I dream about it...

Small addition to the return of the trip

I saw the mantas in Sangalaki!!! Yes! Explore the other articles related to this trip (link below)... 😉

  Borneo [Malaysia and Indonesia] - July 2009

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  1. Still dirty beasts as well as clowns!
    To dream about it, actually.
    We were supposed to go to the Maldives in February after the tsunami, but we couldn't because our island had been badly damaged.
    So where to go?
    But in the Maldives of course, we found a hotel that took our reservation.
    40 people on the island, 8 divers and mantas EVERYDAY, just for us, ready to touch them.
    The tourists had deserted and underwater there was only us, with long dives in 15m of water, and these majestic animals.
    A real delusion.

  2. 😀 Ah the mantas... what majesty... what passion!
    I didn't see them at the Similans, but on every trip to Bali, like you at Manta Point, as well as in Komodo.
    I dedicated a gallery of photos here:

    I hope to see them again in Rajah Ampat this year and... in Sangalaki if I manage to dive there one day! I am very, very interested in your trip and all the information you will give us about this destination!

    ❓ Are you also planning to dive into the jellyfish lake?
    Have you found sites that specify the best seasons to dive there? I can not find anything specific about it ...

  3. @Blue Lagoon: The Maldives, of course... I will go, I tell you, one day!!!

    @Manta: Yess!!! Thanks for the link!!!! I hope Rajah Ampat lives up to your expectations. 🙄
    For Sangalaki, many uncertainties remain, as for the dives... I would like to do all the interesting sites, including Kakaban and its jellyfish lake. But each time, I have to charter a boat and it is a bit expensive for me alone. So I'd better be there at the same time as other divers to share the costs... We'll see. The Tawau-Derawan trip is going to be quite crazy, I will tell it in a future post... As for the "good" season, I don't know either. July looks pretty good, but I will ask the question to the Indonesian dive-master with whom I am in contact by email.

  4. Hi Corinne,

    Thanks for the link 😉 to my notebook...

    I also hope you will see them in Sangalaki.... it's like everywhere, there is a part of luck.

    You are going to make the trip from Tawau apparently? Don't forget to get your visa for Indonesia 1 or 2 days before...

    Also buy, and before your visa application, a return ticket Tawau / Tarakan by boat.

    It wastes a bit of time, but it's unavoidable if you plan to go down to Derawan.

    Kisses and good dreams O ° o °


  5. @Yann: I'm in the process of organizing all this... I know it takes time to get down to Derawan. I have a contact on the spot who explained me the steps. I'll give the information I've already gathered in a project post! Come on, I cross my fingers for the mantas!

  6. Hello Corinne,
    it makes you dream to see these majestic animals.
    I'll see about doing Manta point this summer with my daughter. Practicable for level 2's? How is the current there? Is it as strong as they say? Are the dives drift dives then?

    Otherwise concerning the visas for Bali, can we buy them in advance to avoid queuing in Denpasar? If yes it would interest me to know where and how 😉

    @ soon for new trips to your blog!

    By the way, the new beginning is coming soon, isn't it?

  7. @ N @ me: For the "Manta Point" in Nusa Penida (Bali), no problem for Level 2 or AOW; for Level 1 or OW, it's a bit tight I think. As for most of the other sites... It's really sporty!

    But at Manta Point, it was not so much the current that I found hard to manage (we went there at slack water) as the terrible thermoclines. The boat did not go very often to Manta Point, which is difficult to access, because of the swell there.

    In any case, yes, the currents are as strong as they say in Nusa Lembongan/Penida. We regularly drift, but sometimes the next day, at the same site, it will be the opposite: quiet...

    The problem is not so much the strength of the currents, but their whims. You can go in one direction, then in the other, then again in the other during the same dive. It is very disturbing, you can feel the water turning suddenly in your fins, changing direction very suddenly; in this case, there is no point in fighting, or even trying to cling to the reef, it is a blow to exhaust yourself stupidly or to tear your fingers.

    But the dive masters of World Diving (a center that I really recommend) are very competent and know perfectly how to supervise the groups, to adapt the dives to the divers' level, and to detect the whims of the current. As for me, I did not try "Blue Corner", which is said to be superb and where one regularly meets "eagle-rays", but which can be very treacherous, with downward and upward currents. Brrr. Not my thing.

    For the Indonesian visa: it can be done in advance in France, at the Indonesian embassy. All details on the Embassy website (document to download at the bottom of the page), or (But it costs more than the simple 30-day "visa on arrival" at 25$ issued at the airport, as it is a 60-day tourist visa).

    As for the new beginning, yes, it's coming: it's for the end of the month!!!

  8. 21°C in Rennes? Wow! Did you do a short story for Ouest France? 😉
    Very well Sangalaki, but take the opportunity to go to Kakaban, it's next door. Just to be amazed...

  9. @Francis: If you had passed by a few hours earlier, you would have been amazed to discover that it was the same temperature in Rennes during the day (24°C) as in Kuala Lumpur in the evening! 😆
    A short for OF? I'm off today, but I could have. Who do you think was among the happy workers on call this sunny weekend, from Friday to Monday? Huh? 8)
    By the way, you don't think you're saying it right: the weather has been so nice and so hot (even in August we don't have such a nice weather), that the canard did a paper, on Monday, entitled "La ruée vers le soleil" (The rush for the sun), with the participation of our different editors from the coast. I escaped it, it's not so much the rush in Rennes, it lacks beaches 😀
    For Kakaban and its singular lake, I plan to go there... I remember well the meditative expedition of a certain FLG 😉

  10. @ Marie-net: Yes, but it seems (information reported by one of my readers who has friends returning from Derawan) that they are unfortunately less numerous than before. Probably because of the illegal fishing following the closure of the resort located on Sangalaki Island itself...
    In any case, it's going to be a hellish expedition to go there. But, what would I do to swim with mantas, turtles, and jellyfish that do not sting this funny lake ...

  11. Mantas are overrated
    When you saw one, you saw 100
    It is true that the first times their size and mass impress, but in the long run it becomes tiresome to the point that many dive guides do arrow words or sudoku underwater to kill their boredom when they go on a cleaning station
    All these pudgy mantas that turn around you in a choreography of the level of "Pom Pom girls on the way back" during an agricultural show, give quickly the spin
    Not only is their fatness (!) greatly overrated, but their large gaping mouths, framed by cephalic horns and eyes as expressive as those of a cow waiting to be milked, hardly encourage their frequentation
    So Corinne, the best we can wish you is not to realize your "Manta Dream" in Sangalaki
    Below is a link to a friend's pictures taken in Maratua, just in case...

  12. @ The Velvety Troll: 😆
    I was starting to miss the Furry Troll.
    Thanks for the link!!! More sub good rotten photos... 😀

  13. ah the Mantas, I had the opportunity to see them a few years ago in the lagoon of Bora Bora, moreover it was on the occasion of my 100th dive, great, since each new 100th more I meet rays! For the 200th one, it was torpedoes, because we should not dream, in the Channel we can have mola mola but not yet Mantas... 😛
    In short, I can't wait for the 400th for a new manta, I'll have to choose my destination well 🙂

  14. @Laurence: Ah... I'm going to approach the 300th, maybe that's a good sign? What if I offered myself Bora-Bora for the next trip? Or the Maldives? 😆 I haven't left yet that I'm already thinking about the next trip!!! In any case, no question of diving back into the Channel, it's beyond my strength now, I admit....

  15. Anyway, at the moment, I don't have a trip for several months 😥 , so I'm counting on you to make me travel by eye 🙄 with lots of beautiful pictures ❗