We had a fantastic trip! The Nabucco resort and the diving were both great.
We were lucky to be upgraded to Nabucco’s newest and most spacious suites which were beautifully appointed, roomy and enjoyed sea views and access by steps straight to the beach. Serena had a very brief water supply issue but that was fixed straight away.
The food and service were excellent throughout. Great range of choice, nicely prepared and served and wholesome: plenty of fresh fruit and veg, and sensible portions. Every meal offered meat, fish and veggie options with a real character of Indonesia.
The diving was very well organised and the team worked really hard to get everyone’s kit on the right boat at the right time. 15L tanks available pretty consistently.
The reefs are pristine and teeming with life. The guides took great care to find and show us the smaller critters like pygmy seahorses, ghost pipefish, comensal and squat shrimps, electric fire clam (to name but a very few); we saw LOTS of turtles, and we also enjoyed great diving at Big Fish Country, seeing a hammerhead on one dive, the black tips cruising around and the huge bait-ball of barracuda. I took lots of photos… if DSA would like to have any then I can share via dropbox.
We didn’t see mantas on our two trips to Sangalaki, but you’ll know from Bernita that her group filled their boots in the same week, so that’s just the luck of the draw…
We took our own gear, and the dive team were very helpful in overcoming one or two kit malfunctions.
If I were to change anything:
- I had expected that Sangalaki and Kakaban were two separate trips (because the package included 2 trips), rather than trips to both islands on two days. This could be clearer in the information. I questioned the wisdom of doing this trip twice… but Bernita’s manta festival shows it can be worth it.
- The Big Fish Country site is not always accessible because it is highly dependent on the tides. We were lucky to have the chance to dive it on three days, but on some days it was out of bounds because of the moon phases during our trip. I guess it’s possible to dive the site most weeks? but, as it’s one of the ‘signature’ sites at Maratua, it might be good to manage expectations by mentioning the dependency in the pre-trip info.
Garuda was comfy and efficient. The words “dive equipment” solved any queries about our luggage weights.
Our outbound flight from LHR departed about 1hr earlier than the 22:55 in our info pack. It didn’t cause us a problem as we were there in good time (and maybe we should have checked the departure time ourselves).
Our transfers were generally great and hassle free. The only exception was the pickup from Balikpapan to Samboja, which was late. We called Samboja and the car arrived about 20 min later, but I think they forgot to send a car until we called.
We enjoyed Samboja – good, knowledgeable guiding and we got to help feed the sun bears. Accommodation all fine, though their water supply went off on our last night there. I know Serena informed you that Queen Rooms were not available to us after all, and there was a breakdown in comms between DSA and us regarding this. Ben has kindly offered up a refund and asked for our acc. details.
So, to reiterate: it was a wonderful trip and DSA provided a great service: from presenting detailed information across a number of choices, and helping us select the right destination, to all the admin and pre-trip info. The couple of suggestions and minor details are not complaints; I would have no hesitation in recommending DSA and Nabucco Maratua.