The Mantanani Resort The Dugongs
Usukan Bay Wreck Diving
Pulau Mantanani or Mantanani
Islands is a group of three islands northwest of Kota Belud, or about 80 km
north (an hours drive) from Kota Kinabalu.
Isolated and until recently, relatively unknown, and surrounded by crystal
clear blue waters lapping on white sandy beaches, they offer excellent scuba
diving adventures. The coral reefs surrounding the islands have plenty to
offer for both novice and experienced divers as there are more than 20 dive
sites, each ready to reveal deep secrets of a world home to a host
of exotic marine life.
The Mantanani Resort
The largest island houses the only dive resort, the Mantanani Resort, which is
situated at the western end on the edge of a white sandy bay.
Nestled amongst the tall coconut palms are beach cabins scattered around the
main plantation styled resort. These large and comfortable cabins come with
attached bathrooms and air conditioning. The resort also offers activities
like: Snorkelling, bird watching, kayaking, "kampung" walks, bottom fishing
Among the underwater attraction are the resident dugongs (sea cows) of whom
Nicky the dugong is creating waves and making friends with all divers /
snorkellers visiting Mantanani Island. The resident dugong has been spotted
almost daily by divers diving near the island.
This young male dugong is about 7 feet in length and gets his name from the
small cut or "nick" in his left tail. All the guests were strongly urged by
the trained divers of Scuba Paradise to keep their distance from the playful
The Usukan Bay Wreck Diving
Japanese merchant tankers Eikyo Maru and Nittetsu Maru and the merchant ore
carrier Taizen Maru were sunk in 1944 by two American submarines, the USS
Darter and the USS Dace off north Borneo which is now known as Usukan Bay.
These war-relics, range from 15 m to 250m in length,
They are about 7 n.miles offshore from Usukan Bay that lies west of Kota Belud.
The three wrecks, that lie within a kilometre of each other, appear to be
Japanese from World War II. They are called locally, the 'Rice Bowl Wreck',
the 'Upside-down Wreck' and the "Usukan Bay Wreck'. The latter might as well
have been called the "Lying on its port side wreck'. They call out for Nitrox
since they all lie in the 26 - 40 metre range. If you dive on air, be prepared
for decompression dives, and watch it on the second dive. All computers rack
up deco. time at an alarming rate on the second decompression dive of the day.
Three wrecks have been discovered which still hold plenty of secrets and are
now home to a menagerie of marine creatures such as Lionfish, Scorpionfish,
octopus, glassfish and the coral reefs surrounding the islands have plenty to
offer, both the novice and experienced diver. Many species of rays can be
found, Marbled stingray, Blue spotted ray and large schools of eagle rays.
Over 180 species of nudibranchs, some still as yet un-identified species.
For macro photographers the muck diving is amazing, seahorses, imperial
shrimps, pink-eye gobies, jawfish, blue-ringed octopus, ribbon eels and many
nudibranchs you want be able to find in the books!
Average water temperature in the area ranges between 24 and 29C/ 75 to 84 F.
- Usukan Bay Wreck -
Lying in 40 metres on its port side, this wreck is covered in soft corals,
abundant black corals and schools of fish. The rudder and propeller are in
place as is a boiler and a large reciprocating steam engine amidships.
Nittetsu Maru - Resting position: portside / Length: approx.150m / Tonnage:
approx.7000 / Surface to Deck: 30 meters / Surface to Bottom: 40 m
- Upside-down Wreck -
This wreck is not quite upside-down but heavily canted over the vertical to
port. The shallowest part of the wreck was at 25m and the deepest sat in the
sand at approximately 42m. there are bullets strewn along the lower deck, and
a pleasant, longish swim through amidships with quite some machinery hanging
- The Rice Bowl Wreck -
The 'upright' wreck! Well collapsed and broken near the bow that is twisted
over to starboard. The propeller and rudder are in place at about 37 metres.
The stern is a bit confused, but moving forward, a large reciprocating steam
engine can be seen. The starboard side of the ship towards the bow has fallen
down onto the sea-bed. There is a broken twist before the bow section. In the
bow, that can be entered from the break or from the hatch near the peak, the
room with the rice bowls can be entered. These are heavily broken and cemented
into the general hard coral. There are the usual Japanese sake and beer
The Eikyo Maru - Resting position: upright / Length: approx.150m / Tonnage:
approx.7000 / Surface to Deck: 28m / Surface to Bottom: 36m
Marine life: Giant grouper, school of yellow-tail barracudas, school of red
snappers, Skip jack tuna and a Fan- tail ray. This wreck is also densely
covered with soft coral and Black coral trees.