Added by Steven Backerman from his trip to North Sulawesi, Indonesia in August 2017.
Indonesia is a diver’s paradise and heaven for an underwater photographer.
Lembeh Strait is considered the muck diving capital of the world. This doesn’t mean the water is murky. Simply speaking, the majority of the sea floor is black volcanic sand, with occasional rock or coral reefs. But, the macro sea life is spectacular. Seahorses, nudibranchs, scorpionfish, shrimp, mantis shrimp are but a few of the wonders of the many dive sites within a 10-minute boat ride from the Lembeh Resort.
You can dive as often as you wish, as in addition to 2 morning boat dives, 1 afternoon boat dive and 1 night boat dive each day, the house reef is welcoming and full of life
And, it is a photographer’s dream, as no more than 4 divers are assigned to each dive guide. This means extra time shooting whatever catches your fancy.
The dive guides are some of the most knowledgeable you’ll ever meet. There is a resident marine biologist who keeps the guides up to date and educated as to names and behaviors of the vast array of life. On every dive, the guides will make lists of the critters you’ve seen, making it easy to identify what you’ve captured with your camera.
Most dives descend to 70’-80’ and a zig-zagging, slow ascent gives you and your group ample time to find some of the world’s most stunning sea-life, much of which is endemic to Lembeh Strait.
The resort is plush and very well maintained and the food is first-class. You’ll never be hungry and the choices include traditional Indonesian fare, along with other Southeast Asian cuisines and basic American choices as well. The dive operation is run by Critters@Lembeh Resort, which is owned by the same folks that own Murex Dive Resorts at Bangka Island and Manado.
After 2 days and 8 dives at Lembeh Strait, we headed for Murex Dive Resort at Manado by way of boat. We did three dives around Bangka Island, which is famous for spectacular walls and seascapes. Sensory overload is probably the best way to describe the dives.
Lunch was provided at the Murex Dive Resort on the island and, though we did not stay there, it is clearly a first-rate operation in and of itself. When I return, I will definitely stay on the island for a couple of days.
Following lunch, we completed our boat trip to Manado where we spent two more days diving. Day one included two dives out near Bunaken, a protected marine-reserve. On one dive alone, we saw roughly 18 Green Sea Turtles, in addition to colorful walls and an abundance of reef fish.
The currents at Bunaken can be somewhat strong, but the guides plan the dive such that the current is always at your back. The only drawback is having to fight the current, at times, to get the shots you want!
We did the night dive at the Murex Manado Resort House Reef. Nudibranchs, mantis shrimp, crabs, lobster and octopuses abound!
Like Lembeh Resort, the food and service are plentiful and attentive respectively. The operations at the resort and the dive shop are well-organized and efficient and customer oriented.
All three locations offer enclosed camera rooms where you can store your camera gear safely, as well as clean the gear and wash and grease your o-rings in climate controlled environments. There are also camera professionals available if you have questions or other needs.
All in all, this was the best dive trip I’ve ever taken and a place to which I’ll return over and over again. Highly recommended.