Dive Trip Quick Facts
Dive in Sulawesi’s Paradise
Best Time of Year: March to October
Trip Length: 15 days / 14 nights
Required Experience: Advanced
Price: From $4070 CAD per person, excluding airfare
You can fly right into Manado, the capital city of northern Sulawesi from Singapore, Bali, and Jakarta, as well as several other airports. This is a fantastic starting point or your Manado dive package to world-renowned Bunaken National Park.
Bunaken National Park, Bangka Island, Lembeh Strait, critters, walls, mandarin fish, frogfish, macro dive sites.
The Murex Dive Resort Manado is located just half an hour from the city, and besides the exceptional dives at Bunaken Park, it also has the front reef with newly marked dive trails. At night, this is a great place to watch Spanish dancer nudibranchs swim in the water. You can also do boat dives at City Extra, which is a muck dive with seahorses and ghost pipefish. You may also find frogfish, mimic octopus, and black and blue eels. At Tanjung Bulo there are some 15 different species of nudibranchs, cuttlefish, harlequin shrimp, and sea snakes. Molas Wreck is a Dutch cargo ship that 70 years later has lots of coral growth and sponges.
Murex Dive Resort Bangka has an excellent house reef that can be either a shore dive if the guides say the current is not too swift or it can easily be a great boat dive. Here you will see tons of coral that make up the fringing reef and tons of sea life as well. Batu Goso is a boat dive site with several steep pinnacles (5- 35m). It’s a drift dive where you can see white tip and black tip sharks, turtles, grouper and multi-colored corals. Across the waterway on the Sulawesi coastline is Paradise Pier. This is a fantastic muck dive site at the old paradise hotel pier. Hot springs are located at the bottom of the steps leading to the dive site. Frogfish, seahorses, octopus, squid, and batfish apparently don’t mind the warmer water. Sabora has nudibranchs, pygmy seahorses and a great place for night dives. Sahuang has jacks, dogtooth tuna, barracuda, red-toothed triggers and colorful corals.
Lembeh Resort on Lembeh Island is the perfect spot for diving Lembeh Strait. The resort is home to Critters@Lembeh dive center. This resort caters to professional divers and underwater photographers beautifully, but they also have a spa and pool for non-divers or for surface intervals. There are over 60 dive sites in the strait, but you cannot expect 100 plus feet of visibility here, or plenty of beautiful corals. What you will find is a black sand and silt substrate with patches of reefs, discarded man-made objects, lone anemones, a few wrecks, and even small rocks. It is easy to cruise by and miss the stars of the show here, so be sure to dive with a guide so they can point out the absolutely breathtaking rare creatures of every size, color, and texture. This is mecca for underwater photographers. An anemone with clown fish, an old bottle with a blue ring octopus inside, or a rock with a frogfish leaning against it fill your camera frames and image cards on almost every dive. And when we say frogfish, we are talking hairy frogfish, clown frogfish, painted frogfish, or the newly discovered Lembeh frogfish to name of few. New species of marine life are being discovered here daily. Fish moving across the sand, mimic octopus or mantis shrimp burring themselves in the sand are common sights too. Keep in mind that there are also multiple species of shrimp, octopus, pipefish, and nudibranchs often seen on the same dive. Some oddity fish you can find include: stargazers, crocodile fish, Pegasus sea moths, bobtail squids, devilfish, rhinopias, and candy crabs. For the best place to find mandarin fish, look no further than the Lembeh Resort house reef. Some of the other favorite dive sites include Nudi Falls (nudibranchs), Jahir (night dives), Tk 1 (everything in this village bay), Hairball (frogfish), and of course the Mawali, a Japanese cargo wreck, which sunk in 1943 and now resembles a coral reef.
As you can see, this is an amazing dive adventure, and we haven’t even mentioned land activities such as horse back riding, guided treks into rainforests, volcano trekking, white water rafting, or birding to see the endemic species of birds found no where else in the world. Also, the 6 national parks, 19 nature preserves, and 3 marine preserves of Sulawesi along with the freshwater fish, freshwater shrimp, and the highly cave adapted freshwater crabs may have to wait for another time, because you won’t want to miss a single dive. Sulawesi has so much to see and explore, but none of these spectacular marine creatures can truly shine unless immersed by the light from your own camera or dive light.
What is Included
The Passport to Paradise Journey is a 14 night trip that has you staying 4 nights at Murex Dive Resort Manado. You’ll then take a boat transfer with one or two dives on your way to Murex Bangka, where you’ll stay and dive for another 4 nights. Another boat transfer with one or two dives on the way will deliver you to Lembeh Resort where you will stay and dive other 4 nights. When you depart Lembeh, you’ll have a 10 minute boat ride and a 90 minute van ride back to Sam Ratulangi International Airport in Manado. You’ll also have a one night in Singapore on the way to Manado and on the return to complete your 14 night trip.
The Passport to Paradise includes:
- 12 nights at 3 amazing and different resorts
- 2 nights at the Singapore Ambassador Transit Hotel for your in and out air transfers
- 11 days of diving in 3 world-class areas: Manado, Bangka, and Lembeh. Lots of variety with coral walls, seamounts, and muck diving.
- Shore and night diving available at all resorts (weather dependent)
- All boat transfers (and no dive “down time” – you dive on the way to the next resort!)
- No cleaning, drying and packing of dive gear or cameras until the end of the trip
- All-inclusive meal plans
International air from USA or Canada, dive rental equipment, dive and travel insurance, additional dives, gratuities and personal purchases.
What Else You Need to Know
Rates are subject to change without notice. Please inquire about assistance with airfare. A liability waiver form will be required to sign, either prior to departure, or on location. A valid dive certification card issued by an internationally recognized scuba diving association needs to be presented on location.
Thank you to staff photographer Rick Heydel for the use of some of his images.
North Sulawesi Land Tours available