The sprawling fingers of Sulawesi give this island over 6,000 km of coastline, against which laps warm water rich in marine life. Located at the edge of The Wallace Line, make Sulawesi Island has a great Flora and Fauna specially for the Marine Life. The dramatic topography continues offshore, with abyssal trenches and sheer drop-offs right up against the shoreline. Once you’ve dived here, you will understand the enthusiasm of frequent visitors, many of who claim that there is nowhere else on earth that offers such diverse and exciting underwater experiences.
Given the enormous number and variety of dive sites so near to the shore, Sulawesi is quite possibly one of the best resort diving destinations in the world. There is a huge choice of highly affordable accommodations to stay in and only a few liveaboards. This shows how Sulawesi is best suited to dive resorts. You can explore the waters around this celebrated island from the comfort of one of our selected spots:
Just to the east of Manado is the magical muck dive wonderland of the Lembeh Strait, with its seemingly endless promises of discovery of rare and unusual critters. If you’ve ever watched a National Geographic documentary on some strange underwater creature and wondered where it was filmed, well the chances are high that it was filmed here!
The world-famous island of Bunaken, off the north east tip of Sulawesi, is often quoted among the world’s top 10 dive destinations and is a mecca for scuba divers of all levels. Here, strong currents bring nutrient-rich water from the ocean depths close to shore, creating one of the most beautiful coral environments in the world. Very few places in the world offer such biodiversity and that means there is something for everyone; it is the stuff of photographers’ dreams.
Indonesia is a volcanic country and this area seems to sport more than its fair share. The nutrient-rich land that volcanoes produce is evidenced by the lush verdant hillsides and the stunning quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables in the local cuisine. Most tourists come to Manado for the scuba diving, but for those who fancy a few days off or something a little different during their vacation, there is plenty to do to experience this intriguing part of the country.
Where to Stay
With 2 quite distinct world-class destinations sitting on its doorstep, Sulawesi Island will keep most ardent scuba divers happy. The highlights all depend on what you are interested in. Bunaken offers schools of fish and healthy coral walls whereas the Lembeh Strait is the world’s capital for muck diving par excellence and there is literally nowhere better for bizarre critters.
Bunaken resorts – To dive in the Bunaken National Marine Park means being surrounded by marine bio-diversity that is the envy of the world – with more varieties of coral than anywhere else. There are 50 or so dive sites in the park, mostly offering healthy walls, schools of reef fish and pelagics, plus there are also some very good macro sites, making the area a unique destination.
You can either stay in Manado on the mainland, or on Bunaken island itself. Dive resorts around Manado have more land to use and access to infrastucture and therefore tend to be larger and more luxurious than those on Bunaken. From the mainland you may have longer boat journeys but normally better facilities and a professionally run resort. Accommodations on the island of Bunaken have less space and therefore tend to be smaller and either more simple in the flashpacker sense, or boutique and with a family atmosphere.
Lembeh resorts – Few places are really the best in the world for anything but Lembeh really is the planet’s best spot for muck diving. No more than a few breaths go by between one bizarre and exhilarating sight and the next. If you’ve tired of night dives, then try one in the Lembeh Strait – they are simply fantastic. Forget great visibility, healthy reefs and a brightly coloured seabed, Lembeh is for those who want to marvel at innumerable, incredible critters against a dark, volcanic sand background.
The dive resorts are located along the mainland coastline (near the port town of Bitung) and the island of Lembeh on the opposite side of the strait. You can chose from a range of prices from small and simple, to more glamorous luxury where some of the accommodations can be quite large and feature facilities such as swimming pools. It is such a small area that the 50+ dive sites are likely to be no more than 10 minutes boat ride from your chosen place to stay.
Of course you can opt to visit either of these destinations, but the ultimate North Sulawesi scuba diving holiday would involve a combination of these 2 very distinct experiences since the beautiful coral walls of Bunaken complement the amazing muck diving in Lembeh. Stays of 5+ days are ideal for one location or 8-10 days to visit both destinations. Packages normally include full board accommodation, diving and airport transfers.
It’s also possible to visit these destinations on a liveaboard tour, if you prefer.