30 Years On: Still Exploring and Stronger than Ever
It’s hard to believe that in March it will be 30 years since we first welcomed guests to our beautiful Murex Manado Dive Resort here in North Sulawesi. Looking back, it’s incredible how much has changed and yet how our founder’s principals of marine conservation, protection and exploration still run through our veins.
Since Murex first opened in 1988 there have been some huge milestones along the way. What started as a small family run dive resort became at the forefront of marine conservation under the leadership of Dr. Hansie Batuna. Dr. Batuna was an avid explorer who had a pivotal role in the creation of the Bunaken Marine Park in 1991. His dedication to discovering and exploring new dive sites around North Sulawesi is something we continue today. After years of diving North Sulawesi’s coast line and surrounding islands it was Bangka Island which stole Dr. Batuna’s heart. Bangka’s white sand beaches, pristine coral reefs and abundant marine life made it a phenomenal destination to share with other divers from around the world and in 2001 Murex Bangka was opened.
Inspired by his years of cruising the islands of North Sulawesi on board the MV Serenade (one of the first liveaboards in Indonesia), MV. Symphony and MV. Arlena, Dr. Batuna had often dreamed of linking North Sulawesi’s three best diving locations – Bunaken, Bangka and Lembeh in one single trip. It was a pioneering concept which would offer over 150 dive sites to choose from and the opportunity to dive Bunaken’s stunning walls, Bangka’s kaleidoscopic reefs and the world’s best muck diving. In 2001, under the management of Danny Charlton and Angelique Batuna, our critters@Lembeh Resort dive operations began. Shortly after, our flagship Passport to Paradise program, along with Dr Batuna’s dream, became a reality.
There have been other highlights along the way and we’ve been fortunate enough to host numerous scuba diving and marine conservation “celebrities” including underwater photographer Michael Aw, fish expert Mark Erdmann (pictured in the old image above in the back right of the boat), the heads of WWF Indonesia and we’ve even hosted the Dutch Crown Prince, Willem-Alexander, who is now the King of the Netherlands.
Dr Batuna has also been awarded for his contributions to recreational scuba diving and marine conservation. At ADEX (Asian Dive Expo) 2014, he was inducted as a board member to the Historical Diving Society and more recently he has been inducted, posthumously, to the International Scuba Diver’s Hall of Fame (award ceremony later this year).
It’s not always been a journey through easy waters and we’ve certainly had hurdles to overcome. After over 8 years of wrangling with the Indonesian legal system we were delighted to announce, in 2017, that the illegal mining on Bangka Island had been brought to an end and the island was finally awarded protected status. This huge accomplishment is a tribute to the work of Angelique and the Save Bangka Island team.
In 2014 the passing of Dr. Batuna was a loss felt by all who had had been fortunate enough to meet him. He will forever be remembered as a true gentleman with a kind heart and a pioneering spirit. His legacy of marine conservation and exploration continues on with us to this day.
From our small beginnings 30 years ago we are now proud to boast a fleet of 13 dive boats and staff teams which total over 180 members of crew, dive guides, resort staff, office staff and support workers. Some of our staff have been with us since Murex began in 1988. We remain just as passionate as Dr. Batuna was about training and developing local people and creating employment opportunities. Despite our growth, our ethos remains the same – at Murex we are all family.
Looking to the future we are excited about what the next 30 years has in store for us. We already have plans for new bungalows and upgraded accommodation on Bangka Island. Our wonderful team continues to grow, and the reefs and marine life around North Sulawesi are flourishing.
Have you visited our resorts? As part of our 30 year celebrations we’d love to hear from anyone who’d like to share their memories and pictures of trips to Murex in years gone by. Send us an email to: [email protected]
Are you planning you next Indonesian diving vacation? Join us on a Passport to Paradise and experience all three distinctive destinations on offer. Explore the tropical triangle of Bunaken -> Bangka -> Lembeh with the pioneers of diving in North Sulawesi!
We look forward to welcoming you to our resorts soon and here’s to another 30 years!