Back To Top

Blackwater and Bonfire Diving in North Sulawesi

Dive into the Deep, Discover and be Amazed!

Have you heard of blackwater or bonfire diving? Do you know what they are? These are exciting dives which reveal some incredible critters in their larvae stages – many of which are not seen by the majority of divers.

Blackwater pyrosome

Amphipods catching a ride on a pyrosome

It All Begins with Plankton
There are two types of plankton; zooplankton (which is animal based) and phytoplankton (which is plant based). These two forms of plankton drift with the ocean currents and are the source of all marine life. The word “Plankton” is derived from the Greek word “Planktos” which translates into English as “drifter” or “wanderer”. Did you know that in one teaspoon of sea water there are literally billions of life forms?


blackwater bobtail squid

A bobtail squid spotted while blackwater diving

What is Blackwater and Bonfire Diving?
Blackwater diving takes place over deep water, away from the reef. From Murex Manado and Murex Bangka we usually head out from the resorts into the open ocean. Bright lights are suspended in the water column at various depths up to 25 meters. The lights attract plankton in the water column which in turn attracts intriguing and rarely seen larvae stage critters.

black water diving Lilian Koh

Butterfish larvae in a sap colony

Bonfire diving takes place at shallower depths on the reef or sandy slope – at both resorts we have no shortage of suitable dive sites. Bonfire diving is also based around the use of bright lights to attract plankton and larvae stage and more mature critters.

Blackwater and Bonfire Underwater Photography Subjects
The most iconic blackwater and bonfire dive critters include crustacean and cephalopod larvae. Other common subjects include jelly fish and other critters which drift freely in the open ocean. Many of the larvae stage critters are not yet displaying any coloration and are often translucent as they are in the early stages of development. Both types of diving feature a lot of critter behavior spotting and imaging opportunities.

Juvenile blackwater diving

Juvenile fish seeking protection inside a jellyfish

Best Times for Blackwater and Bonfire Diving
It’s possible to blackwater and bonfire dive at any time but the most abundant dives are around the new moon – up to 4 days before and 3 days after. Around the new moon there is little moon light so the bright dive lights become more active. When there is a full moon there is already light on the surface so the level of activity is dispersed and less centered around the dive lights.

Blackwater diving larvae

Sea snail larvae

So are you ready to dive into the deep with us? You can book these dives in advance or in resort – just ask your dive guide for more information. Why not try both blackwater and bonfire dives at each resort? Are you planning to take a Passport to Paradise? Discover three of North Sulawesi’s most notable diving areas in one phenomenal trip: Bunaken -> Bangka -> Lembeh. Discover epic walls in the Bunaken Marine Park, kaleidoscopic reefs surrounding Bangka Island and the world’s best muck diving in Lembeh. With seamless boat diving transfers from resort to resort you’ll have no wasted transfer days and no gear drying or packing – just dive your way around North Sulawesi!

Black water diving

Blackwater diving at Murex Dive Resorts

For more information or to make a booking contact us on [email protected]

We look forward to welcoming you to our North Sulawesi Dive Resorts soon!


Dive, Snorkel and Explore More with us in beautiful North Sulawesi.

+62 811 4390 0091
[email protected]
Murex Dive Resorts, North Sulawesi, Indonesia
Follow Us: