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An Underwater Photography Guide to Diving Bangka Island

From the moment you see the white sand beach and crystal clear water as you approach Bangka Island, any underwater photographer will feel their heart skip a beat. This is a truly tropical paradise and while it might seem impossible, underwater it gets even better. Whether you are shooting macro or wide angle; hoping for kaleidoscopic reef scenes which are bursting with action, or hoping to shoot unusual and rare critters, Bangka Island has it all – in abundance.

Murex Bangka Dive Resort

Murex Bangka’s private beach and house reef (Photo by: Helmut Wipplinger)

This little island is known for it’s pristine reefs, beaches and stunning aquamarine secluded bays. Bangka’s pinnacle dive sites are truly world class and marine life is attracted to them like metal to a magnet. When you are diving Bangka be prepared for an explosion of color and with few divers having yet visited this region, it’s yours to discover with a genuine feeling of exploration.

Diving Bangka

One of the highlights of diving Bangka is the stunning soft corals (Photo by Kurt Niederer)

When Murex Bangka Dive Guides are asked by divers whether they should be shooting macro or wide angle, at many of the dive sites it’s impossible to choose. Take Sahaung for example, one of Bangka’s most iconic pinnacle sites, from fields of soft corals, impressive topography, resting white tip reefs sharks and schooling snappers there’s little missing from a wide angle bucket list. Dive Sahaung with a macro lens and you’ll be equally impressed by the nudibranch, pygmy seahorses, cephalopods, crustaceans and sheer array of critters.

Wunderpus Bangka

Diving Bangka leads to discoveries of rare marine life including wunderpus octopus (Photo by Erik De Boer)

Batu Mandi is located on the mainland of North Sulawesi and equally offers a mind blowing mix of wide angle and macro opportunities. Rising up from around 25 meters are a series of underwater pinnacles which are entirely encrusted in a vibrant mix of hard and soft corals. The reef alone will bring a smile to any wide angle photographers face while macro aficionados choose to hunt for the frogfishes and pygmy seahorses – a number of species of each which can be found here.

Bangka Photography

Giant frogfish can work for both wide angle images such as this one taken at Bangka or macro shots too.

For muck diving fans who prefer to find sand-based macro life, Peter’s Sponge offers exactly that. This white sand slope is punctuated by small coral bommies, some of which are shrouded in glassfish beneath which frogfish lay in wait. Critters abound here and commonly spotted macro-life includes blue ring octopus, flamboyant cuttlefish, Ambon scorpionfish and ghost pipefish. For wide angle enthusiasts this site is a favorite among the local dugongs to frequent, especially early in the mornings.


Dugongs are known to frequent Peter’s Sponge dive site

For underwater photographers who have a passion for house reefs then this is another stunning site which opens up ample opportunities. Starting in shallow water the reef top is a mix of branching stag horn corals carpeted in colorful anthias and striking bommies on the white sand bottom. The reef top gives way to a sloping reef which is littered with hard coral formation, fans, soft corals, schools of reef fish and it’s packed with critters. Pygmy seahorses are frequently spotted here along with frogfish, mantis shrimps, octopus and if you have your wide angle lens look out to the blue for passing schools of fusiliers and occasional eagle rays.

Diving Bangka Sulawesi

Diving Bangka House Reef reveals a colorful coral bommies

Are you an avid night diver? When you are diving in Bangka you’ll be amazed by the night life! Once the sun has set Bangka’s dive sites are hives of activity for nocturnal species, including some of Indonesia’s rarest critters. Look out for coconut octopus, starry night octopus, a catalogue of crustaceans, hunting moray eels, Spanish dancers, big fin reef squid, bob-tail squid and so much many more incredible species!

Pontohi diving Bangka

Pontohi pygmy seahorses are one species of pygmy found around Bangka

Diving Bangka Quick Facts:

Marine Life Highlights: Pygmy seahorse, frogfish, a wide variety or cephalopods, crustaceans and nudibranch. Stunning soft coral reefs. Reef sharks, marble rays, turtles, barracuda occasional dugongs and migrating whales.
Dive Sites: Mixed but mainly sloping reefs, pinnacles and small walls.
Water Temperature: Temperatures vary annually but are generally in the region of 26 – 29 degrees Celsius
Visibility: 20m – 25m on average but up to +30m
Diving Experience: Suitable for all levels of diver due to a variety of sites and conditions
Photography Experience: All levels from beginner to pro
Photography Facilities: Onsite camera room with individual work stations, charging points, towels etc
Resort Type: Robinson Crusoe, white sand beach, tropical island getaway. A range of full board accommodation available
Airport: Manado International Airport (MDC)

Diving Bangka

Schooling yellow snapper are a common sight when diving Bangka

So are you ready to join us at Murex Bangka? Why not enhance your time in Indonesia and visit another two phenomenal North Sulawesi diving destinations? Discover three of North Sulawesi’s most notable diving areas in one incredible trip: Bunaken -> Bangka -> Lembeh. Discover epic walls and wide angle in the Bunaken Marine Park, kaleidoscopic reefs surrounding Bangka Island and the world’s best muck diving and macro photography in the Lembeh Strait. With seamless boat diving transfers from resort to resort there’s no wasted transfer days and no gear drying or packing – just dive and shoot your way around North Sulawesi!

If you’d like to make a reservation, or for more information please contact us on: – we look forward to diving Bangka Island with you soon!

Page title image by: Magdalena Neiderer


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