Diving Holiday: Discovering Underwater Paradise in North Sulawesi
North Sulawesi is one of Indonesia’s most famous and spectacular diving regions. It’s the ideal place to visit if you’re hoping to optimize your experience of Indonesia’s diverse marine life and underwater topographies as much as possible. Read on to learn more…
Introducing Manado Bay, Bunaken and Bangka
Manado Bay boasts several rare species of critters combined with both muck and reef diving. Bunaken Island and its surrounding marine park have long been heralded for featuring spectacular walls that plummet down vertically to over 900 meters. Bangka Island is famous for its sloping reefs which are adorned with stunning soft corals and excellent macro life – combined with passing pelagics.
Diving in Manado Bay
Manado Bay is extremely varied and offers a refreshing mix of coral rubble, black sand, and coral reef dive sites and wrecks.
Dive sites such as Bethlehem are favorites with macro photographers who are keen to spot seahorses, pipefishes, and nudibranchs on the shallow seagrass beds. Look out for frogfish, moray eels, and longfin squid on the deeper sandy slopes.
City Extra is a great site for cephalopod seekers who are hoping to spot mimic, coconut, and blue ring octopus as well as flamboyant and reef cuttlefish. Another highlight here is the elusive Ambon scorpionfish and a variety of other cephalopod species. Night diving at any of these sites is a real treat!
Manado Bay is home to the Molas shipwreck which lies on a critter-laden sandy slope that many divers enjoy just as much as the wreck itself. Another ‘wreck’ site is located at Tanjung Papaya where divers will see the extraordinary sight of hundreds of motorbikes ‘parked’ underwater!
Tanjung Pisok is located close to the Molas wreck and is a hard coral slope with a large density of green tree corals (tubastrea), as well as sponges and table corals. This is a great site for finding interesting bottom dwellers including crocodile fish (flatheads), flounders, leaf fish, and dragonets.
Learning to Dive
If you are considering learning to dive in North Sulawesi, then Manado Bay and the Murex Resorts house reef offer calm and easy conditions for beginners before heading over to Bunaken for your final dives. On the house reef is where you will also find our coral reef projects which are an important part of the dive site for providing marine life habitat and also our Ocean Gardener courses.
Diving in the Bunaken Marine Park
Bunaken’s dive sites are famous for their wall dives. But there are other sites that offer sloping reefs and a range of topographies. The boat ride to Bunaken takes around 35 minutes from Murex Manado Resort and we often see pods of dolphins along the way – we even have seasonal sperm whale sightings too!
Lekuan I and Lekuan II are two Bunaken dive sites that epitomize the diving around Bunaken Island. They offer dramatic vertical walls that feature ledges on which huge green sea turtles rest lazily, small caves that are often occupied by white-tip reef sharks, and beautiful corals that are bursting with macro life. The topography of these sites is breath and the clouds of red tooth triggerfish and pyramid fish are simply mesmerizing.
Ron’s Point is another exciting Bunaken site that offers a sloping topography providing something quite different from the classic walls of Bunaken. If you’re hoping to see big fish then Ron’s point should be on your list. Marine life highlights here include tuna, jacks, white tip reef sharks, great barracuda, and look out for passing eagle rays!
Sachiko’s Point is an iconic Bunaken wall diving site on the north side of Bunaken which is frequented by larger species. It is not unusual to see black-tip and white-tip reef sharks, banded sea snakes, and stingrays as well as an array of smaller fishes and turtles.
Diving Bangka Island
If you are looking for a romantic getaway then you can’t go wrong with Bangka Island! Bangka offers beautiful white sand beaches and a complete getaway from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Underwater, Bangka’s dive sites range from sloping reefs, drift dives, and small walls to sea mounts and rugged rock pinnacles. Diving around Bangka Island is a truly kaleidoscopic experience with world-class soft corals adorning every hard surface they can inhabit. The soft corals are home to pygmy seahorses, candy crabs, beautiful cowries, soft coral shrimps, and so much more – the more you look, the more you see!
Sahaung is one of Bangka’s most colorful dive sites and it offers decent currents to boot. Schooling blue-striped yellow snappers hover over the reef, juvenile white tip reef sharks hide out underneath the table corals, clouds of red-toothed triggerfish occupy the blue, and passing dogtooth tuna and barracuda are known to cruise by.
If you are looking for critters then Batu Mandi is an excellent site to visit. There are a series of underwater sea pinnacles rising up from around 25 and the hard corals here are the highlight along with giant and warty frogfish, cuttlefish, and check the sea fans for pygmy seahorses!
For divers who enjoy muck diving or who want to explore further afield, day trips to the world-famous Lembeh Strait are also a possibility from Murex Bangka. Dive into some of the best muck diving sites on the planet – Lembeh never fails to disappoint!
Where to Stay and Dive
If you are trying to decide which resort to stay at then why not join us for a Passport to Paradise? Instead of limiting yourself to one destination, you can explore all three of our distinct diving destinations in one easy trip: Bunaken, Bangka , and Lembeh.
Our resorts are connected by boat diving transfers which means no wasted travel time and even more time underwater as you simply dive your way from resort to resort!
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