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North Sulawesi’s Best Dive Sites

Combining Reef and Muck from Murex Bangka Resort

Diving in Bangka is an incredible experience with some of North Sulawesi’s best dive sites and a range of topographies from rock pinnacles to drifts along sloping coral reefs. The variety of corals, particularly the soft coral species’, is impressive and the colours are truly exquisite. It’s easy to see why some divers might be reluctant to try out muck diving after seeing such an array of life and breath taking reef scenes.

If you haven’t tried muck diving before we understand you may not want to book an entire dive trip based on it, what happens if you don’t like it? Well, we have the perfect solution as from Bangka we can run day dive trips over to the Lembeh Strait – the Muck Diving Capital of the World! and you can dive some of North Sulawesi’s Best Dive Sites.

Lembeh Strait over view

Lembeh Strait – Muck Diving Capitol of the World

A day of diving North Sulawesi’s Best Dive Sites

In this Blog our Blogger joins guests Leon van Lersel and Ide Koets on their day trip to Lembeh – read on to find out more…..

“After waking up at a very civilised 07.00am I had eaten my breakfast, packed my camera and I was ready to jump on the dive boat at 08.00am. It was a great day for the trip with a bright blue, sunny sky, my dive gear was already set up on the boat and the boat crew were ready for the off. When I boarded the boat I also noticed that as well as lunch and all the necessary gear a guitar was on board! Guests Leon and Ide were in good spirits and excited about the trip and we soon set sail across flat calm water with cups of coffee and lashings of sun cream. The boat ride to Lembeh was quite spectacular with stunning scenery – huge green mountainous peaks, craggy cliffs and numerous small beaches and villages. All of this to take in while listening to the strumming of the guitar by Rustam (our friendly boat crew who is also known as “The Voice of Bangka”!) After one hour and 20 minutes of relaxing on board we arrived at our first dive site – Air Bajo III. We kitted up and as we did Leon mentioned to our Dive Guide Julian that he was keen to see a seahorse during the course of the trip. I made a mental note to look out for some for him!

On the way to Lembeh

Stunning scenery and phenomenal diving with a touch of music!

Air Bajo III was the perfect choice of dive site – a complete black sand slope which showcases muck diving in Lembeh at its best. On the reef top – literally with one minute of entering the water – we had our first major “find”, a Coconut octopus nestled inside the two halves of a bi-valve shell – what a great start to the dive. We took our pictures and headed off down the black sand where we found two Helmet gurnards “walking” on the sand, several different species of nudibranch including Flabellina, mimic octopus (my favorite part of the dive), stick pipefish, a large spotted stingray, numerous lionfish and scorpionfish species and as we came back up the slope Julian started tapping his tank and I knew he had found something great. It was finally the seahorse that Leon had been hoping for and that’s not all, as we swam along Julian spotted another 3! Back on the boat Leon was thrilled and with two dives left to go we knew we had a lot more to see.

Frogfish at Air Bajo

One of the Frogfish at Air Bajo

Our surface interval was a short ride down the straight to the dive site named Bianca. The site is right next to (and underneath) a huge wooden ship, named “Bianca”. We were all looking forward to this dive as the site combines coral rubble, black sand and shallow staghorn corals which are home to Mandarin fish. After our surface time was done we all jumped in and made our descent to the reef top. Again this dive did not disappoint, both Ide and myself were keen to see some Frogfish and there were many! We saw giant, painted and warty species in all different colours – white, orange, grey, bluish purple – it was a real treat! Nudibranch species were also numerous as were lionfish, scorpionfish – including humpback species, the biggest flounder any of us had ever seen before and at the very end of the dive the mandarin fish were weaving their way in and out of the stag horn corals along with schools of Banggai cardinal fish and Pyjama cardinals – it was a great way to end the dive!

Coconut Octopus in Lembeh

Coconut Octopus in his shell house

Once back on the boat we were all ready for lunch so Julian and Rustam set up our mini-style buffet lunch which comprised rice (of course!), two different types of vegetable dish, fish in a coconut curry source and chicken in a rich gravy – all with a good helping of chili sauce!
After taking our time over lunch we started to slowly make our way to the third dive site – Jahir. Feeling refuelled we were ready to take on the last dive of the day, another black sand site with more critters! The dive was down the slope and gently winding our way back up. As with the first two dives we were overwhelmed by the number of critters – nudibranch, mantis shrimps, swimming crabs, upside down jellyfish crabs, painted frogfish, juvenile warty frogfish, sting rays, Ambon scorpionfish and a multitude of other crabs and shrimps. We made our final safety stop while watching stingrays burrowing in the sand. After we climbed back on the boat we were ready to head back to our Murex Bangka base.

One of Leon's seahorses at Air Bajo

One of Leon’s seahorses at Air Bajo

We arrived back in the afternoon with full SD cards, empty batteries and some really wonderful memories”.
Ide and Leon had a great day which included sea horses and lots of new critters – they were overjoyed at how easy it was to make the three dive trip and see some wonderful topside scenery along the way. The boat crew were amazing and made sure everyone was looked after and entertained. Leon and Ide said they would definitely recommend people to take the day trip and I personally can say it was a great day out and the perfect introduction to muck diving in Lembeh.
If you are interested in staying with us a Murex Bangka or Murex Manado and dive North Sulawesi’s Best Dive Sites email us on [email protected]


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

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