Full of natural wonders, and offering an almost unparalleled level of marine biodiversity, North Sulawesi has become one of the worlds premier destinations for ecotourism and adventure travel in recent years. Today, large numbers of scuba divers travel to this distant part of Indonesia, to sample some of the finest dive sites to be found anywhere throughout South East Asia.
The diving in North Sulwesi is focused in two main areas, the Bunaken National Marine Park and the famous muck diving capital of Lembeh Strait. There are other destinations where good diving is on offer in North Sulwesi, including the dive sites in Sangihe Island and Pulau Bangka, however it is the dive sites in Bunaken and Lembeh which draw large numbers of scuba divers here year after year.
The Bunaken National Marine Park was established in 1991, and the deep waters of the park offer one of the greatest levels of marine biodiversity to be found anywhere in the world. A home to over 70% of all fish species found throughout the Indo-western pacific region, the waters of Bunaken are home to an incredible array of coral and marine life.
The scuba diving in Bunaken is predominantly characterised by the awesome vertical walls which almost surround the island. Along these walls, an array of cracks, caves and crevices are home to a wide range of fish life during the day as well as the night. Dive sites including Fukui Point and Black Rock provide divers with access to stunning corals as well as stunning array of smaller marine life.
Lembeh Strait is widely acknowledged as being the ‘muck diving’ capital of the world, and offers what can only be described as a truly unique experience in diving. The diving itself is shaped by the black sandy bottom of the ocean in the region, which is home to a wide selection of critters and smaller marine life. It is for this reason that underwater photographers often choose to make the longer journey out to Lembeh Strait, to sample some of the finest opportunities for underwater macro photography to be found anywhere in South East Asia. Octopus, flying gunnards, frogfish and dwarf lionfish can all be found throughout the numerous dive sites in the Lembeh Strait.
Diving is possible in North Sulwesi throughout the year, although the best conditions are to be found from late March through to November. From January through to March, heavy rains and strong winds can be found throughout the region, leaving the conditions unfavourable for scuba diving.
Without doubt, the diving in North Sulawesi is of the highest standard, and the region fully justifies its claim to be one of South East Asia’s leading scuba diving destinations. The superb dive sites of Bunaken and Lembeh undoubtedly ensure the longer journey time to reach here is worthwhile, and leave you only thinking of when you can return!