Sulawesi Trip Report 2017
Frog Dive Sulawesi Trip
Well that’s a wrap! 8 days of diving and nine nights of accommodation in Northern Sulawesi at Thalassa Dive resort. Most of the Froggies put over 20 dives into their log book…some as many as 25…it was a good week.
Our party was made up of Rob Pearce (Old Man of the Sea), Warren Andrews, Henry Stephens (who joined us from Melbourne), Mathew Kempton, Chris Wilson, Andrew Cocks and Graham Willis. You fly in via Singapore (or Denpasar…but the connection is not as good), get picked up in Manado and plonked down at the resort some 30 minutes away. We all hit the water for a dive on our first afternoon just to check out weights (given people were in Lycra (just imagine!), 3mms or Boardies) and camera gear. The trip included 16 boat dives, full board and lodging and unlimited house reef dives. Most of us were diving on Nitrox given it was a deal busting $100 for unlimited Nitrox for the week!! The resort has three or four boats running (depending on guest load) and will tailor the diving to the various groups…it really is an easy place to dive. It is a five star resort so is fully equipped and if you need to hire gear it is in very good condition .
You have wall dives at Bunaken, a great wreck dive 5 minutes from the resort in 40 metres of water, spectacular corals and volcanic vents up at Bangka in the North and the world’s best muck diving in the Lembeh straits…and we did it all.
Bunaken is where 60% of the diving takes place a (20-25-minute boat ride) and that is a combination of spectacular wall dives (down to 600m in places) and coral reefs. Soft and Hard corals are in very good condition and the fish life is abundant. Turtles all over the place, Morays, Razorfish, Long Nosed Butterfly fish, Moorish Idols, Bumphead wrasses, Giant Trevallys, Ribbon Eels and shoals of Redtooth Triggerfish were on show. Bunaken was established as a national marine park as long ago as 1991 and although it is fair to say more could have been done to keep some of the larger fish around the life is plentiful, the viz 20 metres plus and the temperature a wetsuit neglecting 29C…all in all a good spot.
Heading up north we went up to Bangka, (about a 90-minute boat ride) which is only what you can describe as an incredible underwater landscape. It’s easy to forget about the fish and be amazed by the corals and the pinnacles that are around. The current tends to move you along a bit there…and it is a great ride. Pygmy seahorses, frog fish, Batfish (ever inquisitive), morays and shoaling reef fish. The corals are something to get excited about. It’s also where we dive at a spot where a volcanic vent seeps up through the sand which is a bit different and creates an amazing little microclimate where a whole range of species congregate. Harlequin Ghost Pipefish, Lionfish, Frogfish, morays, and the ever-present anemone fish. the reefs are in very good health. In some spots here the viz was well over 30 metres.
Then there is the Lembeh Straits across the other side of the island…world famous for muck diving which does not sound very appealing if you have not done any but will open up a whole new world to you. It’s about a two-hour rod trip (which is actually a good way to see some of the country) and then 25 minutes or so out by boat. This is the land of the weird and obscure. Hairy frogfish, the Mimic Octopus, Sea Snakes, the Coconut Crab, Banggai Cardinal fish and the Mandarin Fish are all on show. There are not so many spots where you can see the Mandarin fish out and about during the day. This time the viz there was not great where the Mandarin Fish play but, based on my past trips, that is unusual.
So the diving was top notch, the accommodation comfortable, the food plentiful and the staff on the boat and in the resort a delight to dive with. For less than $3,000 including your air fares it is absolutely unbeatable value I hope to see you on next year’s trip!