Manado, North Sulawesi 2010




View also Paul’s Videos from Bunaken and Lembeh in Vimeo




Trip dates:

13 – 24 May 2010

Boat / resort:

Kima Bajo Resort (the website seems no longer working) with one night spent at Lembeh Cottages. Eco divers have now moved their Lembeh accommodation to the White Sands Beach Resort Lembeh

Dive centre:

Eco-Divers Manado


Very. Eco Divers have established an Underwater Photography Centre with all facilities and rentals on their premises.

Number of dives:

25, 7 of them in Lembeh, over 9 days of diving.

Diving conditions:

Daily downpours, generally right before the afternoon dive in Bunaken, mostly cloudy in the mornings anyway. This made diving the mainland sites difficult, with very murky water. We did have one or two days of clear weather early in the day. Water temperature 28°C in both places (Lembeh should normally have been a bit cooler). We saw a big difference in conditions compared to our trip in 2007, which was also in May.


This was a very exciting trip for me because J. Heller editor of the Dive Photo Guide website was going to be a guest lecturer at Kima Bajo during our stay. We were thrilled to meet him and his lovely wife, and had a few good dives together. In fact, it was just us and another couple from Australia diving with Jason that week. He made a number of interesting presentations on skills and techniques and helped me a lot with Wide Angle shots. They then went on to dive Bali after Manado.

I liked Kima Bajo very much. It is close to the airport, has beautiful grounds and the rooms are OK. But it felt a little solitary during our stay. Tasik Ria felt like more fun – even if in a sort of calm way). We had a standard room and had to walk a bit up and down the hill to the dive centre and the jetty, but we did not mind. The Spa is really nice too, but with so much diving, I only managed to get myself in there once.

This was a very exciting trip for me because Jason Heller, editor of the Eco divers only took with them one of their large boats from the dive centre in Tasik Ria, where they used to operate before. That boat is not moored in Lembeh (more about that in a moment). The boats they now operate in Kima Bajo are smaller because they can do return trips from each site, as Bunaken is closer. So now they do one-tank dives, rather than the day out 3-tanks they used to do with the bigger boats. The operation is efficient and I did not complain about going back to the hotel for a break and a restaurant lunch.

Eco Divers had opened their Lembeh Cottages only a few weeks before our arrival and were offering a special no extra charge overnight there to promote them. The cottages are in the village and they drive you to the marina, where you board a small boat that takes you to the big dive boat they brought over from Bunaken. The day is spent there as a dive base and this is where you have your lunch and breaks between dives.

We enjoyed a superb night dive at Nudi Falls, memorable! We also saw a couple of places we had not dived before in Lembeh. It is still very enjoyable, but with resorts sprouting all along both sides of the strait, I get the feeling that many of the sites are becoming “reserved”. Again, no way to find those harlequin shrimps everybody comes back with. Well, next time, I guess.

In Bunaken, we enjoyed a couple of dives with turtles in Muka Kampung and I loved the cracks in the reef in Celah Celah. Great for Wide Angle.


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