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Diving in North Sulawesi

We finally managed our return to North Sulawesi in Indonesia in April 2011 (our trip in 2010 had been cancelled because of my urgent shoulder operation). Our expectations were high, based upon what had seen on only four dives at KBR in 2009 (see Four Dives in Lembeh Strait). As the images reveal we were not disappointed. The April 2011 trip was split between two resorts which offered us the opportunity to dive in both the Sulawesi Sea and in Lembeh Strait. We began our visit at Kima Bajo Resort: drift-diving in the mornings in the Bunaken Island National Marine Park and muck-diving off the Manado coast with our friends from home, Dominique and Sylvie, and finished our stay with Kungkungan Bay Resort, muck-diving in the Lembeh Strait with a friendly Belgian couple, Michel and Marijke.

Kima Bajo Resort: diving in the Sulawesi Sea

Kima Bajo Bunga Villas

Bunaken Island ReefKima Bajo Resort A relatively recent resort, Kima Bajo takes its name from a nearby village. It offers luxurious accommodations in a beautifully landscaped park, with hill-side views of the bay and the Bunaken Islands (Manado Tua towering over Bunaken). The diving operations are efficiently handled by the Eco Divers team (it is also possible to arrange diving in Lembeh Strait with them). Diving conditions varied considerably, depending on site and tides: Bunaken Island offered us wall drift-dives with generally good visibility, but often currents slightly too strong for good macrophotography, and the afternoon dives on sandy or silt bottoms (occasional isolated coral blocks) off the Manado coast were often troubled by poor visibility due to particles in suspension from the changing tides. That said, the sites in the Sulawesi Sea offer many interesting subjects, making the diving there rewarding.
Our special thanks go to our three dive guides: Dolfi, Hanny, and Nikton.

Coral reef top Bunaken Island

Kungkungan Bay Resort: diving in Lembeh Strait

Kungkungan Bay Resort

Kungkungan Bay Resort (KBR)A substantial staff change has taken place since our last visit. Kaj Maney and Barb Makohin, the new Dive Center Managers and both active underwater photographers, are doing a great job keeping KBR a top choice for divers interested in photographing or filming Lembeh’s famous “critters”. The diving conditions in Lembeh Strait were good during our visit, with both reasonable visibility and low currents. The sites are quite varied, ranging from mud/silt bottoms to coral debris slopes with rock or coral outcrops, offering an interesting spectrum of habitats to search for “critters”. The high density of interesting subjects and the good photographic conditions explains why 80% of the images in the portfolio were taken in Lembeh Strait over a similar number of dives in the Sulawesi Sea.
Our special thanks go to our dive guides, and in particular Jony.

Blacksaddle snake eel

View the portfolios

The underwater images were all taken over about 30 hours (including night-dives at both sites) with a Nikon D300 in a SUBAL ND30 housing, using a single SEA&SEA YS-350 flash: the Nikkor AF 60mm f/2.8 and AF 105mm f/2.8 macro lenses were both used. The coral fluorescence photos were taken with the flash filtered to produce an intense blue light (NightSea filter) and the camera was filtered to be blind to that light, recording only the light emitted by the corals themselves (for more information see: Photographing fluorescence UW).



"Muck Alley" Portfolio or simple version (HTML) for tablet




Fluorescence in N. Sulawesi Portfolio or simple version (HTML) for tablet


View the images from our short 2009 visit to KBR:

Lembeh Strait Portfolio or simple version (HTML) for tablet

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