Lembeh - The Best Muck Diving in The World (Sulawesi, Indonesia)
If you like to look for macro (the small stuff) underwater - go treasure hunting in the black lava sand of Lembeh Strait in North Sulawesi, Indonesia! It is definitely world class muck diving here!
Time for world class muck diving! Lembeh Strait has been on my wish list for many years.
It is impressive how often pictures of the most amazing underwater creatures of Lembeh pop-up in dive magazines, social media posts and in the 'best diving in the world' lists. Was it as good as I thought it would be?! YES, YES, YES!
Understanding the dive area
The Lembeh strait is in between North Sulawesi and Lembeh. It is a channel with black lava sand and garbage from the island. Strangely enough this is one of the best places in the world to dive for the 'small stuff' in the muck (dirt/mud).
Lembeh Island is green and has tropical bird species and the tiny tarsier monkeys, it is a true paradise and a must visit of Sulawesi!
|Dive area name||Sulawesi, Lembeh Strait|
|Dive center||Divers Lodge Lembeh|
|Famous for||World class muck diving!|
|Price||Full board $55,- a day, 2 boat dives a day $72,- (pre booked) + equipment rental $14,- per day|
|Hotel recommendation||Honey Bay Resort Lembeh (with swimming pool and A/C)|
Dive sites around LembehThere are dozens of dive sites around Lembeh Strait, all of them are great for finding critters. Here it is more about what you would like to see than which dive site to go. So, pick your favorite octopus, seahorse, crab or frog fish and the dive guides will make a plan.
Some dive sites are all sandy, some dive sites have a reef with colorful fish in the shallow part - great for your safety stop. Expect to see a lot of plastic and other human garbage as well, the environmental concern is picking-up slow.
Most critters can be found below 20 meters, so Nitrox comes in handy. Do not expect colorful reef dives, there are some, but this is not what makes Lembeh special. The sandy bottoms make it easy to spot the special animals, like the walking fish and amazing nudibranch.
Because the sand stirs up easily and most off the stuff is really small it is very important that you can keep your buoyancy. Most visitors dive here with big cameras and are very experienced. The guides take several sticks to put it next to a special creature. You just move from one stick to the other with your buddy to take pictures. It is a different kind of diving here!
Dive centers & accommodations
The (dive) resorts are located quite remote and mainly offer full-board. It is quite hard to find something below 35 euro per person per night, excluding diving, transfers, national park fees (only Bunaken at the moment), etc. In the meantime we got an invitation from Rob, the owner of Divers Lodge Lembeh, to stay at his resort...
About the organization of Divers Lodge LembehDivers Logde Lembeh is on the South of the island and this is a true paradise! WOW! We were so happy to stay there! It is a lodge in the jungle facing two bays. There is a huge and comfortable outdoor living room with stunning views over the bays with a dining area, a lounge area with sofas and a sun terrace. Read a book from the library or check the fish-ID books and watch the Lembeh Strait DVD to know what to expect underwater.
Divers Lodge Lembeh living room and restaurant.
Private bungalow of Divers Lodge Lembeh with a view!
Diving boat & happy crew from Divers Lodge Lembeh.
Comparing dive destinationsClick here for more information about comparing dive destinations.
|Bottom structure||Reef structure||Pelagic
(big stuff in the blue)
(bigger stuff on the reef)
(small stuff on the reef)
|Flat bottom with bumps/big rocks/pinnacles||Hard corals tree-shape
|Slope (going down slowly)||Soft corals tree-shape
|Rays||Eels/snakes||Sea horses and pipe fish||Small
(you can easily swim against it)
(steep but you see the bottom)
(you can swim against it for a little while/higher air consumption)
(steep and you can't see the bottom)
(you cannot swim against it)
|Sponges||Sardines/herrings||Puffers||Shrimps||Pumping/washing machine/OMG/hold your regulator
* The transparent boxes are the things I have seen down below and / or are spotted on almost every dive in that area.
* The dark blue boxes are the 'things' that are unavailable - things I have not seen and/or that are uncommon in that area.Click here for more information about comparing dive destinations.
Some impressions of diving in Lembeh StraitThere is so much to see, here is just a selection of the amazing creatures.
Lembeh Strait underwater.
Night diving Lembeh Strait.
Getting to LembehFrom Denpasar (Bali) to Manado we flew with Garuda Indonesia and they had a documentary about Lembeh Strait on-demand! How cool! It is like getting a good dive site briefing during your flight.
In Manado you can take a Blue Bird meter taxi to Bitung. It cost about 225.000 Rupiah to the harbor area of Bitung. From here you need to take a short boat ride to Lembeh Island. Check your resort or dive center if they have a transfer package for you.
If you want to stay overnight in Bitung you have two options at the moment: Hotels below 300.000 per night: Old and dirty or overpriced rooms for basic standards. You can find more information about Bitung here.
Are you staying overnight in Manado? Find out where to stay, things to do nearby and the best bars & restaurants in Manado here.
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Dive o'clock "It's dive o'clock somewhere!"
Dive o'clock "It's dive o'clock somewhere!"
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