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Dive Review of Kasawari Lembeh in
Indonesia/Northern Sulawesi

March, 2010, an Instant Reader Report by Robert DeFeo, CA, US
Contributor   (18 reports)
Report Number 5432
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Philippines, Roatan, Cayman's, Monterey, CA, Puget Sound, Texas, Hawaii,
Channel Islands
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
82   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 80    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
1 stars  
Large Pelagics
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
5 stars  
Beautifully set up camera room with over a dozen individual stations with
power at each station.  Computer available, low-pressure air available,
camera towels.  Gorgeous decor. The absolute finest facility
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
3 stars   
5 stars    
The penultimate boutique dive resort!  It's really a dive spa. Our trip was
organized by Walter Bolton from Central Oregon Diving in Bend, OR and
"Oh! What a trip he organized for us!" From the minute you are
greeted until you sail away from the dock at the end of your stay, you are
pampered and addressed by salutation & first name--my case it was
"Mr. Bob."  Kasawari-Lembeh Resort is a 5-star equivalent dive
resort and operation.  A real thrill was driving from Manado to the resort
with the drive resembling a James Bond death-defying car chase
of our divers promised to put it on You have to laugh as you sit
there and get terrorized in the traffic on the narrow roads with people and
scooters coming at you from all angles.  But we made it without any bladder
incidents thanks to our wonderful driver, who we named "Lucky---to be
alive."  The resort is just north of the village of Bitung and is
situated on level ground in a very steep, V-shaped valley with jungle
towering above and behind the resort with the valley running to the water's
edge with Lembeh Island across the strait.  The grounds are immaculately
kept and resemble a finely cared for botanical garden.  Large villas
surround the main yard/garden and sleep two to a room and are equipped with
ceiling fans, air conditioning, refrigerator, hot cup, indirect lighting
and large closets and shelves.  The bathrooms have two stone
showers--indoor and outdoor with plenty of hot water & great water
pressure.  Water is provided for drinking on a daily or on-demand basis. 
Resort is ecologically consciencious on all things including laundry.
INTERNET WI-FI connection available but went in and out frequently with
slow service.  Mosquito coils are lit on your front porch every evening at
5 pm and mosquitos weren't much of a problem at all at the resort. An
umbrella is provided on each deck in case of rain. Beds are very
comfortable with great linens and pillows.  Villas are 5-star all the way
and are similiar to private residences with plenty of space between them. 
Two villas face Lembeh Strait and have water views. Power is 220 volts with
oulet plugs the same as Germany.  The resort maintains an electric
generator to replace the frequent loss of electric power that occurs in
Northern Sulawesi.  The infinity pool is exceptionally excellent with
in-pool benches and jacuzzi heads.  Water temperature was 88-90 degrees in
the pool.  Swimming to the infinity edge and gazing across the strait is a
delight as bouganvillas drape the waterfall edge of the pool.  Massages are
available by appointment too and although I didn't use the service others
reported it was great.  The restaurant has one very long banquet table plus
two smaller tables but the main table sat 20 people very comfortably. 
Meals are delicious and superbly prepared with hot foods being hot and cold
being very cold.  Buffet style rules but breakfast includes eggs to order
cooked before you.  The staff is incredibly helpful and courteous.  Water
is served once you sit and coffee and tea is served as well.  Meals
included Indonesian, western, and a sort of asian fusion with many seafood
items, chicken, pork, and beef.  Vegetables were wonderfully prepared and
seasoned.  Vegetarian needs are accounted for as well as any other dietary
restrictions.  One of our travelers had a peanut alergy and they asked
about that and prepared her food with that in mind with no problems
experienced. Desserts are 5-star restaurant quality and the staff is just
wonderful in all things.  On departure they serenade you to the dock with
music and song---and it appears very genuine and real.  These folks mean to
be very professional and likeable and they achieve it on all counts. You
will not find a better resort.  The bar serves beer and wine and provides
ice as you desire. 
The dive operation is five-star as well. Genuinely friendly, professional,
happy people set up your dive gear and move and rinse it.  They dive shop
dressing/gear area is cavernously huge with well-appointed benches,
shelves, and hang-up areas.  Camera and gear rinse tanks are tiled baths
reminding me of something you might see in Rome.  Huge and exceptionally
clean like everything else at the resort.  Thorough briefings are given in
a sheltered area below the gear area on the way down the dock to the three
dive boats or sometimes on the boats. We never had more than 6 divers on a
boat and they sailed three for every dive window.  This says a lot about
Kasawari since it would have been easy to cram divers onto two boats only.
Nitrox 32 available and strongly recomended since dive depths and times
make NITROX use a great idea for spending time searching for the small but
incredible aquatic life that abounds in the Lembeh Strait.  Our entire
group dove on NITROX.  Ali is the dive boss and he is famous in Indonesia
for the animals he's helped find and identify for scientific inquiry.  He's
friendly, knowledgable and he can find anything you want to see.  One group
diving with him was able to film a "Bobbit Worm" attacking a dead
fish he used for bait during one of the night dives.  That is one scary
animal...I sure won't be touching bottom at night in the Lembeh
Strait--ever. This place is a photographer's delight and one of the reasons
diving the strait is so highly ranked as a place to dive on a diver's
bucket list.  We saw just a huge amount of life: blue-ringed octopus,
wonderpus, seahorses, pigmy seahorses and all sorts of cuttle fish, squid,
assorted tropical fish species, fire starfish, spotted rays, mandarine
fish, coconut octopus. You name a muck diving critter and we saw it. There
is coral in the strait and some of it is wonderously
beautiful...particuliary at a dive spot named "Nudi-Falls"---for
the nudibranches not the lack of swim wear. I saw sights here up against
the mainland shore that were awesome.  I felt as though I was sitting in a
wonderful piece of heaven inside God's flower garden---fascinating color
and abundance of life on top of life.  We made two dives there and on the
last one I spent 20 minutes in front of this exploding wall of
three-dimensional color just trying to take in the visual wonder of it all.
Also, the DMs are extremely environmentally focused.  I witnessed them
replanting some plants and other life that had been disturbed--before our
arrival on scene.  They take great care to protect the undersea world and
they work really hard to point out the creatures you want to see.  Dives
are at 730, 1030, 230, and Mandarian dive at 5 pm three times a week with
night dives at 6 pm every night.  You return to shore after each dive...and
hop into that incredible infinity pool:) Light breakfast is served at 630
am and regular breakfast after the first dive.  Lunch follows the 1030 dive
and wonderfully prepared "snacks", which are home-made style
pastries for the most part, are served after the 230 dive as you leave the
gear area. Nitrox is tested by them and tanks are filled on the boat with
your tank marked with % and date.  You don't actually do the testing
yourself but they have you sign the sheet for the % in your tank before
each dive...not the way it should be done but it worked out very well with
that element of "trust me" procedure.  Dives are giant strides
and dives last 60-75 minutes with the average depths being 80-30 feet. 
Getting out of the water involves passing up your weights followed by your
BCD and fins.  Once on deck you are handed a hot and I mean HOT face towel,
a glass of water, and fresh fruit...such is the diving life at Kasawari. 
Boats are comfortable for the short rides to the dive sites.  Only one area
is longer than 20 minutes away from the resort. Bottom line: Service with a
smile and great diving. Go! You'll love it!
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