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Dive Review of Lembeh Divers/Lembeh Resort in
Indonesia/North Sulawesi

January, 2009, an Instant Reader Report by Jeanne & Bill Downey, PA, USA
Top Contributor   (39 reports, with 5 Helpful votes)
Report Number 4590
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
Bahamas, Caribbean, Malaysia, Cocos, Maldives, Galapagos, etc.
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, cloudy  
calm, no currents  
Water Temp
84   to 86    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
20   to 50    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
60-70 minutes.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
Large Pelagics
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
No rinse buckets on the boats, but dive sites were close to the resort.
Huge camera room with 220 and 110 outlets, and dry towels handy.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
4 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
3 stars   
5 stars    
Are Rhinopias, stargazers, snake blennies, wonderpus, orang utan crabs,
pygmy seahorses, bobbit worms, fingered dragonets, and waspfish worth 30+
hours of travel?

Lembeh Resort in North Sulawesi, nestled into a steep hillside and
operating since 2003, has 14 rooms including 2 duplexes. The older, larger
rooms have a bedroom, sitting room, large veranda with wonderful views, and
fewer steps to the dining hall and dive shop; the newer rooms, higher up on
the hillside and minus the sitting room, have even more spectacular views
from their balconies. All the rooms have air conditioning as well as
ceiling fans, refrigerators, and desks. The older rooms have semi-indoor
sinks and commodes, plus 2 showers, one semi-indoor and one outdoor. The
newer rooms have indoor sinks and outdoor commodes and showers. Hot water
is abundant. 

We flew from JFK on Singapore Air to Manado via Singapore, no problems.
Upon arriving in Manado, we purchased our 30-day visas for $25 each, did a
money exchange, claimed our luggage, and were greeted outside the baggage
area. The drive to the coast was about 1 ½ hours, and the boat ride
across Lembeh Strait to the resort was 15 minutes.

The bad part of travel is the jetlag and we had 11 hours worthafter short
briefings about the diving and the resort and a delicious salmon dinner, we
crashed at 8:30, which meant we were bright and chipper the next morning at
4 A.M., ready to enjoy the lovely 5 A.M. sunrise. We never managed to stay
awake past 10:15 the entire week, so we saw lots of sunrises from our front

We prepaid for 3 Nitrox boat dives each day, our choices being 8am, 11am,
2:30pm, or the 6:15 night dive; dives are interchangeable with a $3.00
surcharge for the night dive. Good shore diving is also available, although
we only managed to do the guided Mandarin tour for $25 extrawell worth it,
with a maximum of 4 divers plus 2 dive guides to spot the Mandarin fish.
When the Mandarin fish were finished doing their thing, we still had half
an hour for a short night dive, finding things like pygmy pipe fishtalk
about tiny!

One of our best dives was the second dive of the week. The visibility on
most dives was poor, sometimes only 20 feet, but our guide, Andi, found a
carry crab with a sea urchin on its back, a cockatoo waspfish, easily
mistaken for a flopping brown leaf, Banggai cardinalfish wearing sequined
Broadway show costumes, a ½ long juvenile barramundi cod, 2 robust
ghost pipefish, and porcelain crabs hiding beneath their protective
anemones. This dive truly seemed like it only lasted five minutes, although
dives actually lasted 60 to 70 minutes. Other dives produced pygmy
seahorses, coconut octopus, usually living in cans and shells, and strange
scorpionfish like rhinopias, Ambon scorpionfish, and dwarf lionfish, only 2
inches long.

We did experience a couple less interesting dives, usually when the guide
was primarily hunting for mimic octopus or the wonderpus. They covered
large areas of the brown sandy bottom more quickly, with little time spent
hunting for other things.

All this critter hunting makes a diver mighty hungry and the meals did not
disappoint. The breakfast buffets offered various juices and fruits, toast,
cereal, freshly made rolls, yogurt, and made-to-order eggs and pancakes.
Lunch buffets consisted of several chicken, fish, or vegetarian offerings,
2 salad choices and 2 dessert choices. When guest numbers were down, slower
menu lunches substituted for buffets. Dinners were sit-down with choices of
salad or soup, 4 entrée choices and 2 dessert choices. Service was
fast and I enjoyed just about everything I ate, especially the tofu and
fish choices.

Diving was as organized and efficient as the meals. There was a large white
board in the gear area with boat and site assignments. Open lockers were
assigned to each room. A large camera room was between the lockers and dive
shop. Staff loaded everythingwe put on our wetsuits and waded the few
steps to the covered long boat. There were never more than 7 divers on a
boat with a guide for every 2-4 divers. One diver on our boat had hired a
private guide. Rides were 5-20 minutes. Entries were a choice of step-in or
back-roll. We didnt wander far from slow-moving Andi, as he had the eye
for critter spotting; later in the week we were finding neat stuff on our
own. At the end of each dive we climbed up the substantial ladder and were
offered water and fresh fruit. Back at the dock, the crew washed our gear
and carefully set cameras in a separate rinse tank.

The night boat dive is available with a minimum of 2 divers, the Mandarin
fish dive only requires one diver, and self guided house reef dives are
available 24/7. Nitrox is available and can be prepaid. Purchase one of
their pointersinvaluable everywhere for nudging reluctant critters out
momentarily for a photo.

Although it was the rainy season, we experienced little rain and spent
quality time hanging out between dives pool side. There were few
mosquitoes; malaria is not a problem in this area.

Water temperatures were a comfortable 81-84 degrees and 20-50 foot
visibility was normal; sometimes it was hard to keep the guide or my buddy
in sight. Occasionally a diver in our group disappeared but usually found
another group to hang out with. Twice we had to wait 10 minutes for other
dive groups to exit the water before enteringno more than 15 divers are
allowed in the water at the same time.

After the morning and 3pm dives, snacks are available in the restaurant,
along with 24 hour tea and coffee.

My only concern was the steps to the rooms, not uniform and poorly lit at
night. I managed to misstep and fall down a couple steps, spraining a wrist
and ankle, luckily not bad enough to keep me from diving. A light is an
absolutely necessity.

So, was the 30+ hour trip worth it? You bet. Well be going back.
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