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Dive Review of Murex Divers/Lembeh Resort in
Indonesia/Lembeh Straits

September, 2004, an Instant Reader Report by William & Frances Ungerman, CA, USA
Sr. Contributor   (24 reports, with 2 Helpful votes)
Report Number 1315
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Pacific and Caribbean
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy, cloudy, dry  
choppy, currents, noCurrents  
Water Temp
77   to 80    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
20   to 40    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Most dives conducted in 40-60 foot range with the maximum achieved around
100 feet.  "Enforcement" fairly loose.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  2 stars
Tropical Fish
2 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
1 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
4 stars  
No UWP acccomodations on the boats.  Cameras laid on a cushion until retun
from dive.  Large rinse tank on shore along with a dedicated camera room.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars   
5 stars    
The adventure continued as we left Manado's Tasik Ria Resort (see that
review this issue of Undercurrent) and made our way across North Sulewesi
to the Lembeh Straits.  Half our loose confederation of divers opted to
make the optional jungle trek in search of monkeys and apes, but we
personally decided the shortest distance between two points was a straight
(okay, a little crooked) line.  Two hours later, having lived through a
real-live Indian Jones ride to "Police Pier," we embarked on a
runabout for the 15 minute ride across the straits to the magnificent
Lembeh Resort.  And "magnificent" it is, halfway between rustic
and subdued modernism.  Carved literally out of the jungle cliffs, the
resort is a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece.  The rooms are spacious and
tastefully appointed but don't look for satellite TV or telephones.  The
bathroom and shower is Balinees style, i.e., outdoors fringed with high
walls for privacy.  Food is varied and well prepared and runs the gamut
from traditional Indonesian to contemporary Western.  The CDC lists this
area as a "moderate" malarial risk but no one took Larium or
Chlorquinine and were fine.  Didn't see that many mosquitos anyway. 

Diving:  What can I say?  The underwater terrain is nothing but black or
yellow sand strewn with broken coral rubble interrupted only occasionally
by outcroppings of living coral.  The viz is terrible (20-40 feet) and the
water is chilly (76-80 degrees F).  That said, this is the most incredible
place on the face of the planet when it comes to The Critter Hunt.  Don't
expect to see sharks and Mantas, but what you will encounter will boggle
your mind and titilate your imagination:  Creatures rare and wild are
EVERYWHERE.  And I mean EVERWHERE.  At any one time three other divers will
be screaming into their regulators and gesticulating, inviting you to
inspect some bizarre creature, or ten of them all in a row.  On one sunken
coconut log I counted no less than 17 lionfish, five various scorpion fish,
a couple mantis shrimp and fifty or sixty small flounders surrounding the
log.  But then I turned and saw a piece of broken coral housing a giant
Stone Fish, a Wonderpuss, a Devil Fish, a Crocodile Fish and oh hell... 
Then there was and old barrel with a Flambouyant Cuddlefish, Pygmy Sea
Horse, Harlequin Shrimp, Porceline Crab and a Hairy Frog Fish and...  Then
there was the Fake Stone Fish, Juvenile Bat Fish, Thorny Sea Horse, Wasp
Fish, Snake Eel queued up for inspection.  If you have a wish list of
things you'd like to see, bring it, the dive guides will add to it.  On the
house reef you can photograph - or just enjoy - a half dozen Mandarin Fish,
and they're not as skittish as the ones outside Chandelier Cave in Palau. 
We personally saw most everything except a Mimic Octopus, but others did. 
Some of this stuff is not even in the books.  There is no better muck
diving in the world and no wonder every major UWP personality makes this
his or her number one destination to photograph the incredible critter
life.  I ran out of film on every dive here half or 3/4 way through every
dive, even after eschewing bracketing!!!  Digital is coming.

An ex-pat Canadian named Bruce runs Murex Divers.  He's good, professional
and accomodating.  We dove Nitrox from 34-40 percent at $8.00 (US) per
tank.  Only a degree off the equator, the air temperature is surprisingly
mild, due largely in part to the trade winds that blow and sometimes blow
hard.  The water is a chilly 77-79 degrees F, once in a while nudging into
80.  You need a five (5) millimeter suit.  Read this twice and take it to
heart.  FIVE MILS.  A lot of people layered everything they had with them
to stay warm.  

Patty and Gene Shales of Aquatic Image, Inc. put this litle sojourn
together and like I previously opined, a great job they did with a great
time being had by all.  On the return trip we stopped overnight in
Singapore and what a place.  Contemporary modern, there is no grafitti, no
trash in the streets, no loitering street toughs, and law and civil order
appears to be complied with rather than enforced.  Prices for watches,
cameras and electronics at Lucky Plaza were typicaly 30-35% under the US
market rates.  It's a shopper's paradise.  

Final thoughts:  This trip rated amongsts our very best, right up there
with Sipidan and Palau.  But when you consider the macro life, there is no
comparison with any other destination on this earth.  Put this place on
your list.

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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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