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Dive Review of Murex Diving/Lembeh Resort in

July, 2005, an Instant Reader Report by Sean Bruner, AZ, USA
Contributor   (15 reports)
Report Number 1794
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
PNG, Palau, Galapagos, Roatan, Bonaire, BVI, Hawaii, La Paz, Cozumel,
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

calm, noCurrents  
Water Temp
80   to 82    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
20   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
5 stars  
Separate rinse tank at the dock for cameras.  The camera room was the best
I've ever seen with long, large tables, good lighting, plenty of 110 and
220 outlets for charging, and compressed air for cleaning, drying.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
5 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars   
5 stars    
	We arrived at the Lembeh Resort in the early afternoon after driving one
hour from the Manado airport and taking the 10 minute boat ride from the
police wharf across the straits.  We made it in time for the house dive at
dusk and saw mandarin fish mating 100 meters from the boat dock.
	The Lembeh Straits is a narrow body of water between the mainland port of
Bitung and Lembeh Island.  KBR Resort sits on the mainland directly across
the straits from Lembeh Resort.  There are also a couple of lesser resorts
in the area.  Although the straits comprise a busy shipping lane, with
large ship traffic, as well as smaller transport and fishing boats, it is
breathtakingly beautiful, with lush green volcanic mountains rising up from
the blue water which leads out to the Molucca Sea to the east of Lembeh
	Diving in the straits is mostly in search of strange, exotic creatures,
which can be found by the dozens in the black sand muck diving.  There are
also beautiful coral reef dives near the mouth of the straits to the north,
and even a couple of wreck dives, which we did not do.  The muck diving is
superb, however.  Fingered dragonets, mimic octopuses, flamboyant
cuttlefish, various types of frogfish, ditto for ghost pipefish, mantis
shrimp, pygmy and regular sized sea horses, and you might see all of the
above on a single dive.  Shooting with film is challenging, not because the
subjects are difficult, to the contrary, they just sit in the sand while
you fire away, but because you usually run out of film before the end of
the dive and miss some subjects, which happened to me with the mimic
octopus.  Subjects you might shoot half a roll on in some other part of the
world, here you only take a couple of shots of for fear of running out of
	The Lembeh Resort sits on a hill overlooking the water and hills with a
little cove where the boats dock.  The rooms are like suites, with spacious
bedrooms with king sized beds and a separate sitting room in front.  The
bathrooms are private, but outside, although covered from the rain, so the
rooms dont get humid from the shower.  There is a large veranda outside of
the room, providing a breathtaking view of the straits.  The grounds are
immaculately kept, with dozens of flowering plants.  Butterflies dart from
flower to flower.  The restaurant has a menu, so you can choose among quite
a selection of western and Indonesian dishes.  They offer an appetizer,
soup, salad, main course and desert, and you can order any or all of it. 
We always left the table full.  The food was good, although not gourmet. 
The fish, for example, was consistently overcooked.
	There was a library with a large television, which offered DVD and video,
as well as satellite tv.  There are no tvs in the rooms.  There is a
camera room which is the best I have ever seen anywhere.  Long, deep tables
with shelves running above, plenty of outlets for 110 and 220 power for
charging, well lit, and compressed air for cleaning and blow drying.  There
is a large rinse tank for cameras at the gear lockers.  Each room is
assigned its own gear locker and there is a large rinse tank for gear.
	The dive operation is run by Murex Diving, the first in North Sulawesi. 
They have the most experienced guides in Lembeh Straits.  The boats are
spacious and comfortable, with tank racks, covered seating area, and plenty
of shelves for dry storage.  Although there is no head on board, the dive
sites are all within 10-20 minutes of the resort.  The crew is professional
and helpful, and they set up your gear and take it out of the water,
allowing divers to board the boat by the sturdy dive ladder without their
tanks and bcs on.  The dive guides were fantastic at finding and pointing
out critters, and were consistently cheerful and helpful, always willing to
do a night dive upon request, even though it added significantly to their
day.  We dove four times a day almost every day we were there.
	The only negative I can say about our experience at Lembeh Resort is that
there is an unbelievable amount of litter in the water.  This comes from
the fact that the straits are next to a major city and accommodates a lot
of boat traffic.  There are also villages along the shore.  Indonesians,
unfortunately, heave their trash in the water like a lot of other people in
the third world.  On any given dive, we would see plastic tarps, tennis
shoes, car parts, and many plastic bags and bottles.  It was very
distressing.  The only other negative was that upon leaving, the resort
nickeled and dimed us in a way that left a bad taste.  Most of the hotels
in Indonesia add a 21% tax and service charge.  The tax is 11%, but the
10% service charge is not mandatory and is simply an industry standard
which helps the owners, not the employees, by subsidizing wages.  Im sure
some guests are tempted not to tip staff because of it.  Also, we were
charged a 3% fee for using a credit card, but if you tried to change
dollars and pay that way, the rate they give you is 10% less than the
actual exchange rate, making it better to pay the credit card fee.  They
also added a $10 charge for checking out outside of normal business hours
and I noted that the exchange rate for the $10 was not at the rate given if
you exchanged dollars, but at the actual rate.  It all turned out to be not
that much, but it still left us with an unpleasant feeling upon leaving. 
Overall, however, I highly recommend the Lembeh Resort and Murex Diving.
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