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Dive Review of Thalassa Dive Center/Santika Hotel in
Indonesia/Bunaken - North Sulawesi

July, 2004, an Instant Reader Report by Gary Krippendorf, CA, USA
Contributor   (14 reports)
Report Number 1407
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
101-250 dives
Where else diving
Cayman Brac, Dominica, Cozumel, Roatan, Sea of Cortez, Hawaii, Australia
(GBR), Coral Sea, and PNG 
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, dry  
calm, noCurrents  
Water Temp
82   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
40   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Max depth of 110 feet, 3 to 5 minute safety stop, come back with 500 psi in
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
3 stars  
Great place for underwater photo.
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  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars   
5 stars    
I planned a trip for 4 of us from the San Francisco bay area to go diving
in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. After much research we decided to split our
diving between 2 locations, Bunaken and Lembeh Strait. This trip report is
for the first of the 2 places we visited, Bunaken National Park, which is
north of the city of Manado.

I planned the Bunaken portion of our trip via e-mail with Simone, the
general manager of the Thalassa Dive Center. Simone was very good at
answering our questions via e-mail, and we booked the all inclusive SHORT
& SWEET Package. She took care of everything, including arranging for
our rooms at the Santika Hotel, bus pickup at the Manado airport, etc.

Everything went pretty much as I had planned. We flew from SFO via Seoul to
Singapore for an 8-hour layover. The Ambassador Hotel is right in the
Singapore airport so no need to clear immigration and customs. Our Silk Air
flight from Singapore arrived at the Manado airport at 1:30 pm. We cleared
immigration and customs, and were picked up by the Thalassa / Santika Hotel
bus for the 45 minute ride to the resort. We checked in to our rooms, got
our SCUBA gear and headed to the dive center. We finished our paperwork,
etc. in time for a 6:00 pm night dive.

The Santika Hotel and restaurant were excellent, although the food service
was a bit slow at times. The rooms were clean with room to move around, the
restaurants had a mix of western and Asian dishes. The $10 massages
available through the hotel were great.

The wind patterns in July prevented us from going to Bangka, so all our
dives were done in the Bunaken National Park. The water was like a sheet of
glass and most boat rides were 15-20 minutes to the dive sites. Our maximum
depth at Bunaken was 90 feet, though we spent most of our time between 45
and 60 feet. There was a mix of walls and fields of coral. They have 6-foot
tides, so currents vary by site and time of day. Out of our 10 dives, 3 had
very mild currents and 1 had a strong current. Dalton and Djamal were our
dive masters and were among the best weve ever had. They give good
pre-dive briefings, which told us about the site and what kinds of things
wed see. Rarely were they wrong. Usually, we saw far more than promised.

The corals at Bunaken were the best Ive seen. The variety and colors were
spectacular. The dive where we had the strong current had visibility of
about 100 feet. The dive lasted about 65 minutes and we probably drifted 2
1/2 miles without ever seeing sand. There was just more and more coral of
all types and colors as far as we could see. Of course we saw lots of fish,
too. Not bad for a 10 minute boat ride to the site.

On all of our dives, there were large schools of small and mid-sized fish
everywhere. Lionfish, blue ribbon eels, and the many varieties of anemone
fish were among my favorites. There was one super aggressive anemone fish
that actually took a bite out of my finger for taking his/her photograph.
Better to be bit by a 2 1/2 inch anemone fish than one of the 2 1/2 foot
white tip sharks we saw at the next site.

There were really only two main problems with our diving at Thalassa.
First, we were not there long enough. Three days and 10 dives just
scratched the surface. I would still go to both the resorts we went to on
our trip, but Id go for at least a week at each.  Second, we were in
sensory overload. We saw so much on each dive that we couldnt begin to log
it all. The four of us would start talking about what we saw during the
boat ride back to the dock and wed keep coming up with more and more.
Taking digital photographs was a big help, because it provided a record
with a timestamp.

Would I go again? You bet!
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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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