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Dive Review of Two Fish Divers in

February, 2008, an Instant Reader Report by Michael Wood, WA, USA
Contributor   (13 reports, with 6 Helpful votes)
Report Number 3862 has 1 Helpful vote
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
All over the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

calm, choppy, surge, currents, no currents  
Water Temp
82   to 82    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
50   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Dive your computer.   
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 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  
4 stars  
Best macro photography anywhere--esp. nudibranchs, lionfish, scorpionfish,
seahorses, clownfish/anenomes at Lembeh.  At Bunaken, wall diving photos
with larger fish, wide angles, giant clams, diverse fish and soft/hard
coral life.  Brilliant colors.
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  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars   
5 stars    
Two FishDouble the value, double the underwater diversity, double the dive
guides, double the personal service, double the experience and fun.  Nigel
and Tina have put together a top notch experience in the worlds most
biodiverse dive environment.  Everything is as promised, and then some. 
Super-friendly dive guides (one per two people, and they are AMAZING at
finding whatever critter you want), who even carried my big camera housing
to the boat for me when we had to trek out to the dive boat at low tide. 
Accommodations are goodmuch better than one would expect in a third world
island in the middle of one of the remotest locations in Asian diving. 

We paid one quarter to one-half of comparable dive vacations in the
Caribbean and many other Pacific destinations and live-aboards.  We got to
do three full days of world-class, incomparable muck diving, (I shot macro
only in Lembeh Strait),a 15 minute boat ride from Bitung, which is an hour
or so drive from the Manado airport.  Dive guides Franky and Opo in Lembeh
were fabulouspatient and accommodating your every need and desire.  Lembeh
only holds about 8-10 people.

For our 5 days of diving at Bunaken Island, the resort is larger and more
developed, with large common areas, walks, cottages and both standard and
budget rooms (shared baths).  We stayed in a cottage, which was very nice,
with the ocean waves lulling us to sleep and gently waking us up in the
morning.  There is great wall diving here with biodiversity like Ive never
seen in the Caribbean (my main haunt, and Ive been just about every big
diving attraction there).  Currents can be a challenge at times, and
visibility is variable during rainy season, but still good, by and large. 
A highlight was our guide Apa (pronounced Ah-pay) found not one but two
different Hippocampus (worlds smallest seahorse, ¼ inch long) and I
got a decent macro photo of it, amazingly.  Apa was the best dive guide I
have had in 20 years of diving.
By the way, if you are the only one who wants to dive in the afternoon, or
the Mandarin Goby dive (5:15pm) or the night dive (6pm), there is no
minimum number so they will take youjust ask ahead of time.  Same goes for
going to and from Lembehif you need to go, they take you.  One transfer is
included in your package price.  Additional transfer costs are reasonable. 
Extra dives are on half to one-quarter of the Caribbean.  

Tina and Nigel (Tina is known as The Big Boss) have done a fantastic job
of recruiting and training their staff to be customer-service oriented.
After 3 days of diving Lembeh Strait (thats just about right, in my mind),
we were taken by boat back to Bitung and met by car at the harbor and
transported to Manado harbor.  There we were met by Rifka, a smiling (and
diving) hostess.  All of our bags were handled for us and everything was
made easy.  The 45 minute ride out to Bunaken Island can be a little rough,
but the drivers and scouts (they have to have someone at the front of the
boat at all times scouting for logs floating in the water) are very skilled
and hard-working.  The staff to diver ratio is better than 1.5+ to 1, and
Bunaken only holds 21 guests at maximum.  We were there at rainy (low
season) which made it very easy to get to know our fellow divers.

It is a long haul from the U.S., but clearly worth it for a two-week
vacation.  We overnighted in Singapore so we had a day to wander and get
used to the time change.  Most do not recommend going through Jakarta,
especially for Americans right now.

The only things to be aware of is that Two Fish does not have hot water nor
nitrox, so if these are  mandatory, youll have trouble finding it
elsewhere on Bunaken as well.  The water isnt cold, but cool and very
tolerable.  Theyll even bring you a big bucket of hot water, if you
request it.  The food is good, fresh and varied, and they will make
vegetarian meals upon request and some of the meals are all vegetarian, but
you can request some animal protein, e.g. an egg.  Its served buffet style
with fruit for dessert. There is a nice wrecked schooner in Lembeh, by the
way.   The dive boats are sturdy old Indonesian crafts with cover and
outboard motors.  
All in all, the best diving I have ever experienced, and all of the other
well-traveled guests I talked to dont disagree.  Friendly, attentive, with
long dives (I did 21 in 8 days, often over 1 hour), and fun evenings.  I
talked to several who have dove the Great Barrier Reef on liveaboards, and
all said Two Fish was head and shoulders better.  Only Palau or Papua New
Guinea seem to compare, which are even harder to get to and much more
expensive.  Dont waste your money on a Lembeh Strait liveaboard, by the
way.  Two Fish Lembeh is a much  better, more comfortable, much cheaper
deal and the dive sites are only 5-15 minutes away anyway!  No need for an
expensive liveaboard.

All I talked to concur that the safest and easiest (not always the
cheapest) way to fly into Manado is via Silk Air (a Singapore Airlines
subsidiary) through Singapore.   Coming from places that have non-stops to
Singapore, Im told the fare was the same into Manado as into Singapore on
Singapore Airlines.  

Thank you Tina and Nigel.  I will return again for an even longer stay in
the future.

Michael Wood
Edmonds, Washington  USA 
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