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Dive Review of Bastiano's in
Indonesia/Lembeh Strait

Bastiano's, May, 2009,

by Fred Turoff, PA, USA (Top Contributor Top Contributor 30 reports with 13 Helpful votes). Report 5015.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments This was my second trip to Lembeh Strait. Four years ago I stayed at Kunkungan Bay Resort and reported on that fine trip. This time, since my buddy and I were heading to Raja Ampat the next week, we opted to save some money and booked at Bastiano’s, having read favorable reviews in Undercurrent. Airline schedules limited our stay to five nights, when we had hoped for six. The resort is on a hillside on Lembeh Island across the strait from KBR, giving a nice view of several smoking volcanoes on northeast Sulawesi by the city of Bitung. We also could see that busy port area from our porch.

We opted for a room with two beds and no air conditioning, and found the sea breeze and fan kept the room generally comfortable. One shortcoming was unreliable hot water in the shower, but with air temps in the 80s, cool water was tolerable. Our room was on the upper level of rooms, so a climb up and down two sets of stairs each trip was necessary. Crew members offered to carry my camera to and from my room for me, but I use that as a form of exercise so I politely declined. The camera room was not yet set up by the loading area at water’s edge, which would have made camera work easier for any with cameras. When I asked about it, the manager indicated she would get some charging stations set up right away, which she did, but by that point both my buddy and I had all our photo gear laid out in our room and decided not to use the camera room. The camera rinse tank was a short walk along the waterfront and by the dive-gear storage area, which happened to be maybe 20 meters from my stairway.

Dive boats generally held 3-6 divers and had covered areas for those wanting to be out of the sun. Trips to dive sites were short, maybe 10-15 minutes at the most. A glaring shortcoming was that all dive personnel smoked on the boats and in the landing areas. One fellow even had a lit cigarette while the gas can below him was uncovered, and when this was pointed out, he merely covered the opening with a cloth. Lembeh is known for its muck diving. The farther from the city, the cleaner the area was. We did several dives at Police Pier, close to town, which had lots of refuse along with interesting creatures. However, some dive sites were spectacular in terms of life and scenery. On my previous trip, I recall seeing a frogfish and seahorse on nearly every dive. This time the number of times I sighted these fish was much less. However, we did find a seafan with at least eight H. Bargabanti pygmy seahorses on it at “Magic Rock” along with a beautiful ornate ghost pipefish in an orange crinoid along with other interesting critters. That site and the previous one we visited that morning, “Nudi Retreat,” showed us a great variety of the critters divers want to see, plus they ended in sunlit, multi-hued soft corals for the last 6 meters to the surface, giving our eyes lots to enjoy. I had not seen a Wunderpus or Mimic Octopus on my previous trip or any others I’ve taken to Indonesia or PNG, but thanks to the keen eyes of divemaster Stephen, I saw and photographed both. Some of the other wondrous critters seen were a large variety of cleaner shrimp, several species of mantis shrimp, cuttlefish and squid, Pegasus seamoths, ambon scorpionfish and other species, several pipefish species, ribbon eels, various nudibranchs and crabs.

The dining room was spacious and open, on the second level and next to a pool that I saw no one use. Food was served family-style, with several offerings at each meal. Much of the food was a bit spicy for me, but I didn’t request toned-down meals as I was able to find suitable food at each meal. We made an attempt to sit with different folks often, and found the majority to be quite interested in meeting “foreigners.” Most everyone spoke English, so we were able to communicate easily. Guests came from Poland, Germany, Sri Lanka, US, Switzerland, Scotland, Thailand and South Africa. A massage was available daily by appointment for only US$15 per hour.

Bastiano’s was described as a low-cost alternative to KBR and other upscale resorts. At perhaps half the price of those others, anyone on a budget should consider it.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving BVI, USVI, Saba, St. Lucia, Bonaire, Little Cayman, Cayman Brac, Costa Rica, Coco Island, Revillagigedos, Sea of Cortez, Palau, Yap, Red Sea, Sipadan, PNG, Indonesia
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, no currents
Water Temp 83-84°F / 28-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 25-80 Ft/ 8-24 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions suggested time, although dive leader stayed with you until you were finished
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics N/A

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
UW Photo Comments Photo room was in the process of being set up. when finished, it will have cubbies, charge stations, cabinets and will be next to landing area. Rinse tank was a short distance away, by gear area. Without photo room, cameras had to be carried to and from rooms, all of which were up a hill by stairs. Staff offered to carry cameras, but I use this as a form of exercise. Cameras on boats were covered by towels and handled carefully, but no rinse tank as we were always close to the resort.
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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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