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Dive Review of Black Sand Dive Retreat in
Indonesia/North Sulawesi

Black Sand Dive Retreat: "Black Sand Dive Retreat", Oct, 2014,

by C Kapfer, VA, US (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports with 2 Helpful votes). Report 8456.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 5 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments The Good

Black Sand Dive Retreat is a beautiful, spacious resort right in the middle of the prime diving area on the mainland side of North Sulawesi on the Lembeh Strait. There are six private bungalows each with an outdoor bathroom and shower and a nice view of the strait off the deck. There's a new good sized pool, although it was very windy for the week we were there so did not use it.

Diving is amazing in Lembeh and is done off of several small boats with max capacity of 4 divers plus divemaster. Guides were all excellent, we had a private guide for several dives. After each dive you return to the resort for the surface interval and staff rinses your gear. Some of the famous sites in Lembeh are right off the resort (TK 1,2&3 are effectively shore dives, Hairball 1&2 are 2 minutes by boat)

Everything seems possible at Lembeh in terms of macro life: frogfish (painted, giant, hairy), seahorses (pygmy and standard), wonderpus, flamboyant cuttlefish, ambon scorpion fish, blue ring octopus, ghost pipefish, bizarre and unusual nudibranchs, slugs and flatworms, shrimp--everything is in play here on the macro front. We saw an octopus eat another octopus on a night dive! Not much in the way of corals although Angel's Window was a nice coral site.

Dining at the resort is mostly Indonesian with some other cuisine as well, with some nice touches ... they had imported wine for example. The dining room offered beautiful views of the Lembeh strait from above.

The Bad

Essentially nothing worth mentioning. Just book it--Bruce and Fung are lovely hosts and the dive guides are top notch. Internet access was not great, but that is typical for this part of Indonesia. There is an adjacent residence that had some sort of party while we were there and their PA was making some noise from time to time--hardly worth mentioning.

The Ugly

The occasional critter? ;) Traveling to Lembeh from most places in the world is more difficult than, say, Bali ... but not nearly as difficult as Komodo or Raja Ampat (Lembeh actually can be used a stepping stone to get to Raja). Definitely worth the trip if you like macro.

If you don't like black sand diving or aren't interested in muck diving this is probably not the place for you. However, just do an image search in google on Lembeh diving and you will see this is an amazing place to see strange critters and a photographer's dream. Topside it is a gorgeous private resort and could hardly be better. If you have a group that is more wide angle inclined you can include Bunaken or Bangka to please everyone.

Summary

Highly recommended, will visit Black Sand next time in North Sulawesi for sure!
Websites Black Sand Dive Retreat   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Red Sea, Bali, Komodo, Oman, Hawaii
Closest Airport Manado Getting There Singapore->Manado via Silk Air. Taxi from Manado arranged by the resort.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas
Water Temp 27-28°C / 81-82°F Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 5-15 M / 16-49 Ft

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Dive your own profile. Dives were guided in small groups of 2-4 with one divemaster per group.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 5 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 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities 5 stars
UW Photo Comments There is a camera room close to the dive setup area, plenty of stations available for all resort guests. There are large rinse tanks outside; the tanks are not shielded from wind (it can be very windy in Lembeh). Debris was often blown into the tanks and staff were not particularly diligent at refilling with fresh water, so we were doing this on our own every day. Minor niggle but would be of great help if the resort were to construct a wind block or better enclose the camera rinse area.
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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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