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Dive Review of Celebes Divers/Mapia Resort in
Indonesia/North Sulawesi

Celebes Divers/Mapia Resort, May, 2003,

by Carl Scott, TX, USA (Contributor Contributor 16 reports with 2 Helpful votes). Report 499.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Let me say this again - subject matter for photography was endless. The marine life here is amazingly abundant, far exceeding numbers that I've seen at any Caribbean destination I've visited. Bunaken Marine Park is protected from the trade winds by the high (3,000+ feet) mountains of North Sulawesi, so the seas are glassy smooth each morning, not much different in the afternoons. While a decent current was encountered on one dive, all others were nearly absent of any noticable current, making diving a breeze. All but a couple of the dive sites are walls, with the edge of the reef at about 20' and sloping gently upward towards shore - perfect for a very long safety stop among thousands of tropicals at the end of each dive. These reefs were as healthy as I've seen anywhere.

Celebes Divers is owned in partnership with Mapia Resort, and one of the partners is a practicing marine biologist (not just a former biologist, but one who currently works with Italian universities), who really knows his stuff. Not only can this guy not be stumped on the scientific names of any local species, but he provides as much detail as you want to hear about their histories, habits, etc.

They offer day trips across the island to Lembeh Strait, which is worth the hour and a half van ride to the dock for anyone who is interested in seeing creatures that are very rare, or absent, in other destinations, including the pygmy seahorse, ghost pipefish, beautiful nudibranchs, etc.

Mapia is a rather simple resort, with cottages made of wood and furniture made of bamboo. Nothing fancy, but certainly adequate and comfortable. I have only a couple of beefs. The bathrooms are not air conditioned, and there always seems to be one or two mosquitoes in there. The provide insect spray, if you want to use it, though. Also, they don't pick up the trash that washes ashore on the beach. This seems to be an endemic practice, judging from the surrounding areas. The restaurant is open air, but always a comfortable seaside atmosphere. The food wouldn't quite rate gourmet, but it was always a good home-cooked meal, and there was plenty of it. Breakfast is toast and fruit, with cofee and juices, but the cook was quick to accommodate me with an omelet each morning, upon request. The typical dinner consisted of a combination of Italian and Indonesian dishes, with a choice between two different main courses. Nothing I ate was a throwback. Dinner is served family style in 4 courses, providing a nice atmosphere for sharing stories, etc.

Service was second to none. All staff were eager to accommodate any request to the best of their abilities, and smiles were plentiful. One thing that I enjoyed was the constant singing of the staff while working, resting, etc. They love song, and they never sing out of key. Of course, English isn't spoken very well by most, so the words are a bit incomplete when they sing popular American songs (their favorite).

Incidentally, if you want to pack a little lighter, they offer prompt and good laundry service, so you can bring just enough clothes to get you there and through a couple of days at the resort. All laundry left in the basket will be washed and delivered back to your room before you return from the day's diving.

In closing, it amazes me that more Americans don't make the journey to visit this diving paradise. The price is right, and it's definitely worth the trip.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Palau, Thailand, Belize, Cozumel, Cayman Islands, St. Croix, Costa Rica, Gulf of Mexico
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, noCurrents
Water Temp 82-84°F / 28-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 1
Water Visibility 80-100 Ft/ 24-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Celebes allowed us to dive our own profiles, with the only guidelines being that we follow the general plan of the dive (swim in the right direction). They were quite flexible, essentially allowing us to determine how deep we dived, how long we stayed down, etc.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities 2 stars
UW Photo Comments Let me make this clear - the subject matter was endless! I shot over 600 frames in 5 days of diving (16 dives). However, the boats did not have a rinse tank or bucket, even though one was requested after the first day. Given the light crowd on board (3 divers and crew), there was plenty of room for gear, and they encouraged the use of bottled water (there was always plenty on board) to give equipment a quick rinse. The owners are avid photographers, and, in fact, one of them brought his camera along 2 days to dive with us. Apparently, they don't value an immediate rinse in fresh water after a dive. There are equipment rinse tanks on shore, but not in proximity of the dock. Given the general level of service, however, I'm sure that a rinse bucket would have been provided, had one been requested prior to boarding (I never remembered, either!).
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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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