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Dive Review of Kasawari Lembeh in
Indonesia/Lembeh Strait

Kasawari Lembeh, Oct, 2010,

by Rick Sterne/Chrisanda Button, AR, US (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 24 reports with 8 Helpful votes). Report 5743.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Bahamas, Bay Islands, Belize, Bonaire, Caymans, Cozumel, Turks&Caicos, Sea of Cortez, Fiji, Australia, Truk, Yap, Palau, other areas of Indonesia
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy Seas calm
Water Temp 77 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 35 to 50 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions We never tried to separate from our dive guide. Why would we? He was the guy finding all the weird stuff. But he paced the dive to our interest. If we wanted to spend ten minutes with a ghost pipe fish, we stayed there ten minutes.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or Whales None
Corals 2 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 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities 5 stars
UW Photo Comments In a word, fabulous. KLR must have one of the most spacious well-appointed camera rooms in the world. Each photographer is assigned a large table area with two towels, electric outlets with universal plug adapters, and voltage converters for us Americans. Camera cases were stored on a shelf below each station. Compressed air and tissues are available. There is also a computer if you want to view your shots on a bigger screen and do not travel with a lap top. The camera room is open from 0600 to 2130 and is locked at night. We placed our cameras in their plastic crates, and the crew would carry them to the dive area if we wanted them to. After we tested our housings in the large, dedicated rinse tanks, the crew then carried our cameras to the boats. They treated all cameras, large and small with utmost care. There are no rinse tanks on the boats, but the boats return to the resort between dives and our longest boat ride was 20 minutes.

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 N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Kasawari Lembeh Resort is as close to liveaboard convenience as a diver can come while enjoying a spacious villa decorated with understated elegance, a small infinity pool overlooking the strait, and a downright luxurious camera room. As on a liveaboard, one can do four dives every day. If only two divers want to make the night dive, those two dive after dark. Gear is set up once, then stays on the dive boats, where the crew actually hoses it down with fresh water after the last dive each day. Each diver is assigned a gear station on the boats with a crate beneath for storing mask, fins, etc. One enters the water by standing up, taking two steps, and making a giant stride. To exit the water, hand up camera and gear, then climb the ladder. As on a liveaboard, bottom time was limited primarily by our own air consumption,deco limits, and desire to get to the next meal.
KLR certainly provides valet service to divers. A large plastic crate was brought to our villa's porch the day we arrived. We put all our dive gear in it, and our gear reappeared set up on our boat or hanging in the dressing area. The approach to the large, comfortable dive boats is made via gently terraced decks. No wading out into the water here! The boats themselves are covered and feature liveaboard-like gear stations for six divers. There is an enclosed area at the front of each boat so wet divers can hide from the wind on return rides. We were served water on our way out to each dive and welcomed back on board with more water, a warm wet towel to wipe our faces with, fresh fruit, and a large fluffy towel for drying off. KLR's location in the central area of the strait meant that dives as far north as Angel's Window and as far south as Pulau Abadi were within a twenty minutes' boat ride. We returned to the dressing area to remove our wetsuits and put them in the large rinse tanks. The crew then hung them up for us while we showered. There are two outdoor warm water showers next the dressing area, as well as enclosed men's and women's dressing rooms with their own warm showers. There were also two cubbies for dry things assigned to each villa.
One dive guide was assigned to no more than three divers. We made all twenty four of our dives with Rusli, one of the resort's younger divemasters. KLR is doing an excellent job of training the next generation of muck diving guides. Rusli spoke good English, so we could communicate with him about what we wanted to see. Under water he was sharp-eyed and knew where to look for critters. He certainly gave us a lot of bottom time. When other divers went back to the boat early, we continued our dive. (But don't worry about those other divers. They were eating all the papaya and pineapple in comfort.) Rusli also taught us about the critters we were seeing. On one dive, he seemed to be spending an inordinate amount of time looking at a patch of staghorn coral. Then he motioned the two of us over to him. He pointed out three cuttlefish eggs within the coral. We watched a nascent cuttlefish chewing its way out of its egg sac. The tiny cuttlefish swam out, turned golden, and then swam backward into the reef and its life. Wow! Back on the boat, Rusli told us that the other two eggs would not hatch for several days.
As many divers have stated before us, Lembeh is muck diving and macro photography paradise. We seemed to see more cephalapods than we did on our first visit to the strait. We saw a number of cuttlefish and got inked by some very tiny bobtail squid. We also saw the full sized squid giving color shows at night. We saw longarm octopus, hairy octopus, coconut octos living in coconuts and plastic bottles, and no fewer than nine wonderpus, including one mating pair on a night dive. And we enjoyed a twenty minute encounter with a mimic octopus (and, no, Rusli was not hassling the octopus; the critter was just hanging out) We also saw a blue-ringed octopus and two flamboyant cuttlefish. We also encountered many mantis shrimp, tozeuma shrimp, emperor shrimp, porcelain crabs, zebra crabs, decorator crabs,a small boxer crab, and clinging crabs. Rusli showed us pretty file clams and the famous electric clam. He also took us straight to a pair of bobbitt worms on a night dive. I did not know a fish could get pulled into the sand so fast! And we saw a variety of nudis and other worms. We enjoyed Rhinopias aphanes, pink-eyed gobies, and our first sand divers and comet. Rusli lured a peacock flounder into full display. There were frogfish both hairy and painted. Seahorses came fullsized and pygmy, both H. bargibanti and H. ponthoi. We saw tiny pipefish that were scarcely more than a filament. I haven't even mentioned the ubiquitous Ambon scorpionfish, devilfish, and flying gunards.
Back on land, we enjoyed our spacious villa with its large and very comfortable bed. Large built-in closets provided ample storage space. There is a safe and small fridge in each room. We enjoyed the settle and writing desk. The spacious bathroom features indoor and outdoor showers. Hair dryer and large, fluffy towels are provided, as are cotton robes and slides. I enjoyed reading on the settle on the villa's porch. Two large bottles of drinking water are placed in the villa each morning, and we heavy drinkers could get the bottles refilled at the bar. The villas are thoroughly cleaned each morning and straightened with evening turndown service. The grounds are beautifully landscaped and maintained as a well manicured tropical garden.
The food in the upstairs, open-air restaurant has improved since our first visit to KLR. When there are fifteen or more guests in the resort (which can accommodate twenty), food is served from a buffet. The breakfast buffet included an omelet station. When the guest population falls below fifteen, one orders from an extensive menu of Asian and Western fare. During our ten-day stay, we ate both from the buffet and the menu and enjoyed both options.
When we arrived at the Manado airport, we were greeted by a staff member from Kasawari Lembeh and provided with cool moist wash cloths, cool bottles of water, and sandwiches before being tucked into a clean, air-conditioned SUV for our two-hour drive to the resort. That greeting typified the hospitality and service we enjoyed throughout our stay. On our last day, we took advantage of the massage pavilion. The quality of the massages was excellent and the price modest.
Kasawari Lembeh Resort provides both excellent diving services and a bit of luxurious pampering. Why not?
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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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