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Dive Review of Kasawari Lembeh in
Indonesia/Lembeh Strait

Kasawari Lembeh, Mar, 2014,

by Rickie Sterne/Chrisanda Butto, AR, US (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 24 reports with 8 Helpful votes). Report 7566.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments We were grateful divers when we arrived at Kasawari Lembeh Resort and delighted divers when we left. Our gratitude is explained by events of last fall. We had been scheduled to dive for twelve days at KLR September past. Otic barotrauma compelled us to cancel our stay on three days' notice. The management at KLR generously said that we could use our package any time within the next six months. So we added another week to our diving and headed for North Sulawesi in mid-March. Our departing delight requires more elaboration.
First, there is the pleasure of simply staying at KLR. The villas are spacious, immaculate, and well appointed. The comfortable beds and nice linens help us aging divers enjoy our holiday. There was more storage space than we could fill with our admittedly small dive wardrobes. The question for me in the afternoons was whether to read on the settle inside the villa or on the one on the porch with the view of the beautifully landscaped grounds and the strait. There is a desk for logging all those amazing dives and setting up the laptop to download photos. Two large bottles of water are replaced daily, and those of us who are extremely thirsty could get our bottles refilled in the bar ad libidem. The villa's bathroom was huge, offering both indoor and outdoor showers with good water pressure and plenty of hot water. KLR provides a full range of good quality toiletries-shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion. (I am not obsessed with lotions and potions; I just like to know what I do not need to pack for any given trip.) There is also a hair dryer in the bathroom. We indicated that we wanted fresh towels simply by leaving our towels on the floor. Villas are cleaned thoroughly each morning and straightened with evening turn down service. Outside the villa, we enjoyed the resort's infinity pool overlooking the strait. And don't miss the massage!
Second, there is the pleasure of dining at KLR. The second-floor, open-air restaurant is staffed by a friendly and attentive group. Continental breakfast with good, brewed coffee is available before the first dive. During most of our stay, we ordered from a menu which offered a good variety of both Western and Asian dishes. Lunch and dinner are three-course affairs if you are that hungry, as we always were by dinner. A group of fourteen Thai divers was in the resort for six days. During that time there was a buffet of quite authentic (we were assured) Thai food on offer. The other American couple in residence continued to order from the menu, while we grazed through the Thai dishes. The Thais seemed rather surprised and quite pleased that we enjoyed their food. They explained the various dishes to us and warned us which were "hot,hot." Each time we visit KLR we find that the quality of the food has improved. Snacks are served following the afternoon dive, some Western and some quite traditionally Indonesian. Obviously, no one was hungry.
Most important, there is the pleasure of diving at KLR. KLR has raised valet diving to a whole new level. We put all our dive gear in large plastic crates on our villa's porch when we arrived. The next morning we found all our neoprene hanging in our individual dressing stations in the large dive tiring area. The rest of our gear was set up on our boat. The gear stays on the boat, where it is rinsed off by hose each evening by a staff member. There are large rinse tanks in the dive area for cameras and wetsuits. The water is changed at least daily. Two cubbies for each villa give divers a place to stow dry items while they dive. On the boats, entry is by giant stride. At dive's end, we handed up our gear and climbed the ladder. We were welcomed back with a hot, scented wash cloth, warm towels, a glass of water, and a tray of delicious tropical fruit. Hot cocoa was on offer after night dives. KLR is located at about midpoint in the Lembeh Strait, so boat rides even to Angel's Window and Pulau Abadi were no more than fifteen minutes. The boats are fully covered. We moved from the dive area to the boats via terraced walkways and stepped onto the boats from a stable dock. We got lots of bottom time. Only two of our fifty dives lasted less than 70 minutes, and many were of 80 minutes' duration. We were never more than three divers with one guide. The resort and dive shop managers kindly let us dive with the same guide we were with on our last visit. All the guides at KLR are very good. We enjoy diving with Rusli not only because of his skill. He seems to feel as enthusiastic about diving as we do, even though diving is his job.
We arrived at KLR with very high expectations for our diving in Lembeh. Our actual diving experience on this trip exceeded our expectations in every way. Did we see a lot of really cool stuff? Of course we did! We encountered seven species of octopus, including long encounters with a mimic and a rather large blue ring who was willing to be photographed. Other cephalopods included reef squid, bobtail squid, broadclub cuttlefish, pygmy cuttlefish, and flamboyant cuttlefish. There were quite a few tiny and beautiful juvenile fish. In addition to all the usual shrimp, we saw three pairs of tiger shrimp and three pairs of harlequin shrimp. Without any special focus on nudis, we photographed four dozen species of opistobranch, including the ever-so-weird Melibe papiillosa with emperor shrimp on board. But more than a catalogue of critters, we got to observe a good deal of behavior. We saw a half dozen peacock mantis shrimp carrying their red egg bundles, as well as two coconut octopus with white egg bundles and a Banggai cardinalfish with a mouth full of eggs. We watched as a flamboyant cuttlefish egg hatched and the tiny, brilliantly-colored creature swam away. We also watched larger flamboyant cuttlefish feeding and saw a two-inch long frogfish eat a couple of cardinalfish twice its size. Rusli showed us damselfish eggs in which we could see the eyes of the nascent fish, a least through macro lenses. We also watched Clark's anemonefish fanning their eggs with their fins.
The mandarinfish dive was an outstanding experience. We have seen mandarinfish elsewhere, but we have never had the opportunity to observe their mating behaviors at such length. We entered the water just before 5 pm and settled in front of a stand of staghorn coral. We had been warned not to turn on our dive lights. After a few minutes, individual mandarinfish began to pop up, apparently feeding. Then three males swam upward and began their courtship displays. They extended all their fins, making themselves appear larger and even more colorful. The females were initially coy. The males continued their displays, swimming more and more frenetically. Finally the females consented, and for the next thirty minutes we watched the mating dance repeated as pairs of fish swam slowly upward, a cloud of gametes was released, and the pair then plummeted back into the coral.
On this trip, we felt like we discovered the secret of the big professional guys. Choose a destination that offers a lot of whatever subjects you want to photograph. Then find a dive resort with highly skilled, hardworking guides, and settle in for a longish stay. No one will ever confuse our images with those of Tony Wu or Burt Jones, but we have now shot many of the same subjects. We feel very privileged to have viewed the critters and behaviors we were shown while we were at KLR.
For us the question is not whether we want to dive at Kasawari Lembeh Resort again, but when we want to dive there.
Websites Kasawari Lembeh   

Reporter and Travel

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

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, choppy
Water Temp 80-82°F / 27-28°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 30-50 Ft/ 9-15 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions We chose to stay with our dive guide, who was finding lots of cool stuff. We were not on a tight lead, although safe diving was emphasized.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 3 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 KLR offers the best facilities for underwater photographers we have ever enjoyed. Each camera rig is placed in a sturdy plastic crate and travels from camera room to rinse tank to boat and back again in that crate. As soon as a crew member on the boat takes a camera from a diver, the camera is carefully placed in its crate. No ports got scratched on this trip. KLR caters to photographers, and staff members are familiar with all the whistles and buzzers divers attach to their rigs. Rickie did not have to point out the lanyard for lifting his housing, and the staff recognized the potential fragility of another diver's view finder. Cameras are carried to the rinse tank and the camera room after each dive if the diver wishes.
KLR offers a camera room with twenty spacious work spaces for a resort that can host twenty guests. Each work station has two outlets with universal plugs. Towels are provided for cushioning and drying cameras. Compressed air is available. A lower shelf stores camera cases and a narrow upper shelf provides space for extra batteries and small tools. When a diver finishes working on his camera, he simply places it in its crate for transport back to the boat. A computer is available in the camera room for viewing images.
To the resort's credit, the staff handled my little G10 with the same care and respect accorded to the SLR's.
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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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