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Dive Review of Kasawari Lembeh in
Indonesia/Lembeh, Sulawesi

Kasawari Lembeh, Jul, 2009,

by Doug Segar and Elaine Stamman, CA, USA ( 2 reports). Report 5285.

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 4 stars
Dive Operation N/A Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments We'll let our actions speak for our complete endorsement of Lembeh Straits and of the Kasawari Resort for discriminating divers and photographers. We are looking forward to our 9th trip to Lembeh, 4th trip to Kasawari. Each trip, we spend 2-3 weeks diving at Kasawari. We love the resort, staff, and diving!

Rather than repeat ourselves, we refer you to our very extensive report from our first visit Dec 2007. The resort has maintained its high standards of comfort and service, and remains a photographer's paradise. As said in our earlier detailed report, the resort is centrally located in the strait which makes for short rides to all the best sites on very comfortable boats. It is compactly laid out so trips to your room, dive shop, camera room, dining and dive boats are mercifully short. Nestled between lush rainforest and the local village, you feel safe while still feeling tucked away in an ideal setting overlooking the strait.

The villas are very comfortable, spacious, and offer all the comforts of home. The dive area is huge and there is plenty of room, even when the resort is full. The same spaciousness and thoughtful layout is also true of the camera room.

The resort is able to accommodate any number of guests - we have been there when we were close to the only guests and other times when the resort was at capacity. The resort adjusts staff, boats, and dining to ensure that things go smoothly and that people are not crowded. In truth, the personal attention to the guests is the resort's hallmark. They work very hard to keep diving groups small so that guests have the luxury of the personal attention of the resort's truly remarkable dive guides. It was hard to keep from being smug when we would see other groups of 10 or more divers/photographers from other resorts in the strait following one dive guide and swarming all over any "critter" that he found. Usually at Kasawari, it was a maximum of 4 divers per guide, and often 2 guides would work together for 4-6 divers.

One of the owners was visiting the resort. His passion and commitment to the resort and the staff were impressive. He worked with all the staff to hone their service - we even caught him trimming bushes one morning! He worked with the kitchen to bring significant diversification to the menu and to improve the quality of the food, which is generally excellent. We were very impressed with the new offerings and regretted not having more time to try the new dishes. When the resort isn't busy, you order from the menu. When they are busy, a buffet is set up. The buffet ensures that diners can get their meals within the time allotted between dives.

Lembeh is the muck capital and divers going there must understand what the diving is all about. Visibility is poor, the substrate is silty and easily stirred up, the critters are often incredibly camouflaged, and coral growth is site-specific. But, the critters that are found there are many of those on the "lifetime wish lists" for long-time divers and photogs. Luckily, the dive guides at the resort are incredible and can see and find even the rarest, tiniest, and best hidden animals. It says something when you simply pass over flamboyant cuttlefish, coconut octopus, Pegasus, fingered dragonets, and many other animals as simply too "been there, done that."

On our last trip, we had an incredible encounter with an over foot-long cuttlefish who simply would not leave us for over 20 minutes. "Cuddles" came over to us, strobing an unusual display, and then kept in our face such that we couldn't photograph "her." When she made it very clear she wanted to "play," we gingerly stroked her tentacles and her body and she kept coming back for more. She only left us when we were below the boat's ladder, out of air!

Other amazing encounters were a remora trying desperately to attach to a burrfish, a decorator crab pinching and eating the algal growth off his legs and back, frog- and puffer-fish mating behaviors, a coconut crab trying to cover himself with a potato chip bag, several species of mantis shrimp with eggs, jawfish moving rocks to clear a den, a black and yellow mottled ribbon eel, a crocodile eel hunting, a scorpionfish and frogfishes devouring unsuspecting prey, numerous cuttlefish reaching out and zapping their prey, and simply too many others to describe. One day we had an exhilarating experience when we were crossing the strait and saw a large school of dolphins coming toward the boat. Soon we were surrounded on both sides with hundreds of dolphins extending in both directions up and down the strait. We estimated that there was 500-1000 in the school. This was an incredibly rare occurrence for the strait, but proof that anything can happen in Lembeh!

A final word on the staff. They are like a family and it shows. The turnover is very low, so you see the same friendly faces on return trips. All the staff are terrific, including manager Nus, the office girls, groundskeepers, housekeeping staff, chef and waiters, and those fabulous dive guides! Some of the guides we have known for 10 years and have shared some amazing experiences with over the years. We have many photographs and videos that we owe to these remarkable professionals. Others of the guides are relatively new to the game, but already demonstrate an incredible skill in finding animals that is very impressive. It truly is a place where you could skip the dive briefing and simply remain glued to your guide!
Websites Kasawari Lembeh   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomons, Philippines, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Palau, Australia, Hawaii, Red Sea, Caribbean (various), California, UK
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, dry Seas choppy
Water Temp 78-83°F / 26-28°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 10-60 Ft/ 3-18 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions none
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

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 The camera room is a photog's delight with 21 individual spaces, shelving underneath, towels, outlets with both 110 and 220, and compressed air. It is well-lit and locked at night with security guards nearby. You signal that your camera is ready by putting it in a bin in the camera room, the staff carry it to the rinse tank for your water inspection, take it to the boat in the bin where it is well protected, hand it to you in the water, and then repeat the process, taking it to the camera room for you after its rinse. Computer is now available in camera room.
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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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