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Dive Review of Kungkungan Bay Resort in
Indonesia/Lembeh Strait

Kungkungan Bay Resort: "Fantastic Service and Amazing Diving", Aug, 2016,

by Douglas , IL, US (Contributor Contributor 15 reports with 7 Helpful votes). Report 9021 has 1 Helpful vote.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments In early August 2016, my wife and I sat for lunch at the center of the open-air dining porch of the historic KungKungan Bay Resort, enjoying the beautiful bay view and gentle breeze, while we discussed the huge amount of fun we’d already had on only our first two dives. Hairball was a classic muck dive, with tons of crazy creatures, and Graveyard had the combo topography of an exceptionally healthy soft coral reef to 40ft depth, with wonderful muck diving below.

Leaving baggage check at Manado the evening before, we were quickly greeted by a big smile and a sign with our names. A 1.5 hour drive through rainy dark roads, at the hands of super friendly driver Fritz, brought us to shore’s edge.

Our Beachfront Villa was made inside and out from beautiful dark wood. All of the resort buildings blend wonderfully with the “rock island looking” scenery. Although the dark brown sink and toilet had a bit of an older look to their design, everything worked perfectly, was hyper-clean, and is beautified with cut flowers. The bathroom/shower is dark gray rock, absolutely beautiful, and water is as hot as you want, as much as you want- love that! The room a/c worked well, and numerous large bottles of clean water sit available, included in our package. Wifi was slow at many times, in multiple areas of the resort, and that was a bit offputting.

Meals are included in your package fee, and you can choose from a fairly large selection of Indonesian, American, Japanese and Chinese dishes. Portions were plentiful and had a “cooked with love” feel to them, although not gourmet. My wife and I would have enjoyed some more upscale options. Drinks cost extra, and the bar drinks are particularly pricey. The dining room is a bit Spartan looking with too few tables for the large room, and they are set far apart from each other which kind of discourages guest interaction, and both my wife and I quickly grew tired of bland American “elevator music” constantly playing softly throughout. Dining on the outdoor porch provides absolutely beautiful views of the bay and strait, so we sat there for almost every meal.

The dive tenders were a bit cramped with 8 divers and 3 staff, primarily due to their skinny design, but we all happily worked together without problems, the sun shade was nice and the ladder was solid. It was hard to raise your butt up from the seat bench onto the gunwhale for rear entry, not only because the bench seat was so wide (the edge of it was too far from the gunwhale), but pushing off from the floor would cause the floormats to slip. It was actually a bit dangerous for my petite wife trying to shift up her tank and pony rig, but the guides happily assisted her when I asked them before each entry.

Once back on the boat, you’re greeted with a smile and a small hot hand towel, then a cup of water, then fresh fruit, and finally a fresh beach towel for the short rides home. Really Nice! During one drive home through some choppier water, one of the guides pulled down a plastic “windshield” to guard us all from boatspray and that was really considerate!

Our first dive was a bit confusing upon first entering the water. After a detailed dive plan presentation, we expected to be met under the boat by our assigned guide, but he just headed off (within view) and started hunting the minute he got in. We saw the other guides doing exactly the same, as were the other divers, who’d been diving with the resort several days already. But within moments, our guide was signalling us over to see something cool that he’d found.
We quickly realized that the dive guides are master critter hunter photo safari guides. They hit the water and they’re immediately hard at work, searching for you. They carefully comb the hiding spots with two delicate prongs, and they are constantly presenting to you something that they’ve found, making it easy for you to see even the tiniest creatures. It’s amazing to watch them in action, as they energetically search crevices and soft corals and broken bottles and the sand. These guys are all about the hunt! They love finding things for you, and they throw down in a major way. To me, a dive resort is first and foremost about the diving, and critter hunting is dependent on good guides. Jack and Jenly, to name just a few, were absolutely impressive in their search technique and success, and well as their desire to please, once underwater. 4 people max per guide, and sometimes 2 guides for 4 people- nice ratios!

Though they were hunting for us, they also kept an eye out for us and politely showed me the way back to our small group whenever I wandered off or stayed behind to stare at some amazing creature. Their dive plans ensured that, at the end of the 60+ minute dives, our safety stops were done while muck diving or investigating coral walls and gardens in shallow water- great planning. (There were some beautiful coral areas, which was quite a surprise to me, although the vast majority of our dive time was spent finding cool stuff in the volcanic sand beds.)

Bring a good magnifying lens and a spare, with a 10x window. The resort doesn’t have high-powered magnifying lenses to rent. I managed to lose my 3x/10x magnifying glass when I was Go Pro filming some stunning electric clams in a cave crevice, so I took my Go Pro macro lens off the camera, and found that it is absolutely perfect for seeing small critters, a big lens with excellent magnification.

You hear a lot of talk about trash in Lembeh Strait, and we certainly saw some trash on every dive site, but nothing overwhelming. Considering how often the dive sites are visited, why aren’t the guides picking up one piece of trash apiece, per dive trip? If ALL the resorts cooperated, everything would be kept pretty darn clean, I think. So . . . imho . . . the resorts – ALL of them- are definitely failing to provide leadership on this issue.

I didn’t really know if I’d like “muck diving," since I’ve always been an “enjoy the architecture and lots of fishees” kinda guy. But I became instantly hooked on the very first dive, and now I’m an addict! I loved being able to stay focused on a specific l’il creature or fish and watch its behavior for awhile, without the normal dive routine of continuing to move on across a reef.

With 4 boat dives a day, we were too wet to check out their house reef, but some other divers mentioned that they had a nice time diving it.

We took a day trip to the monkey jungle, and though the drive was long, it was absolutely mind-boggling to be surrounded 2x by large groups of monkeys, right at our feet and near us in the trees. They didn't seem to mind us being there in the least, though I wondered afterwards if they ever get angry! smile

We took an evening trip to Lembeh Resort for dinner with some friends. It had a more modern “European” feel to it, and the dinner meal was quite upscale gourmet, but it also had 4 large dive boats parked in their dock inlet and a huge dive “locker” area. Seeing the dive layout made us really appreciate the boutique nature of our smaller more “family oriented” dive operation at KBR. We noticed that you have to walk uphill to all of the rooms, and when we visited one of them, its interior design felt pretty bland to us, and were definitely turned off by the "exposed to mosquitoes" bathroom/shower area.

KBR entertained us with a fun “variety show” Friday evening BBQ dinner and serenaded us with song at the driveway as we were leaving. It was just further evidence of their exceptionally friendly "we aim to please, you're part of the family" feel. Our visit there was absolutely fantastic and the hyper-attentive smiling service, above and below the water, was an absolute joy.
[None]
Websites Kungkungan Bay Resort   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Solomons, Truk, Yap, Palau, Coral Sea, PNG, Roatan, Maui, Jamaica, Florida, L'il Cayman and Cayman East, Belize Ambergris and Isla Marisol, Grand Turk, Cabo Pulmo, Cozumel, Dominica, Bonaire, Fiji, Komodo
Closest Airport Manado Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 80-81°F / 27-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 30-50 Ft/ 9-15 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Freedom to roam your own profile. 60+ minute dives.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 4 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 N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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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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