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Dive Review of Kungkungan Bay Resort in
Indonesia/N. Sulawesi

Kungkungan Bay Resort: "Great muck diving in a lovely location with fantastic staff", May, 2017,

by Joel Snyder, AZ, US (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 29 reports with 30 Helpful votes). Report 9595 has 2 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 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 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Flying to Manado is the hard part: there are direct flights from Jakarta (about 3 hours) and Singapore (also 3 hours), but airline schedules usually require making a long stopover of at least 9 hours along the way. If you have a choice, Singapore is a more pleasant option than Jakarta and we elected for several nights there just in case our luggage went somewhere else (it didn't). From Manado, KBR will pick you up and make the 90 minute ride, a bit longer in traffic or at night.

KBR has a central building, built over the water, which houses reception, an upstairs bar, a downstairs dining room, and a few pleasant tables outside. On either side of the building are beach cottages for guests along a flat path. Our cottage was typical with a shared porch, a sitting room with couch, chairs, and a work table, an air conditioned bedroom, and a bathroom with a large shower. We had two queen-size beds in our cottage and overall the room was spacious. Some cottages are built on stilts and have air conditioning in both sitting and bedroom spaces, but otherwise there is little difference between the room sizes or qualities. Resort maximum capacity is about 36 divers in the 18 cottages. Also on premises were the dive shop, with gear areas and photo room, and a small spa with swimming pool (open to all guests).

We were there for a total of 7 days (5 diving days), and our package included all meals and diving (with Nitrox). Extras include certain special dishes on the menu and any alcoholic drinks, as well as spa services and extra dives. At the end of a week, for two of us, we paid less than $100 add-on for our nightly beers. Bills must be settled in Indonesian currency, a government rule, or with credit cards. Tips, of course, can be left in any currency.

When we arrived, we were handed a general schedule for the day: breakfast, followed by first dive at 8:15, second dive at 11:15, lunch, and third dive at 2:45, with dinner open until 9PM [fc]. Some evenings, weather permitting, a Mandarin-fish dive was offered (at extra cost).

Diving at Lembeh is muck diving, first and foremost, although we did have one dive on a nice wall out of the 15 we took. The procedure is comically similar: a dive briefing a few minutes before the dive, followed by a boat ride of 5-10 minutes to the site. A dive guide takes up to 4 guests down into the 84 degree water and then proceeds to leapfrog from one amazing creature to the next, for the next 60-80 minutes (depending on your air usage). When we were there, the resort was half-full, so we had one guide for every two divers. The dive operation was very professional at all times, sometimes comically so. For example, in Lembeh, essentially every muck dive is identical: descend in 15 ft of water, follow an undistinguished sand bottom as deep as you want, then make your way back up slowly at the end of the dive. At KBR, they rolled out 5-foot wide pre-printed maps of every site for the briefings---but once we had completed the first briefing and dive, the rest of the briefings were superfluous as the procedure, topology, and critters were the same. Still, an A for effort.

Lembeh is famous for muck diving and our experience showed why. During our three daily dives, we inevitably saw abundant mantis shrimp, nudibranchs and flatworms, pipefish, coconut and wunderpus octopus, frogfish of all sizes and colors, squid and flamboyant cuttlefish, ribbon and moray eels, hermit crabs, sea moths and flying gunards, leaf scorpionfish, and ghost pipefish. With a little help from the guides--who were expert spotters--smaller critters, including anenome and crinoid crabs and shrimp, pygmy squid and seahorses all appeared. With virtually no current, no thermoclines in the 84 degree water, and easy entry and exit from the dingy, the diving was laid back and easy to love.

Our package included Nitrox (32%) which was a nice feature, although for the depths and frequency of diving, air would not have reduced our bottom times. In 5 diving days, we did a total of 14 dives (skipping our last afternoon to allow an 18-hour wait-to-fly time), with an average depth of 38 feet, maximum depth of 88 feet, and average dive time of 80 minutes (longest dive 90 minutes, shortest dive 70 minutes). Only 3 of the 14 dives were deeper than 72 feet. Because many of the dives were near small villages, we had a few dives with a high amount of garbage on the reef, inevitable signs of human habitation.

Beginners hoping for colorful coral and reef fish and those with poor eyesight might not love the Straits of Lembeh, but photographers, folks who love small and unusual creatures, and any diver who wants to experience great muck diving will discover that the dives and days go too quickly at KBR. With the resort half-full of divers, we had no complaints about boats, time in the water, or abundant space in the camera room for photographers. The whole operation felt very luxurious with lots of personal attention from the very friendly and helpful staff. If the resort had been full, things would have been more crowded and less relaxed. Thus, as always, advice is to visit during shoulder seasons if at all possible for the best experience.

Divers should be sure to bring their own underwater pointers with them--although we didn't, and the resort dive shop fabricated two for us on the spot. The usual prohibition against touching corals and creatures (including a ban on gloves) was in place, but a pointer was essential for steadying divers taking photos of very small creatures and also useful for combing through anenome and crinoids to search for very small critters. As is common in muck diving environments, the guides seemed to go a bit over the line with critter harrassment on occasion. Coconut octopus sometimes were pried out of a pair of clam shells for the benefit of photographers, and we watched a guide very unsuccessfully trying to push fish within reach of a ribbon eel. Not that the fish didn't come close enough to eat, but the ribbon eel simply didn't manage to grab one, even millimeters away from its mouth. Honestly, ribbon eels are thin for a reason. Overall, though, the attitude of the guides seemed respectful of the environment and the creatures and balanced their desire to help photographers get the right photo op with not abusing the wildlife too much. Divers who are hypersensitive to interacting with marine life may want to make that clear to their guides before going under water.

We didn't use the spa, but other members of our group did and were happy with the massages at very reasonable prices.

The kitchen, like many at diving resorts, tries very hard to accommodate different tastes. I ordered Indonesian food for each meal which was inevitably tasty and well-prepared (as one would expect) with a broad array of choices available. The kitchen has an "Indonesian special" each night for dinner that visits a different region in Indonesia, which was a very nice sampling and variety. Others in our group explored other cuisines offered, including American, Italian, and Mexican dishes, which were credible renditions. The service team was very pleasant and helpful, even when dealing with the occasional food request or complaint, and always tried to accommodate our group's needs. Even very picky eaters left the table happy.

I would not hesitate to recommend KBR for beginning or advanced divers interested in muck diving. Although the travel is inconvenient, the quality of the operation and the creatures on the reefs make it worthwhile
Websites Kungkungan Bay Resort   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Asia; Carib; Mexico; Hawaii; Red Sea
Closest Airport Manado Getting There Use Garuda Indonesia if you can; many other carriers have high cancellation rates. Connect from CKG or SIN

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 83-84°F / 28-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 1
Water Visibility 20-40 Ft/ 6-12 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions None. In 5 diving days, we did a total of 14 dives, with an average depth of 38 feet, maximum depth of 88 feet, and average dive time of 80 minutes (longest dive 90 minutes, shortest dive 70 minutes). Only 3 of the 14 dives were deeper than 72 feet.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 1 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 N/A
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities 3 stars
UW Photo Comments Camera room available near dive shop/boats to simplify maintenance, loading, unloading, with pressurized air and lots of power outlets and lights. Excellent setup.
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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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