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Dive Review of Lembeh Divers/Lembeh Resort in
Indonesia/North Sulawesi

Lembeh Divers/Lembeh Resort, Jan, 2009,

by Jeanne & Bill Downey, PA, USA (Top Contributor Top Contributor 46 reports with 13 Helpful votes). Report 4590.

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 5 stars Shore Diving 4 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Are Rhinopias, stargazers, snake blennies, wonderpus, orang utan crabs, pygmy seahorses, bobbit worms, fingered dragonets, and waspfish worth 30+ hours of travel?

Lembeh Resort in North Sulawesi, nestled into a steep hillside and operating since 2003, has 14 rooms including 2 duplexes. The older, larger rooms have a bedroom, sitting room, large veranda with wonderful views, and fewer steps to the dining hall and dive shop; the newer rooms, higher up on the hillside and minus the sitting room, have even more spectacular views from their balconies. All the rooms have air conditioning as well as ceiling fans, refrigerators, and desks. The older rooms have semi-indoor sinks and commodes, plus 2 showers, one semi-indoor and one outdoor. The newer rooms have indoor sinks and outdoor commodes and showers. Hot water is abundant.

We flew from JFK on Singapore Air to Manado via Singapore, no problems. Upon arriving in Manado, we purchased our 30-day visas for $25 each, did a money exchange, claimed our luggage, and were greeted outside the baggage area. The drive to the coast was about 1 ½ hours, and the boat ride across Lembeh Strait to the resort was 15 minutes.

The bad part of travel is the jetlag and we had 11 hours worth—after short briefings about the diving and the resort and a delicious salmon dinner, we crashed at 8:30, which meant we were bright and chipper the next morning at 4 A.M., ready to enjoy the lovely 5 A.M. sunrise. We never managed to stay awake past 10:15 the entire week, so we saw lots of sunrises from our front porch.

We prepaid for 3 Nitrox boat dives each day, our choices being 8am, 11am, 2:30pm, or the 6:15 night dive; dives are interchangeable with a $3.00 surcharge for the night dive. Good shore diving is also available, although we only managed to do the guided Mandarin tour for $25 extra—well worth it, with a maximum of 4 divers plus 2 dive guides to spot the Mandarin fish. When the Mandarin fish were finished doing their thing, we still had half an hour for a short night dive, finding things like pygmy pipe fish—talk about tiny!

One of our best dives was the second dive of the week. The visibility on most dives was poor, sometimes only 20 feet, but our guide, Andi, found a carry crab with a sea urchin on its back, a cockatoo waspfish, easily mistaken for a flopping brown leaf, Banggai cardinalfish wearing sequined Broadway show costumes, a ½” long juvenile barramundi cod, 2 robust ghost pipefish, and porcelain crabs hiding beneath their protective anemones. This dive truly seemed like it only lasted five minutes, although dives actually lasted 60 to 70 minutes. Other dives produced pygmy seahorses, coconut octopus, usually living in cans and shells, and strange scorpionfish like rhinopias, Ambon scorpionfish, and dwarf lionfish, only 2 inches long.

We did experience a couple less interesting dives, usually when the guide was primarily hunting for mimic octopus or the wonderpus. They covered large areas of the brown sandy bottom more quickly, with little time spent hunting for other things.

All this critter hunting makes a diver mighty hungry and the meals did not disappoint. The breakfast buffets offered various juices and fruits, toast, cereal, freshly made rolls, yogurt, and made-to-order eggs and pancakes. Lunch buffets consisted of several chicken, fish, or vegetarian offerings, 2 salad choices and 2 dessert choices. When guest numbers were down, slower menu lunches substituted for buffets. Dinners were sit-down with choices of salad or soup, 4 entrée choices and 2 dessert choices. Service was fast and I enjoyed just about everything I ate, especially the tofu and fish choices.

Diving was as organized and efficient as the meals. There was a large white board in the gear area with boat and site assignments. Open lockers were assigned to each room. A large camera room was between the lockers and dive shop. Staff loaded everything—we put on our wetsuits and waded the few steps to the covered long boat. There were never more than 7 divers on a boat with a guide for every 2-4 divers. One diver on our boat had hired a private guide. Rides were 5-20 minutes. Entries were a choice of step-in or back-roll. We didn’t wander far from slow-moving Andi, as he had the “eye” for critter spotting; later in the week we were finding neat stuff on our own. At the end of each dive we climbed up the substantial ladder and were offered water and fresh fruit. Back at the dock, the crew washed our gear and carefully set cameras in a separate rinse tank.

The night boat dive is available with a minimum of 2 divers, the Mandarin fish dive only requires one diver, and self guided house reef dives are available 24/7. Nitrox is available and can be prepaid. Purchase one of their pointers—invaluable everywhere for nudging reluctant critters out momentarily for a photo.

Although it was the rainy season, we experienced little rain and spent quality time hanging out between dives pool side. There were few mosquitoes; malaria is not a problem in this area.

Water temperatures were a comfortable 81-84 degrees and 20-50 foot visibility was normal; sometimes it was hard to keep the guide or my buddy in sight. Occasionally a diver in our group disappeared but usually found another group to hang out with. Twice we had to wait 10 minutes for other dive groups to exit the water before entering—no more than 15 divers are allowed in the water at the same time.

After the morning and 3pm dives, snacks are available in the restaurant, along with 24 hour tea and coffee.

My only concern was the steps to the rooms, not uniform and poorly lit at night. I managed to misstep and fall down a couple steps, spraining a wrist and ankle, luckily not bad enough to keep me from diving. A light is an absolutely necessity.

So, was the 30+ hour trip worth it? You bet. We’ll be going back.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Bahamas, Caribbean, Malaysia, Cocos, Maldives, Galapagos, etc.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, cloudy Seas calm, no currents
Water Temp 84-86°F / 29-30°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 20-50 Ft/ 6-15 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 60-70 minutes.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

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 N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments No rinse buckets on the boats, but dive sites were close to the resort. Huge camera room with 220 and 110 outlets, and dry towels handy.
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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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