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Dive Review of Lembeh Resort in
Indonesia/Lembeh

Lembeh Resort, Dec, 2012,

by Laura Austin, VA, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 9 reports). Report 6852.

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 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments We have to travel at Christmas time (our son is still in college) which isn't the best time for North Sulawesi, weather-wise. I had originally wanted to combine Lembeh with either Bunaken or Gangga, but worried that weather might disrupt the diving on the other side of the Strait (after reading other reports and having had the experience of being blown out by weather before) so opted to spend the full two weeks in Lembeh. Not sure if this was the correct decision, but the one time we tried to take the special three-tank dive to Bangka (out of the Strait) we had to turn back after the first dive due to chop and surge. Even going to California Dreaming wasn't easy, although we did make it there and to Angel's Window, for a little change of scenery.

We had a few rainy days, but the weather never affected the muck diving, which is why most people come to Lembeh. And it might have been off-season in terms of weather, but it was definitely the season for Blue-ring octopusi. We saw them nearly every dive; to tell you the truth, we started to get a bit tired of them. I was much more excited about the wonderpus, longarm, mimic, the coconut (awesome!) and even the one regular reef octopus we saw. (Didn't find a hairy or a starry, unfortunately.) And the frogfish were outstanding--(nearly)every kind--hairy, giant, painted, etc--and in (nearly) every color! Once we saw three giant green frogfish together--they got up and started to swim (who knew they could swim?) in a line before settling down again, still cheek to jowl. I dubbed them "We Three Men of Orient Are."

The classic muck dive sites are, frankly, depressing. They have that nuclear wasteland appearance--and with astonishing critters the result of it! It is absolutely amazing what variety and diversity of life manages to thrive in that environment. That said, I prefer the majority of the dive sites which include black sand, but also some rubble, and a little coral at the end--like a frothy dessert at the end of a big meal! This was our first dive trip to SE Asia and only our 2nd to the Pacific--so just seeing all the triggers and wrasses and gorgeous Bangaii cardinalfish was a treat.

Critters @ Lembeh--the dive operation--is OUTSTANDING. Lauren, the dive op manager, is wonderful and very responsive to any requests. She even gave me her own ear solution when I started having trouble with my ears. Much has been written of the dive guides and yes, they are just as good as everybody says. Ewan B is the BEST DIVE GUIDE EVER! Experienced, knowledgeable and very competent--the kind of guide you want not only to point out things you'd NEVER find on your own, but the one you want around if something goes wrong with your equipment, etc. He also wrote down everything we saw on his slate and gave it to me every day (we saw so much that I would forget otherwise; sad but true. And he knows the latin name of all the nidibranchs!)

We--being three of us--had our own dive guide, but it wasn't uncommon for two people to get their own dive guide as well. They are very strict about no more than four people per guide; once we had a full boat and they wanted to split up two lovely girls from Singapore so the numbers would be even. We instead asked that both girls come dive with us and the guides agreed, after seeing we were sincere and welcomed the addition to our little family.

They use (I think) modified traditional fishing boats, comfortable enough for the short distances they travel. They are all roll-off, which is only a bit of a problem with some of the smaller boats--the tanks are on the side, so after suiting up, you need to hoist yourself up to the rim (but they patiently help you with the maneuver.) The ladders could be improved--but you can take off your BC and tank in the water and they will hoist the whole thing up for you. I've never experienced that before, and I appreciated it very much! The crew also changes your tank for you and takes your equipment off and on the boat, rinses it and hangs it back in your personal cubby. All you have to worry about is your wetsuit, but they clean EVERYTHING on your last day and stick it in the compresser room so it gets as dry as possible. Outstanding service.

Most dive sites are only minutes away--but they provide fruit immediately after the dive. They also start handing out cups of water as soon as you get on the boat and as soon as you finish your dive. (very smart!) For the longer trips (California Dreaming, for example) they provide hot tea and cookies after the dive. Normally, however, you come back to the resort between your dive. Sit by the lovely pool while a friendly waitperson brings you a snack. Listen to the dive crew taking a well-deserved break, singing and playing sofly on their guitars. It's truly magical.

I LOVED Lembeh Resort. I don't believe we've ever stayed anywhere better managed or where we felt more welcomed and comfortable. Kudos to the managing team of Gizmo and Helen Gomez, but also to their Indonesian staff. They must be the friendliest and kindest (and most musical!) people on earth--I only hope they are as happy as they appear to be, because they deserve it. There wasn't a sour note among them--they really make their guests feel cherished.

We stayed in the cottages--the older ones and not the ones on the
cliffside. Huge and comfortable rooms, with lovely views; I admit that I was uncertain about showering outside at first, but totally fell in love with the experience. Picture a large, stone enclosure with lots of pretty plants and, more importantly, lots of hot water. Outstanding!

Food was very good (only a few misses) and there was plenty of it.
Breakfast and lunch are served buffet-style, while dinner was off a menu. They always have a mix of Western and Indonesian-inspired dishes (let's face it, most of us couldn't take the spiciness of an authentic Indonesian meal.) The guests were a mix of Americans, Canadians, Aussies, Brits, Germans, Swiss, Japanese and Singaporeans. Most of the guests self-segregate (they seem to arrange the boats this way, so all the English-speakers were together, as well as the Germans and the Japanese, etc--for obvious reasons.) Nice people--it's always interesting to meet other divers and these divers were a well-traveled lot, with good stories and experiences to share.

We flew Singapore Air and it was just as wonderful as people say. But it was still coach and it is still a long trip and we did deal with more than a few days of jet lag, both coming and going. We did a 2 day stopover in Signapore on the way to Lembeh and that was our biggest mistake. We should have stayed longer or done another stopover on the way back. Singapore is an amazing city--clean, crime and traffic-free, awesome food, interesting sights and a great walking city--in spite of the humidity and frequent drizzle. And Singapore airport--WOW!--the difference between Changi and JFK
is like the proverbial night and day. Seriously, I'd angle for an even longer layover in Changi, just to get a hot shower.

*Sorry, I'm not very good at judging distances or temperatures. Visibility was never more than fair and usually much worse. A couple of times, I rolled off the boat and lost my group or, more embarrassingly, started following the wrong dive guide! As for water temperature, there are a few sites (Nudi Falls, for one) where there are obvious upwellings (Is that the right word? They felt like thermoclines--brrr!) but mostly the water was in the high 70s-low 80s, I believe. Still, after repeated dives, I sometimes added my vest or a hood, and was glad I had brought them with me.
Websites Lembeh Resort   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Palau, Bonaire, Cozumel, Roatan, Utila, Cayman, Florida, Belize
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy Seas calm
Water Temp 0-0°F / -18--18°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 0-0 Ft/ 0-0 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions You need to pay attention to your PSI--the dives can be deep (every dive seem to go to at least 70 feet, often deeper) and every dive is at least 60 minutes, perhaps 65 or even 70. We frequently came back with less than 500 PSI--sometimes a lot less.
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 4 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 The photographer is king at Lembeh Resort. The dive operation is geared towards the photographer and the excellent dive guides are there to serve the photographers. If you are interested in UW photography--even if you don't particularly excel at it--this is the place where you need to be.
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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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