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Dive Review of Murex Diving/Lembeh Resort in
Indonesia

Murex Diving/Lembeh Resort, Jul, 2005,

by Sean Bruner, AZ, USA (Contributor Contributor 16 reports). Report 1794.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving PNG, Palau, Galapagos, Roatan, Bonaire, BVI, Hawaii, La Paz, Cozumel, Jamaica
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, noCurrents
Water Temp 80 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 20 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions [Unspecified]
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 5 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 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities 5 stars
UW Photo Comments Separate rinse tank at the dock for cameras. The camera room was the best I've ever seen with long, large tables, good lighting, plenty of 110 and 220 outlets for charging, and compressed air for cleaning, drying.

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 5 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments We arrived at the Lembeh Resort in the early afternoon after driving one hour from the Manado airport and taking the 10 minute boat ride from the police wharf across the straits. We made it in time for the house dive at dusk and saw mandarin fish mating 100 meters from the boat dock.
The Lembeh Straits is a narrow body of water between the mainland port of Bitung and Lembeh Island. KBR Resort sits on the mainland directly across the straits from Lembeh Resort. There are also a couple of lesser resorts in the area. Although the straits comprise a busy shipping lane, with large ship traffic, as well as smaller transport and fishing boats, it is breathtakingly beautiful, with lush green volcanic mountains rising up from the blue water which leads out to the Molucca Sea to the east of Lembeh Island.
Diving in the straits is mostly in search of strange, exotic creatures, which can be found by the dozens in the black sand muck diving. There are also beautiful coral reef dives near the mouth of the straits to the north, and even a couple of wreck dives, which we did not do. The muck diving is superb, however. Fingered dragonets, mimic octopuses, flamboyant cuttlefish, various types of frogfish, ditto for ghost pipefish, mantis shrimp, pygmy and regular sized sea horses, and you might see all of the above on a single dive. Shooting with film is challenging, not because the subjects are difficult, to the contrary, they just sit in the sand while you fire away, but because you usually run out of film before the end of the dive and miss some subjects, which happened to me with the mimic octopus. Subjects you might shoot half a roll on in some other part of the world, here you only take a couple of shots of for fear of running out of film.
The Lembeh Resort sits on a hill overlooking the water and hills with a little cove where the boats dock. The rooms are like suites, with spacious bedrooms with king sized beds and a separate sitting room in front. The bathrooms are private, but outside, although covered from the rain, so the rooms dont get humid from the shower. There is a large veranda outside of the room, providing a breathtaking view of the straits. The grounds are immaculately kept, with dozens of flowering plants. Butterflies dart from flower to flower. The restaurant has a menu, so you can choose among quite a selection of western and Indonesian dishes. They offer an appetizer, soup, salad, main course and desert, and you can order any or all of it. We always left the table full. The food was good, although not gourmet. The fish, for example, was consistently overcooked.
There was a library with a large television, which offered DVD and video, as well as satellite tv. There are no tvs in the rooms. There is a camera room which is the best I have ever seen anywhere. Long, deep tables with shelves running above, plenty of outlets for 110 and 220 power for charging, well lit, and compressed air for cleaning and blow drying. There is a large rinse tank for cameras at the gear lockers. Each room is assigned its own gear locker and there is a large rinse tank for gear.
The dive operation is run by Murex Diving, the first in North Sulawesi. They have the most experienced guides in Lembeh Straits. The boats are spacious and comfortable, with tank racks, covered seating area, and plenty of shelves for dry storage. Although there is no head on board, the dive sites are all within 10-20 minutes of the resort. The crew is professional and helpful, and they set up your gear and take it out of the water, allowing divers to board the boat by the sturdy dive ladder without their tanks and bcs on. The dive guides were fantastic at finding and pointing out critters, and were consistently cheerful and helpful, always willing to do a night dive upon request, even though it added significantly to their day. We dove four times a day almost every day we were there.
The only negative I can say about our experience at Lembeh Resort is that there is an unbelievable amount of litter in the water. This comes from the fact that the straits are next to a major city and accommodates a lot of boat traffic. There are also villages along the shore. Indonesians, unfortunately, heave their trash in the water like a lot of other people in the third world. On any given dive, we would see plastic tarps, tennis shoes, car parts, and many plastic bags and bottles. It was very distressing. The only other negative was that upon leaving, the resort nickeled and dimed us in a way that left a bad taste. Most of the hotels in Indonesia add a 21% tax and service charge. The tax is 11%, but the 10% service charge is not mandatory and is simply an industry standard which helps the owners, not the employees, by subsidizing wages. Im sure some guests are tempted not to tip staff because of it. Also, we were charged a 3% fee for using a credit card, but if you tried to change dollars and pay that way, the rate they give you is 10% less than the actual exchange rate, making it better to pay the credit card fee. They also added a $10 charge for checking out outside of normal business hours and I noted that the exchange rate for the $10 was not at the rate given if you exchanged dollars, but at the actual rate. It all turned out to be not that much, but it still left us with an unpleasant feeling upon leaving. Overall, however, I highly recommend the Lembeh Resort and Murex Diving.
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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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