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Dive Review of Thalassa Dive Center/Santika Hotel in
Indonesia/Bunaken - North Sulawesi

Thalassa Dive Center/Santika Hotel, Jul, 2004,

by Gary Krippendorf, CA, USA (Contributor Contributor 14 reports). Report 1407.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments I planned a trip for 4 of us from the San Francisco bay area to go diving in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. After much research we decided to split our diving between 2 locations, Bunaken and Lembeh Strait. This trip report is for the first of the 2 places we visited, Bunaken National Park, which is north of the city of Manado.

I planned the Bunaken portion of our trip via e-mail with Simone, the general manager of the Thalassa Dive Center. Simone was very good at answering our questions via e-mail, and we booked the all inclusive “SHORT & SWEET” Package. She took care of everything, including arranging for our rooms at the Santika Hotel, bus pickup at the Manado airport, etc.

Everything went pretty much as I had planned. We flew from SFO via Seoul to Singapore for an 8-hour layover. The Ambassador Hotel is right in the Singapore airport so no need to clear immigration and customs. Our Silk Air flight from Singapore arrived at the Manado airport at 1:30 pm. We cleared immigration and customs, and were picked up by the Thalassa / Santika Hotel bus for the 45 minute ride to the resort. We checked in to our rooms, got our SCUBA gear and headed to the dive center. We finished our paperwork, etc. in time for a 6:00 pm night dive.

The Santika Hotel and restaurant were excellent, although the food service was a bit slow at times. The rooms were clean with room to move around, the restaurants had a mix of western and Asian dishes. The $10 massages available through the hotel were great.

The wind patterns in July prevented us from going to Bangka, so all our dives were done in the Bunaken National Park. The water was like a sheet of glass and most boat rides were 15-20 minutes to the dive sites. Our maximum depth at Bunaken was 90 feet, though we spent most of our time between 45 and 60 feet. There was a mix of walls and fields of coral. They have 6-foot tides, so currents vary by site and time of day. Out of our 10 dives, 3 had very mild currents and 1 had a strong current. Dalton and Djamal were our dive masters and were among the best we’ve ever had. They give good pre-dive briefings, which told us about the site and what kinds of things we’d see. Rarely were they wrong. Usually, we saw far more than promised.

The corals at Bunaken were the best I’ve seen. The variety and colors were spectacular. The dive where we had the strong current had visibility of about 100 feet. The dive lasted about 65 minutes and we probably drifted 2 1/2 miles without ever seeing sand. There was just more and more coral of all types and colors as far as we could see. Of course we saw lots of fish, too. Not bad for a 10 minute boat ride to the site.

On all of our dives, there were large schools of small and mid-sized fish everywhere. Lionfish, blue ribbon eels, and the many varieties of anemone fish were among my favorites. There was one super aggressive anemone fish that actually took a bite out of my finger for taking his/her photograph. Better to be bit by a 2 1/2 inch anemone fish than one of the 2 1/2 foot white tip sharks we saw at the next site.

There were really only two main problems with our diving at Thalassa. First, we were not there long enough. Three days and 10 dives just scratched the surface. I would still go to both the resorts we went to on our trip, but I’d go for at least a week at each. Second, we were in sensory overload. We saw so much on each dive that we couldn’t begin to log it all. The four of us would start talking about what we saw during the boat ride back to the dock and we’d keep coming up with more and more. Taking digital photographs was a big help, because it provided a record with a timestamp.

Would I go again? You bet!

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Cayman Brac, Dominica, Cozumel, Roatan, Sea of Cortez, Hawaii, Australia (GBR), Coral Sea, and PNG
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, noCurrents
Water Temp 82-84°F / 28-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 40-100 Ft/ 12-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Max depth of 110 feet, 3 to 5 minute safety stop, come back with 500 psi in tank
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 3 stars
UW Photo Comments Great place for underwater photo.
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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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