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Dive Review of Two Fish Divers in
Indonesia/North Sulawesi

Two Fish Divers, May, 2013,

by Sandy Falen, KS, US (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 27 reports with 16 Helpful votes). Report 7025.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments An Undercurrent review on Two Fish Divers inspired me to finally take the plunge and visit Sulawesi. This is a destination that takes considerable travel time, and depending on the resort you select, it can be enormously expensive. Two Fish is a great choice if you'd like to dive Sulawesi at a reasonable cost. It's also the perfect way to get a taste of more than one flavor of underwater Indonesia I split my time between Bunaken Marine park on the west, and the legendary Lembeh Strait on the east. (Two Fish also has a resort in Bali, but I'll have to save that for another trip.)

My adventure began by flying to Singapore, via Tokyo, on American and Japan Air. I spent a day there before traveling on to Manado on Silk Air (a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines). Travel was long, but not unpleasant, and Silk Air is certainly the safer choice among the airlines that serve Manado. Singapore makes for an interesting stopover and you'll marvel at the stunning Changi Airport.

Upon arrival at Manado, my friends and I were greeted by our driver, who delivered us to the Two Fish office in town. We killed a little time there before being escorted to the Marina Harbour, where we boarded a Two Fish boat bound for Bunaken, along with some of the considerable supplies it takes to host hungry divers.

The boat ride was close to an hour, and upon arrival at Two Fish Bunaken, we were greeted warmly but immediately corralled for an orientation, which included filling out forms (mostly with information that we'd already provided via emailed forms), and signing the usual waivers. Then we were directed to our cottages, where our luggage was promptly delivered.

The cottages are charming wooden bungalows, with a spacious veranda for lounging and for drying suits (a drying rack is thoughtfully included). The interior is roomy, with a large bathroom and a huge hot water shower. My cottage had an appreciated ceiling fan (there was no a/c but with the fan, it wasn't needed), and the availability of power outlets for charging was brilliant. Each cottage was equipped with its own fresh water cooler. The bed was a bit firm but perfectly fine, there was decent storage space, and the daily housekeeping service was quite good. The cottages are spread out through the property, with several of them situated near the pool & deck. The grounds were quiet and peaceful, and beautifully landscaped with myriad tropical plants and flowers. Wifi was pretty reliable, and available in the large dining/library/common area.

The dive routine includes two tanks in the morning and an optional, single-tank afternoon dive at around 2:30. Night dives are typically scheduled two nights per week. Diving is valet here you'll only carry what you want to take back to your room. Getting on/off the boat entails either a very short walk through the water, or a longer walk through the mangroves when the tide is out. The walk through the mangroves can yield some bonuses; one day a crew member spotted a blue ring octopus in the shallows near the back of the boat.

The diving in Bunaken was outstanding. Visibility was excellent, and the corals are the healthiest I have seen in a very long time. The walls and the reef tops are an absolute riot of color, with a stunning variety of hard and soft corals, anemones, sponges, and a circus of tropical fish. Diving along the walls sometimes involved a gentle and enjoyable current, seldom strong enough to be noteworthy. Our dive guide was dedicated to spotting miniscule baby seahorse, nudibranchs, ornate ghost pipefish, leaf scorpion fish, and miniature crabs. Take an underwater magnifying glass you'll need it to fully appreciate some of the tiny wonders of Sulawesi. Other sightings included longfin spadefish, clown triggers, titan triggers, cuttlefish, reef squid, fire and twotone dartfish, schooling razor fish, sweetlips, palette surgeonfish, shrimp gobies, occasional sharks, Napoleon wrasse, and many very large turtles. The list is endless, and you will find yourself using their handy library of fish ID books frequently.

The food at Two Fish Bunaken was good, although at times, it could have been more plentiful. The service was acceptable, if a tad unenthusiastic. This is in contrast to the dining at the Two Fish Lembeh resort (more on that later).

After five days of diving here, I wasn't at all bored, but it was time to switch gears and transfer to the Two Fish resort on Lembeh Island. Two Fish makes it easy on the day of transfer, we did our two morning dives, had lunch, and then hopped on the boat for the trip back to Manado, where we were picked up at the harbor for our overland journey to Bitung, and a very short boat ride to Lembeh. Upon arrival, we were yet again corralled and required to fill out forms identical to those completed at Bunaken. It was, frankly, an aggravation to be held captive this way after a three hour journey, and particularly when this was the third time I'd provided the same information (the first being the forms I'd emailed from home).

The resort at Lembeh is very similar to the one at Bunaken, although here, I had a standard accommodation, since there was not an available cottage. If you have a choice, upgrade to the cottage - they're roomier, nicer, and have better ventilation. The standard cottage had a large veranda with clothesline, a shared common area, and a fresh water cooler. Like at Bunaken, the grounds were beautifully maintained, with lush vegetation and colorful flowers. Wifi was available in the bar/lounge area, and while occasionally troublesome, it was usually quite reliable early in the morning.

As for the diving: It's a dramatic change from the clear water and gorgeous reefs of Bunaken to the muck diving on volcanic sand at Lembeh but it's terrific. This is what you've heard about for years, the famous Lembeh Strait, with its bizarre and fascinating critters that live in this seemingly barren seascape. We were entertained by mimic octopus, wonderpus octopus, coconut octopus, leafy filefish, striped catfish, countless nudibranchs, giant frogfish, ambon scorpionfish, devil scorpionfish, spiny waspfish, flying gurnards, pygmy seahorse, common seashorse, ribbon eels, barramundi, bangaii cardinal fish, and my new favorite creature, the mantis shrimp. With so many unique and entertaining creatures to spot, the hour and a quarter of bottom time melted away very quickly.

My one night dive in Bunaken was a snoozer, but don't miss the Mandarin Fish dive in Lembeh. The underwater setting isn't pretty, but the display put on by these stunning and mysterious fish is something to behold. When the sun goes down, those flamboyant and exotic little fish magically appear from the rubble to put on a memorable mating show.

Service on the boat was terrific at both Two Fish locations, and there was always plenty of fresh water, hot tea and coffee, and fresh fruit for the surface interval. The interval was always a full hour or more, making it easy to get in two 75-minute dives without pushing the limits. Nitrox is available at both locations, as well, but I decided not to bother, given the generally modest depths and the generous surface time.

My friends and I (along with other guests) thought the food at Lembeh was outstanding, and noticeably better than at Bunaken. The meals were more varied and more abundant, and the service was especially gracious and friendly. At both locations, lunch and dinner were buffet style, while breakfast was a combination of buffet items and cooked-to-order eggs and pancakes. There was always plenty of fresh water, and other assorted beverages in the cooler. The coffee was excellent, once I figured out that you essentially brew it in your cup.

At the end of our Lembeh stay, we were returned by boat to Bitung, where our driver met us and safely delivered us to the Sam Ratulangi Airport in Manado.

I made my accommodation/diving arrangements through the Two Fish website, and found them very responsive and helpful. You can save some money if you're willing to carry cash to pay the balance of your bill, since that eliminates the 5% up-charge for using your credit card. Overall, Two Fish is a bargain you could spend a month here for less money than a week at some of the well-known, high-end resorts in Sulawesi. I spent more on my airfare than I did for nine nights and eight days of diving. If you've dreamed of diving Sulawesi, but without the enormous price tag, here's your shot. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Websites Two Fish Divers   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving All over the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Fiji, Palau, Kosrae
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 80-83°F / 27-28°C Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 40-110 Ft/ 12-34 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Have fun and limit your time to one hour and fifteen minutes.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 4 stars
UW Photo Comments Bucket on the boat, and a large camera rinse tank on shore.
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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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