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Dive Review of Two Fish Divers in

Two Fish Divers, Feb, 2008,

by Michael Wood, WA, USA (Contributor Contributor 18 reports with 10 Helpful votes). Report 3862 has 1 Helpful vote.

No photos available at this time

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 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Two Fish—Double the value, double the underwater diversity, double the dive guides, double the personal service, double the experience and fun. Nigel and Tina have put together a top notch experience in the world’s most biodiverse dive environment. Everything is as promised, and then some. Super-friendly dive guides (one per two people, and they are AMAZING at finding whatever critter you want), who even carried my big camera housing to the boat for me when we had to trek out to the dive boat at low tide. Accommodations are good—much better than one would expect in a third world island in the middle of one of the remotest locations in Asian diving.

We paid one quarter to one-half of comparable dive vacations in the Caribbean and many other Pacific destinations and live-aboards. We got to do three full days of world-class, incomparable muck diving, (I shot macro only in Lembeh Strait),a 15 minute boat ride from Bitung, which is an hour or so drive from the Manado airport. Dive guides Franky and Opo in Lembeh were fabulous—patient and accommodating your every need and desire. Lembeh only holds about 8-10 people.

For our 5 days of diving at Bunaken Island, the resort is larger and more developed, with large common areas, walks, cottages and both standard and budget rooms (shared baths). We stayed in a cottage, which was very nice, with the ocean waves lulling us to sleep and gently waking us up in the morning. There is great wall diving here with biodiversity like I’ve never seen in the Caribbean (my main haunt, and I’ve been just about every big diving attraction there). Currents can be a challenge at times, and visibility is variable during rainy season, but still good, by and large. A highlight was our guide Apa (pronounced Ah-pay) found not one but two different Hippocampus (world’s smallest seahorse, ¼ inch long) and I got a decent macro photo of it, amazingly. Apa was the best dive guide I have had in 20 years of diving.

By the way, if you are the only one who wants to dive in the afternoon, or the Mandarin Goby dive (5:15pm) or the night dive (6pm), there is no minimum number so they will take you—just ask ahead of time. Same goes for going to and from Lembeh—if you need to go, they take you. One transfer is included in your package price. Additional transfer costs are reasonable. Extra dives are on half to one-quarter of the Caribbean.

Tina and Nigel (Tina is known as “The Big Boss”) have done a fantastic job of recruiting and training their staff to be customer-service oriented. After 3 days of diving Lembeh Strait (that’s just about right, in my mind), we were taken by boat back to Bitung and met by car at the harbor and transported to Manado harbor. There we were met by Rifka, a smiling (and diving) hostess. All of our bags were handled for us and everything was made easy. The 45 minute ride out to Bunaken Island can be a little rough, but the drivers and scouts (they have to have someone at the front of the boat at all times scouting for logs floating in the water) are very skilled and hard-working. The staff to diver ratio is better than 1.5+ to 1, and Bunaken only holds 21 guests at maximum. We were there at rainy (low season) which made it very easy to get to know our fellow divers.

It is a long haul from the U.S., but clearly worth it for a two-week vacation. We overnighted in Singapore so we had a day to wander and get used to the time change. Most do not recommend going through Jakarta, especially for Americans right now.

The only things to be aware of is that Two Fish does not have hot water nor nitrox, so if these are mandatory, you’ll have trouble finding it elsewhere on Bunaken as well. The water isn’t cold, but cool and very tolerable. They’ll even bring you a big bucket of hot water, if you request it. The food is good, fresh and varied, and they will make vegetarian meals upon request and some of the meals are all vegetarian, but you can request some animal protein, e.g. an egg. It’s served buffet style with fruit for dessert. There is a nice wrecked schooner in Lembeh, by the way. The dive boats are sturdy old Indonesian crafts with cover and outboard motors.
All in all, the best diving I have ever experienced, and all of the other well-traveled guests I talked to don’t disagree. Friendly, attentive, with long dives (I did 21 in 8 days, often over 1 hour), and fun evenings. I talked to several who have dove the Great Barrier Reef on liveaboards, and all said Two Fish was head and shoulders better. Only Palau or Papua New Guinea seem to compare, which are even harder to get to and much more expensive. Don’t waste your money on a Lembeh Strait liveaboard, by the way. Two Fish Lembeh is a much better, more comfortable, much cheaper deal and the dive sites are only 5-15 minutes away anyway! No need for an expensive liveaboard.

All I talked to concur that the safest and easiest (not always the cheapest) way to fly into Manado is via Silk Air (a Singapore Airlines subsidiary) through Singapore. Coming from places that have non-stops to Singapore, I’m told the fare was the same into Manado as into Singapore on Singapore Airlines.

Thank you Tina and Nigel. I will return again for an even longer stay in the future.

Michael Wood
Edmonds, Washington USA

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving All over the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather rainy Seas calm, choppy, surge, currents, no currents
Water Temp 82-82°F / 28-28°C Wetsuit Thickness 2
Water Visibility 50-100 Ft/ 15-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Dive your computer.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 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 4 stars
UW Photo Comments Best macro photography anywhere--esp. nudibranchs, lionfish, scorpionfish, seahorses, clownfish/anenomes at Lembeh. At Bunaken, wall diving photos with larger fish, wide angles, giant clams, diverse fish and soft/hard coral life. Brilliant colors.
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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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