Exploring North Sulawesi

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By Sarah Wormald

Are you planning your next tropical diving holiday? With the world at your feet and so many different types of diving to choose from, it can be tough deciding where to go.

Indonesia undoubtedly offers some of the world’s best diving and phenomenal diversity. Located in the Coral Triangle, Indonesia is home to some of the richest reefs on the planet and some of the most unique marine species known to man.

The Indonesian province of North Sulawesi lies in the heart of this rich region and offers incredible wall diving in the Bunaken Marine Park, a combination of wrecks, critters and reefs in Manado Bay, colourful coral reefs surrounding Bangka Island, and the world’s best muck diving in the Lembeh Strait. So how do you begin to choose which region to allocate your holiday time to?

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Photo by Markus Roth

Whilst many divers have heard of these world-class destinations, many may not realise the close proximity within which they are located. Taking a scuba diving holiday in North Sulawesi does not mean that you have to choose between locations – you can see all that is to offer and explore the areas that appeal to you in one trip.

Bunaken Marine Park was one of the first Marine Protected Areas in Indonesia – and it shows! Staggering coral walls that are teeming with life characterize the dive sites around this small island. The resident population of green sea turtles has gone from strength to strength and at some dive sites you’ll lose count of the number of turtles you see in a single dive.

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Photo by Hergen Spalink

Manado Bay is home to wide ranging marine life and diverse dive sites. Manado Bay is becoming increasingly recognized for its black sand muck diving sites, which are home to a plethora of unusual critters from numerous cephalopod species to seahorses, nudibranchs and crustaceans. The Molas wreck is an exciting wreck dive colonized by a myriad of fish and critters. To the South of Manado Bay lays Poopoh – a record breaking site where 385 different species of fish were recorded in just one morning.

Bangka Island is as beautiful underwater as it is on land. This white sand, paradise island is surrounded by kaleidoscopic, soft coral reefs. Schooling snappers, passing reef sharks, occasional dugongs and an array of reef fish and critters have all made Bangka Island their home. Bangka offers phenomenal diving coupled with the chance to completely get off the grid on this stunning, remote tropical island.

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Photo by Sascha Janson

The Lembeh Strait is home to highest concentration of rare and unusual marine life on Earth. Exploring Lembeh’s world famous muck diving sites is akin to opening a treasure chest of creatures. Even the most seasoned of divers can’t help but be impressed by the species found here: eight different species of frogfish, flamboyant cuttlefish, wunderpus, mimic octopus, blue ring octopus, bobtail squids, harlequin shrimps, tiger shrimps, three species of pygmy seahorses, countless species of nudibranchs, bobbit worms, Ambon scorpionfish and rhinopias – just to name a few!

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Photo by Sascha Janson

For some of us, the idea of moving from resort to resort can seem arduous, resulting in wasted diving days while making transfers and a lot of planning and additional stress. In North Sulawesi this does not need to be the case. Murex Dive Resorts offer a “Passport to Paradise” option which includes staying at Murex Manado (diving Bunaken and Manado), Murex Bangka and Lembeh Resort. Divers can choose the number of nights they wish to stay in each location and transfers between resorts are by boat and include two dives along the way! No wasted diving days, no logistical planning, no drying and packing gear and your dive guide will stay with you from start to finish. Dive your way, hassle free, from one place to the next. Two-resort combinations are also available.

For those who want to experience the full diversity of Indonesia, choose from up to 150 dive sites and maximise their diving opportunities, a Passport to Paradise is the dive trip of a lifetime.

For more information: www.MurexDive.com / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Ocean Geographic Explorer (OGX) is a diving adventure resource with a special focus on marine photography and ocean conservation. Our content is divided up into six primary categories: Travel, Sea Science,  Equipment, Photography &Video, Conservation, and Lifestyle. We endeavor be a portal for people with all levels of interest in the marine environment  to learn about and become part of a community of like-minded ocean lovers who enjoy sharing their knowledge of and experiences in our fascinating ocean world.

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