Div­ing in Lem­beh at North Su­lawesi

Bali & Beyond - - CONTENTS - By Wira Wjoga

Ashort two and a halfhour flight from the sun-drenched beaches of Bali will take you straight to the world­fa­mous Lem­beh Is­land, one of the best div­ing des­ti­na­tions in North Su­lawesi. Though Lem­beh is quite pop­u­lar among macro un­der­wa­ter pho­tog­ra­phers al­ready, this area how­ever is still less known among In­done­sians and tourists alike. Com­pared to its neigh­bor Bu­naken, renowned for its crys­tal clear wa­ter, beau­ti­ful corals and its prox­im­ity to Manado, Lem­beh still re­mains un­known to some, even to this day.

Most pop­u­lar dive sites in gen­eral share three com­mon qual­i­ties; crys­tal blue wa­ter with clear vis­i­bil­ity, gor­geous coral reefs and a va­ri­ety of marine life. These qual­i­ties can be found in Bu­naken along with its breath tak­ing white sand beaches. Lem­beh, on the other hand, is a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent with black sand on the bot­tom of the ocean and lush for­est on the land. How­ever, the wa­ter clar­ity is still ac­cept­able, mak­ing it one of the most dis­cussed dive sites among un­der­wa­ter pho­tog­ra­phers.

Fa­mously known as the “Macro – Heaven of the World” and hav­ing

been cov­ered in many un­der­wa­ter fo­rums, this tiny is­land on the north­ern tip of In­done­sia at­tracts pho­tog­ra­phers from all over the world ev­ery year. Lem­beh is also rel­a­tively close to Manado, the cap­i­tal city of North Su­lawesi, and can be eas­ily reached with a flight from Jakarta, Sin­ga­pore and other ma­jor cities in Asia – which adds another rea­son why Lem­beh is worth a visit.


The to­pog­ra­phy of Lem­beh dive site is mostly gen­tle slopes or flat with black sand on the bot­tom that makes a con­trast­ing back­ground for un­der­wa­ter pho­tog­ra­phy. In most of

my dives in Lem­beh, there was lit­tle cur­rent or al­most none. The dive site has healthy sur­round­ings that al­low crit­ters to ex­ist in more than a fair num­ber. So, as you dive deeper into the ocean, pre­pare your­self for a real chance to en­counter some of the rarest crit­ters in the world which may not nor­mally be seen else­where.

Rare crus­taceas, unique mol­luscs and colour­ful shrimps such as Boxer Crabs, Tiger Shrimps, and Blue Ring Oc­to­pus will greet divers in the deep. Lem­beh wa­ters are also home to rare bot­tom dwellers such as hairy frog­fishes – if you’re lucky, you can cap­ture a photo of the elu­sive Black Hairy Frog­fish. Fam­i­lies of nudi­branchs also swim freely around the Lem­beh site, with the uniquelyshaped Me­libe Cole­mani be­ing one of the stars.

Div­ing in Lem­beh is not only a nor­mal dive trip where you can just book, come, dive and go home, but it is also a get­away where un­der­wa­ter pho­tog­ra­phers, ama­teurs or pro­fes­sion­als, meet – which means, your non-div­ing time can be just as ex­cit­ing as your div­ing, if not more, with all the dis­cus­sion about un­der­wa­ter pho­tog­ra­phy.

Most of Lem­beh dive es­tab­lish­ments are lo­cated along the coastal area on North Su­lawesi in close prox­im­ity to Bi­tung Port that over­looks the small is­land. There are also dive re­sorts avail­able on Lem­beh Is­land. And af­ter hav­ing a spec­tac­u­lar div­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, don’t for­get to visit the nearby Tangkoko Na­tional Park to see other unique crea­tures. Here, the world’s small­est pri­mate Ter­sier as well as other rare mam­mals and birds such as Black Ma­caque, Cus­cus and Ma­leo birds await to greet you in their nat­u­ral habi­tat.


Fly to Sam Rat­u­langi Air­port in Manado ei­ther from Bali, Jakarta, Surabaya or Sin­ga­pore. Lem­beh is about one and a half to two hours away by car with ad­di­tional five to fif­teen-minute boa­tride if you are stay­ing in one of the is­land-based re­sorts.


Ac­ce­si­ble by boat di­rectly from each re­sort, Lem­beh dive sites have ac­cept­able wa­ter clar­ity with gen­tle or no cur­rent, mak­ing div­ing in Lem­beh rel­a­tively easy and quite re­lax­ing. The main dive ar­eas are be­tween 10-25 me­ters deep.

Yel­low Pygmy Goby with eggs

Pygmy Sea­horse

Har­le­quin Shrimp

Sponge Coral Crab with eggs

Tiger Shrimp

Tar­sier Mon­key

Blue Ring Oc­to­pus

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