Indonesia: Sulawesi - July 2007
Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text:
I moved to the island of Lembeh, on the west coast of North Sulawesi (Indonesia), just in front of the big port of Bitung. At the bottom of the strait, hidden in the black sand, live small underwater monsters that are the joy of photographers.
In the heart of the Lembeh Strait
In this month of July 2007, I put my bags down for a few days in Divers Lodgeon the island of Lembeh (North Sulawesi, Indonesia). Rob, the Dutchman who runs this small diving resort with his Indonesian wife Linda, picked me up in Manado and drove me to the port of Bitung.
Then, the crossing of the strait to the resort on the island of Lembeh takes 15-20 minutes.
I had booked from France, just before leaving, a small package "3 days diving + 4 nights" via his website, having learned, during my e-mail exchanges with Christiane de Froggies that Rob was full for the month of July from the 6th ...
Wow! It was a close call. I thought I would just show up and check out the place, as I often do, but I almost missed the opportunity to dive in the Lembeh Strait.
And that would have been a pity, really. These will be the most extraordinary dives of my stay in Sulawesi...
In Lembeh, there are almost only luxury resorts, not in my budget. Divers Lodge is one of the few affordable diving structures, with the Sulawesi Dive Quest neighbour.
Rob and Linda's little resort is a haven of peace, nestled in the middle of the greenery. Its pretty wooden bungalows, tastefully furnished, are equipped with all the comforts (real shower and hot water, aaaahh!). They all have huge bay windows with an exquisite view on the small bay with jade waters, on the ocean side, lined with coconut trees.
Clarification. As a reminder, this article dates back to 2007 and the offer in Lembeh has grown a lot since then. There are now more choices of diving centers, for all budgets. In 2010In 2017, I went back to Divers Lodge, which has kept very affordable rates, always with the possibility of private underwater guide or in very small group, a happiness for underwater photographers...
Delicate attention for underwater photographers: there is a real power strip in the chamber, to recharge the batteries.
I enjoy the quietness of the place. Here, we are far from the crowd and the bustle of the port. Simple luxury, calm and pleasure...
the Divers LodgeThe resort is isolated on the southern part of Lembeh Island. I immediately get along well with Teresa, a Swiss woman from Zurich, very funny, who has been coming here for many years to take underwater pictures.
She is a fanatic, with more than 700 dives in the Strait... Teresa is equipped with a camera much bigger than my compact, with a big housing and an external flash. She makes great pictures, which she also puts online. Her personal website, here: Starfish.ch.
Diving in the Lembeh Strait is totally different from diving in Bunaken. Here, it is muck-diveThis is literally "diving in the mud". That is to say that instead of diving on drop offs or a reef, we explore a bottom which is not really mud, but a substrate of sediments and sand, here black volcanic, with its lot of detritus related to the activity of the port and the villages nearby, in a water often very charged with particles and debris...
And by swimming gently, above this not very clean bottom, we discover a thousand and one weird underwater creatures, as we can't find them anywhere else, hidden in the debris or under the sand...
Suddenly, a leaf starts to swim (leaf-fish). A seahorse that surreptitiously detaches itself from a piece of yellow algae. A scorpion fish that emerges from a cloud of gray sand. A toad-fish or frog-fish (antennae), hardly visible against a piece of rock, waving its lure, a kind of mini fishing rod attached to its head, which allows it to attract its preys close to its mouth...
It is really extraordinary!
Lembeh, a paradise for underwater photographers
Here again, the trained eye of our Indonesian guides is indispensable... Teresa and I have a guide and a boat all to ourselves. It is, as at Froggies, diving luxury, I must say.
Our guide, Atu, is a young Indonesian with a hesitant English, but very good at finding the bugs we want. These ladies want a hairy frogfish (hairy frogfish, hairy or hairy, as you like) for the morning dive? No problem, you just have to order him to get the baby... Atu finds everything!
Lembeh is really a paradise for underwater photographers. I enjoy it, despite the water being rather "cold" for my taste, in this season, i.e. 25-26°C maximum. I go out shivering at each dive, in my too thin 3 mm wetsuit (which is actually a cheap surf suit, and not really adapted for diving).
All these particles in suspension in the water gave me an otitis (a classic among the small ailments of divers). I treat it properly with the appropriate drops, which have the evocative name of Ottopain (the equivalent is marketed in France under the name of Panotile). Atu is careful to always wear a hood. Like that, he doesn't catch an ear infection...
Other articles about Lembeh Strait
→ Rusty cargos and black sand
→ Nudibranchs forever
→ The mini-monsters of Lembeh
See also → All my articles about Lembeh