Scuba Diving Sulawesi
Sulawesi is home to some of the most varied and incredible diving in the world.
Sulawesi sprawls in the center of the Indonesian archipelago, a tortuous outline resembling a 600 mile (1,000 km) letter “K”, and one of the country’s most compelling regions. Nowhere in Sulawesi is much more than 100km from the sea, though an almost complete covering of mountains isolates its four separate peninsulas from one another and from the outside world. It is situated between Borneo and the Maluku Islands.
Sulawesi comprises four peninsulas: the North Sulawesi or Minahasa Peninsula; the East Peninsula or Central Sulawesi; the South Peninsula; and the South-East Peninsula. Three gulfs separate these peninsulas: the Gulf of Tomini between northern Minahasa Peninsula and East Peninsula; the Tolo Gulf between East and Southeast Peninsula; and the Bone Gulf between the South and Southeast Peninsula. The Strait of Makassar runs along the western side of the island and separates the island from Borneo.
HIGHLIGHT DIVE AREAS
The full spectrum of scuba diving activities is available in North Sulawesi. The diving ranges from the magnificent coral gardens of Bunaken Marine Park and Bangka Strait to the walls of fishes and underwater volcanoes of the Sangihe Islands to the unusual and rarely seen critters of Lembeh Strait.
- Bunaken National Park, including the five islands of Bunaken, Manado Tua, Mantehage, Nain and Siladen. Although each of these islands has a special character, it is the aquatic ecosystem that attracts most naturalists.
- Bangka and the surrounding islands lie off the northern tip of Sulawesi. They are quite exposed and often get strong currents which can come from all directions. Big pelagics come in to feed here and the reefs are alive with color. The islands in the group consist of Bangka, Talise, and Gangga.
- Sangihe & Talaud and also called “Ring of fire” because of the many volcanos which are still active UNDER water. These groups of islands lie off the very north coast of Manado, which seem to form a kind of bridge with the very southernmost islands of the Philippines. Diving is possible only by a live-aboard.
- Lembeh Strait – the undisputed King of muck diving destinations and one of the most interesting marine habitats. Although most divers come here for the muck diving, Lembeh has much more to offer Contrary to general perception, the Lembeh Strait also offers excellent wall, reef, pinnacle and even wreck diving (There are three World War II wrecks in the Strait) with good visibility.
This area is not very well known, but a very interesting place for diving. In the Bay of Tomini, located between the north and east arms of Sulawesi lies a large group of islands – the Togian islands – an isolated area with a beautiful reef habitat, interesting endemic marine species and lots of fish. Traveling further to the east yet are the Banggai islands, best reached by live-aboard.
The island group comprises of 143 larger and smaller islands where only 7 are inhabited. It is a tropical paradise with beautiful beaches and pristine reefs. Now a National Marine Park covering the entire WaKaToBi District, it comprises a total of 1.4 million hectares, of which 900,000 hectares are decorated with different, colorful species of tropical coral reefs. WaKaToBi is widely recognized as having the highest number of reef and fish species in the world.
DING SEASON: It is possible to dive year-round. Rainy season is from November to March. Dry season is from April through October.
VISIBILITY: Visibility averages about 20m/66ft – 30m/100ft. In Lembeh, the visibility can drop to 5m/17ft.
WATER TEMPERATURE: In general the water temperature is consistently between 80-86F (27-30C) year round. For Lembeh Straight and WAKATOBI, water temperature can be as low as 77F (25C) during June – August.
SKILL LEVEL: Dives for all diver skill levels are available.
CLIMATE: Indonesia has a tropical climate with just two seasons. The dry season starts in April and lasts until October, which is the best time to travel, though monsoon season, from November and March is fine to travel as well.
LANGUAGE: Bahasa Indonesia is the national and official language in the entire country.
ELECTRICITY: Electric power supply is 220 volts in all regions. So be careful with your 110-volt electronic equipment. The sockets will only fit with with two pins rounded-tip plugs (technically known as Type C, E, and F) or use adaptors.
CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS: The Indonesia Rupiah (Rp) is also called IDR. IDR and US$ are the most acceptable currencies. Most tourism resorts have money changer facilities. Credit cards are only acceptable in big hotels, restaurants, shops and traveling agencies. When you are traveling to remote areas it is advisable to use local currency. Many small vendors require cash, either rupiahs or US dollars.
GRATUITIES: Most hotels add a 10% service charge to the bill on top of the 10% tax. In restaurants where service charge is not added, a tip of 5 to 10% on the bill will be appropriate depending on the service and type of establishment.
PHONE & INTERNET SERVICE: Country code +62. Most hotels and many restaurants in large cities provide internet connections or WiFi. Pre-paid telephone cards, internet, and facsimile machines are available in the cities and larger towns.
VISA & PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS: All travelers to Indonesia must be in possession of a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of arrival, and have proof (tickets) of onward or return passage. Visa upon arrival is $35 Payable by USD cash only. Please check with your country if you are eligible for visa upon arrival. Visa-on-Arrival are valid for 30 days and are extendable with another 30 days to be applied at Immigration offices in Indonesia.
CUSTOMS: Maximum items allowed by customs when you visit Indonesia, 1 liter of alcoholic beverages, 200 cigarettes OR 50 cigars OR 100 grams of tobacco, Reasonable amount of perfume per adult, meaning if you arrive drenched in perfume the customs probably will not mind you carrying loads of bottles, Cameras, video cameras, portable radios, cassette recorders, binoculars and sport equipments are admitted provided they are taken out on departure. They must be declared to Customs.
DEPARTURE TAX: An airport tax of IDR150,000 – IDR200,000 is levied by airports on departing passengers on international flights and IDR30,000-IDR75,000 for those on domestic routes. Airport tax must be paid in Rupiah cash.
GETTING THERE: There are 2 International airports in Sulawesi.
Manado, North Sulawesi: Sam Ratulangi International Airport (MDC)
Makassa, South Sulawesi: Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport (UPG)
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