Manado & Lembeh by Liz Taylor
This was muck diving proper!!
Manado was our first port of call. The resort was set in lush gardens and we had a beach front bungalow overlooking the Resorts private beach. Truly idyllic laying on the loungers on our private balcony. What’s this diving lark??
The next morning after breakfast outside on the terrace we got ready for our first dive, not knowing what to expect. The Vis was quite cloudy was this going to be a disappointment? But No, the dive was full of surprises just waiting for us to find. Routing around in the volcanic sand we found feisty striped eels, gold lipped sea squirts, many different nudibranch, basket stars and lion fish. We then swam over to the coral wall and saw shoals of small blue trigger fish, and striped mullet, dotty backs. Anemone fish in abundance in both carpet and snake lock anemones.
This was our first introduction to muck diving and Alan and I couldn’t get enough of it! The variety of critters and fish was staggering, and to be perfectly honest many we would have missed if it wasn’t for our guide. It didn’t seem to matter that the vis was murky as you were looking for the small things you didn’t need crystal vis and I don’t think either of us felt the need to look out into the blue. The second and third dive of that day did not disappoint either.
Day 2 we went to Bunaken Island and dived the stunning coral walls, full of hard corals not the blowsy soft corals of the Red Sea. Here turtles and barracuda were the order of the day. Again the critters were there for us to see. Sea snakes swam amongst the coral heads and a group of squid, played in our bubbles. We alternated days between muck diving and the wall diving on Bunaken Island a perfect combination and a great variety of sea life both vertebrates and invertebrates. When it was time to leave I really didn’t want to go for I thought the rest of our holiday in the Lembeh Straits could not equal our week in Manado.
How wrong I was! This was muck diving proper!! On our first dive all I saw at first was sand, sand and more sand what had we come to? Not a coral in sight. AND then the dive came alive pistol shrimp, watchman goby; flamboyant cuttlefish, pipefish; seahorses spotted rays octopus and lots more and that was just the first dive. We were asked to put up our wish list on the white board and the guides would try and find them for us. By the end of the day my wish list was complete except for the Bobbit Worm as they only come out at night, but surely enough they were waiting on our night dive.
I scoured the fish guides to find something our guided wouldn’t find and thought I had found it with a hairy frogfish. The very last day we were there it was waiting for me flashing its lure and yes it actually caught something.
I could bore you rigid with a list of varieties we saw, but you need to go there and experience it yourself. It is staggering. My advice to anyone going, include a small magnifying glass in your dive kit some of those critters are very small, and I don’t think I would have been truly able to say I saw the pygmy seahorses if another diver hadn’t lent me their magnifier.
How about the guides? They were truly amazing, extremely competent and very friendly and knowledgeable. Although you dived in groups the maximum number they would take in any group was 4. Photographers eat your heart out, they could not have been more patient for you to get that perfect shot. Back on board the main boat there was always help with the cameras and suggestions on setting etc. to improve your technique. In fact this two centre holiday is going to be very hard to beat. BUT I’ll keep looking, I just wish there was more time!!
Liz and Alan stayed 7 nights each at both Eco Divers Manado & Lembeh, and enjoyed a total of 36 fabulous dives. Including flights, transfers, full board and dives this would currently cost from £2295 per person.