Murex Bangka - An Exceptional Snorkeling Experience

Sarah tells us about the amazing snorkelling at Murex Bangka in Indonesia, and how she has come to expect the unexpected!

  • Murex Bangka faces out over warm, aquamarine, tropical waters and just a step off the private white sand beach reveals a coral reef which is awash with color. It’s a favourite snorkelling spot of mine and depending on the tides it can offer aquarium like conditions through to a snorkelling drift experience across the small bay.

    The shallow water is packed with staghorn corals which are home to schools of hundreds, if not thousands, of colourful chromis that dance in the water column and then dart into the coral branches when you swim overhead. In between the dense patches of staghorns there are white sandy patches and coral bommies. The bommies are adorned with numerous species of both hard corals and vibrant soft corals. When the water is still, the bommies are excellent places for really examining the corals in detail and it seems like the more you look the more you see. On countless occasions I have been gazing at the corals only to notice a pair of eyes staring back at me!

    As if one incredible house reef wasn’t enough, recently Murex Bangka opened up a second house reef – located behind the resort in a secluded bay. To get to the best snorkelling spot on the ‘back house reef’ you swim out from the small landing beach until the reef starts to come into view (at low tide you may need to walk a short way until the water is deep enough to start swimming).

  • The new ‘Back House Reef’ features a stunning shallow coral garden which has some incredible patches of lettuce corals, anemones, staghorns and bommies, among which you’ll find small schools of fish and some of North Sulawesi’s interesting bottom dwellers.

    The Back House Reef is also the location of the Murex coral restoration area. Corals which are grown at the coral farm in front of Lihunu Village are transplanted here once they have matured enough to become part of the natural reef! There is an area of reef which suffered from storm damage in the past and the area is now recovering with the help of new corals from the farm beginning to take hold. If you’d like to learn more about corals, how to identify different types of corals and reef restoration, Murex also offer Ocean Gardener Courses.

    It’s possible to snorkel around the point, from one house reef to the other! The point is known as Tanjung Usi and the generous coverage of corals here is extremely diverse. The reef is home to a plethora of marine species and highlights include batfish, sweetlips, snappers, parrotfish, moray eels, Moorish idols, clownfish among the anemones, angelfish, butterflyfish, damsels, trumpet fish and stingrays on the sandy patches between the corals. Keep an eye out to the blue water for the chance to see passing eagle rays and hawksbill turtles on the reef or surfacing for air.

  • Of course, not all of Bangka’s best snorkelling sites are located at the resort, there are a catalogue of truly world-class snorkelling sites around Bangka Island and across the water on the tip of mainland North Sulawesi. The variety of sites which range from rock pinnacles through to sandy bottomed shallow spots and rocky reefs are just packed with marine life. Having snorkeled all over Indonesia, the snorkelling around Bangka is unrivalled for colour, diversity, vibrancy, and abundance of marine life. There’s always something to look at, always something to discover and snorkel trip and after trip I am constantly amazed by the fact that I am seeing something new or unexpected. I’ve come to realize that the only thing you can reliably expect when snorkelling around Bangka is the unexpected!

    My preference is always to make a two-location trip in the morning on the boat, which returns to the resort for lunch. It’s surprising just how much of an appetite you can work up on the water! Murex’s beautiful lunchtime buffets are served either in the restaurant or on the beach, so even when you are on land you are never far from the ocean. That leaves the afternoon free for relaxing, enjoying the beach and exploring one or both of the house reefs.

    There can certainly be no guarantees when it comes to what you might see in the ocean but dolphin pods, pilot whales and dugong are all known to frequent the area, turtles are relatively common and on numerous occasions I’ve been fortunate enough to see sharks in the deeper blue and larger than life stingrays cruising over the reef.

    One could assume that I have to give a glowing report of the snorkelling in the area where I work, but it’s actually the other way around. I fell in love with the underwater world in North Sulawesi and that’s why I chose to work there. If you are looking for an exceptional snorkelling experience in an idyllic white sand, tropical island location, then Bangka Island in North Sulawesi must be added to your bucket-list.

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