Weird and wonderful critters in Manado Waters

So I’m back from a great week of diving in Manado! It was a great week off where all I had to think about was eating, sleeping, diving, diving and more diving. Manado is a fabulous dive spot, especially those who like underwater photography and love the little weird and wonderful creatures unique to this area that you can’t always find in other areas.

I’ll talk a little more about the accommodation later, but first… the diving! The dive centre based in the resort is called Odyssea Divers and they arranged all our dives for us. They were really great, very professional and took good care of us – we always had water, fruits and biscuits between dives, and even had our towels and cups labelled with our names. All my gear was pretty well taken of and the boats we went out on were pretty decent as well.

We dived both in the house reefs off the Manado mainland, at the nearby Bunaken island and on 2 days we drove 1.5 hours over to Bitung on the east coast of Manado where we dived the Lembeh Straits. There was a pretty good mix of diving spots all around:  shallow coral reefs, wall dives and sandy bottoms so we got a good mix of critters both big and small. You probably only want to dive here if you’re a little more advanced as the sandy areas need you to have pretty good buoyancy; if you kick up too much sand, you’ll scare away the creatures and your photos are pretty much a bust because it takes quite awhile for the sand to settle back down.

Map of the Manado diving areas

The waters in general were quite warm averaging around 29 degree celcius – I was quite comfortable in my rashguards and board shorts but there were pretty cold spots underwater occasionally. Generally calm overall too, we had sunny days most of the time and not much strong currents on the surface or underwater.

A welcome sight every time you surface!


Here’s a selection of some of my favourite shots, you’ll see more photos and details in the upcoming dive logs.

That’s S and P as we enjoy the sunset after our check out dive
My best mandarin fish shot – They’re like, thumb sized? And really hard to photograph them mating above the coral!
This is a gigantic turtle, at least 1m in shell diameter!
Solo cuttlefish
Pregnant pygmy seahorse is about the length of one finger segment
Hairy frog fish is but one of many hairy ugly creatures underwater!
That furry orange creature is known as an orangutan crab
Octopus makes a break for it!
My favourite coconut octopus hiding in a clamshell
The elusive blue ring octopus is really not very large. This one was about the length of one’s palm perhaps? But it’s still one of the most poisonous creatures in the world so I didn’t dare get too close – this shot involved a lot of cropping
Ghost pipefish is leaf-like and completely easy to overlook


Our dive guide was PADI instructor James Mamoto, who not only was excellent at spotting tiny critters, he’s also somewhat of a whiz at underwater photography. Seriously, even with my old strobe-less camera, he still managed to coax some great shots out of it! He also gave us all great advice and guidance, and I think it definitely made a big difference in my photos in this trip. Check out his pix on his blog here! Also great was Mirzad or Aba, who had really great eyes for spotting the interesting teeny critters.

That pygmy was a twitchy bugger
Look at the rich colours he managed to get and compare that with my shot above!
That’s us with James on the far right and our other dive guide Mirzad or Aba on the far left

Overall I enjoyed my dive experience and am definitely looking forward to coming back some day! There are still lots of critters I haven’t seen yet, like the Rhinopias, Mimic Octopus or the Flamboyant Cuttlefish just to name a few, and I’d love to come back here in future!

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2 comments to Weird and wonderful critters in Manado Waters

    • Thanks Ellen! Yeah that was pretty cool… the Octopus was acting all ‘YOU CAN’T SEE ME NO YOU CAN’T’ in the clam shell… hilarious!

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