The Lembeh Straits in Manado’s Sulawesi region is one of the more well-known places to dive in Indonesia, and now I understand why – it truly is as awesome as people describe. The waters in the Lembeh Straits are quite calm as it is a sheltered stretch between the Manado mainland off the coast of Bitung, and Pulau Lembeh.
You mostly get muck diving here, which means fine sandy bottoms with little coral reef where you can find all sorts of creatures hidden in the sand. It also means that if you accidentally kick up the sand, you need to wait for the sand to settle before you can see anything.
Lembeh is about 1.5 hours drive from our resort at Cocotinos. We left the resort at about 7am every day to the jetty where our little dive boat awaited. We would spend all day out doing 3 dives before returning around 4-5pm, where we would take the long rush-hour drive back to Cocotinos in time for dinner. See my Cocotinos review here.
Here is the list of dive sites that we checked out in the Lembeh Straits:
Nudi Retreat is in a sheltered bay with a sandy bottom. We were the first boat out there that day and we saw a lot of interesting creatures here, different from that we had encountered on the Bunaken side.
Some interesting things I didn’t manage to get good pix of: We spotted a large octopus under a rock, and when it saw us, it darted very quickly to another hole, squashed itself in there while rapidly turning from dark brown to white and as we swam closer it shrank further into the hole.
And here’s a treat at the end of the dive – an electric clam! It’s not actually electric – the electric effect is just a trick of reflectors and light, you won’t actually get shocked if you touch it.
This was a purely black sand dive – there was little to no coral at all, just plain black sand, so it needed some careful spotting to look for creatures. Underwater currents were also a little strong at places, so taking pictures was tricky especially when you’re trying to stay still and not kick up sand.
This dive was the first one that I manage to spot something awesome! Check out the octopus I found:
Last dive of Day 1 – it was at a place called Police Pier where there were a lot of boats moored. It was also a bit murkier and you had quite a bit of trash floating around – the water didn’t feel as clean here but you still had lots of great critters hidden here.
This place had a sandy bottom and had lots of blue spotted stingrays quietly swimming along the seabed. They would come quite close – I would turn around and there would be a ray floating past my fin! Didn’t see anything particularly new here, lots of creatures we came across the day before – waspfish, ghost pipefish, frogfishes… still awesome though.
This site was a sloping reef with black sandy bottom.
The theme of this dive was OCTOPUS. It was a black sandy dive, and really we didn’t see that many creatures, but we spent quite a lot of time being enamored with the various octopi we came into contact with, including the elusive blue-ringed octopus that we came across quite by accident!
This was a bit of a decomp dive as we spent a bit too much time too deep, so we had to spend more safety stop time to get rid of the nitrogen. Things like these make me more aware of myself and my buddy and hopefully a better diver for the future.
Octopuses are mad smart. The one above carried its shell underneath its body to prevent any bottom dwellers from taking it by surprise!
And then finally… the blue ringed octopus! Looks harmless and quite a lot smaller than I thought it would be, but totally poisonous so I took my pix from a distance and zoomed in. The poison can apparently kill you in a few minutes so I wasn’t taking any chances!
I definitely want to go back to Lembeh again some day, there were so many things here to see and some we didn’t get a chance to, like the flamboyant cuttlefish and the mimic octopus/wonderpus and the rhinopias… I could go on! Perhaps in future we’ll stay at Lembeh so we can dive more of it…