Adventure: Lembeh Diving Trip Report
Manado and especially the Lembeh Straits is probably to best muck diving anywhere in the world. My trip to this lesser known diving destination is still one of the highlights of my life.
The Lembeh Straits has hundreds of underwater varieties which you will most likely find nowhere else in the world. As one highlight of the trip we found a new species of blue spotted octopus – the size of which is no bigger than that of man’s thumb. But I’m getting way ahead of myself.
My trip to this far out destination was fraught with problems. Half my gear never made it off the flight. Even before the flight, I had to cancel the pre-arranged organised trip with a group of 22 divers since work interfered with the intended departure dates. Me and a friend was going to go by ourselves, but he got a very serious case of pneumonia and was unable to join. I decided that even though its unbelievably sad, that I’ll go by myself.
I arrived in Manado very tired after a lengthy flight, and was greeted by the most friendly and hospitable guest you can imagine. After the most thorough interrogation of my diving credential I have ever experienced (which is a good thing) I was allowed to dive early the next day.
The operation works as follows – which is a little unconventional. You take a speed boat out to a permanently moored boat laying in the middle of the straits. You spend the entire day on the boat doing your diving, having a great time with other guests and the best food you can imagine. Generally the food in Manado is top notch – really to my liking.
For the first couple of days I was completely by myself with no other guests whatsoever. My host, Cary was absolutely incredible and really made me feel at home. I thoroughly enjoyed the couple of days with her and her diving team by myself. Since I was the only guest for the first couple of days, I had my own personal dive guide – Horan – an exceptional gentleman and excellent diver – to guide me through the party place that is the Lembeh Straits.
I saw hundreds – no exaggeration – of underwater species I have never seen before. Things like hairy frogfish, extra-ordinary pipefish, wonderpuss, bobbit worms, many different filefish, cowfish, and boxfish; bubble shrimp, tiger shrimp, crinoid shrimp , anemone shrimp, many other shrimps and crabs; bengai cardinalfish; many different gobies and blennies; snake eels, garden eels, ribbon eels, various other eels. many, many mantis shrimp. Razorfish, convict blennies, schooling juvenile catfish, blue-fin trevally, Pegasus sea moth, demon stingers, flying gurnards, many lionfish and pufferfish, whip coral gobies, bristle worms, cuckatoo waspfish, many different clownfish/anemone fish, many large & interesting anemones, many nudibranchs. It was sooo simple. You dive down to 15 to 20 meters and for the next hour you have a constant barrage of incredible, albeit tiny things to see.
I did a night dive every night for a total of five dives per day. I just could not get enough. A very special sight on the night dives is the Mandarin fish. I probably spent three hours in total on this trip just watching them.
After some of the diving the locals took me to town on two of the evenings where I was able to eat and drink the most unusual concoctions. One night in particular, I was fed a heavy alcohol mix which left me exhausted and worm out the next day. Cary, my host, wanted to know what I had. I tried to the best of my ability to explain, but Horan was just sheepishly keeping quiet. It turned out that they fed me a local brew which is actually quite lethal. In high volumes it can turn a man blind! Many locals have succumbed to this after years of abuse of this lethal substance.
In total the trip lasted for 12 days including traveling time. It was an epic adventure – and a spot which I will most definitely find a way to return to. It’s truly highly recommended!
Here are some of the pictures of this trip.