Diving in North Sulawesi : Bunaken, Lembeh, Bangka

There are 3 relatively close diving spots in north Sulawesi :

  • The island of Bunaken is right in front of Manado. Highly praised by the Lonely Planet. It’s the most popular in the region. Good for diving and snorkeling.
  • Lembeh is an island right in front of Bitung. Fantastic site for muck diving. Not much to do otherwise, including for snorkelers.
  • Bangka island : off Likupang. Some very good reviews but all options are pricey.

I dived Bunaken in 2015, Lembeh in 2022 and researched Bangga.


Lembeh is the best Indonesian site for muck diving (together with Ambon). I can definitely return again in the future. There is so much to see underwater.

I visited once in October 2022. We had several frogfishes :

Lembeh is also a good place to spot octopus, including the blue-ringed octopus :

I had my fair share of nudibranches :

As well as other critters :

Lembeh is not a very fishy place, but you are almost guaranteed to see Banggai cardinal fishes, endemic to Indonesia and one of my favorite tropical fish :

Dive resorts are built on isolated beaches and you cannot really go anywhere from here. As I had good experience in the past with 2Fish in Bunaken, I dived again with them in Lembeh (and I was again satisfied).

In October 2022 (including the returning guest discount) I paid :

  • 1’923’000Rp for 3 nights of food & accomodation (about 43€ per day).
  • 4’419’000Rp for 7 dives.
  • 630’000Rp for 3 days of gear rental.
  • 400’000Rp for the transfer from and to Bitung.

So overall about 500€ for 3 days.


I dived there in 2015 taking advantage of a 3 days weekend while I was living in Jakarta.

I dived with 2Fish Divers that were very professionals. Back then they had a budget room that was charged around 300’000Rp per day with 3 meals which was good to keep a reasonable budget.

Diving was good but I didn’t kept a long-lasting memory of it either. Never felt the urge to go back to Bunaken as opposed to Raja Ampat, Komodo or Wakatobi for instance.

Here is what I saw during 3 days based on my notes back then. Actually I realize that it looks pretty good :

  • Lots of wall diving
  • Some good macro life including nudibranchs, crabs and shrimps + ornate ghostpipe fish and pygmy seahorses.
  • The usual tropical reef fishes
  • An eagle ray, some white tips reef sharks, turtles.


Bangka is a more upscale diving destination that has good reputation but only expensive resorts offer diving there. Last time I was in north Sulawesi I checked :

  • Bastianos (they also have a resort in Bunaken and Lembeh) : 110€/day for accommodation. 47€ per dives + 20€ per day for gear.
  • Murex : 110€/day for accommodation, diving more expensive than Coral Eyes.
  • Coral Eyes : 110€/day for accommodation, 35€/dive + 20€/day for gear rental.
  • Blue Bay Divers : also 110€/day for accommodation.

It’s possible to get better deals by contacting directly the resort out of high season but it remains expensive.

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