Visit this gateway to some of Northern Sulawesi’s best dive areas to discover unique rock formations, black sands teeming with critters and for the chance to see migrating sperm whales. Look closely to find seahorses and brightly-coloured frogfish or just admire the sea turtles and reef sharks gliding by.
Diving in Manado
Best time to dive
In northern Sulawesi, rainfall is lower than in other areas of Southeast Asia, thus, scuba diving in and around Manado is possible all year round. Around mainland Manado, the dry season runs from May to October with visibility of up to 50-metres. During the rainy season from November through to April, the rainfall can cause runoff from the mainland reducing visibility at some sites. Yet, the conditions at Bunaken and Bangka Islands are rarely affected. July through to August are the best months to observe sperm whales migrating at Bunaken and the perfect time to inspect the black sandy depths of Lembeh for its weird and wonderful creatures.
Types of diving
Scuba diving mainland Manado offers wreck diving of a 75-metre cargo ship and a search for orangutan crabs at Tanjung Pisok, a muck dive located close to the Sulawesi mainland. Take a boat ride to the nearby Bunaken Marine Park to experience Bunaken’s signature deep wall dives or head to the Bangka Islands to find yourself drifting in strong currents over bizarre rock formations. In Lembeh become accustomed to the lower visibility of muck diving and capture shots of elusive creatures on your camera. When scuba diving around Manado, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
What to see
Manado diving will showcase a range of macro life from nudibranch to octopus while heading deeper into northern Sulawesi seas will expose larger pelagics. In Bunaken’s strong currents you have the chance to spot large silvertip sharks and hammerheads while in the calmer waters to the south of Bunaken you can observe playful dugongs feeding on seagrass. Observe giant sea turtles resting on rocky ledges as eagle rays cruise past. If you are a fan of the small stuff, dive in the Lembeh Strait whose sandy bottoms reveal ghost pipefish, blue-ringed octopus and a vast array of frogfish in all different shapes and sizes.