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N. Sulawesi: Bunaken or Gangga??? (following 10 days at Lembeh)

Gangga Bunaken Lembeh

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#1 holloways

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Posted 06 May 2013 - 11:18 PM

I'm looking for advice about where to stay in North Sulawesi following 10 days of muck at the Lembeh Resort?   

 

My focus is on the diving & photography (rather than resort facilities), ideally staying close to the dive sites.  I want a nice place with a quality dive operation.   I'm looking for lots of fish, pretty reefs or walls (vs muck).  Should I focus on Gangga or Bunaken National Park?  Siladen Resort and Gangga Resort both look great - but I doubt I'd take advantage of any of their (or anyones)  resort facilties. 

 

 

If Bunaken National Park is the answer - should I stay on the island or mainland?  Which resort? 

Murex, Cocotinos, Minihasa Lagoon, Siladen Resort and Spa, Tasik Ria Resort, Bunaken Island Resort, Two Fish Divers?  Other??

 

Thanks in advance for your words of wisdom. :) 

 

 



#2 Luko

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 03:37 AM

Clearly in my mind, Gangga has an advantage over all others. If you say pretty reefs and lots of fish, that's exactly what Bangka area is all about. Don't look further, you can have a look in my gallery, I've been 4 times in Bangka, only once at Gangga, which is a little expensive for me since I am going 3 times a year in SEA, otherwise Murex Bangka is a fine midrange option with excellent guides.

 

First off Bangka/Likupang is my favorite dive place in the area, the one that allows you both wide angle coral reef and macro shooting.

Sahaung2 and Batu Pendita are probably two of the most colorful divespots in Indo outside Komodo and Raja Ampat, there are.at least three different dives with different lenses ranging from fisheye to 100mm  for the only Paradise Pier spot.

add on top Tiga Batu, Busa Bora, HBO, Demak, Tanjung Usi, Batu Mandi i could name ten spots that are all different but deserves a dive around that part, while for me almost every Bunaken dive look similar, like a swimming session against a wall. 

 

Secondly, I take Gangga island resort as the best organization for diving and the best boats in North Sulawesi.

 

If you want to have a look on some of my Bangka photos, it's here http://www.flickr.com/photos/luko/ look and click on the right handside for my UW Bangka set.


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#3 Luko

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 05:45 AM

A few Bangka area "pretty reefs" shots, just in order to illustrate my point above. You won't find those in Bunaken :

 

6226333853_668409c1fe_z.jpg
 

7181414129_72ff2c496f_z.jpg
 

6226334485_ece8219e43_z.jpg
 

7433921524_2c7a8c7083_z.jpg

 

 


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#4 holloways

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 07:37 PM

YOU ARE RIGHT!!!!  WOW.  I'm impressed.  Thank you so much.



#5 Nige Wade

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 12:28 AM

Santika resort with Thalassa dive centre is right on the northern Manado coast meaning the best Bunaken sites are only ten to fifteen minutes away and they run regular day trips to Gangga and Lembeh so the best of both worlds,
The sun sets directly behind Manado Tua here too giving you something to shoot topside before hitting the Bintang in the bar ... Perfect

There's also mangroves which are diveable at high tide right next to the boat jetty.

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#6 Interceptor121

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 02:23 AM


A few Bangka area "pretty reefs" shots, just in order to illustrate my point above. You won't find those in Bunaken :

6226333853_668409c1fe_z.jpg



7181414129_72ff2c496f_z.jpg


6226334485_ece8219e43_z.jpg

7433921524_2c7a8c7083_z.jpg


Am going to bunaken so now am a bit concerned
Shots similar to those I have take. Pretty much everywhere I have been it is close focus wide angle.
Does it mean there is no fish in bunaken?!

#7 JimG

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 10:23 AM

Have had two separate weeks diving Bunaken - last time was 2009. Personally I was disappointed in the fish life - lots of pretty, small stuff but very little of any size except the occasional very wary blacktip. Medium sized fish - eg butterflyfish and such like - were very wary and difficult to approach but then there is a lot of spearfishing goes on there so that is not too surprising. Local people on the Bunaken islands are allowed to spearfish to catch fish for subsistence but not for sale and we saw lots of them doing this.

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#8 Interceptor121

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 05:01 PM

Spear fishing is sustainable if done few diving and does not lead to little fish. Dinamite and nets instead decimate the animals Anyway I will report back my finding in a short time

Have had two separate weeks diving Bunaken - last time was 2009. Personally I was disappointed in the fish life - lots of pretty, small stuff but very little of any size except the occasional very wary blacktip. Medium sized fish - eg butterflyfish and such like - were very wary and difficult to approach but then there is a lot of spearfishing goes on there so that is not too surprising. Local people on the Bunaken islands are allowed to spearfish to catch fish for subsistence but not for sale and we saw lots of them doing this.


#9 Gary.Makai

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Posted 17 May 2013 - 01:39 AM

I stayed at Siladen island (in the Bunaken park) last year and it was great, good guides, great service, nice hotel, food good.



#10 BigJeff

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 01:59 AM

I have dived quite a few times in Bunaken, Gangga (Bangka) and Lembeh.

 

In the last few years I have mostly split my time between Gangga Island and Kasawari Resort Lembeh as I've found the variety of diving in the Bangka area to be much better than in the Bunaken area. I still visit Bunaken, but this is now a "day trip" from Gangga instead of staying there.

 

Over the last few years I have also seen more and more Lembeh type critters in the Bangka area.


Edited by BigJeff, 19 May 2013 - 02:05 AM.

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#11 SimonSpear

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 07:06 AM

Although I spent a few months in N.Sulawesi a couple of years ago I never actually managed to get to Bangka.  I loved Lembeh and could have stayed there a lot, lot longer but I was extremely disappointed with Bunaken and agree with most of the comments above - ie fairly pretty reefs with not a lot else happening.  Sure you get the odd turtle or even a shark now and then, but there is nothing really to write home about and the environmental situation is complicated to say the least.  It is possibly a great example of how a marine protected area can sustain a population while not being totally destroyed, but that does not necessarily make it a great diving location.  In its pristine state it could be spectacular with huge shoals of fish and pelagics, but that's just not the case and I'll definitely be trying Bangka next time as my break from muck!

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#12 vetdiver

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 10:14 AM

Another vote for Bangka over Bunaken, but I wanted to add something else...

 

My husband and I just ran a great workshop with a small group in Lembeh focusing on wide angle imagery - May of 2013, so we are just home.  Lembeh Resort helped us put this together, so they will know where we went and have guides adept in finding wide angle subjects and sites for you (I am sure other ops could do the same, of course).  There are FANTASTIC w/a opportunities to be had in and around the Strait, so don't discount it as all macro.  Following is a video we made using images from our participants - Andy and I each stuck in about 8 images, as well.

 

http://www.avitsky.c...58778&k=xQnnB7M

 

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#13 E_viking

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 01:18 PM

I would also put in my vote for Bangka over Bunaken, based on diving.

If you prefer small and nice Island resorts. Then Bangka has an advantage in my book.


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#14 holloways

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 10:29 PM

Thank you for your input.  I have it narrowed down to the following:   

 

  • Bangka Island:  Murex Resort
  • Bunaken (or thereabouts):  Village Bunaken, Bunaken Island Resort, Two Fish or Living Colours

 

Any strong opinions?

 

 



#15 Interceptor121

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 11:52 PM

Just back from 12 nights in Sulawesi I was at two fish resort in both Bunaken and Lembeh. I was expecting more schooling fish in Bunaken but I had to go all the way to Manado Dua or to Siladen to see more fish There were many turtles on the Bunaken sites on Lekuan III I had 8 turtles approaching on the same dive but other than a few napoleon wrasse it was mostly a lot of small fish Best dive sites on Bunaken was Mandolin where the current was pumping, Lekuan III and Sachiko. Siladen and Manado Dua offered more fish. The only schools of snappers, jacks and others I have seen were on Panalingan. One of the good things was the mandarin dive were I was on my own with the guide twice quite a change from other experiences with plenty of people trying to take a shot I have put together a short video of the mandarine dive here Flickr sets Bunaken Lembeh Lembeh is incredible for critters you literally get bored with sea horses and similar. There are also some good reefs but the visibility is poor so not that good for video maybe better for close focus wide angle All in all Lembeh is definitely a place to go for critter checklists as it offers everything, night dives are also extremely good for a change Bunaken seems to have suffered not only from fishing but there was a lot of trash in the water, whilst this was actually a feature on the black sand of Lembeh did not seem to help the ecosystem in Bunaken I have been in most places in Indonesia except Komodo and Ambon and so far the place where I have seen more fish has been Raja Ampat, all other locations do not compare slightly with the amount of life you have there. Comparing to other locations and excluding macro and weord critters Indonesia is not really a place for schooling fish based on my experience except RA

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#16 holloways

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 05:26 PM

Bangka Island seems to be winning this thread.... LOTS of support for Bangka. 

Where does one stay while on Bangka... and how rough is it?  (I have this view of living in a hut - maybe I'm way off)



#17 Luko

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 11:19 AM



Where does one stay while on Bangka... and how rough is it?  (I have this view of living in a hut - maybe I'm way off)

 

Actually Murex Bangka provides more comfort than a hut : wooden bungalows for 2 or 3, open air bathroom with a warm water shower (sometimes a bit tricky to tweak), mosquito nets and aircon at night, although no electricity during the day but that is fine if you're lodging in one of the shaded wind cooled bungalows at the entrance of the beach.

 

The beach is small but nice, clear blue waters on white sand, no algae. Food is okay, clearly not their forte, no bar only Bintang beers in the fridge, instant coffee and tea all day, weird local edible snacks at 4PM that you get for dessert at dinner of you don't finish them. :)

The boatmen, the dive staff play in a string band at night, the elder boatman has a quite a voice indeed. 

 

I'll try to find some images of Murex Bangka on my hard drive and revert.

 

Edit : done. Here's the beach with the dive boats, the restaurant buidling from the beach and inside one of the smallest bungalow, all packed up and ready to go.

 

BangkaMurex beach.jpg

 

BangkaMurex front.jpg

 

BangkaMurex room.jpg

 

 

 


Edited by Luko, 24 June 2013 - 11:41 AM.

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#18 DiverPam

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 11:17 AM

Did you realize that there are 2 Bangka Islands in the Indonesian area?  One near Lembeh - Bangka Island -  and then another called Bangka-Belitung Island - just down from Singapore on the map.   Can be confusing is you are not looking at the right one.Was for me when I was trying to check out places to go next year. And there is more than one Murex Dive Resort in Indonesia. So be careful when checking them out. 

 

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#19 Kelpfish

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 02:10 PM

Clearly in my mind, Gangga has an advantage over all others. If you say pretty reefs and lots of fish, that's exactly what Bangka area is all about. Don't look further, you can have a look in my gallery, I've been 4 times in Bangka, only once at Gangga, which is a little expensive for me since I am going 3 times a year in SEA, otherwise Murex Bangka is a fine midrange option with excellent guides.

 

First off Bangka/Likupang is my favorite dive place in the area, the one that allows you both wide angle coral reef and macro shooting.

Sahaung2 and Batu Pendita are probably two of the most colorful divespots in Indo outside Komodo and Raja Ampat, there are.at least three different dives with different lenses ranging from fisheye to 100mm  for the only Paradise Pier spot.

add on top Tiga Batu, Busa Bora, HBO, Demak, Tanjung Usi, Batu Mandi i could name ten spots that are all different but deserves a dive around that part, while for me almost every Bunaken dive look similar, like a swimming session against a wall. 

 

Secondly, I take Gangga island resort as the best organization for diving and the best boats in North Sulawesi.

 

If you want to have a look on some of my Bangka photos, it's here http://www.flickr.com/photos/luko/ look and click on the right handside for my UW Bangka set.

 

Does Gangga Island Resort have a decent house reef? Also, their website doesn't really do justice for dive packages.  I am wondering if we can arrange a 14-17 night stay and if those dive rates are for boat dives and unlimited house reef shore diving. Any thoughts on this?

 

Joe


Edited by Kelpfish, 30 June 2013 - 02:23 PM.

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#20 Luko

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 02:07 AM

Does Gangga Island Resort have a decent house reef? Also, their website doesn't really do justice for dive packages.  I am wondering if we can arrange a 14-17 night stay and if those dive rates are for boat dives and unlimited house reef shore diving. Any thoughts on this?

 

Joe

To be honest I have never dived the Gangga's housereef, if I remember well they were artificially growing corals. It is not really the kind of dive I am interested in. I think it was a dive that wasn't even charged.On the other hand they can take you to nearby sites (Lihaga just in front) for (chargeable) nightdives.

 

Except for the artificial coral garden dive, I am not sure their dive rates are based on a per day basis (ie. with a fixed or unlimited dives per day), but rather on a per dive basis.


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Galleries in Pbase : Ambon & Maluku, Bangka & Bali, Komodo & Maumere, Moalboal, Mabul & Sipadan.
Vanuatu incl.SS Pres.Coolidge wreck.