The Lembeh Straits is quickly becoming a big favorite with diving enthusiasts. The sea bed of the strait is mostly covered in black sand, and the diving style is most commonly referred to as "muck diving". At Lembeh, it's all about the small stuff.
Getting to Lembeh
If you're staying at a resort on Lembeh Island, you'll most likely need to get to Bitung to catch the boat to Lembeh. The nearest airport is in Manado, about 40 kilometers away. A taxi from Manado or the airport will run around 300,000 Rupiah. However, most resorts such as Two Fish or Murex offer a transfer service for about the same price, which will save you the hassle of navigating Bitung's chaotic pier on your own.
Lembeh Dive Resorts
There are now more than a dozen resorts spread out along either side of the strait. Most of them are relatively isolated, with no other resorts or other amenities about. They can be like being on a live-aboard, only without the motion sickness. If you're traveling with non-diving friends, a resort on the Sulawesi side of the strait may provide more diversions (with less travel time) than a place on Lembeh Island.
- Two Fish Divers
- Comfortable, if not posh, resort in its own small bay on Lembeh Island. They also have a larger resort on Bunaken, making Two Fish one of the best choices for those that want to dive both locations.
- Lembeh Resort
- Lembeh Resort consists of 14 cottages located on Lembeh Island. Their web site features some fantastic photographs.
- Located on Lembeh island about midway down, Bastianos Lembeh is one of a group of resorts with locations in Manado as well as on Bunaken and Bangka.
- Cocotinos Lembeh
- Relatively luxe resort located on Sulawesi side of the strait. The dive center is operated by Odyssea Divers.
Most of the diving around the Lembeh Strait are what's generally called "muck" dives. To the uninitiated, this sounds a lot less attractive than it is. It doesn't mean diving in low visibility, or rooting around in garbage on the sea floor. What it does mean is that you're diving not on a coral reef, but on a sandy bottom, usually black, with scattered rocks, "baby bommies" and, yes, "trash" such as old tires, mooring ropes, logs, and other detritus. The "good stuff" such as seahorses, frogfish and assorted scorpionfish are usually found lurking around these little hideouts, although sometimes you will see them scurrying along the open sandy bottom.
There are more than 30 dive sites over the length of the strait, as well as some more around the seaward sides of Lembeh Island. Many of the sites are very close together and not all of the sites have commonly accepted names. In reality, both sides of the strait are almost a single continuous dive site from around the middle of the strait on up.