A diving holiday in North Sulawesi

Sunset at the Bunaken National Marine Park

What’s the first thing you think of when someone mentions North Sulawesi? An awesome diving holiday? The cheerful smiles? Finding some peace & quiet? Or maybe all of the above?

Hello mister!

As I’m walking through the street of Manado, almost every five minutes I hear a cheerful “Hello mister, how are you?” Of course I answer back: “I’m great, how are you?”

The man’s fumbling to respond to my question is hilarious as well as endearing. He grins sheepishly while his friends encourage him to keep trying in his best English. A half-hearted attempt to reply to me becomes not much more than “Yes thank you!”, resulting in a roaring outburst of laughter and a request to make a selfie with the bule.

You find this everywhere in North Sulawesi: this infectious friendliness and open attitude. Life is quite simple here, where politeness and patience take precedence.

Diving in North Sulawesi

The sun breaking through the water
Wahrmut Sobainsky

Besides the friendly people, the Land of Smiling People is simply a tropical postcard: the view of an azure blue ocean that meets green hills under clear blue sky. It’s a view that is never boring. A diving holiday in North Sulawesi here is a real treat, and let me tell you why…

Under water is no less impressive, especially if you’re used to Bali diving: coral walls from the Bunaken National Marine Park disappear in the deep blue. You can spot turtles everywhere, and colorful schools of reeffish surround you. Sometimes the boat is joined by spinner dolphins or pilot whales.

The Lembeh Strait

By the east coast of North Sulawesi, you can find the lush, green island of Lembeh. Famous for its muck diving and loved by macro photographers the world over, the diving is quite different from the west side. The diversity of bizarre critters that roam the black sand bottoms is staggering — from well-camouflaged scorpion fish to brightly colored, tiny little snails.

Guests sharing a laugh during their diving holiday
Wahrmut Sobainsky

A diving holiday life

After all this diving (way different from Raja Ampat diving by the way), there is still more than enough you can do, such as walking through the nearby villages, taking up cooking lessons, for example. You should check out our school, undergo a relaxing massage or witness one of these AMAZING sunsets — I mean, just look at this:

Sunset at the Bunaken National Marine Park
Wahrmut Sobainsky

Since this year it’s now also possible to try your skills at archery. Our freediving instructor Stanley is a great shot and will patiently show you how to hit the target. Very relaxing.

To summarize, North Sulawesi is a fantastic part of Indonesia: it’s family-friendly and safe. You can eat some delicious food and for divers it’s a true paradise. If you’re thinking about a trip to Indonesia, then it’s definitely worth taking up North Sulawesi in your next trip research.

Further reading

If you are looking for things to do in Manado, Dive o’ Clock wrote an excellent piece on the city.

PADI has also written a very detailed blog post: Five Unique Reasons to Visit Sulawesi. Check it out.

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Picture of Arjen Bokhoven

Arjen Bokhoven

I'm a PADI Advanced Open Water diver, I do guest relations and resort management at Thalassa Dive Resorts Indonesia. Whether I'm diving the walls of Bunaken to spot schools of fish & turtles, or explore the sandy flats of Lembeh with its fascinating underwater creatures- I love all of it.

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