Fish taking shelter in our house reef at Manado

Artificial reefs in North Sulawesi are incredibly varied, so you can find all kinds of life. North Sulawesi is still a relatively unknown diving hot spot. However, anyone who visited before knows how rich the biodiversity is.

That is to say, lazy turtles hang out on the corals and schools of reef fish dart through the light. You can explore smaller life too if you have a sharp eye. Robust ghost pipe fish, for instance, or tiny crabs hidden in the bubble coral.

Artificial reefs, North Sulawesi and education

It’s just a joy to dive here. Therefore, we want divers from all corners of the world to enjoy it. Forever, to be more precise. This is why we as a resort take great care of our dive sites.

Firstly, this happens through local education. In 2007 we built a school in a village nearby, where we train local kids to become dive guides. Our guides encourage guests to maintain proper buoyancy, preventing accidental touches or fin kicks.

We organize (or join in) with coral rehabilitation initiatives, and because of this, we see quite a few artificial reefs growing nicely in our immediate area. Nurturing coral growth is done in many different ways, using different materials. Wood, concrete, iron (with electrical surge), and ceramic are just a few methods. We listed a few of these artificial reefs in our region. So let’s take a look at some of the artificial reef sites you can dive here in North Sulawesi.

Boboca (substrate: metal tables)

Divers planting corals at an artificial reef at Boboca, North Sulawesi
Divers planting corals at Boboca, North Sulawesi – Rudi Bloemmen

One of the biggest success stories of artificially induced coral growth is the field near North Sulawesi’s capital of Manado. In 2015, over 500 divers attached pieces of coral onto an artificial reef spanning almost 150M2. Consequently, we recently visited the site and we are happy to report that it’s just brimming with life. This makes Boboca definitely worth a visit.

Thalassa’s House Reefs (substrate: concrete/rope)

With two resorts on both sides of North Sulawesi, each one comes with a uniquely different house reef to explore. For instance, at our resort near Manado we have built a number of stacked concrete beams. Brand new coral has settled here and provides shelter to a growing number of different species.

Coral growing nicely on our housereef at Thalassa Manado
The housereef at Thalassa Manado – Nico van Gelderen

At Lembeh, the resort’s house reef features an old, overgrown fishing net. Soft coral covers the net completely. You will spot all kinds of nudibranchs, Cardinal fish and decorated crabs, and more.

Molas Shipwreck (substrate: metal)

Molas Shipwreck, an artificial reef just outside Thalassa Manado
Molas Shipwreck – Johan Boshoff

Although technically not an artificial reef, it provides a base for a lot of hard- and soft corals and sponges. The wreck is a short distance from the House Reef and sits upright on a sandy plain. The bow sits at 25 meters and the stern at 41 meters depth. Many times, you spot a school of very large batfish that patrol the area.

Jalan Masuk (substrate: concrete)

Jalan Masuk at North Sualwesi's mainland with divers and artificial reef
Jalan Masuk, always different – Satoka Kubo

Meaning “entry way” in Indonesian, Jalan Masuk is popular for a number of man-made features lying on the bottom. Its most famous attraction being a statue of two mermaids holding a heart-shaped frame for a (cheesy) photo opportunity. Further on, a few meters away from this statue, a deliberately sunken small boat is gaining some welcome overgrowth.

A large collection of concrete cubes are sitting in a wide curve, with coral slowly but surely building up. Some things to find here are leaf fishswaying in the drift, ghost pipe fish and the occasional Harlequin shrimp, to name a few.

Fukui Point (substrate: ceramic)

Popular for its giant clams and a reef-shark nursery, Fukui Point is having some resurgence of coral life. This is partly because of star-shaped structures, placed here to encourage coral growth. This is a welcome feature on Fukui’s somewhat barren rubble slope. However, the rest of the dive site is beautifully rich in coral life.

Fukui Point at Bunaken's artificial reef, North Sulawesi
Fukui Point is growing nicely – Huub van der Ligt

Feri Point (substrate: hollow bricks)

Situated along North Sulawesi’s mainland, Feri Point is only a short boat ride away from Thalassa Manado. Consisting of coral covered slopes and coral pinnacles and is definitely worth checking out. The hollow brick substrates cover an area of about 30 by 30 meters. This gives the site an eerie, almost graveyard-like quality. You can find plenty of small stuff, like tiny nudibranchs or small octopi. But even without a macro lens, the site’s “gothic” vibe makes it a joy to dive.

Feri Point and its artificial reef structures, North Sulawesi
Feri Point at the mainland – Arjen Bokhoven

Artificial reefs in North Sulawesi: anything but fake

If you enjoy being surrounded by natural beauty, artificial reefs might not be the kind of environment that would appeal to you. But once you look past its artificiality, you can discover some fantastic creatures!

This article was originally written for Dive Log Sportdiving Magazine 

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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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