The magical underwater world of North Sulawesi

If you’re looking for a nature-filled vacation this year, North Sulawesi, is the place to go. North Sulawesi is home to three very distinct diving destinations. Highlights of these regions feature phenomenal walls, sea trenches of over a 1km deep and healthy resident populations of turtles around Bunaken Island; kaleidoscopic reefs which are adorned with soft corals and home to schooling fish around Bangka Island; and finally the “Critter Capital of the World” in the Lembeh Strait which is where you’ll find the greatest abundance of rare and unusual marine life on the planet.


Lembeh Island is part of Bitung administrative area in North Sulawesi. The island is famous for its untouched and almost-perfect diving spot. There are so many unusual habitats and exotic organisms live under Lembeh Island, like, the coral skeletons, colorful nudibranchs, mandarin fish, gosh pipefish, frogfish, rhinopias, shrimps, blue-ringed, mimic octopus and rare pygmy seahorses. It is a fantastic dive area for underwater photographers and the diversity of smaller creatures ensures many memorable photo opportunities. There are several undeveloped beaches on the shoreline of Lembeh Strait which are excellent for swimming and snorkeling.


The wild shapes and colours of fringing and barrier reefs corals around Pulau Bunaken have attracted those looking for the best underwater views. The waters of Bunaken National Marine Park are extremely deep (1566 m in Manado Bay), clear, refreshing in temperature (27-29 C) and harbor some of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world. Pick any of group of interest – corals, fish, echinoderms or sponges – and the number of families, genera or species is bound to be astonishingly high.

Bunaken is about 1 hour away by boat from Manado, North Sulawesi’s capital, so day trips are definitely possible if you don’t feel like staying overnight in the island. We recommend some of the numerous resorts dotting Manado coast.

Bunaken is an island of 8 km², part of the Bunaken National Marine Park, at the northern tip of the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia. It belongs administratively to the municipality of Manado. Scuba diving attracts many visitors to the island. Marine National Park is one of the most beautiful marine parks in the world, famous for its beautiful coral formation. This marine park is home to more than 3000 species such as the lolosi yellowtail fish (Lutjanus kasmira), fish gusumi horse (hippocampus and horses), goropa (ephinephelus spilotoceps), white oci (seriola rivoliana) and many others as well have a diversity of endemic aquatic species such as dolphins, dugongs, and also beautiful ornamental fish.

Meet Tangkoko National Park’s rare (and adorable) tarsiers

Nature fans won’t want to miss Tangkoko National Park. Sitting at the foot of Dua Saudara mountain, the park is bustling with wildlife. Be sure to pack your binoculars and discover the numerous birds of the park, including Sulawesi’s colourful hornbills. You’ll also have the chance to see Sulawesi’s endemic crested black macaques, if you visit at night with a guide. The real highlight of the park, though, is the cuddly-looking tarsier. This small primate is only found in Southeast Asia, and it’s very photogenic.

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