Lembeh Strait Diving Sites
Crazy Critter Heaven
Mention Lembeh to anyone who has been and their eyes go all misty. Diving here, whether from a dive resort or a liveaboard, is like nowhere else on earth. An hour from Manado airport lies the strait of water that separates the mainland from Lembeh Island.
Under the calm surface, there is more going on than even the wildest imagination could envisage. On a floor of dark sand scuttle a mind-boggling array of unusual and rare critters - mandarinfish, hairy frogfish, mimic octopus, Ambon scorpionfish, stargazers, pegasus, flamboyant cuttlefish, dragonets to name just a few. A photographers' dream and a total eye-opener for anyone with even a passing interest in the smaller things in the ocean.
It is difficult to accurately convey just how many weird and wonderful creatures that a dive at Hairball can reveal, both by day and by night. How many sites can promise so many seahorses and frogfish that by the end of the dive you are thinking "Yeah, yeah - another one"? It doesn't end there. This site's usual line-up includes some the oddest and most fascinating creatures of the sea. Even the most water-weary divers emerge at the surface here to excited chatter about what they have just witnessed.
In a muck diving paradise, there is an impressive array of nudibranchs here. Nudi Falls is one of the best places in the Lembeh Strait for nudi hunters and you can expect many varieties in this one small area alone, whether on the black sandy floor, or feeding on ascidians or hydroids on the wall. However, there are more macro wonders here too including ribbon eels, pygmy seahorses, frogfish and mantis shrimps.
Representing a break from the black sand dives that typify Lembeh, Angel's Window is a reef dive around a submerged pinnacle. You can expect to encounter red octopus, batfish and schools of angelfish as you work your way around the pinnacle. The eponymous window is a swim-through at around 25m which is covered in crinoids and featherstars.
An excellent day dive, Jahir is one of the most spectacular night dives in the strait. The black sandy floor is host to a succession of crazy critters. Tiny frogfish, hairy frogfish, mimic octopus and long-horn cowfish are among the sights you can see here. Also look out for the submerged facial features of the fascinating stargazer scowling up at you from the sea-bed.
There are also wrecks and more traditional reefs to explore which only adds to Lembeh's claim to be a unique and special diving destination.
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You can dive in Lembeh all year but the conditions do vary. January to June sees variable (but still fine) conditions and less divers. August sees the poorest visibility but the richest numbers of critters. September to October are probably the best two months overall.
Liveaboard season in the Lembeh Strait area runs year round.
Great for: Small animals, underwater photography and advanced divers
Not so great for: Large animals, wall diving, drift dives and non-diving activities
Depth: 5 - 30m
Visibility: 10 - 25m
Surface Conditions: Calm
Water Temperature: 26 - 29°C
Experience Level: Beginner - advanced
Number of dive sites: >30
Distance: ~45 km east of Manado (1½ hours)
Access: Resorts and liveaboards
Recommended length of stay: 5 - 10 days
Dive The World Indonesia's Recommendations: Angel's Window, TK 1, Nudi Falls, Jahir and Hairball.
Other Manado diving sites that you can visit together with Lembeh:
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