Crazy Critter Heaven
Mention the Lembeh Strait 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. Lembeh is a photographer’s dream and a total eye-opener for anyone with even a passing interest in the smaller things in the ocean.
The Lembeh Strait Dive Sites
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 scuba divers emerge at the surface here to excited chatter about what they have just witnessed.
In a muck diving paradise, there is often an impressive array of nudibranchs. 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. It is one of those dive sites that will have you reaching for the I.D. books as soon as you are dry.
Representing a break from the black sand sites that typify Lembeh, Angel’s Window is a reef dive around a submerged pinnacle cloaked in orange and green soft corals, sponges and gorgonian sea fans. You can expect to encounter 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. Keep an eye out for pygmy seahorses on the gorgonians, red octopus and an array of nudibranchs.
An excellent day dive too, 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 scuba diving destination.
Dive The World Indonesia’s Recommendations: Angel’s Window, TK 1, Nudi Falls, Jahir and Hairball.
More detailed information available on the Lembeh Strait dive sites on our www.dive-the-world.com website.
Staying at the Lembeh Strait
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The Lembeh Dive Season
You can dive in Lembeh all year but the conditions do vary. January to June sees variable (but still fine) conditions and fewer scuba divers. July and August have the coolest water temperatures but the richest numbers of critters. During the rainy season in January and February some of the more distant sites might be closed as the strait can become quite rough. September to October are probably the best months overall.
Liveaboard season in the Lembeh Strait area runs year round.
How to Get There
Once you arrive in Manado, you will be transferred to your Lembeh resort. It is about 45 km (1 hour) by road from the airport. If your accommodation is one of those on the island then you’ll have an additional but short 10 minute boat ride ahead of you too.
Lembeh Strait Reef Basics
Great for: Small animals, underwater photography and advanced divers
Not so great for: Large animals, walls, 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
Other nearby Manado diving sites that you can visit together with Lembeh: