That was 17 years ago, on my first visit to the Lembeh Strait in Indonesia. On that dive, I saw no less than seven pygmy seahorses, a nudibranch the size of a dinner plate, and all manner of other incredible and unusual sights. Many hundreds of dives later, it remains one of my most memorable diving experiences.
Ever since my first, brief visit to this unique corner of Indonesia all those years ago, I've been desperate to return. A special birthday celebration for my lovely wife, Tara, provided the perfect opportunity. Our return visit did not disappoint.
The Lembeh Strait is one of a kind. Just two kilometres wide and around 16 kilometres long, this stretch of water separates the north eastern tip of Sulawesi from Lembeh Island. It is a place of astounding biodiversity. A micro world of incredible inhabitants, all with spell binding camouflage, behaviours and characters. Only here can you marvel at the wunderpus, discover the Donald Duck shrimp, glimpse the world of an orangutan crab, and be dazzled by the beautiful Banggai cardinalfish all on one dive. The unique marine life and environment here is both captivating and fascinating in equal measure. It is a place where reality outstrips almost anything your mind can imagine.
Our base was the wonderful Dive into Lembeh. The resort is owned and run by Steve and Miranda, a charming English and Dutch couple who have a wealth of experience diving the Lembeh Strait. This intimate, yet delightfully spacious resort has just nine well appointed bungalows, all with views of the ocean. Each bungalow features an onsen spa on the balcony, which is heated to precisely 39.5 degrees Celsius; a unique touch, and the perfect place to relax and warm up after a busy day of diving. With a stunning pool, facilities for photographers, three spacious dive boats and a team of staff and crew who spoilt us rotten, we were left wanting for nothing.
No round-up of Dive into Lembeh would be complete without mention of its location. The most northerly resort in Lembeh, it boasts an enviable spot that offers not only easy access to the very best muck diving spots, but also the equally impressive, yet lesser known coral reef sites at the north of the strait. Highlights of our trip were the beautiful Angel’s Window, and Aw Shucks, a shallow reef directly in front of the resort. These coral sites provide a welcome interlude, but it will always be the crazy critters that draw folks to Lembeh from far and wide. Our magical week included encounters with two mimic octopus, a coconut octopus, flamboyant cuttlefish, mating mandarin fish, pygmy seahorses, the Lembeh sea dragon, and a rare algae octopus - one of only two species that can run as well as swim. It is a week that will live long in the memory.
If you'd like to visit Lembeh, or find out more, get in touch with Phil and our friendly Dive team today on 01962 302087.