Wednesday, April 18, 2007

North-Sulawesi: Sahaung island

Blue Bay Divers is a small dive resort owned and run by Anke & Salmon on Sahaung island, a tiny private island right next to Bangka island in northern Sulawesi.

We only spent our trip's first week here, in order to acclimatize and do some warm-up dives, but I wish we could have stayed another week.

With max two divers per guide and max two groups per boat, the diving is as private as can be. The dive guides don't speak much English but know their sites inside out, pointing out anything you might have asked for and showing you again exactly what you saw afterwards in the many fish identification books available for study in the resort.

Sahaung island and it's big brother Bangka offer all kinds of diving, from shore to boat, from muck to reef, from easy to drift. And should that not be enough, the Bunaken National Marine Park and Lembeh strait are only about an hour away by boat.

Right in front of the resort, the small bay offers some pretty good muck diving: juvenile fish of all sorts, elusive mandarin fish, harlequin ghost pipe fish, translucent shrimps, small moray eels, plenty of lion fish of various kinds, reef & estuarine stone fish, crocodile fish, blue spotted stingrays, sea snakes, spiny sea urchins and many more.

Around Bangka there are some really nice spots teeming with soft-corals and huge sponges thanks to the nutrient rich currents, and critters are just waiting to be found: frog fish pretending not to be there, cuttle fish flashing their volatile moods, mantis shrimps scurrying around, orang utan crabs squeezed in bubble corals, squat lobsters hidden in crinoids, scale worms underneath cushion stars, etc. Not to mention the robust ghost pipe fish I found all by myself!

Just a short hop away, mainland Sulawesi's coast also has plenty of very good sites. Below the Paradise pier we found flounders, wasp fish, anemone porcelain crabs, juvenile cat fish all balling together in an ever moving swarm, nudibranchs, etc. And on a nearby reef we saw a winged pipe fish, a leaf scorpion fish and two stone fish, one of them completely dug into the sand with only its eyes and mouth barely visible.

In other words, enough to keep you diving again and again for more. Even though visibility wasn't too great while we were there, varying from 5 to 10m at most, we really enjoyed our dives in the 28°C water.

And in between, the place is just perfect to relax and enjoy the view. The bungalows, all facing the bay, are basic but spacious and clean, each with its own veranda and mandi style bathroom. The Indonesian food is finger-licking delicious. The people friendly and ever helpful. What more could you wish for?


Nataliia said...

Great story,we are looking for the holiday that you have described:)Sounds wonderful and unique.When is the best time of year to come?Is there time when big pelagic fish come?Thank you very much.

TM said...

Hi Nataliia, you'd better ask Anke from Blue Bay Divers for the best season depending on your wishes (dry weather?, macro?, big fish?, ...).

For nearby Lembeh the best critter time is supposedly around may-june-july, but AFAIK you can dive there all year.

As for big pelagics, I don't really know. There's some schooling barracudas & jack fish and sometimes even whalesharks around, but where or when?