Hiking up a volcanic mountain is such a great experience for people who love to pump their adrenalin on natural adventure; the feeling you get after a long walk to the top, the view you get to see up there, and the sulfuric smoke from craters you avoid.
The same experience also applies to diving; how you jump to the water and swim to the ocean deep, many exotic living creatures you see down there, and the sense of freedom you feel while exploring the sea. All those experiences are not able to be replaced by any other kind of tourism. But what if you combine the both of those?
Yes, in Banua Wuhu, you can swim as you like while exploring a volcanic mountain. Why? It is because Banua Wuhu is an active volcano that lies underwater. There is no other place like this. The object has been classified by CNN as “The World’s Weirdest Place to Scuba Dive” along with four other diving spots in the world such as Mysterious Ruins Dive in Japan, Continental Rift Dive in Iceland, Museum of Underwater Modern Art in Mexico, and The Neptune Memorial Reef in USA. Banua Wuhu is located on Mahangetang Island, Sangihe Archipelago, North Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Banua Wuhu is one of several volcanos on Sangihe volcanic chain. The spot is located about 300 meters on the southwest side of Mahangetang Island. You do not need to dive deep to enjoy the panoramic scene of Banua Wuhu. The mountain top is located only at five meters of depth. Overall, the mountain is about 400 meters high from the sea floor.
The mountain has several cracks on the top. From a far, you can see bubbles are coming out of those cracks. The bubbles contain sulfur and their temperature can reach about 37-38°C. Therefore, you need to avoid these bubbles as they may burn your skin. Nearby the bubbles, you may feel that the water is rather warmer.
Although the volcano is still active, there is no lava flow around the mountain. Neither are toxic smokes. That is why it is perfectly safe to have a scuba dive at this area. The only volcanic activity happens on this mountain besides the sulfur bubbles is the magma activity inside the mountain deep. You will not able to see it. But you can hear the sound of it. Last eruption of Banua Wuhu is on 1968 and there is no sign that the volcano is about to erupt again around this time.
The Marine Life
Even with the dangerous volcano and the rather high temperature of water under the sea, many creatures are still able to live well down there. Try going to the 12 meters of depth, you will find many colonies of corals are lying on the sea floor. The density of the corals is still high because it is still natural and nobody has dared to ruin it.
During the scuba dive, you will also have the chance to see many other living creatures around the mountain. You can get to see various kinds of fishes such as neon fusiliers and barrel sponges. Sometimes, you can even see some black tipped reef sharks if you are lucky enough.
Mount Banua Wuhu is still considered as magical as mystical by the locals. They believe they need to ask God to avoid them form danger by not erupting the volcano. That is why they need to regularly hold a ritual and make some sacrifices. This annual ritual is called “Tulude” which means “to avoid” or “to reject”. The unique ceremony is held on every January 31st.
Two weeks prior to ceremony, a local elder needs to dive in to the mountain while bringing a white plate of rice and gold. The elder then give it to the God by putting the rice and gold on the crater. One night prior to ceremony, locals will make a Tamo Cake at the house of an elder. On the next day, the cake will be cut and prayed by another appointed elder. There will be a huge feast called “Saliwangu Banua” after the cake-cutting rituals. All people are welcomed to join and enjoy the feast. There will also be several dance performance during the ceremony.
The Other Spots
The archipelago of Sangihe also has several other natural spots which are worth visiting such as Gunung Awu, Kamakidang Waterfall, and several beaches. Mount Awu is located about 45 kilometers north from Banua Wuhu. Mount Awu is also a part of Sangihe Volcanic Chain, just like Banua Wuhu. But Mount Awu is not located underwater. Mount Awu is the best spots for hiking in Sangihe. The environment is still purely natural and the air is refreshing. From the mountain top, you can see several craters and sulfuric smoke.
Another panoramic object in Sangihe Archipelago is Kadadima Waterfall located on Laine Village. You can reach this place by taking a ferry for about 25 minutes. Kadadima consists of three waterfalls; Nahapese, Elong, and Matei. Each waterfall has different characteristic. But all of them have beautiful panorama and fresh air to enjoy. The water debit is not so high so it is safe to swim along on the pond under the waterfalls.
There are two options to access Banua Wuhu. First is by plane from Manado to Tahuna. Tahuna is the capital of Sangihe where Banua Wuhu is located. This flight is only available on Tuesday and Thursday only. The plane departs at 06.30 in the morning. Ticket price may change from time to time.
Second option is to get there by ship. There are three kinds of ship which can bring you to Tahuna. Terra Sancta Ship from Manado to Tahuna is available every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 19.00. Marin Teratai Ship with the same route is available every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday also at 19.00. Express Ship is available every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 09.00 also from Manado to Tahuna. The ticket varies from $10 to $20.
There are plenty hotels, inns, and homestays in Tahuna. Banks and hospital are also available there. So Tahuna is the best place to stay if you plan to have an adventure in Banua Wuhu. From Tahuna, you can reach Banua Wuhu by taking a boat for three hours. If you want it to be faster, ride a speed boat. It will take just one hour to reach Banua Wuhu. Speed boats are also available from Manado and it will take you about five hours to reach Banua Wuhu diving spot.
- Banua Wuhu is quite far. Hiring a travel agent will be really helpful for you to avoid technical troubles such as transportation, equipment, and accommodation.
- Recommended travel agent is Ocean Rover Cruise. You can contact them by phone on +62 821 4653 1810, or email to [email protected].
- There are no places to rent diving equipments in Banua Wuhu. So you need to prepare your own equipment before heading there. Or you can simply ask your travel agent to prepare it for you.
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