At the northern side of Sulawesi Island, there is a small island nearby called Lembeh Island. Between Lembeh Island and Sulawesi Island, there is a narrow strait called the Strait of Lembeh. Deep down below the surface of the strait, lays a magnificent form of marine life.
How to Go There
Administratively, Lembeh Strait is a part of Bitung region. It is on the city of Manado, the capital city of North Sulawesi. Manado can be accessed with flights to Sam Ratulangi International Airport. The flights are available from Singapore, Jakarta City, Surabaya, Bali Island, Makassar, Papua, and Balikpapan.
From the airport to Bitung region, you can get on a public bus. The ticket fare is only $0.6 for non-air-conditioned bus and $0.7 for air-conditioned one. You can also get a taxi which is very easy to find at the airport. Other choices of transportation to take you to Bitung region is a chartered car. Chartered car is available at the airport with the price ranging around $26.25 per one way.
On Bitung, take off at the Ruko Pateten Pier located on the sub-district of Lembeh. At this pier, you can see many kinds of ship and boats crossing the strait to Lembeh Island. To get to Lembeh Island, you need to get on a traditional boat to cross. The fare is only $0.6 and it will take only 15 minutes.
Where to Stay
Lembeh Island is very popular as tourism destination. Thus, it is not going to be difficult for you to find several choices of accommodation. There are several hotels and resorts you can book, such as:
- Eco Divers Lembeh
- Location : Desa Ranowangko, Dusun VII, Kec. Tombariri, Kab. Minahasa
- Phone : +62 431 828340.
- Website : www.eco-divers,com
- Froggies Divers Resort
- Location : Jalan Kol. Sugiono no 31, Manado
- Phone : +62 811 430800
- Website: froggieslembeh.com
- NAD Lembeh Resort
- Location : Teluk Rarandam Kecil, Pulau Lembeh, Kota Bitung
- Phone : +62 8124756661
- Website : www.nad-lembeh.com
- Two Fish Lembeh Resort
Other option of accommodation is by staying at local people’s house as a guest house. Most of the local people are from the Sangir ethnic, a native ethnic of Manado. Staying with them may give you unique experience as they are very friendly to tourists. In the evening, they will likely to perform Ampa Wayer, a traditional dance of Sangir.
Lembeh Strait is like a narrow strip. It is only 1.2 kilometers wide and 16 kilometers long. From the island and the port, you can see many kinds of ships and boats are sailing across with various purpose; local transportation, tourism activity, fishery business, marine industry, and laboratory.
But if you submerge down to the water, you will see something that is completely different. Beneath the surface, there is a beautiful ecosystem of marine life. Lembeh Strait is famous for having unique formation of marine life. Therefore, many divers dubbed this object as “The Best Muck Diving Site in the World”.
The sea floor of the strait is sandy, allowing many species of coral to live there despite the narrow area. Besides that, the strait is also a habitat for some unique species of animal such as nudibranch, seahorse, flamboyant squid, mimic octopus, wasp fish, and furry frog fish. Plus, there are also several species of giant fishes that are never found in any other place in the world.
Lembeh Strait is famous as a unique object for diving. The strait can accommodate any levels of divers, from the beginner to advanced divers. The water temperature is stable around 24 to 30 degree Celcius, which is comfortably warm for diving. Even if the strait is narrow, there are about 88 diving spots have been discovered there. Most of them lay at the depth around 15 to 30 meters below the surface. Some of the famous diving sites are:
- Police Pier
This diving spot is great for both day and night dives. At this point, you will see plenty of sea horse, eels, squids, and wasp fishes. This place is slightly hidden so you need to pay attention while diving.
- Kembatu Bay
Kembatu Bay is the best spot for divers who wish to see the octopus. At this spot, divers have high chance to see the octopus hunt their prey, how they reach out their tentacles to catch the smaller fish and eat it.
At the hairball spot, you have the chance to encounter the unique Ambon scorpion fish and frog fish. Those fishes like to stay freeze at the bottom of the sea and camouflage. You need to watch closely to spot them between the sand and corals. And you need to be very patient to wait them to move and end their camouflage.
From all the 88 diving spots, it is noted that five of them are shipwreck spots. The most popular one is the huge cargo vessel called Beautiful Ship. The sunken cargo is about 46 meters long. As time went by, the wreck is now covered with corals, sponges, and nudibranchs. Some fishes also like to swim around it.
- California Dreaming
While most of the diving spot is focused on the sea animals, California Dreaming is a best spot to enjoy the various corals and red gorgonians. The spot is like a wide garden under the water.
On Lembeh Island, there are several beautiful beaches where you can rest after diving and enjoy the sunset. But unluckily, some beaches can only be accessed from the resort. This might be a disadvantage for backpacker who doesn’t book their stay at the luxury accommodation. But not to worry, there is one beautiful beach that is open for public. It is called Pasir Putih Beach. To enter the beach, you only need to pay $0.4 for the entrance ticket.
The name Pasir Putih is taken literally means white sand, which represent the true condition of the beach. The good thing about this beach is that the nature is pretty yet there are no much people visiting. Thus, it could be like your private beach.
The beach is good for swimming and snorkeling as the water is clean and the current is calm. There is a rental for snorkeling equipment with cheap fare. It is only $3.75 per hour. At the surrounding, you can see a high cliff topped with thick vegetation. This is such an amazing view to see during the day. When it is almost dark, Pasir Putih Beach is such a great spot to see the sunset.
Lembeh Strait is just a narrow strip of water between two islands. But you would better not to underestimate this place as it is, in fact, one of the most popular diving spots in Indonesia. Lies beneath the surface, Lembeh Strait hides a paradise of marine life with unique creatures and underwater panorama.