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  • Diving Underwater Eden in North Sulawesi

    The main reason most travellers go to Manado is for the scuba diving. Bunaken has achieved a reputation as something of a Mecca for international divers and boasts an incredible range of underwater environments in a relatively close proximity. The area is unique, it’s the heart of the most biologically diverse marine environment on earth. There are more than 300 species of fish and 500 coral varieties. There are four completely different environments – the coral wall drop-offs of Bunaken, the black volcanic sands around Lembeh, home to extraordinary creatures like nudibranches and seahorses, the soft coral slopes and the sea where you get a large selection of pelagics.

    The coral walls don’t fail to impress, leading to countless hours exploring the caves, nooks and crannies of remarkable reefs. Lionfish always impress, as do the feisty clown fish. Dolphin are quite often spotted and at some drop-off points, shoals of fish swirl around in such profusion it’s like entering a wind-driven snowstorm.

    For non-divers and non-swimmers you can still experience the wonders of this underwater world, either by snorkelling or in a glass-bottomed boat.

    There are also a number of different places to learn to dive in and around Bali. Bali offers some great dive sites, including Menjangan Island in the north west, Amed in the north east and Tulamben on the east coast not far from Candidasa.

    Further afield, one option is Gili Trawangan, a small island off the coast of Lombok. Gili is the Lombok word for small island and the three famous Gili‘s sit north west of Lombok, about ten minutes away by boat. Gili Trawangan is the most popular with the best tourist infrastructure. The other two islands (Gili Air and Gili Meno) provide more of a Robinson Crusoe feel for the adventurous traveller. The fastest way to get to Gili Trawangan from Bali is the Bluewater Safari speedboat service that powers across the Lombok Strait, taking just under two hours from Benoa Harbour.

    There are a number of dive outfits available on Gili Trawangan to choose from. Once the introductory sessions in the swimming pool are over, learners can experience the beauty of the deep in the clear waters around the islands. Trigger fish skulk across the ocean floor, guarding their nests, moray eels poke their heads out of rocky nooks and crannies, giant turtles float past on the way to the surface for air, whilst white tipped reef sharks slink around keeping an eye on affairs. Wherever you choose to dive in this region, it’s guaranteed you’ll discover an underwater world like no other.

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