1-2 weeks: Sulawesi
Bira, Bunaken & Lembeh
1-2 weeks: Itinerary Diving Sulawesi!
Not necessarily most peoples' number 1, regarding diving perhaps. But let me convince you otherwise! This 1–2-week Itinerary to Sulawesi will have you seeing sharks, corals, and one of the best macro diving available in the world. Find out more below!
Go to the main page for Bunaken here! (Coming soon)
Go to the main page for Lembeh strait here! (Coming soon)
How to get there?
Getting to Bira can be quite the trip although if you're doing a Sulawesi trip this is perfectly doable. Fly to Makassar, the main point of entry and then you can get a taxi or personal driver to take you to Bira in roughly 3 hours.
The island is pretty basic outside of Makassar and I arranged for myself a personal driver and guide for 10 days to cruise around the island for less than 500$. This was with accommodation included.
To get to Makassar you can fly from Jakarta or Soerabaja if you happened to be on the mainland of Java. Flight from Bali is also possible.
Diving in Bira
Diving Bira is possible between April - October. Due to possible bad visibility, most scenes are closed from November - March. The Dive sites are varied, nice, and warm, and can be somewhat challenging due to the current which I personally love. The temperature varies between 26 and 29 degrees and visibility is mostly very good.The peak season between July and August can be busy and because it's relatively low on tourists I would recommend booking in advance. The dive sites are mostly wall dives, reef dives, and a wreck here and there. The village is situated along the coast and so are most of the hotels which makes this an excellent Diving scene.
Bira is a lovely small town all the way in southeast Celebes. Hotels. restaurants and cafés are all on the beach front which makes this an excellent place to go for a sunset walk along the beach while picking out your favorite restaurant or bar to have a meal and/or drink. In the morning you can relax with breakfast while watching the sunrise and get ready to go diving. All the major sites are reasonably close by and between dives you will usually head back to shore.
Getting to Bunaken/ Lembeh.
For Both locations, you first need to book yourself a ticket to Manado. You can fly in from Jakarta, Singapore, Bali, or Kuala Lumpur. Almost all flights go through Makassar, the largest city in Sulawesi.
Bunaken island is easily reached from Manado by boat. When arriving in Manado, a good tip is, to arrive before noon, since the boat usually leaves around 2 PM (depending on the weather, excluding Sunday). (Rp 25000 per person).
If you happen to arrive later than 2 PM, you might want to stay the night in Manado, or book yourself a private boat, but expect to pay handsomely or bargain like a champ!
You will need a permit to stay in the park, which can be obtained on the island but is usually arranged by the dive center.
Visa on arrival is available in Manado for those who fly in from abroad.
The ferry will take around 1 hour to get to the island, and most accommodations will be in resorts. It's not cheap, but very much worth it and you can find good deals outside the high season (July - August).
You can opt to stay on Bunaken or Siladan, both very good options, but Siladan is a bit quieter and more remote, so look around before you head over there.
To get to Lembeh you have to fly to Manado first. Usually, there will be a stopover in Makassar. If you book your stay with a resort on mainland Lembeh or Lembeh island, they can arrange a transfer for you, bringing you to Bitung in 2 hours. If you're staying on Lembeh Island, expect another 10 minutes by boat from Bitung.