If you are new to diving, you may have never heard of North Sulawesi. If you are a seasoned diver, then it is probably on your list. But if you are an aspiring underwater photographer, then it should be a must to visit. So to answer the question, where in the world is North Sulawesi? It is one of the many islands in the Coral Triangle of the Indo-Pacific Ocean. Sulawesi is a central island of Indonesia, and North Sulawesi is one of its provinces at its northern tip, on the Minahasa Peninsula.
It was around the mid-1980’s when word started to get out that Manado, North Sulawesi’s largest city and province capital, was an exciting destination for divers to discover. Word spread fast among the diving community that the waters off Manado were a diving mecca because of the biodiversity. To say there is a variety of life would be an understatement. North Sulawesi has bragging rights to over 300 species of coral and 3000 species of fish.
It’s been said there is something to please every diver in North Sulawesi. If you simply divide it into three areas. The first area is Bunaken National Marine Park to the west with its magnificent walls teeming with life, huge sponges, and hard coral gardens. Next, off the northern tip of the peninsula is Bangka Strait where you find tropical islands with white sandy beaches and beautiful reefs covered in soft corals and unusual critters. The third area on the eastern side is Lembeh Strait known as the world’s best “critter” diving. Here you will find a world of unusual critters, many of which can be masters of camouflage.
North Sulawesi has two basic seasons of an equatorial climate – wet and dry. November through April is generally considered the wet season, when cool northwesterly winds may bring heavy rains and occasionally very rough seas. However, the wet season is usually less pronounced for North Sulawesi than for the rest of Southeast Asia, and not much concern for travelers. The dry season is from May through October, when southwesterly winds bring drier air and relatively calm seas. Air temperatures range throughout the year from 78°-82°F. Water temperatures generally range from 80°-86°F.
So what is there to do when you need to take your long surface interval at the end of the trip? Why not visit the volcanic peaks and lush lands of the Minahasa Highlands? Got an hour to spare? Climb to the top of Mount Mahawu – a stratovolcano on the eastern side of the peninsula. Within this fertile region will you not only find abundant agriculture, but also beautiful lakes like Tondano, Sulawesi’s largest lake, with colorful restaurants built on stilts to sit above the water. Or Lake Linow which is fed by a volcanic spring and changes color from a deep blue to turquoise, to green and sulphur yellow. Then there is the powerful Kali Waterfall nestled in a luxuriant rainforest.
Other land-based activities to do may include hiking in Tangkoko Nature Reserve which is home to the largest concentration of black crested macaques and the world’s smallest primate, the tarsier. Or visit Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park where you might see a babirusa (“pig deer”).
So now that you know where North Sulawesi is, when will you book your vacation and take the time to visit the natural wonders of this land and enjoy a warm welcome from “The Land of Smiling People”? I’d highly suggest contacting me to talk about your “Passport to Paradise”. The perfect dive package to visit the three areas: Manado, Bangka & Lembeh.
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