Diving in Lembeh Strait

Lembeh Island sits to the east of mainland North Sulawesi from which it is separated by a long, narrow stretch of water known as the Lembeh Strait. With nicknames such as “The Critter Capital of the World” and “The Twilight Zone” expectations of rare and unusual marine life are high. Lembeh’s black sand muck diving slopes are home to some of Indonesia’s weirdest and most bizarre-looking sea creatures and it’s a macro photographer’s heaven. Above water and away from the Port of Bitung the banks of the Strait boast lush green vegetation and jungle packed rolling hillsides which cascade down to the water’s edge.

Lembeh is all about critters and some of the most iconic species of the Strait include hairy frogfish, mimic, coconut and Wunderpus octopus, pygmy seahorses, Bobbit worms, stargazers, harlequin, tiger and emperor shrimps, ghost pipefish, a plethora of nudibranch species, mandarin fish and the endemic Banggai cardinalfish. Be sure to make a night dive to see the many nocturnal species too.

Lembeh is an island close to the northeastern coast of Sulawesi, Indonesia. It is world-famous for its highly colourful and diverse marine life. It has also earned a reputation for being one of the best places in the world for macro photography. Lembeh is home to a profusion of some of the most exotic and wonderful marine life which is exclusively found in Lembeh. The Lembeh Strait is sheltered from the monsoon, both from northeast and south-west sides. The current pattern brings a large number of planktons. The visibility remains between 10 and 15 meters most of the year. However, as you go to the north out of the bay area, more and more reef formations with much better visibility can be seen.

They make some of the most exciting dive sites. These reefs also attract larger species like Mackerels and Sharks. The area also has some interesting wrecks, well within safe distance limits of recreational diving. Water temperatures are between 24° to 27°C, which is slightly colder than the tropic average. The depth range is 3 to 25 meters for all the sites. While it is possible to dive in Lembeh all round the year, the best two months are September and October owing to calmer sea conditions and better visibilities. Lembeh is one of the best muck diving sites in the region. The marine life in this area is very diverse and rich with at least seven types of seahorses alone. Mandarin fishes, Sea Spiders, shrimps, Pegasus, Pipefish, frogfish and many many more. The island has a large number of dive centres and operators. The quality of accommodation has also significantly improved over the last few years. Many operators bring dive tour on day trips from Manado as well.

What to see

Lembeh is all about critters and some of the most iconic species of the Strait include hairy frogfish, mimic, coconut and wunderpus octopus, pygmy seahorses, bobbit worms, stargazers, harlequin, tiger and emperor shrimps, ghost pipefish, a plethora of nudibranch species, mandarinfish and the endemic Banggai cardinalfish. Be sure to make a night dive to see the many nocturnal species too.

Getting there

The nearest airport is Sam Ratulangi International Airport in Manado (MDC), which receives flights from Singapore as well as Bali, Jakarta and other cities in Indonesia. The port of Bitung is around a one and a half hour car drive and from there you will travel onwards either by car or by boat depending on which side of the Strait you are staying. Diving is mainly resort based and most resorts offer airport pickups.

Manado (MDC)

Liveaboards in Lembeh Strait

El Aleph

El Aleph

Price on Request
Ambai

Ambai

From $3315

La Galigo

La Galigo

From $1650

Adelaar

Adelaar

From $3805

Kalimantan Explorer

Kalimantan Explorer

From $533

Magia II

Magia II

From $525

Popular Dive Sites in Lembeh Strait

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Wainiluh

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Torpedo Alley

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Mellisa Garden

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Batu Lima

Other Indonesian Destinations

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