Diving in Sulawesi

Home to amazing reefs, rocks, walls, wrecks and caves, the dive sites in Central Sulawesi are the stuff of dreams. Here divers can swim with a huge number of species, from big to small and many endemics. All levels of divers are sure to enjoy diving in Central Sulawesi, but underwater photographers will capture some of their best-ever shots while diving in this pristine environment.

There are three main diving destinations in the province of Central Sulawesi. Those are Donggala near Palu, the Togian Islands and the Banggai Archipelago. Just 37 miles (60 kilometres) from the capital of Palu, Donggala is a small peninsula on the west side of the island surrounded by pristine reefs. It’s here that divers can gape at frogfish and reef sharks. The beauty of the underwater environment draws repeat visitors throughout the year.

The Togian Islands are the best-known diving destination in Central Sulawesi. They are located in the Gulf of Tomini, which is reputed to be the calmest deep water bay in the world. As such, these islands offer excellent training opportunities. The six main islands play host to over 819 species of fish and several endemic species, including 3 species of coral. The crystal clear waters are perfect for exploring the walls of this group of islands.

Finally, the Banggai Archipelago is the most eastern dive location in Central Sulawesi. This area is located in the northern section of Tolo Bay and is only accessible by liveaboard. While many of the reefs have been damaged by destructive fishing practices, those visited by dive boats are still healthy. Because the area is more exposed than the Togian Islands, there are more pelagic species to be seen. In addition, the endemic species known as the Banggai cardinalfish can only be seen in this area.

Divers can expect warm, equatorial weather with waters ranging from 84-91°F (29-33°C) and crystal clear visibility. Keep in mind that visibility may be negatively affected by nearby mangroves. Dive seasons vary based on location. The Tongians’ season lasts from March to December while the Banggai Archipelago can be dived from September to February. Donggala has a dive seasons from December to May and July to September. Wherever you choose to dive, you are sure to have memories that will last a lifetime from Central Sulawesi.

What to see

Marine life is plentiful in Central Sulawesi. Divers can expect to see colorful hard and soft corals, sponges, gorgonians and fans. These include at least three endemic coral species. 819 species of colorful fish shimmer throughout the reefs, walls and wrecks. Reef sharks and schools of blacktail barracudas stalk their prey while bobtail squid and frogfish create odd spectacles. Eagle rays glide past in the blue and hawksbill turtles can be seen eating in the shallows. For the lucky few, a dugong may make an unexpected appearance near the mangrove entrances. Your dive logs are sure to be full and happy after merely one dive in Central Sulawesi.

Getting there

Getting to Central Sulawesi is a bit of a challenge. There are airports in Palu and Luwuk with domestic connections to Manado and Makassar. It is also possible to reach destinations in Central Sulawesi by bus from other provinces on the island. Keep in mind that roads are often damaged and traveling on them can be quite slow. If you are trying to reach a coastal resort, consider a private boat transfer or catching a ride on a local ferry.

Sultan Hasanuddin Airport (UPG)

Liveaboards in Sulawesi

Duyung Baru Phinisi - Liveaboard Indonesia 15

Duyung Baru

from: $359
Blue Manta Raja Ampat - Liveaboard Indonesia (9)

Blue Manta

from: $405

Plataran Phinisi Felicia

from: $405

Mermaid 1

from: $337

Seven Seas

from: $456

Jaya

from: $264

Popular Dive Sites in Sulawesi

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*Please note that all itineraires and dive information provided is only a sample of what you can expect on your trip. Please understand that changes made be made on the fly, which can be based on the guests, weather and other unforseen conditions.

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