North Sulawesi / Sangihe
Departing from Bitung (close to Manado), our North Sulawesi cruise allows you to experience a great variety of dive sites, bursting with amazing marine life and species. THe highlights of this area are more on small animals and macro.
Experience the pinnacles and rocks of the Bangka Islands with some rocky dive sites covered by beautiful soft corals and sea life, the muck dives in Lembeh Strait, with some of underwater world’s finest species—frogfishes, mimic octopuses, and many more.
In this 10-night cruise program, we will take you further north to the Sangihe Islands where you will find a not only a wide variety of sites with muck and critter dives but also some great pinacles teaming with life, including the famous Mahagetang underwater volcano. You will do numerous night dives during this cruise, which is a must-do in North Sulawesi. The profusion and diversity of the night creatures are just splendid!
Our program also includes a tour to the Tangkoko National Park, a rainforest reserve for tarsiers, macaques, hornbills and many more.
Visibility in this area ranges between 15 to 30 meters. In Lembeh Strait, the visibility is generally limited, but it does not affect much as the dives are more focused on creatures that live on the substrate. Bunaken and Bangka, provide excellent visibility ranging between 20 to 30 meters.
The water temperature in Lembeh Strait is cooler in September and October, but does not go below 26° C. In Bunaken and Bangka, it might vary between 27 to 29° C
While the currents might be average on certain dives in Bunaken, strong currents are quite common. Some dive sites in Sangihe can also be quite challenging. However, the dives in North Sulawesi are generally easy and relaxed.
- Arrival & Departure: Manado International Airport
- Check-in : 3:30 PM
- Check-out : 9:30 AM
Silk Air (a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines) operates flights to and from Singapore on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
The cruise departs in the evening, so you can take the 1:15 PM Silk Air flight on the same day. We will pick you up at the airport regardless of your arrival time. As for the return, it is also possible to take your flight on the day the cruise ends.
The best diving season is from April to November. The driest months are usually from June to September, during which the South East monsoon brings some pleasant and refreshing winds. Extension to Sangihe is only possible during the season of inter-monsoon when the waves and upwelling are calmer, in October to November, and April to May.
As for the animals, these season changes do not bring any major difference, except for the ghost fishes that are more common to be found starting in July.
In general, North Sulawesi has a pleasant climate with constant refreshing breeze.
North Sulawesi used to be a colony of the Portuguese before taken over by the Dutch. The region played an important part in spice trading at that time, with the Siau Island as a major producer of nutmegs. The colonization also explains why the majority of the population is Christian, while the rest of Indonesia is predominantly Muslim. Agriculture in this area is also very rich thanks to its fertile volcanic soil.
- Bitung is famous as the largest commercial port in eastern Indonesia, and as the third biggest fishing harbor in Indonesia where most fishing boats depart to the east.
- The volcanic activities there are intense. Active volcanoes can be found in Siau Island and just above Manado.
There are many possible activities that you can do if you would like to extend your stay:
- More dives, staying at a resort in either Lembeh Strait, Bunaken or Bangka,
- A few days in Tomohon Heights, with trips to volcanoes, lakes and markets in the area.
- Fly out to Makassar to visit Tana Toraja, a beautiful mountainous area with many rice fields, villages with house-shaped boat. We can arrange tours for a minimum of 5 days.
The name Manado comes from the word manadou or wanazou, meaning "on the far coast" or "in the distance," and originally referred to the further two islands which can be seen from the mainland. When the settlement for these islands was relocated to the mainland, the name Manado was brought with it, after which the island itself became referred to as Manado Tua (Old Manado).
The first mention of Manado comes from a world map by cartographer Nicolas Desliens, which featured the Manarow Island (today's Manado Tua). Before Europeans arrived to North Sulawesi the area was under the rule of the Sultan of Ternate, who extorted tributes and introduced the Muslim religion to some of its inhabitants. The Portuguese made the Sultan their vassal, took possession of the Minahasa and established a factory in Wenang.
Meanwhile, the Spanish had already set themselves up in the Philippines, and Minahasa was developed to plant coffee that came from South America because of its rich soil. Manado was further developed by the Spanish to become the center of commerce for the Chinese traders who traded the coffee in China. With the help of native allies, the Spanish took over the Portuguese fortress in Amurang in the 1550s, and Spanish settlers also established a fort at Manado, so that eventually Spain controlled all of the Minahasa. It was in Manado where one of the first Indo-Eurasian (Mestizo) communities in the archipelago developed during the 16th century. The first King of Manado (1630) named Muntu Untu was in fact the son of a Spanish Mestizo.
Spain renounced to her possessions in Minahasa by means of a treaty with the Portuguese in return for a payment of 350,000 ducats. Minahasan natives made an alliance treaty with the Dutch and expelled the last of the Portuguese from Manado a few years later.
Fort Nieuw Amsterdam in the 1920s The Dutch East India Company or Verenigde Oost Indische Compagnie (VOC) built a fortress in Manado named Fort Amsterdam in 1658. As with regions in eastern Indonesia, Manado has undergone Christianization by Dutch missionaries, including Riedel and John Gottlieb Schwarz. And the Dutch missionaries built the first Christian church in Manado called Oude Kerk (Old Church) which is still standing now by the name of Gereja Sentrum.
The Javanese prince Diponegoro was exiled to Manado by the Dutch government in 1830 for leading a war of rebellion against the Dutch. The English biologist Alfred Wallace visited Manado in 1859, and praised the town for its beauty. In 1919, the Apostolic Prefecture of Celebes was established in the city. In 1961, it was promoted as the Diocese of Manado. The Japanese captured Manado in the Battle of Manado in January 1942. The city was severely damaged by Allied bombing during World War II.
In 1958, the headquarters of the rebel movement Permesta was moved to Manado. When Permesta confronted the central government with demands for political, economic and regional reformations, Jakarta responded by bombing the city in February 1958, and launched an invasion in June.