On this trip we stayed at two Murex dive resorts. Firstly at the Manado mainland resort and then at the Bangka island resort.
The flights on Singapore airlines were good. We had two hot meals on the Australia-Singapore legs and the video entertainment was excellent with a wide choice of movies and other items available.
Note: airline seating – prepare to be split up if you’re travelling with multiple people. Unfortunately it is near impossible to pre book seats, we always make requests but seat allocation is at the airlines discretion.
Firstly I would like to say that the staff at both resorts went well out of their way to make us feel comfortable. The staff were customer focussed and professional.
When Susan had a worsening ear infection at Bangka, the resort management arranged for boat & land transportation back to Manado and stayed with us whilst Susan sought treatment at Manado hospital. They then took us back to their Manado resort and put us up there overnight. The next day they arranged land & sea transportation to take us back to Bangka Island. They did levy a small charge for all the transportation but it was well under what this would have normally cost.
This is a nice little resort just outside the main city of Manado. The beach is black sand and a bit rocky so not very inviting for swimming however they do have a fabulous pool with a deep section for diver training. The rooms were good with strong A/C to keep the rooms cool. The meals (lunch & dinner) were Indonesian buffet style and good quality with plenty of food for seconds or thirds. Breakfasts were good with cooked egg dishes available as well as juices, cereals, and pastries. The only issue we had here was with the showers which run off gas. These can be finicky if not adjusted correctly and it was sometimes hard to get something in between too hot and too cold.
This is an island resort located on a beautiful beach with pure white sand. There was a small amount of rubbish washed up but this did not detract from the overall appeal of the location. Once again the staff were very helpful and went out of their way to address any concerns. The rooms were nice however we had a similar issue with the hot water systems here.
Again meals were good quality and plentiful however 14 days of Indonesian buffet for lunch & dinner every day had us hunkering for something different by the time we left Indonesia.
Susan had good snorkelling on most of the boat trips. The boat captains kept a close eye on her especially if there was a current. The beach at Manado wasn’t very inviting so she didn’t snorkel there. We were told that the house reef at Bangka was exceptional however nearly all the time we were there it was windy and a bit too choppy for Susan. On the day we left the sea was calm for the first time unfortunately we were packed and ready to leave.
In general the dive sites were clean however there is a lot of rubbish in the oceans surrounding Nth Sulawesi. This is very obvious when heading out to the dive sites by boat from the mainland. This was pretty depressing but is an issue that the Government and the country needs to work on.
The dive boats were very well set up at both resorts. All diving gear and cylinders were securely stored and all boats had toilets which avoided the need to ‘test the current’ something the ladies really appreciated. Towels, water and snacks were available for the break between dives and you had the choice of inside in the shade or sunbaking on the front deck. A camera tank was on board for photographic gear.
Boat trips were usually only 20-30 minutes and sea was always calm. The diving around Bunaken Island was spectacular with lots of walls, corals, and turtles. Didn’t see any pelagic fish but we were lucky enough to see a pod of seven sperm whales on one of the dive trips and drifted alongside them on the boat for 15 minutes.
Most of the diving at both sites consisted of reef fish and smaller species such as pygmy sea horses, nudibranchs, anemone fish, baby eagle rays, mantis shrimps, lion fish, scorpion fish, etc.
With two dives in the morning you had to be up early, breakfast around 7am and the boats headed off at 8am. Boat returned for lunch around 1pm and then there was an afternoon muck dive for those who wanted more.
I did have a couple of issues with diving gear handling. Usually I like to clean all my own gear after the boat returns. At both resorts the boat crew were tasked with loading your gear on the boat and then cleaning and storing it at the end of the dives. I am sure that they were careful with our gear however I’d be happier looking after my own equipment.
Thanks to Pim, Dave, Sonny, Danny & Ollie at Murex.
Also to Kristen & Prashun at Allways.
Peter & Susan Shearman