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boxer crab are found in Lembeh

Snorkeling Lembeh, Bunaken NP, and Bangka!

Route map for Sulawesi snorkeling tourSulawesi is one of 17,000+ islands in Indonesia. Aside from its large size, it remains one of the more unique islands within the archipelago. Most of the islands in the Indonesian archipelago were created by tectonic plate interaction and volcanic activity millions of years ago. Submerged vents spewed magma to the surface and as it cooled, formed islands in the warm tropical seas. Most of these islands reside on the tectonic plate on which they were made. Sulawesi, however, is a mash-up of several different islands that formed on different tectonic plates in the region. As ‘their’ plates continued to interact and move, the islands were violently pushed together to create the one land mass that is Sulawesi. This exceptional island became home to a variety of unique and rare terrestrial animals and plants that once existed in relative isolation but now shared the same space on the planet.
The marine environments around Indonesia’s fourth largest island are equally fantastic. Sulawesi is nearly centered within the coral triangle and possesses some of the richest and diverse reefs on the planet. While there are several world-class snorkeling destinations around the island, few areas showcase the diversity of marine life better than Lembeh, Bangka Island, and Bunaken National Park.

Lembeh Island

Lembeh is known as the ‘critter capital of the world’, and it more than lives up to its reputation. Snorkelers with a keen interest in rare, cryptic marine life will especially love this area as the combination of black sand and colorful coral makes for the ultimate ‘critter-hunt’.

Bangka Island

Bangka Island sits five miles off the northeastern tip of Sulawesi and benefits from being at the border of two different bodies of water, the Molucca Sea to the east and the Celebes Sea to the west. Different current patterns in each sea converge to create good water flow and nutrient upwellings around the Island. As a result, lush, vibrant reefs comprised soft and hard corals dominate the shallow water.

Bunaken National Park

Just off the northwestern tip of Sulawesi, Bunaken National Park was established in 1991 as the flagship marine reserve in Indonesia. The park is nearly 350 square miles of mostly marine habitat and possesses over 390 species of coral and close to 2000 species of tropical reef fishes! Extensive fringing reefs slope sharply into the blue, and with over 30 years of protection, sightings of sharks and turtles are common.
Our focus, of course, is on snorkeling, but we wouldn’t feel right if we didn’t offer the chance to visit one of Indonesia’s oldest nature reserves, Tangkoko National Park (est. 1919). This magnificent park is 33 square miles of lush jungle and contains some of the magnificent terrestrial animals Sulawesi is known for including spectral tarsiers, crested black macaques, and cuscus. And don’t forget the birds, 80 endemic species including hornbills, parrots, and kingfishers. Please join us for this special 15-day snorkeling safari to North Sulawesi, Indonesia!



Route map for North Sulawesi snorkeling tourOur snorkeling adventure in north Sulawesi begins and ends in Bali, Indonesia. One internal flight, Bali to Manado. We’ll begin our safari at Lembeh Resort, moving northward to Murex Resort on Bangka Island, and finishing at Murex Resort in Manado. Internal transfers between resorts will take place by boat or a combination of land and boat. Please note that this is a general itinerary and that weather, tides, and other unforeseen or unavoidable circumstances may affect the schedule at any time.

Day 1: Bali / Sanur
Meals provided: D
Arrive in Bali and transfer to Sanur to check in at the group hotel/resort. Welcome dinner and trip orientation at the resort. Overnight Hyatt Regency Bali.

Day 2: Sulawesi / Manado / Lembeh Resort
Meals provided: B,L,D
Planes, trains, and automobiles! We have a morning flight to Manado, Sulawesi followed by a one-hour land transfer, followed by a short 20-minute boat ride to Lembeh Resort. While it may seem adventurous, the travel time should have us in Lembeh Resort by lunch. After lunch, a brief orientation to the resort and then our first snorkel on the house reef. Overnight Lembeh Resort.

Day 3 – 4: Lembeh / Tangkoko National Park
Meals provided: B,L,D
Lembeh is known for its mixed black sand and coral habitats that seem to attract a wealth of bizarre and other-worldly type critters including flamboyant cuttlefish, harlequin shrimp, frogfishes, nudibranchs, mimic and blue-ring octopuses, and Banggai cardinalfish just to name a few! Most of our snorkel sites are located in Lembeh Strait and are just a few minutes boat ride from the resort. Along with our time snorkeling the shallow habitats of Lembeh, we’ll also spend an afternoon at Tangkoko National Park. Our guided exploration of the park includes a mixture of scenic drives through lush jungle at the base of towering volcanoes and short hikes to look for rare birds and plants. Overnight Lembeh Resort.

Day 5: Lembeh Resort / Murex Bangka
Meals provided: B,L,D
We won’t miss a beat in terms of snorkeling on our transfer day. We’ll load up the boat and visit two snorkel sites on our way to Murex Resort – Bangka and our next destination, Bangka Islands. Overnight Murex Resort – Bangka.

Day 6 – 8: Bangka Island / Gangga Island
Meals provided: B,L,D
The next few days of our snorkeling safari takes us to Bangka Island and Murex Resort – Bangka. If Lembeh was all about crazy critters, Bangka Island is all about the pageantry of soft coral. Steep fringing reefs begin right from shore and the exposure to oceanic currents bring in larger pelagic marine life like sharks, dolphins, and whales. Another special marine mammal we might have the chance to see are dugongs. Among the variety of habitats we’ll visit will be mixed sand and sea grass in search of dugongs that often rest along the sandy slope. We’ll also visit snorkel sites on nearby Gangga Island. Overnight Murex Resort – Bangka.

Day 9: Murex Bangka / Murex Manado
Meals provided: B,L,D
Like our first transfer between resorts, after breakfast we’ll board our private boat and visit two snorkel sites before getting dropped off at Murex Manado. Overnight Murex Resort – Manado.

Day 10 – 13: Bunaken National Park / Manado
Meals provided: B,L,D
Our final leg of the safari ends in one of the top snorkeling destinations in Indonesia. Bunaken Marine Park is famous for its healthy, shallow reefs and dramatic walls! We’ll get a nice mix of big animals and small critters as we explore many of the marine habitats of Bunaken National Park. We also plan to visit sites around Siladen Island and Manado Tua Island as well as a land tour to Kali waterfalls. Overnight Murex Resort – Manado.

Day 14: Sulawesi / Bali / Sanur
Meals provided: B,L,D
After a leisurely morning, we’ll transfer to the airport for our afternoon flight back to Bali. We’ll have our farewell dinner at the group hotel. Overnight Hyatt Regency Bali.

Day 15: International flights or extensions
Meals provided: B


November 22 – December 06, 2024 ←Sold out
Accommodations: Lembeh Resort, Murex – Bangka, Murex – Manado
Guides: Lee Goldman, Ethan Daniels
Length: 15 days

Prices and Payment schedule:
$7000 USD per person, double occupancy

Reservation deposit: $500 USD
May 22, 2024: $3000 USD
August 22, 2024: $3500 USD

Back-to-back combination with: Raja Ampat, Dec 09 – 22, 2024

Tour cost includes:

  • Accommodations on day 1 through day 15
  • All meals on days 2 through 14 (dinner on day 1 – breakfast on day 15)
  • All internal transfers including international arrival and departure transfers
  • Non-alcoholic beverages
  • All snorkeling and park fees
  • All gratuities

Tour cost does not include:

  • Round-trip international airfare
  • Additional hotel accommodations and meals as a result of travel outside of the program dates
  • Visa requirements including payments
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • International departure taxes
  • Extra / overweight baggage fees
  • Trip insurance (recommended; (we recommend Travel GuardWorld Nomads, or Travel Insure)
  • DAN insurance (required unless personal insurance program has worldwide emergency evacuation services)
  • Additional accommodations while on tour in the event of flight schedule changes or events of force majeure
  • Fuel surcharges (if applicable)

Cancellation policy:
180 – 91 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
90 days or less prior to departure: 100% of tour cost

Please see our Terms and Conditions


Our hosts for our snorkeling adventure in North Sulawesi are all part of Murex Resorts. Please visit our accommodations page for more photos or use the link to visit the resort/live-aboard website.

Lembeh Resort is nestled away in a private cove surrounded by exotic flora and fauna in a central part of Lembeh Island. The resort is centered around an ocean front deck and swimming-pool which is the perfect place to enjoy a sundowner cocktail at the end of a busy day of snorkeling. The main dining area is located centrally within and is on the upper level of the main building. Breakfast and lunch are served as buffets, dinner is served á la carte. Our chefs prepare a wide selection of international & Indonesian cuisine catering to all tastes. A range of teas and coffees are available throughout the day in the dining area and at the pool-bar. Our spa offers a range of beauty and massage treatments. More photos 

Murex Resort – Bangka is situated on a palm-fringed white sand beach on the main island of Bangka. Murex Bangka Resort has luxury deluxe hillside cottages which are located to give refreshing sea breezes and stunning views over the ocean and lush tree canopy below. These tastefully appointed, air-conditioned rooms offer comfortable indoor living and large verandas with built-in day beds. Oceanfront cottages are traditional, styled-timber bungalows that offer comfortable beachside accommodations in line with the deluxe hillside cottages, but with easy access to the beach! Three plentiful buffet meals a day are served in our main beachfront restaurant which features an open-air terrace and beach service for those who prefer dining al fresco. Cuisine is varied and combines a tantalizing mix of International and Asian flavors using fresh local ingredients. The team of western trained chefs can cater for special dietary requirements upon request. More photos 

Murex Manado Resort is set amid mature, tropical water gardens situated on the seafront in a small village outside of Manado. Relax by the poolside, explore the gardens or kick back and watch the sunset over the ocean with friends. Enjoy our seafront location with stunning views over the water to the Bunaken Marine Park and the volcanic island of Manado Tua on the horizon. The Beach Club at Murex Manado serves modern cuisine which combines a tantalizing mix of International and Asian flavors using fresh local ingredients. A varied set menu is offered three times a day and, of course, guests are welcome to add to their packages and try more! The team of western trained chefs can cater for special dietary requirements upon request. Whether you choose to enjoy an active holiday or prefer to chill out by the pool, exceptional service is our standard. More photos 

The Hyatt Regency in Sanur, Bali, is a beachfront property built on nine hectares of lush tropical gardens. Relax in one of the 363 rooms, designed with contemporary Balinese and Japanese elements and comforts. Each room features a patio or balcony overlooking lush gardens or partial ocean. The property has three gorgeous swimming pools and three restaurants to choose from: Omang Omang, Pizzaria, and Piano Lounge. The hotel is conveniently located near Bali’s main tourist attractions, and the International Airport Ngurah Rai is just 16 km away. Hyatt Regency Bali is a CHSE certified and GBAC STARTMaccredited hotel. Our room type is the Premium King or Twin. These rooms are 39 square meters and feature a sitting/lounging area and a spacious terrace with easy access to the pools, restaurants and gardens. More photos 


Northern Sulawesi is located just a couple of degrees above the Equator and enjoys a tropical climate with temperatures that hover around 85º F (29º C) during the daytime and fall slightly at night. Afternoon and early morning showers are common but the sun generally shines throughout the day creating a perfect environment for swimming in the clear, blue seas. Water temperatures average 82º F (28º C), but we may experience transient moments of cooler temperatures due to currents, rain, or wind.

Each day of snorkeling revolves around a schedule that boasts plenty of water time. Aside from the snorkel on our given house reef, all our sites will be accessed via our private speed boat that has a good ladder for entry back into the boat. With the daily goal of snorkeling some of the best reefs in the world, our schedule generally includes two snorkel sessions and a presentation before dinner. Our first snorkel session begins after breakfast and can last up until lunch. About an hour after lunch, we jump back in the water for another session. We plan to do at least one night snorkel as well as visit Tangkoko National Park in the forests of Sulawesi. On these days, we will adjust the schedule to include these activities, but still include one snorkel during the day.

Many of the reefs we will snorkel upon in Sulawesi are subjected to currents associated with the large tide cycles that prevail in the area. While we often schedule our session during a time when the currents are minimal, there will be planned drift snorkels. These types of snorkels take advantage of the water movement and allow us to float over the reef without having to actively swim. This activity usually becomes an instant favorite among our guests as it is very exciting and yet very passive at the same time! In some cases, however, the unpredictability of the tides may expose us to strong water movement. This may require a bit of effort though we will always have our dinghies standing by to help if needed.

For our visit/walk in Tangkoko National Park and Kali waterfalls we suggest comfortable clothing for being active in tropical environments (cottons or quick-drying materials), a hat, shoes for walking on established, but uneven trails, and a packable light-weight rain jacket.

Please read more about our daily schedule.


The following list is a suggestion of things to bring and applies to almost all our trips.

-A good fitting mask, snorkel, and set of fins. If your equipment is brand new, please try it out in the pool. Determining the fit and function of your equipment in the pool includes doing several laps with all your equipment on. Doing several snorkel dives is also very beneficial. It is also important to clean your new equipment, especially your mask. Cleaning procedures for your mask include light scrubbing with toothpaste or dishwasher soap to remove the layer of silicon used to preserve the mask during shipping. Clean both sides of the mask. Doing this greatly reduces the chances of having your mask fog. Not doing this, even when using mask de-fogger, usually results in a fogged mask.

-A wetsuit, rash guard, diveskin, or any type of clothing that can be used for thermal and/or protection from the sun. We suggest bringing a full 3mm wetsuit and some type of core insulation like a vest or shirt made of 1 – 2 mm neoprene (e.g., Lavacore or Sharkskin shirts or vests). These items will not only provide thermal protection but protection from the sun as well. For those who feel that a 3mm suit may be too warm, please consider a full body skin or rash guard to ensure protection from the sun. With regards to thermal protection, remember the saying: It is better to have and not need, than to need and not have. One that note…

-Head protection in the form of a wetsuit hood, a cap, or even a bandana. Anything that can keep the sun off your head is extremely important. It is the most exposed part of our bodies when we are floating on the surface.

-Underwater flashlight on departures with a planned night snorkel.

-Biodegradable sunscreen lotion. Sunscreen lotions can be harmful and even kill tiny larvae (baby marine life). It is fine to wear on land, but we highly discourage the use of sunscreen lotions in the water. A full wetsuit or dive skin will protect one from the sun much better than lotions and provide thermal protection. It is truly a win-win for everyone and the marine environment.

-Casual, lightweight, tropical clothing
-Sunglasses (and a spare in case you lose your main pair)
-Comfortable footwear such as active sandals (Teva, Keen, Merrell, etc.)
-Hats. We cannot stress the importance of a hat in the tropics!
-All our boats provide items like shampoo, soap, towels, etc. We bring this up because these items represent added weight or may leak.

Other items to consider:
-Lightweight rainwear to protect from the occasional afternoon shower


colorful coral photographed in Raja Ampat by Lee Goldman

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