Critical Acclaim & Advice for Divers
What the Media Says about Diving in Gorontalo
"The fact that very few divers have ever set their fins on these pristine reefs means that there is an enormous wealth of rare marine critters waiting to be discovered here." - William Tan, FiNS magazine, April 2004
"One of Sulawesi's best-kept secrets, Gorontalo is capable of changing a diver's itinerary from pelagic paradise to macro sensation at the flick of a fin." - Jeffrey Loh, Asian Diver Magazine, December-January 2005
"Gorontalo has some of the best (if not the BEST) hard coral colonies that Takako and I have encountered in our travels...In all of our countless dives around the world, we saw so much in Gorontalo that we had never seen before." - Stephen Wong, What's Happening magazine, March 2006
"X-traordinary Dive" - Takako Uno, Australiasia ScubaDiver, April 2006
"Indonesia's Best Kept Secret" - William Tan, Asian Diver Magazine, Jun/Jul 2006
"Daya tarik Gorontalo bagi penyelam adalah beranekaragamannya lingkungan laut, dari tebing-tebing karang yang menakjubkan sampai teluk-teluk kotoran yang sepi, dari bangkai-bangkai kapal yang misterius sampai tiang-tiang karang yang menjulang, dari gua-gua yang gelap sampai taman-taman karang dangkal yang bercahaya di bawah sinar matahari...Gorontalo bawah laut adalah sekeping surga." - Rantje Allen, Garuda Inflight Magazine, August 2006
Field test location for Canon's G11, Cult Camera Project - William Tan, Australasia Scuba Diver, Issue 1/2010
"...world-class diving...(take) a look at its famous Salvador Dali sponges or a peek at its myriad endemic creatures." - Sol Foo, Asian Diver Magazine, Issue 1/2010
"an underwater utopia deep inside the waters of Tomini Bay, which is waiting to be explored and admired." - Suhodo Kartarahardja, Dive Discovery Magazine, April/May 2010
"With its wall diving world class...diving in Gorontalo at present is very enjoyable. Visibility is clear for dozens of meters and no groups of other divers." - Christantiowati, National Geographic Traveler (Indonesia) , March 2011
"Dengan ciri khas ragam spons unik berukuran raksasa di hampir semua situs, dapat dipastikan Gorontalo akan menjadi destinasi selam baru kelas dunia." - Suhodo Kartarahardja, Scuba Diver Australasia (Indonesia) , Issue 1/2011
"The beauty of Gorontalo's underwater world has long captivated international divers and has earned it the nickname, Indonesia's best kept secret. This new province also offers hospitality a plenty, thanks to the earnest demeanor and smiles of its residents." - Sari Widiati, Garuda Magazine, April 2011
"Those looking to visit an even less explored region of Sulawesi will find Gorontalo of great interest. The limestone cliffs here are prone to erosion, therefore swim-throughs, chimneys and caverns characterize much of the diving in Gorontalo. Adding to the variety there is great muck diving. Pinnacles and a couple of wrecks complete Gorontalo's varied portfolio." - Steve Jones, "Special K," Dive Mag UK, (digital) March 2012
"Et peu de plongeurs se sont deja aventures sur les recifs de la baie, qui sont pourtant splendides. Cheminees, grottes et tunnels caracterisent par ailleurs les plongees de la zone. Sur les parois, des eponges gigantesques se sont developpees." - Editor, Plongee, May 2012
"A plummeting seascape so close to land also has other benefits, providing a near-shore habitat for sessile species that would otherwise be vulnerable to shallow water wave action and therefore in the depths, they can survive. Descending past 20 meters, you enter the domain of the giant sponges, firmly gripping the porous limestone while the nutrient-rich currents wash over them." - Steve Jones, "Surreal Shores," Oceanographic, Issue 21: 2012
"My eyes were wide open and amazed at the beauty that lay in front of me, untouched coral reefs decorated by a rainbow of fishes and other marine lfe." - Shelo Soedarjo, Tourism Magazine (Indonesia), Edisi 061 2012
"If we're talking about character, Gorontalo water clearly has its own style. Besides Salvador Dali sponges and little caverns, many kinds of creatures can be seen here. However, there's one fish that attracted my attention. Purple anthias spread all over the place, just like a metallic purple ribbon." - @r_djangkaru, Divemag Indonesia, February 2013
"Di Gorontalo ada variasi hanging coral, cavern dan dua lokasi wreck dive. Visibility sampai 25 m. Hanya di perairan Gorontalo kita bisa menemukan Salvador Dali Sponge, sponge yang memiliki bentuk serta balutan ukiran khas dan unik." - Rasanikta M. Seta, Sriwijaya In-flight magazine, March 2013
Advice from Miguel's Diving
Because of unique ocean features, diving in Gorontalo is different that other dive locations in Sulawesi.
Most dive sites are coral-rich walls and very long, so there is plenty to see. After establishing neutral buoyancy, enjoy the amazing diversity here. Because of the extreme depths and good visibility, divers can be easily tempted deeper than their dive plan. Keep a look at your depth gauge. The nearest decompression chamber is located in distant Manado in North Sulawesi, so do not flirt with safe diving limits.
Waters are quite warm, measuring between 28 - 30 degrees Celsius (82 - 86 F). Shorty wet suits are available for your comfort.
Because locals in small outrigger canoes travel along the shallow reef crest, make sure you understand safe surfacing procedures. This includes listening for a boat motor, ascending with your gauge held high above your head and ascending with staff provided by Miguel's Diving.
Many dive sights in Sulawesi require some understanding of current diving, including North Sulawesi's Bunaken Marine Park. Tips for current diving include: maintain neutral buoyancy, relax and go with the flow, and notice the fish: they will all face into a moderate to strong current. In a down current, they will swim upwards; in an upwelling they will be swimming downwards. Down currents are always strongest close to the coral wall. Usually our dive master will enter the water while other divers are suiting up to check on the direction and strength of the current. In some locations currents will vary during a dive. The stronger the current, the more fish come out to play!
Almost always divers in Gorontalo will be drift diving. That basically means that you don't have to return to a certain location to get back into the boat. Instead, the boat will pick you and your buddy up where you surface.
Although we cannot promise sightings, large marine life is part of the environment here. This includes whalesharks, dolphins and whales. Consider all of them wildlife not used to humans, so approach or pass with caution.
Medical & Health Issues
Here is some general medical and health information for those diving in Sulawesi.
Vaccinations highly recommended for Indonesia include Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, and Polio.
The two health problems you are most likely to face are dehydration and sunburn. Both of these can lead to serious medical complications. You should plan to drink ten glasses or about two and a half (2.5) liters of water a day. Dehydration packs are available locally in Gorontalo and throughout Sulawesi as Pharolit, Oralit or Pocaci or you can bring something like Gatorade from home. One dehydration pack mixed in water every other day makes a good strategy for resupplying body salts lost in sweating. Please bring sun block (like SPF 30) and apply prior to going outside.
Although the area where Miguel's Diving takes guests diving in Gorontalo is not known as a malaria area, your doctor may advise taking anti-malaria medication. If you plan to do any scuba diving, DO NOT take Mefloquine (known as Lariam). Chloroquine and Paludrine are recommended. Also note that you will typically need to begin taking your prophylaxis a week prior to departure. Mosquitoes carrying this disease bite around dusk. The best strategy is to avoid getting bitten.
Dengue fever can be common during the rainy season in certain areas of Sulawesi. Since there is no drug to take for this disease, avoid getting bitten. Mosquitoes carrying this disease bite in the afternoon hours when people often take naps. Make sure your room has been sprayed. Mosquito nets are rarely available. A good strategy do avoid dengue fever is to be diving in the afternoon!
Bring insect repellent, antihistamine ointment for insect bites, tri-antibiotic ointment for cuts and seasickness tablets if you are likely to encounter this problem. Divers should NOT use the scopolamine patch, which has been reported to cause narcosis at shallow depths! Antibiotics are available locally in Gorontalo and throughout Sulawesi without a prescription.
Although diving with a cold or sinus trouble is NOT advised, divers might consider bringing sinus decongestants (non-drowsy) such as Sinutab, Triogesic or Sudafed.
Divers are advised to complete the PADI Medical Form with your doctor, although many Sulawesi dive operators are unlikely to require this.
Should you happen to encounter some stinging plankton, the best remedy is hot compresses. This can be in the form of hot water pressed onto the affected area with a cloth, heat from a hair dryer or even heat from the hot metal of a car or boat engine. Take as much heat as you can. If you are still itching several hours later, try another round of heat. Since marine venoms break down with heat, this treatment will also help for stings from lionfish, scorpionfish, etc.