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Divers looking for the best diving in Indonesia should try Gorontalo’s submerged points. These are a unique feature of the complex underwater landscape in this hidden paradise. Usually below thirty meters, a point of coral protrudes from the wall. The long shore current will hit these submerged points. Schools of fish gather here. Sea fans and sponges grow huge.
Buffalo Head Point Dive Site
This dive site is named after the shape of the cliff. It looks like the head of a water buffalo. This prime dive site follows a submerged point that juts into deep ocean water. The point is a wide, downward sloping plain that starts at about 30 meters. When the long shore current hits this point, schools of fish gather to feed. This includes large trevally, snappers, fusiliers and triggerfish. Most of the fish will gather where the current hits. The hard coral growth here is amazing. Several smaller points of coral branch off the main wall. The shallow reef flat is teeming with life. The current here can be quite strong.
Miguel’s Diving has not measured this site.
Depth: 2 – 40 meters
Highlights for the Best Diving in Indonesia: dramatic wall with dense coral growth, schooling fish, vibrant shallow reef
Conditions: Typical visibility is 20 meters. Currents can be strong here and divers should let Miguel’s Diving staff decide whether the ocean conditions favor a safe dive.
Special Note: Down current is possible over the submerged point. Watch your gauge. Do not stray too far from your dive guide. Sometimes divers need to crawl around the coral point against the current. Only a short distance away is a sheltered nook. There divers can watch the fish action and then swim away from the current.
The Best Diving in Indonesia Virtual Dive on Buffalo Head Point
Back roll into the current and proceed over the reef flat. Follow your dive guide into a crack in the wall where waters are still. After descending to the pre-planned depth, drift with the gentle current. Watch a school of Slender unicornfish. On an outcrop of coral, an anemone provides a home to Nemo and his family. Sharing the anenome are several Sarasvati shrimp (Periclimenes sarasvati 2002). This is one of Gorontalo’s new species. The best diving in Indonesia includes seeing new species of marine life like this beautiful shrimp.
Drift above a sandy point that stretches beyond visibility. Do not be distracted by the coral wall and forget to look into the blue. Your dive guide signals for you to turn towards the deep blue. A school of hundreds of Big-eye trevally blast pass. But now divers hit a reverse the current. Your dive guide signals to follow him over a patch of soft coral. Ahead is a sheltered place behind the side of a protective arm of the wall. At this point, the currents from both sides of the point clash. Multiple fish schools gather to feed, oblivious of the divers. Midnight snappers drift below and Red-tooth triggers swirling all around the divers.
Passing several points of dense coral, start your ascent and swim back into the current for the safety stop. Hide from the current among coral bommies on the reef flat. From there you can watch the fish action over the edge of the wall. Your dive guide points to a family of Black anemonefish (Amphiprion melanopus) living in Bulb anemones among densely branching coral. This fish is only found in one other dive site in Gorontalo. Marine diversity is a hallmark of the best diving in Indonesia.
Honeycomb Dive Site
This dive site follows a submerged point that juts into the long shore current. When the current is running, tight rolling waves pile up on the ocean’s surface. This phenomenon is all the more apparent at adjacent sites where the water is flat and calm. The dramatic wall is covered in dense coral growth with a heavy sprinkling of large sponges. As typical with walls in Gorontalo, the limestone substrate shows evidence of the erosive forces of nature. Numerous vertical chutes are carved into the wall. This site features two collapsed caverns and a swim-through that pierces one of the many buttresses that project from the undulating wall.
The site is about 580 meters long.
Depth: 3 – 40 meters
Highlights for the Best Diving in Indonesia: dramatic wall with dense coral growth, large sponges, swim through, schooling fish
Conditions: Typical visibility is 20 meters. Heavy rain can dramatically reduce the visibility, but the fish don’t seem to care. Ripping currents bring out clouds of fish and schools of large trevally. Heavy surf can produce strong down currents. This typically happens on the day of the full moon when the normally negligible tide change can be around a meter. This is a great site for those with some experience in current diving.
The Best Diving in Indonesia Virtual Dive on Honeycomb
Depending on the direction of the current, the dive may be run west to east as follows:
Descend past a collapsed cave to follow a narrow ledge to its end. Here, at about 15 meters, a Grand worm snail (Serpulorbis grandis) casts its mucous net to gather plankton. Below the collapsed cavern is an large patch of giant Cigar sponges (Haliclona vanderlandi 2001). It is one of Gorontalo’s new species. Cruising depth is excellent at 18 meters. The steep slope becomes a wall with six deep, vertical chutes. These chutes border dramatic buttresses that plunge into the depths. Turn around inside one of the chutes and look out into the deep blue. Watch the fishes passing back and forth. Before a long section of bending wall, divers encounter another collapsed cavern at about 20 meters. A dive torch will help you visualize how deep the cavern must have been. Large groupers still hide in its depths.
The next section of wall is pitted by numerous holes. If the current is slack, take time to look in holes with sand bottoms. Typically a shrimpgoby and its crustacean pals will live here. Most entertaining is the distinctive Sailfin shrimpgoby (Amblyeleotris randalli). After another chute-and-buttress grouping, the wall opens into a steep slope. Ahead is a free-standing, coral pyramid. Dramatic coral formations like this are part of the best diving in Indonesia. At a depth of 15 meters is a tunnel filled with gorgonians and other corals. At the safety stop level, numerous tree corals (Siphonogorgia sp.) grow on the wall. Their white polyps contrast sharply with their wine-red trunks.
Swirling Steps Dive Site
The shape of this submerged point is a series of steps. The shallow reef flat is the first step. It is only a few meters deep. The final step in safe diving rage is at 30 meters This step is very wide and long and stretches far out into deep water. The edge of this step drops to 40 meters. Hard corals dominate this site, even below 40 meters. Pristine coral growth marks the best diving in Indonesia. Currents often merge at the point and can create down current.
This site is about 500 meters long.
Depth: 2 – 40 meters
Highlights for the Best Diving in Indonesia: Walls and flats forming steps with dense coral growth, large sponges, chance to see pelagics
Conditions: Typical visibility is 20 meters. Encroaching river water can reduce visibility, but the fish don’t seem to care.
Special Note: When passing over the deep point, watch out for down currents.
The Best Diving in Indonesia Virtual Dive on Swirling Steps
Descend amid swirls of chromis feeding in the current. Pass a plateau covered with swaying soft corals. Below the drop off is a large Salvador Dali sponge at the edge of a large flat of white sand. Drifting under schools of fusiliers, you pass a colony of large red whip coral and approach the edge of a coral ridge. Above it in a flat of white sand, garden eels feed in the current. Descend with your dive guide toward the deep sand flat below. A pair of Dog-tooth tuna blast by. Sponges here are gigantic, easily large than a diver. Some are almost horizontal, as if knocked over by something huge. A shadow passes above. Your dive guide signals as a Whale Shark swims past you and down the drop off. The best diving in Indonesia includes pelagic sightings.
Swimming up and against the current, you pass a school of Blue-dash fusiliers feeding on plankton. Resting behind a big rock, a Hawksbill turtle swims gracefully away. A single remora clings to its shell. Now that you have rounded the submerged point, the current eases. Notice numerous ridges of coral and valleys of white sand mixed with coral. Next to a giant sponge, Nemo and his family live greet you.
Now low on air and dive time, ascend to make your safety stop. The edge of the reef flat is jam packed with hard corals. Ahead lives a series of large Acropora table corals. Among the rocks at the top, your dive guide has located a Yellow-margin moray. Ascends to the dive boat, which waits overhead.
White Point Dive Site
One of Gorontalo’s most visited sites, this submerged point attracts school of fish and pelagics. The point itself is covered with white sand with only scattered hard corals. It rests below 30 meters. The visibility off this deep point is typically quite good. Schools of large snappers can be seen off the drop off. The reef crest at three meters. Because it faces into the heavy waves of off season, hard corals are not as large as other locations in Gorontalo. The reef flat is composed of hard corals and rocks, making for an interesting place for the safety stop.
Miguel’s Diving has not measured this site.
Depth: 2 – 40 meters
Highlights for the Best Diving in Indonesia: Dramatic wall, Salvador Dali sponges, giant sea fans, schooling fish
Conditions: Typical visibility is 20 meters. Cold up-wellings can reduce visibility at depth.
The Best Diving in Indonesia Virtual Dive on White Point
Descend across a shallow reef flat of white sand near a beautiful Acropora table coral. White sand sprinkled down the wall mixes with the corals that growth there. Upon nearing the submerged point, your dive guide signals to descend. Several gigantic sea fans grows horizontally to the current. They are of pink, yellow and brown. Below the drop off, a school of large Midnight snapper wander about.
Drifting over the white sand point, your dive guide points to several large Rainbow runners. They like divers. Rising back towards the wall, the dive guide gives a frantic signal. A school of hundreds of Big-eye trevally inspect the divers and their bubbles. On a patch of grassy coral, a Mossy nudibranch blends in to all but a trained eye. Nearby a large red Tasseled scorpionfish sits motionless on an up-side-down mushroom coral.
Now past the point, look below at the huge black coral bushes. They grow in a sheltered nook far below. Pacific pyramid butterflyfish hover in the current just off the wall. Your dive guide points to three strands of rare hanging soft coral, They are pink in color. Nearby under another overhang hang several colonies of Foxtail tunicates. Unusual marine life like this is characteristic of the best diving in Indonesia.
At the reef crest for the safety stop, watch pairs of Red firegobies flicking their dorsal fins in excitement.