• Photo by Rantje Allen

  • Photo by William Tan

  • Photo by Rantje Allen

  • Photo by William Tan

  • Photo by Rantje Allen

Loading content - please wait...

Category Archives: News

Covid vaccination complete for Miguel’s Diving staff

Covid vaccination is complete for all Miguel’s Diving staff. Our local dive masters completed both doses of Sinovac by mid-2021.

Ministry of Health Covid Vaccination Program

Covid vaccination for staff
Our staff display proof of vaccination

Organization for the covid vaccination program in Gorontalo was very professional. Health care workers registered residents according to national identity card. Results were sent to each person’s cell phone. This also provided proof of vaccination. After the first dosage, a reminder for the second dosage arrived to the registered cell phone number. After the second dosage, the Ministry of Health provided a vaccination certificate. This certificate can be printed as a card.

Covid vaccination helps protect the individual dive master from severe covid-19. It also provides confidence to our guests that our staff is protected to the extent possible.

Entry Requirements for Travelers

In order to enter Gorontalo, travelers must show a negative COVID-19 test result. This is in effect for arrivals by air, land, or sea at the time this blog was written. Also required is proof of covid vaccination. As a result, Miguel’s Diving does not ask to see a guest’s health records.

Olele vaccination program
Vaccination at Olele Village

Since entry requirements from the Indonesian government frequently change, please check before leaving home. The information could have changed since we published this blog post. Garuda Indonesia provides a good summary of these requirements.

Additional Safety Measures

We at Miguel’s Diving take additional measures to lower the risk of transmitting the Covid-19 virus among guests and to our staff. In addition to new normal precautions, we have special protocols designed for our divers

In general, health officials encourage handwashing with soap & water for at least 20 seconds. When social distancing of 1.5 meters is not possible, we encourage people to wear a health mask. Also, avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth. And please cough away from others and into the elbow.

We encourage divers to bring only necessary personal items on board. We are asked to check body temperature prior to leaving the dock. Also, please clean the dive mask with baby shampoo or cleaner rather than spit. Divers should clear sinuses in the ocean away from others and maintain social distancing when waiting to ascend the ladder.

In addition, Miguel’s Diving soaks each regulator and mask set for a minute in 22ml Clorox/L water. We provide a disposable health mask if guests forget to bring. After each trip, staff clean and disinfect our vehicle. In these ways, we follow protocol advised by PADI and DAN.

Guests of Miguel’s Diving can feel confident that we are doing our utmost to provide a healthy dive experience. So, please make dive reservations with us.

Jungle trekking in Gorontalo leads to hot spring caves

Jungle trekking in Gorontalo is a great addition to a diving holiday. Any easy-to-access half day trip leads through primary jungle to caves formed by hot springs.

Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park

Gorontalo and North Sulawesi provinces contain a significant national park. Its new name is Bogani Nani Wartabone. Previously, its name was Dumoga Bone National Park. Nani Wartabone was a native Gorontalo freedom fighter. He led the successful resistance against the Imperial Japanese occupation during the Second World War. Visitors to the Gorontalo side of this park can visit a house museum dedicated to him.

The park comprises over 2,800 square kilometers. According to conservationists, this national park is the most important conservation area on Sulawesi. The park provides refuge for many of Sulawesi’s endemic species. A Maleo hatchery is located a couple hours’ hike into the park.

Caves and Hot Springs

Jungle trekking into Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park gives visitors access to two small caves. Seepage from underground hot springs formed both caves. These caves are in their natural state with no human development.

Sauna cave Gorontalo
Ceiling of the Sauna Cave

One tiny cave is called the Sauna cave. Only the slim and agile trekker can climb into it. Inside it indeed feels like a sauna, complete with steam and dripping hot water. Flow stones and dramatic stalactites grow from its ceiling. High on a cliff is the Fairy cave. Locals call it Goa Bidadari. Access to this cave requires scrambling up a steep and barren slope where mineral waters leach over the surface. Only fit and agile trekkers should attempt the brief ascent. They do so at their own risk without any recommendation from Miguel’s Diving. These caves are located in the Hungayono area.

Jungle Trekking to Waterfalls and the one River

jungle trekking to water fall
Newly-formed waterfall

Jungle trekking in the national park can lead to two waterfalls. One falls dropping one hundred meters is accessed via Lombongo Hot Springs. Another falls formed during the COVID-19 pandemic after an earthquake. This waterfall is in the Hungayono area near to the Maleo hatchery. Its waters descend into the Bone River, which flows through the national park. These two falls cannot be accessed on the same trip. So, those seeking jungle trekking to a waterfall must choose. Be warned that scalding hot, underground water pours into the Bone River.

Wildlife Sightings

Trekkers should be on the lookout for various wildlife. Officially, the national park has identified 125 bird species, 24 mammals, 23 amphibians and reptiles. Moreover, tree species number 289. Often, trekkers can see or hear the endemic Gorontalo macque (Macaca nigrescens). This is actually a different species from the Sulawesi macaque (Macaca nigra) found in North Sulawesi’s Tangkoko Reserve. Neither of these primates are monkeys because they lack tails.

Mostly likely, trekkers will glimpse endemic kingfishers. The Green-backed kingfisher (Actenoides monachus) sports a brilliant blue head and orange beak. They live only in north and central Sulawesi. Additionally, lucky visitors can see the Sulawesi dwarf kingfisher (Ceyx fallax), which is distinctly red and found only on Sulawesi.

Other Sulawesi endemic birds include the Grey-sided flowerpecker (Dicaeum celebicum) with its brilliant red breast or the Sulawesi scops owl (Otus manadensis). Watch for green parrots with red heads. These are endemic Sulawesi hanging parrots (Loriculus stigmatus). Other endemics include hornbills, woodpeckers, rails, goshawks, pigeons, other parrots.  

If you would like a jungle trek on a free day or after a short diving day, please let us know when you make dive reservations.

Travelers Choice 2020 Award for Miguel’s Diving

Travelers Choice 2020 has been given to Miguel’s Diving Gorontalo. This prestigious award goes to the top 10% of worldwide travel businesses on TripAdvisor.

Travelers Choice 2020

On July 28, 2020, TripAdvisor announced the winners of its 18th annual Travelers Choice Awards. This recognizes the best travel-related businesses worldwide. In addition to dive centers, like Miguel’s Diving, hotels, restaurants, and airlines are included. The Travelers Choice Award replaces the Certificate of Excellence given in previous years. Miguel’s Diving has earned the earlier Certificate of Excellence for five years in a row. The 2020 award marks the sixth year achieving recognition via TripAdvisor.

Travelers Choice 2020
Recent TripAdvisor Awards

Only 4,817 business worldwide achieved the Travelers Choice 2020 recognition. Over 8.7 million businesses have a listing on TripAdvisor. They consider millions of reviews left by the public. TripAdvisor evaluated reviews made prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. They analyzed reviews for quality and quantity to identify businesses with outstanding service.  

Passion for Excellence

Lindsay Nelson is the chief experience and brand officer for TripAdvisor. In announcing Travelers Choice 2020, Nelson said,

“This has been a tough year for our industry. But the global desire to go and explore, whether the destination is an hour away or across the world, remains strong. We’re passionate about guiding travelers to the good out there, especially the good found within these recognized hotels, restaurants and airlines that rise to the occasion in offering the best of the best.”

Rantje Allen extends the deepest gratitude to our guests who have reviewed Miguel’s Diving Gorontalo on TripAdvisor. “Without the support of our diving guests, we would not achieve this prestigious award,” he added.

About TripAdvisor

As the world’s largest tourism site, TripAdvisor contains more than 860 million reviews. Prior to the pandemic, 463 million travelers accessed the website each month. Considered the ultimate travel review site, TripAdvisor is available in 28 languages and 49 markets. Content includes travel planning, price comparison, and guest comments & pictures.  

For your chance to enjoy excellent service, please book your dive trip with Miguel’s Diving.

COVID 19 Measures at Miguel’s Diving

covid 19 measures
Temperature check before boarding

COVID 19 measures that we take at Miguel’s Diving are designed to help lower the risk of transmitting that virus among guests and to our staff. In addition to new normal precautions, we have special protocols designed for our divers. We combined measures suggested by Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) and Divers’ Alert Network (DAN). Also, we customized them to fit our situation here in Gorontalo. We have diving protocol posters in English and Indonesian on display at the dive center for easy reference. 

New Normal Protocol

  • Hand washing with soap & water for at least 20 seconds
  • Social distance of 1.5 meters; when not possible, wear a cloth/health mask
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, mouth
  • Cough away and into the elbow

COVID 19 Measures for Divers

  • Bring only necessary personal items on board
  • Check body temperature prior to leaving hotel
  • Wash hands on board with soap
  • Ask staff for drinking water, coffee, etc.
  • Ask staff to open/close the dive tank
  • Wear a cloth/health mask on board
  • Clean dive mask with baby shampoo or cleaner, not spit
  • Keep dive mask on at ocean surface
  • Clear sinuses in ocean away from others
  • Maintain social distancing when waiting to ascend the ladder
  • Keep dive mask on when ascending the ladder

Additional services from the dive center

COVID 19 protocol poster in Indonesian

  • Body temperature check daily for guests & staff
  • Soaking of each regulator & mask set for a minute in 22ml Clorox/L water
  • Disposable health mask if guests forget to bring
  • Cleaning and disinfecting of our vehicle after each trip

These are the COVID 19 measures we take to guard the health and safety of our guests and staff. We appreciate everyone’s cooperation and understanding.

In order to enter Gorontalo, travelers must show a negative COVID 19 test result. This is in effect for arrivals by air, land, or sea. As a result, Miguel’s Diving does not ask to see a guest’s test.

Who is Miguel?

Curious travelers sometimes ask this question. At other times, divers call the dive center and ask to speak with Miguel.

Who is Miguel: The Official Answer

He is the first son of the company’s founding director Mustafa Abulhajat. At the time of exploration work for the dive business in Gorontalo, he was only four years old. Now however, our dive center is ready to enter its eighteenth season. Miguel is now in his mid-twenties.

Arriving from a motorcycle trip

To understand who is Miguel, one must realize that he is not only a scuba diver. He also loves to sky dive. Another passion comes directly from his father. That is long distance motorcycle trips. Miguel has driven the mountainous Trans-Sulawesi highway from his home in Manado to Gorontalo. That trip took several days. Each trip he will stop by the dive center for a photo op.

The current answer to the question who is Miguel has a professional angle. He has a post with the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Beside speaking Bahasa Indonesia and Manadonese, he speaks English, Dutch, and French. At the time of his appointment, he ranked number three out of one thousand candidates nationwide. Not doubt, the crew at Miguel’s Diving is very proud of him.

Pioneers in the Dive Industry

Miguel school boy
Miguel as a schoolboy

Who is Miguel also has a family answer. His grandfather was an influential figure in the early days of tourism in Manado. His father counts among the first Indonesians active in diving Bunaken. His grandfather also ran the first electrical lines to remote western Gorontalo. In those days, no bridges crossed the rivers there.

Originally, Mr. Mustafa created Miguel’s Dive Club to support diving activities around Bunaken Marine Park. After he made the decision to open diving in Gorontalo, the company name became Miguel’s Diving Center. We are the pioneer dive operator in Gorontalo. Other operators have come and gone. We have operated seasonally since opening in 2003.

Experience Counts

who is Miguel
Graduating with a law degree

Our business model is based on ecological sustainability and community development. To sail and dive Gorontalo waters requires experience of the area’s micro environments. So, we train Gorontalo fishermen as dive staff. Our guests benefit from their local knowledge.

Miguel’s Diving provided the push to create Olele Village Marine Park. Our staff are officially recognized as guardians of Gorontalo’s marine environment. This includes community education and input to government programs. They also report violations to marine patrol officers.

For your chance to dive with Gorontalo’s pioneer dive operator, please make your dive reservations with us.

DIVER Magazine Features Salvador Dali Sponges

DIVER magazine features Salvador Dali sponges and their distinctive swirls in an article by Steve Jones.

Swirled Surfaces

Salvador Dali sponge
One of Gorontalo’s Salvador Dali sponges

One of Gorontalo’s claim to fame is the discovery of Salvador Dali sponges. This morphology of Petrosia lignosa is unique to the northern coastline of Tomini Bay, Indonesia. The article found in DIVER magazine explains the discovery. Also, it explains the origin of these bizarre looking sponges. Rantje Allen christened this sponge after the famous Spanish painter. He is the diving pioneer in Gorontalo. The surreal style of Salvador Dali describes the appearance of these giant sponges.

Divers will usually find these sponges below 25 meters. At those depths, they are protected from seasonal high waves and storms. Additionally, they grow off the vertical coral walls in Gorontalo. There, ocean currents bring plankton to them. The article explains how they can break off in storms. When this happens, these ancient giants fall to the ocean bottom. They can no longer feed and soon die, turning to dust in a matter of weeks.

DIVER Magazine Spring 2020

DIVER magazine is the longest established dive magazine in North America. It is published in British Columbia, Canada. Moreover, DIVER magazine is available in print, mobile and on-line editions. This flexibility in format makes the magazine a favorite among divers.

DIVER Magazine cover
DIVER Magazine Spring 2020

Currently, divers are mostly staying at home because of the corona virus (Corvid-19). As a result, DIVER magazine is making its Spring 2020 edition free of charge. Interested divers simply click this link and then access magzter. Then they can open an account and enjoy free access to this edition and others for a seven-day period. What a great idea!

An Award Winning Photographer

This Spring edition of DIVER magazine contains an article on Salvador Dali sponges. Accompanying the article are incredible underwater photographs by Steve Jones. Mr. Jones is an award-winning underwater photographer and journalist. His travel and work spans the globe, including Antarctica.

During his worldwide travels, Mr. Jones visited Gorontalo during wave season. Ocean conditions are challenging during that time of year. However, he left with a sizeable archive of spectacular photos of Gorontalo’s marine environment.

The article also explains conservation efforts of Gorontalo’s marine environment. Specifically, Mr. Jones describes the great care that Olele villagers take of their home reefs. Additionally, the education campaigns that Miguel’s Diving promotes get a shout out.  

After enjoying the article consider becoming a subscriber to DIVER magazine. Then, please make your dive reservations with us to see those Salvador Dali sponges for yourselves!

Heinz Online Magazine Showcases Salvador Dali Sponges

Heinz Online Magazine showcases Salvador Dali sponges of Gorontalo in its sixteenth edition.

Surreal Sponges

One of Gorontalo’s claim to fame is the discovery of Salvador Dali sponges. This morphology of Petrosia lignosa is unique to the northern coastline of Tomini Bay, Indonesia. The article found in Heinz Online Magazine explains the discovery. Also, it explains the origin of these bizarre looking sponges. Rantje Allen christened this sponge after the famous Spanish painter. He is the diving pioneer in Gorontalo. The surreal style of Salvador Dali describes the appearance of these giant sponges.

Divers will usually find these sponges below 25 meters .There ,they are protected from seasonal high waves and storms. Additionally, they grow off the vertical coral walls in Gorontalo. There, ocean currents bring plankton to them. The article explains how they can break off in storms. When this happens, these ancient giants fall to the ocean bottom. They can no longer feed and soon die, turning to dust in a matter of weeks.

Heinz Online Magazine

The article on Salvador Dali sponges is available for free download. It comes in PDF format. Moreover, it comes in English, German or Chinese. It is in Heinz16 edition of the magazine with a release date of August 31, 2019. Heinz Press of Nuremberg, Germany, is the official publisher.

Mr. Heinz Ritter publishes Heinz Online Magazine. He is well known among underwater photographers. Actually, he published the original UWF, a highly regarded magazine on photography. That original publication became Germany’s Unterwasser magazine. This occurred in the early 1990s. Mr. Ritter served as publisher for that new magazine for years. Eventually, Mr. Ritter sold his interest in Unterwasser. After that, he started Heinz Online Magazine. Since its format is online, printing issues do not constrain design. Mr. Ritter is known for his unique design perspective.  

Photos by Steve Jones, Underwater Photographer

The Heinz Online Magazine article on Salvador Dali sponges comes with incredible underwater photographs by Steve Jones. Mr. Jones is an award-winning underwater photographer and journalist. His travel and work spans the globe, including Antarctica. Ironically, he received his first break as an underwater photographer from Unterwasser magazine in 1996.

During his worldwide travels, Mr. Jones visited Gorontalo during wave season. Ocean conditions are challenging during that time of year. However, he left with a sizeable archive of spectacular photos of Gorontalo’s marine environment.

Photos featured in the sixteenth edition of Heinz Online Magazine include several Salvador Dali sponge shots. Among the macro photos Sarasvati shrimp, Robust ghost pipefish, and cuttlefish. In additional, one photo contains a Coleman’s coral shrimp. It is a new species discovered in Flores and Gorontalo. Dramatic wide-angle shots include red sea whips, Jinn Caves cavern and a deep-water Blue sea fan.  

After enjoying the article, please make your dive reservations with us!

Dive Season in Gorontalo

Dive Season in Gorontalo runs from November to April. During this time, seas are typically calm and blue. Light afternoon showers make for enjoyable, balmy nights.

Surprising Discovery

Before Miguel’s Diving opened diving in Gorontalo in 2003, no one knew the dive season here. In fact, no others were diving in Gorontalo prior to that. The common assumption was that the dive season in Gorontalo would be the same as its nearest neighbors, Bunaken National Park in Manado and the Togean Islands. The distance to Manado is about 400 km. The ferry trip to the nearby Togeans lasts one night.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, diving season in Gorontalo is quite different. Its discovery marked the conclusion of two years’ survey work conducted by Miguel’s Diving staff.

Wind Direction not Rain

Conventional wisdom also says that off season for diving should be during rainy season. And, that dive season should be during dry season. In Gorontalo’s case, the opposite is true. The key factor is wind direction not precipitation.

dive season
Surface interval during dive season

When the northwest monsoons descend on Southeast Asia, Sulawesi Island is affected. The winds that bring rain hit two lines of mountains before they reach the sites where Miguel’s Diving takes guests. As a result, the seas along Gorontalo’s southern shoreline are calm. Rain rarely hits the entire area. The usual time for showers is three o’clock in the afternoon when rising temperatures gather moisture. Gorontalo City on average receives half the annual rainfall as Manado, which faces north and into the rains.

However, when the dry winds from Australia hit Sulawesi, Gorontalo’s southern coastline is exposed. Seas adjacent to Miguel’s Diving dive sites plunge to over four kilometers. With no islands or barrier reefs, the coast is hit by wind-driven waves. Three to five meter waves are typical during dry season.

Dive Season in Gorontalo

Officially, dive season here runs from November to April. Miguel’s Diving opens for regular diving after the moon change in October. Regular diving ends by mid-May. After that, diving twice in the early morning can be possible. Oftentimes, seas are too rough to use speed boats. The worst sea conditions occur in August. At that time, perhaps only one dive is possible. Sites are limited to only one or two locations by beach entry.

Gorontalo’s dive sites are located in Tomini Bay. This large bay is split by the equator. Perhaps because of the closeness to the equator, Miguel’s Diving staff have observed the change in wind direction has not varied more than two weeks during the two decades of observation.

As a result, we recommend making a booking with us during regular diving season.

Indonesian Airlines All Approved by European Union

Indonesian airlines approved by the European Union now include all those flying to Gorontalo. In fact, all Indonesia’s airlines now have EU approval. This is great news for travelers whom must take internal flights to reach their desired destination.

EU Approval Granted

Late last year, the International Civil Aviation Organisation evaluated Indonesian airlines. As a result it upgraded Indonesia’s safety ranking from 151 to 55. Following that evaluation, EU officials made an assessment visit to Indonesia in early 2018. As a result, the EU granted flying approval to all Indonesian airlines.

“I am particularly glad that after years of work, we are today able to clear all air carriers from Indonesia. It shows that hard work and close cooperation pay off,” said Violeta Bulc, EU’s Commissioner for Transport.

In turn, Indonesia’s Minister of Transport Budi Karya Sumadi welcomed EU’s assessment.

“I must thank all stakeholders for having followed the `rule of the game` to meet the international safety standards. It is a (matter of) pride in itself and makes it possible for them to market their products to attract more attention and boost their sales,” said Mr. Sumadi.

Travelers can verify for themselves that no Indonesian airlines appear on European Union website list of banned airlines.

A Decade of Improvement

In June 2007, the European Union blacklisted all domestic airlines in Indonesia. At that time, no Indonesian airlines actually flew in European airspace. Most of all, the European Union flight ban was a response to a series of high-profile aviation accidents. Jacques Barrot served as EU vice president in charge of transport. He announced the European Union flight ban. In clarification, he stated,“Once more, the EU blacklist will prove to be an essential tool, not only to prevent unsafe airlines from flying to Europe and to inform passengers traveling worldwide, but also to make sure that airlines and civil aviation authorities take appropriate actions to improve safety.”

The ban also required travel agents in Europe to inform those traveling to Indonesia. Most noteworthy, the EU ban had an immediate, negative impact on the tourism sector in Indonesia. This included dive operators in Sulawesi.

Indonesian Airlines Work Hard to Improve

indonesian airlines approved
Garuda Indonesia aircraft in Gorontalo

Two years later in July 2009 came the lifting of the European Union flight ban against Garuda Indonesia. Garuda Indonesia received its air safety certification from the International Air Travel Association the year before. Furthermore, IATA’s standards are very strict.

A year later in 2010, Indonesia Air Asia gained EU permission to fly there. Actually, this airline had not yet begun operating at the time of the original European Union flight ban.

In June 2016, the EU lifted its flight ban on three additional domestic carriers. Those were Citilink, Lion Air and Batik Air.

Now, all of Indonesia’s airlines are approved by the European Union. Should you need flight information when coming to Gorontalo for your dive trip, please contact with us.

Hari Ketupat Festival Celebrated in Gorontalo

Hari Ketupat is an annual festival held throughout Gorontalo. It falls on the seventh day after Idhul Fitri, the religious holiday that marks the end of Ramadhan. Although the government usually does not recognize this festival, Gorontalo people celebrate it anyway. Few local people show up to work on Hari Ketupat!

A Record for Ketupat Broken

Ketupat is a cube of rice that lies within a casing. Someone will hand weave a casing from young palm leaves. Once stuffed with grains of white rice, she will boil the woven casing in water. The rice inside cooks and compresses, creating a cube. Then she cuts open the casing and dices the rice cube inside. It is now ready for eating.

In 2018 the Gorontalo provincial government decided to create extra interest in the Hari Ketupat Festival. The governor launched a drive to make an incredible number of ketupat. Officials from Indonesia’s Record Society (MURI) attended the festival to verify the number. Gorontalo people made a record-breaking 34,000 ketupat. Kampung Jawa in Gorontalo Regency is the traditional center of the Hari Ketupat Festival. So, the record breaking initiative took place there.

Hari Ketupat in Olele Village

coin pulling context
Ladies compete for coins

Coastal communities in Gorontalo avidly enjoy their own versions of the festival. This included villages where staff of Miguel’s Diving live. Olele Village, where a marine park is located, hosted a big event in 2018. Although villagers there did not participate in the record breaking ketupat contest,they did create their own merriment.

Fun activities included the traditional sack race. Contestants step inside an empty, fifty kilo rice sack. Then they hop down a designated track to the cheers and laughter of their friends. Another silly challenge is to pull out coins stuck in cuts on a coconut using only the teeth. The coconut is hung on a string. To complicate matters, the other end of the string is tied around the leg of the contestant. This forces him or her to raise one leg in order for the coconut to descend level with the face.

Hari Ketupat boat race
Outrigger canoes race to the finish line

More serious contestants vie for big prizes. The signature event in coastal villages is the outrigger canoe race. Since several villages gathered at Olele for this year’s race, participants and spectators crowded the beach. The organizing committee placed a series of buoys in locations around the small Olele Bay. Boat captains must pass each buoy without hitting it and return to the starting point to finish. Only three boats at a time can run the circuit, so there are many preliminaries. The final winner received two new boat engines.

Guests of Miguel’s Diving typically dive the Olele Village Marine Park. For help with your dive trip to Gorontalo, please make a booking with us.

mgd-logo-block
Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On YoutubeCheck Our Feed