• Photo by Rantje Allen

  • Photo by William Tan

  • Photo by Rantje Allen

  • Photo by William Tan

  • Photo by Rantje Allen

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Category Archives: News

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.

MIDE 2018 Welcomes Miguel’s Diving

MIDE 2018, the Malaysia International Dive Expo, welcomed back Miguel’s Diving. It has been four years since our staff have participated.

Malaysia International Dive Expo MIDE 2018

The 13th Malaysia International Dive Expo took place 4 – 6 May 2018. It is also called MIDE 2018. Malaysia’s famous Putra World Trade Centre or PWTC provided the venue. The Exhibition opened daily to the public at 10 a.m. It closed nightly at 7 p.m. This year featured 133 companies and around 2,000 visitors.

For more information, please visit the official MIDE 2018 website. The expo used Hall One of the PWTC complex. A large international book show used several other halls.

Miguel’s Diving @ Booth 219

MIDE 2018 for divers
Potential Malaysian divers learn about Gorontalo

MIDE 2018 marks the fourth appearance of Miguel’s Diving at this dive expo. Our booth was 219 and located at a strategic corner. The fascia board name was Miguel’s Diving Gorontalo. Our booth had a dramatic “Gorontalo: Hidden Paradise” layout. Our professional backdrops were designed by Ms. Galuh Riyadi of Jakarta. They featured underwater photo art by divers of Miguel’s Diving. These photographers come from Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

One panel featured photographs of Malaysian divers who have been diving with us recently. What great fun is was to look for friends in those photographs! Better yet was to make a selfie with your own photo in the background. Miguel’s Diving staff had a great time catching up with old friends and making many new ones.

Gorontalo for Malaysian Divers

Gorontalo is an excellent destination for Malaysian divers. Pristine dive destinations are often difficult to reach. Not so Gorontalo! Air Asia offers flights from KUL to Makassar (UPG) four times weekly. The connecting flight to Gorontalo lasts about one hour ten minutes. Daily flights via Jakarta are also easy for Malaysian divers to travel to Gorontalo in or out in one day.

Gorontalo diving season is the opposite of most peninsular Malaysian destinations. Our season runs mid October to mid May. Officially it is November to April. No reason to cry during monsoon-lah. Come dive in Gorontalo! For many Malaysians food can be an issue. Food in Gorontalo is halal.

Even if you did not see us at MIDE 2018, you can still href=”http://miguelsdiving.com/contact-us/” target=”_blank”> book your dive trip with us.

Lunar Eclipse of a Super Blue Moon in Gorontalo

Lunar eclipse of a super blue moon was an event not to be missed by anyone in Indonesia on 31 January 2018.

Triple Celestial Event

supermoon
Super moon rises at 1855 hrs

On 1 January 2018 a full moon appeared in the world’s night skies. A second full moon during the same month rose on 31 January. Astronomers call this rare occurrence a blue moon. Hence the expression in English of a rare event, “once in a blue moon.”

Usually, the moon is 384,400 kilometers from the Earth. However, its orbit is not uniform. Sometimes the moon can be merely 358,993 kilometers away. That means it is more than 25,000 kilometers closer. At that time, the moon appears up to 14 percent larger. Additionally, it can appear 30 percent brighter to the naked eye. This rare occurrence is a super moon. On 31 January 2018, the super moon coincided with the blue moon.

Moreover, on the same date, the blue super moon also turned red. This happened when it became a blood moon as it eclipsed.

Eclipse of a Rare Moon

lunar eclipse begins
Lunar eclipse begins: 2032 & 2047 hrs

A lunar eclipse happens when a full moon travels into the shadow of the Earth relative to the sun. During a lunar eclipse, the moon turns red. Hence the name blood moon. The red is actually the projection of all the sunrises and sunsets onto the surface of the moon.

Gorontalo’s Total Lunar Eclipse

blood to super moon
From Blood to Super moon: 2212 & 2232 & 2333 hrs

In Gorontalo, the super moon appeared over the mountains at 1855 hours local time (WITA). Miguel’s Diving enjoyed night diving under the full moon. After the divers surfaced, the lunar eclipse began. The first photo sequence shows the view of the night sky at 2032 and 2047 hours. The total eclipse lasted for over an hour. The second photo sequence shows the blood moon at 2212 hours. When the moon is in eclipse, it is indeed red! At 2232 the moon began to emerge from the shadow. By 2333 hours the super moon had returned. The last time there occurred an eclipse of a super blue moon was 152 years ago.

Don’t wait until the next super blue lunar eclipse to dive in Gorontalo. We encourage you to book your dive trip with us before then!

PADI Divemaster Staff in Gorontalo only with Miguel’s

PADI divemaster staff in Gorontalo can only be found at Miguel’s Diving.

Trained, Skilled & Certified

PADI divemaster Gorontalo
PADI divemasters of Miguel’s Diving

Miguel’s Diving is not only Gorontalo’s pioneer dive center. We are also the only dive operator in the area to have PADI divemaster staff. Actually, five of our full time staff are PADI divemasters. Our only international staff member has been a PADI divemaster for almost 20 years now. Our Gorontalo staff all recently completed their PADI training. As a result, guests of Miguel’s Diving feel safe with our trained, skilled and certified staff.

PADI Divemaster Training

Becoming a PADI divemaster requires successful course completion. Water skills are an important component of the course. Naturally, our four candidates loved this part of the course. They are all long time dive guides.

Classroom sessions require different skills. Included in this part of the course are important topics. These include supervising diving activities, assisting student divers and diver safety. A PADI divesmaster candidate will also study risk management and environmental awareness. Moreover, participants must pass both water skills and theory components of the course.

Special Opportunity

PADI certification cards
PADI divemaster certificaton cards

Our dive staff received an invitation from Mr. Frans Rattu to complete their PADI divemaster training. PADI Asia Pacific and Politeknik Negri Manado teamed up to offer a special opportunity. Only long time dive guides in the area received an invitation. Also, they must already be certified Rescue Divers. Additionally, candidates must have Emergency Response training or update within two years. All of our staff already had these PADI certifications.

They enjoyed the two weeks in Manado and the study time with friends in the dive industry there. Fortunately, one of their wives came along and helped keep everyone fed. During the required reef cleanup exercise, they found a sun hat accidentally discarded by a visitor. It had a decorative band around it. On the band was some writing in Chinese that said “blue ocean, beautiful day.” So, they decided it would be a great souvenir to bring back to Gorontalo for Miguel’s senior PADI divemaster. All it needed was a quick wash in fresh water!

To make arrangements to dive with our certified PADI divemaster staff, please book your dive trip with us.

Citilink Gorontalo Makassar Flights Available

Citilink Gorontalo Makassar flights are now available.

Gorontalo Welcomes Citilink Flights

citilink aircraft
A Citilink flight arrives at Gorontalo airport

Gorontalo’s new terminal welcomes yet another airline with the arrival of Citilink. Flights from Gorontalo depart at 1100, arriving in Makassar at 1230. Also, flights from Makassar depart at 0845, arriving in Gorontalo at 1015. This is the present schedule. Divers should always refer to Citilink’s official website for current flight times and options. This new flight began in mid 2017.

Divers will also want to note that this airline provides for a free bag of dive gear. The limit is up to 20 kilos. This is addition to its normal free baggage of 20 kilos to economy passengers.

The ticketing code is QG. The code for Makassar is UPG, reflecting its previous name, Ujung Pandang. Gorontalo remains GTO.

A Low Cost Airline

Garuda Indonesia established a low-cost subsidiary in 2001, naming it Citilink. Its main purpose is to offer shuttle services within Indonesia. If travelers need more than the Gorontalo-Makassar flight, they can check connections on-line or with an agent.

Additionally, this airline uses mainly Airbus A320s.

International Safety Standards

In June 2016, the European Union lifted its ban against Citilink flying in its airspaces. Although the airline does not fly there, the vote of confidence from the EU gives European citizens and others peace of mind. The decision recognizes that the airline operates according to international standards for safety and management.

Should you need suggestions on flights for your upcoming dive trip to Gorontalo, please contact with us.

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