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Dive Gorontalo, Sulawesi: Dramatic Underwater Landscapes

Gorontalo lies along the northern coastline of Tomini Bay in northern Sulawesi, Indonesia. As you travel in our speed boat, gaze up the towering limestone cliffs that plunge directly into the sea.  A narrow coral reef rims the coastline. To dive Gorontalo is a world-class experience. Have you ever looked across the equator? Ask us to show you how to see the curve of the earth!

Dive Gorontalo beneath limestone cliffs
Ancient coral limestone along Gorontalo’s coast

The continental wall of Sulawesi lies within a few meters of the shore. The first wall falls to about 30 meters where a short shelf is visible. Below is another vertical drop to 120 meters. Tomini Bay itself is over 4,000 meters deep. Deep ocean water comes right to shore. As a result, pelagic marine life passes near the wall. This includes schooling trevally, whales and whale sharksWatch a whale shark video shot in Gorontalo. Also, we see pods of Bottle-nosed and Risso’s dolphin. Please ask us to explain the difference.

This coastline in Gorontalo is limestone from ancient reefs. The coral wall is highly eroded by natural forces. As a result, Gorontalo has some of the most fascinating underwater landscapes found anywhere. As you dive Gorontalo, notice that the wall itself is full of holes, fissures and caverns. In addition, pinnacles and muck basins are common. Long shore currents hit submerged points along the coral wall. This attracts schools of fish.

Dive Gorontalo, Sulawesi: Endemic Marine Life

The area of northern Sulawesi lies within the Coral Triangle. This includes Gorontalo. The marine environment here boasts the highest marine biodiversity on the planet. This area contains well over 500 species of stony, reef-building corals. In comparison, that is over ten times the number found in the entire Caribbean Ocean.

Dive Gorontalo wtih Salvador Dali sponge
Diver views a Salvador Dali sponge

We guarantee that you will see surreal Salvador Dali sponges when you dive Gorontalo. They are a strange morphology of Petrosia lignosa. They are not found at famous Sulawesi diving destination near us – nor in other oceans. The delightful Blue belly blenny (Escenius caeruliventris 2004) is considered endemic to Gorontalo’s Tomini Bay. We know the few places where it lives. The list of new, undescribed or endemic species of marine life found in Gorontalo grows yearly. Many are found in our underwater photo book Gorontalo: Hidden Paradise (2006). If you are an experienced diver looking for a new location, you will be pleased with the diving here. The gentle waters make diving Gorontalo appropriate for new divers as well. Let Gorontalo’s pioneer dive operator show you the marine life and locations we have discovered since opening diving here in 2003.

Dive Gorontalo, Sulawesi: Varied Dive Sites

Our extensive knowledge of Gorontalo waters is at your service. We offer a variety of marine environments for scuba diving. These include pristine coral walls, caverns, muck, multiple pinnacles, shallow coral gardens, submerged points and wrecks. We have discovered over 30 dive sites, such as:

  • Traffic Circle where a village marine park protects pristine coral and its fish life
  • Jinn Caves where a split in the coral wall creates a haunting environment
  • Sand Castle where strange beauty awaits in sand and rubble
  • Mirabella where multiple pinnacles rise from a coral and white sand slope
  • White Point where a deep coral point juts into the long shore current
  • Japanese Era Cargo Wreck where 50-meters of metal sunk in 1942

What Does Miguel’s Diving Offer You?

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. You benefit from their local knowledge.

Speed boat of Miguel's Diving Gorontalo at Olele Village
One of Miguel’s Diving speed boats

Gorontalo weather patterns are different from other Sulawesi diving locations. So, we prefer to pick you up for diving about 0730 hours. On a three dive day, we typically return to the dock by about 1600 hours. On those days, we provide a local rice lunch. Please let us know about any food issues. Also, please ask us about arranging a check-out dive on the afternoon you arrive. Regular diving season lasts from November to April. We take you to our private dock where two custom-built speed boats await. We reach the first cluster of dive sites within 15 minutes. The farthest we travel is about one hour from the dock.

Olele Village Marine Park is about 30 minutes away. We helped the local community to create this marine reserve. We also worked with local government and World Wildlife Foundation to create the new Botubarani Whale Shark Reserve.

Services Miguel’s Diving Offers

  • Two to three dives a day for certified divers
  • Dive trips for 1 to 20 divers
  • Five PADI dive masters
  • Dive equipment for rent
  • Two compressors for clean air
  • Oxygen and first aid on board custom-made speed boats
  • Over 30 dive sites within a 10 to 60 minute boat ride
  • Dive season from November to April
  • Custom diving & hotel packages to suit your interests

Please contact us about the possibility to dive Gorontalo during off season.

How Can You Travel to Gorontalo for an Excellent Sulawesi Diving trip?

You can reach Gorontalo by air. International travelers can fly to Jakarta, Denpasar (Bali), or Manado. Then you take a domestic flight to Gorontalo. We even have a new airport! The overland route from Manado takes a full day whether by private transport or by bus. Please contact us directly to determine current flight choices into Gorontalo and COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Land-based Activities

Lake Limboto view
View of Lake Limboto from the fort

Popular day tripping around Gorontalo City includes a visit to Benteng Otanaha. It is a cluster of 16th century Portuguese forts. They overlook Lake Limboto. You can also take a dip in Lombongo hot springs after a hike to a waterfall in the jungle. Rise early for a morning trip to the fish market. Travelers with more time can travel to the north coast. There are quiet, white sand beaches. You will need to hire a driver and car.

Where Can You Stay while You Dive Gorontalo?

All accommodation is located in Gorontalo City. It is town that acts like an overgrown village with its friendly residents. Watch the free range chickens and goats. Take a ride on a wacky motorized rickshaw. We called them bentors. Gorontalo was not bombed during World War II. Hence, many Dutch era buildings are still in use. But in the mix are the conveniences of modern life. ATMs, cell phone service and Internet are widely available. Even more surprising is the new mall, compete with a cinema that shows international and Indonesian films.

Miguel’s Diving offers diving and hotel packages to suit your budget and length of stay. New Melati or Grand City Hotel have Deluxe rooms at a great price. For divers who want something nicer, we recommend the star-rated Grand Q Hotel. We place our guests the hotel’s new non-smoking rooms. Its guests also enjoy the new rooftop swimming pool. Grand Q rooms come with:

  • Twin or double spring beds
  • Air conditioning
  • Hot water shower
  • International cable television
  • Mini bar
  • WIFI
  • Buffet breakfast

We can recommend simple accommodation for budget travelers who wish to save money for more Sulawesi diving.

How Can You Contact Us?

For inquiries or bookings, please contact us directly. For information in English or Indonesian, please call our cell phone. Staff are often at sea in the mornings. Gorontalo is in the same time zone as Singapore. If you have not received a reply within 24 hours, please resend your message.

Miguel’s Diving Jl. Yos Sudarso No 218A, Pabean, Kota Gorontalo Gorontalo, Sulawesi, Indonesia 96117

To find our dive center, please tell your driver: “di Pabean dekat rumah Pak Fikran Salilama.” Our location on Google maps is off by about 5 meters. Look for the gigantic dive flag painted on our building.