Diving: North Sulawesi, Indonesia (with Thalassa Dive Resort)

Massively colourful reef with sponges and featherstars diving Machiko Point near Bangka Island at Thalassa Dive Resort North Sulawesi Indonesia by Diveplanit

Introduction

When you hear ‘North Sulawesi’ mentioned, like most divers, you probably picture ‘muck diving’ and the infamous Lembeh Strait. But being in the centre of the Coral Triangle, diving North Sulawesi has something for everyone. The region has many islands like Bangka and Bunaken situated in Marine Parks, in addition to the 100’s of km of mainland coastline. It has walls, hard and soft coral reefs, as well as the macro and muck diving for which it is famous.

Thalassa Resort is a 5 Star PADI Dive Centre with pool, accommodation, a restaurant, and is on the water in Manado Bay.  It first opened its doors in 1988 as the Barracuda Dive Centre and re-opened under the management of Simone Gerritsen in April 2013 as the Thalassa 5 Star PADI Dive Resort.  A number of improvements have already been made to the accommodation and dining areas, and a brand new air-conditioned dive training and camera room building is now complete.

The resort is centred around the main house which houses the Barracuda Bar and Restaurant, reception, the lounge area, the souvenir shop and most importantly the dive site map and dive booking board.

Lounge area diving with Thalassa Dive Resort North Sulawesi Indonesia by Diveplanit

The pool is adjacent this area and the dive centre is between the restaurant and the end of the long jetty out to the boats.

On arrival, you will be given an orientation which covers the different dive areas, how to ‘book in’ for the dives on the Whiteboard, as well as the logistics of the resort and restaurant.

From Thalassa you can dive all the best dive sites south of Manado Bay, all the way round the North Sulawesi headland, including the Taman National Park area (which includes Bunaken Island), around to Bangka Island, and even into the Lembeh Strait – famous for its muck diving. So however you’re diving North Sulawesi – there’s plenty of choice of each type of dive site.

Though the resort is self-contained and has all the necessary amenities (including pool table!), the resort is able to organise a number of tours taking in the local jungle, a local village or even horse-riding. As importantly, it has a great little library of books to look up your newly-discovered critters.

Green dragon/giraffe nudibranch diving Ibus Secret Garden at Thalassa Dive Resort North Sulawesi Indonesia by Diveplanit

Thalassa has an extensive website covering all of the above in much greater detail.

Location

Thalassa Resort is located about a 30 minute drive north from Manado, the commercial capital of North Sulawesi. Manado has a domestic and international airport and the resort will arrange airport transfers for you. The resort itself is located on a gently sloping, and very lush green hillside, overlooking Manado Bay – with the city comfortably far off in the distance!

Volcano with cloud diving with Thalassa Dive Resort North Sulawesi Indonesia by Diveplanit

Dive Centres

The Dive Centre is an integral part of the resort and all the diving is from the small fleet of boats owned by the resort.

Thalassa Resort Dive Boat 2 diving Thalassa Dive Resort North Sulawesi Indonesia by Diveplanit

Read more about the dive facilities and how your typical dive day runs via the link below.

View Dive Centres

Dive Sites

Thalassa has 90 named dive sites, – and a few whose location is kept secret!  They have access to an area south of Manado called Popooh which offers ‘macro’ diving on small coral bommies in an area rich in sea-grass, muck diving in the dark sands of Manado Bay, the coral reef covered walls of nearby Bunaken Island, the soft coral around the volcanic island of Bangka Island, and renowned muck diving of the Lembeh Strait.

Dive Site Map diving with Thalassa Dive Resort North Sulawesi Indonesia by Diveplanit

You can see the photos and video from these different areas (and one of the secret locations) via the links below. (All the photos and video was taken at the sites named on each page).

View Dive Sites

Where to Stay

The resort accommodation feels like it is set in a natural landscape garden.

Villas nestled on the green hillside diving with Thalassa Dive Resort North Sulawesi Indonesia by Diveplanit

There are four styles: cottages, bungalows, and a group of more recently built rooms (superior and standard) suitable for groups who want to stick together and perhaps make use of the private BBQ in their own little ‘enclave’.

The cottages and bungalows (shown below) are a little older, but extremely spacious.

Inside the spacious cottage room diving Thalassa Dive Resort North Sulawesi Indonesia by Diveplanit

All rooms have air-conditioning, mains power outlets (for charging all those devices), a private en suite bathroom with hot and cold water, and a terrace with views over the sea.

Where to Eat

Barracuda Restaurant and Bar diving with Thalassa Dive Resort North Sulawesi Indonesia by Diveplanit

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served buffet-style daily, with a weekly BBQ event. Much of the menu is locally, freshly (and sustainably) caught fish, and locally sourced vegetables. The local chefs offer a taste of the traditional Minahasa dishes (including local desserts pictured below) as part of the fayre.

Local desserts diving with Thalassa Dive Resort North Sulawesi Indonesia by Diveplanit

There is live music weekly with either a local group or musicians. The resort staff, and guests too, often join in.

Kitchen band diving with Thalassa Dive Resort North Sulawesi Indonesia by Diveplanit

How to Get Around

Walk. Everything is within walking distance of everything else in the resort. The longest walk is the one from the dive shop to the boat at the end of the pier – about 150m. But don’t worry – the dive elves take all your gear out to the boat for you in a trolley.

By the pool diving with Thalassa Dive Resort North Sulawesi Indonesia by Diveplanit

Other Activities

Inland North Sulawesi has a lot to offer: there is an unspoiled jungle area where you can stand face to face with the famous Tarsier (the big eyed primate that looks a bit like Star Wars’ Yoda’s grandmother!); you can cool off under one of the spectacular waterfalls; visit the traditional pottery village or even climb a volcano.

The resort is able to organise a number of tours taking in the local jungle, a local village or even horse-riding.

The resort also has a qualified masseuse offering a massage in the comfort of your run, or at the waterfront area.

Spa over the water diving with Thalassa Dive Resort North Sulawesi Indonesia by Diveplanit

Getting There

Thalassa Resort from the water diving Black Rock near Manado with Thalassa Dive Resort at Thalassa Dive Resort North Sulawesi Indonesia by Diveplanit

The international gateways to Indonesia are typically Jakarta and Denpasar (Bali). However, as Manado has both a domestic and international airport, there are some international, and many domestic airlines that fly directly to Manado.

The number of international carriers that fly to Indonesia is too numerous to list here. Check with you local favourite airline or travel agent for deals to get you to Indonesia; then select a local carrier to get to Manado.

Another option is to fly another regional hub such as Singapore, Bangkok, Manila, or Kuala Lumpur, and pick up a direct flight to Manado. Silkair for example fly direct to Manado from Singapore.

Here are a few (not exhaustive) local carriers that fly to Manado. You can at least browse on-line to get a feel for frequency, level of service and luggage allowances etc.

  • Citilink is a respected internal carrier, and a member of the Garuda Indonesia Group. They have a well organised on-line booking site which has an English language option. They fly to Manado via Surabaya.
  • Lion Air is a young, privately owned airline with modern planes expanding rapidly through the region. They too provide the facility to research and book on-line. They fly to Manado via Makassar.
  • Xpress Air is a small airline that flies to Manado via Sorong. Book on-line here.

It is rumoured that domestic flights are cheaper if purchased in country, however, this needs to be balanced against any package deal when combined with international flights, and the comfort of knowing all your flights are sorted before you head on down .

Somebodys Chromodoris nudibranch diving Thalassa Dive Resort North Sulawesi Indonesia by Diveplanit