Best time to visit
Muck diving capital of the world: hairy frogfish, long arm octopus, wunderpus, rhinopias scorpionfish, blue ring octopus, pontohi pygmy seahorse
Known as the muck diving capital of the world, the Lembeh Strait in North Sulawesi has little to shout about above the waves but what lies beneath is altogether otherworldly. Stretching 16km along and only 1.2km wide, the Strait separates Lembeh Island from the mainland and is home to a plethora of extraordinary marine critters. In the heart of the coral triangle, the volcanic, nutrient-rich black sands of the Lembeh Strait provide a unique environment for the weird and wonderful to thrive, with the biodiversity and abundance of these species thought to be higher than anywhere on earth. Diving holidays in the Lembeh Strait are filled with excitement for beginners and experts alike – whether spotting a frogfish for the very first time or getting the perfect shot of a flamboyant cuttlefish.
On a diving holiday to the Lembeh Strait, there is the opportunity to explore over 60 dive sites, all characterised by black, sandy bottoms and overflowing with some of most rare and beautiful underwater creatures. For the best muck (macro) dive sites to form, there needs to be plenty of nutrients in the water to feed small fish and crustaceans at the bottom of the food chain, supplying the larger critters including frogfish, seahorses, octopus, crabs, shrimps, nudibranchs, eels and more. This means the visibility in Lembeh is low, though this shouldn’t deter visitors as dives are conducted close to black sand, focused on the natural debris and occasional reef, searching for the well camouflaged critters.
Hairball is one of the best dive sites in Lembeh, with the sandy slope being particularly rich due to its position at the entrance to the Strait which is swept by a mix of currents. Critter highlights include hairy frogfish, long arm octopus, leafy filefish and flamboyant cuttlefish. TK is another popular site, where divers can see painted frogfish and mimic octopus. Other iconic species of these waters include wunderpus, mandarin fish, rhinopias scorpionfish, bluering octopus, pontohi pygmy seahorse. In fact, it is possible to spot eight species of frogfish, 12 species of octopus, three species of pygmy seahorse as well as countless crustaceans and nudibranchs. Nudi Falls is a particular favourite of ours at Reefscape, where we counted 13 different species of nudibranch on just one dive, in all colours of the rainbow.