Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Gorontalo, Indonesia

Most of the people do not know where is Gorontalo, it lies along the northern coastline of the huge Tomini Bay, Sulawesi. The coastal area is surrounded by towering limestone cliffs plunge directly into the sea to the depth of 4000m. These cliffs were once ancient reefs that were risen from the sea. The first wall bottoms out to 30 - 40 meter. I was told that huge whales pass just off the wall, but we weren't lucky enough to see one. 

Life by the river
Our journey took us almost 12 hours from Singapore to Gorontalo via Jakarta and Makasar (Ujung Pandang) But as of 2013, Garuda Indonesia fly direct from Singapore to Makasar. Another route is via Manado. The Gorontalo city is very clean and well organised, locals are mostly muslim and speaks Bahasa. During our 1 week stay, we became the talk of the town, they DIDN'T stop staring at us. Maybe because we were wearing a bit too short as well. :-) We got around walking and sometimes by trishaw.
Dive boat

The ONLY dive operator in Gorontalo is Miguel's Diving ( the owner of the dive center and a passionate diver himself. He knows most of the marine life name and enthusiastic to discuss about a tiny goby or even a shrimp with you. His DM was still new and young when we dove there back in 2006, but now I heard from my fellow divers that he is a very good spotter, he show photographer which angle to get the best shot and even model for them.

Fish market
Gorontalo is not the sort of beach holiday, relax on a hammock with a beer after a dive kind of holiday. The dive center does not have their own resort or accommodation, they put you up with 2 hotels in town, breakfast provided but dinner will be on your own. The only meal that the dive center provide will be the packed lunch on board. We stayed in Yulia Hotel which is located at the main street in town, close to many restaurant and food market. The package will include accommodation, dives, pickup and drop off. The advantage is you get to visit the town, the night food market, the fish market and pick different restaurant to have dinner.

Elephant ear
The dive day is long, We leave around 7:30am and back around 4pm, we were out for 3 dives with a lunch break on board. Weather was very hot when we were there. Diving was great, blue and warm water dives. Visibility  from 10 to 30m, and dive sites are max 20 mins away. I like the healthy coral wall in Traffic Jam, there are all trying to outgrow each other, it is even difficult to find a single spot of space there. The coral wall here is covered with lots of varieties of Sponges, Elephant Ear, Cigar Sponge, Salvador Dali (only grow here) Tube Sponge and others, the other thing I like here is the underwater caves, overhang and roadway at Shadow Land dive site, beautiful landscape! But unfortunately, fishes are not abundant here, just makes me felt too empty. Macro life are almost micro, nudis can be as small as 0.1cm, Bel was the expert who find them. Overall it was a very nice place with a lot to offer. Rantje, the Manager of the dive center is very experience and professional, and his team of tip top efficient crew completes the trip.

On the last non diving day, we chartered a car and went for some sightseeing to Danao Limboto and the Portuguese Castle.

Travel date : 11th - 17th Nov 2006
Travel route : Singapore -F-> Jakarta -F-> Makassar -F-> Gorontalo
Accommodation : Yulia Hotel
Dive Center : Miguel's Diving (
Type of diving : Wall, Drift, Muck
Water temperature : 28-30°C year round
Best time to dive : November to April

-F-> Flight -B-> Boat

Photos of the trip

Hoplophrys oatesii

Lissoporcellana sp
Neopetrolisthes maculatus
Chromodoris magnifica

Hippocampus Denise

Hippocampus bargibanti

Coleman shrimp


Elephant Ear

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