Along the drop-off in the Bunakens, where the sea drops into infinity.
STOP PRESS: This oceanswimsafari now is fully booked. If you would like to enquire about our Sulawesi oceanswimsafari in 2018, perhaps to reserve your spot... Click here
Paradise from left field
Sulawesi oceanswimsafari, June 11-20, 2017
We had a terrific time in Sulawesi on our first oceanswimsafari in 2016. The water was idyllic; the weather superb; and the swimming was very, very good. In 2017, our Sulawesi tour is a month earlier, in June, prior to the school holidays. But if you're interested, you'd better hurry: as of mid-October, this oceanswimsafari is already half full.
Sulawesi is one of the places that is right out of left field; a place you've probably never heard of, let alone been to. Or even considered as a destination. That doesn't mean there's something wrong with it. It just means that, for us, it's at the more exotic end of the spectrum.
It’s the funny-shaped Indonesian island at the bottom of the Celebes Sea, perched between Papua, Borneo and The Philippines. Western visitors usually are divers, and that’s how we heard about this area: from a diving friend who swims, who told us, it’s perfect for an oceanswimsafari.
Ths islands through the peephole, from Lumba Lumba.
Our area of interest is at the very nor’-eastern tip of Sulawesi, around the city of Manado. It’s a predominately Christian part of Indonesia, and most western visitors tend to be European – Dutch, German, Swiss. A few English; some Americans. But very few Australians or Kiwis.
Our accommodation is Lumba Lumba, an eight-room resort operated by a Dutch couple. Their “chalets” range up the hill above the dining room, where oceanswimsafarists eat together on a Captain’s table (although you can have something set up for yourself, if you like) on an Indonesian feast each night, gazing out over the sea from the hillside.
The shoreline is steep, so Lumba Lumba has spectacular views out over the Celebes Sea towards the Bunaken Islands, a national park, with pristine water that’s warm and clear, and teeming with sea life. We lost count of the number of turtles that glided by, distracted by the big tuna, the trevally, the coral. Just above the equator, the water is warm. We saw nothing untoward during our visit, apart from a reef shark or two -- and they're not disturbing -- despite swimming along the drop-off from reefs where you couldn’t see the bottom. The sea just went down, and down.
Fish farms in the sea.
From Lumba Lumba, the dominant feature of the Bunaken Islands is Pulau Manadotua, an island volcano. Each day, we venture out from Lumba Lumba on its dive boat, which will be our swim boat. There’ll be four day trips to swim along the reefs. We’ll have two day trips on land, one a tour of the highlands behind Manado with more volcanos and Danau Tondano, an enormous highland lake, locals towns and markets. The lake’s shores are lined with seafood restaurants. We’ll have lunch at one of them. We’ll visit the Extreme Market. That really is what it’s called. What do they mean by “Extreme”? Fancy some python?
We’ll go whitewater rafting: 9km down the river, then dine at a seafood restaurant.
One of the highlights of this oceanswimsafari is the resort food. Lumba Lumba's chef, John, prepares exciting food, different each night, using an array of fresh, local ingredients.
Despite the remote location, Manado is easy to get to: through Singapore, from where Singapore Airlines’ regional carrier, Silk Air, flies direct to Manado. Going up, there’s an overnight in Singapore, which is not hard to take. But coming back it’s usually possible to come straight through with as short as a three-hour layover in Singapore.
Cobbers escort us back to base after a day's swimming.
We’re allowing an overnight in Singapore on the way to Manado, but we plan to come straight back without the need for an overnight. We’ll have seven nights at Lumba Lumba. It’s an eight-night oceanswimsafari to a place you’d never otherwise visit.
- 7 nights Lumba Lumba
- All meals while in Sulawesi (Singapore breakfast only)
- Four swim day excursions (two swims each day, lunch aboard)
- Two day excursions – Highlands Tour and Whitewater rafting
- One night, Singapore (room and breakfast)
- Airport transfers
Package costs range from $A2,707.50 to $A3,067.50 pp Twin or Double, or $A3,270 to $A3,645 single depending on room type chosen.
Lumba Lumba has three basic room types. Actual costs depend on the room type you choose. Contact us for more info.
Space is very limited on this oceanswimsafari. We plan to fill the resort so that its resources can be devoted solely to our requirements.
If you prefer, you can go diving on excursion days (at own cost).
We keep our package costs under review continuously and reserve the right to adjust them in line with movements in exchange rates and individual cost components.
Airfares are not included, because they vary and depend on rates at the time of booking. They will be subject to separate invoicing, or you may prefer to book your own to fit in with our timing. The key is that we all must be in Singapore on the evening of June 11 so that we can connect on to Manado in the morning of June 12, 2017.
Time for a drink.
Enquiries and bookings
oceanswimsafaris.com/oceanswims.com are your tour operators handling all your bookings in association with this tour. We lead this oceanswimsafari ourselves.
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We lost count of these, snoozing on ledges on the drop-off.