Whale Sharks Diving in Sulawesi, Indonesia

Sulawesi is a gem of an island in Indonesia! It offers a broad selection of attractions to appeal to novice travelers and veteran travelers alike. As for scuba diving, spectacular untouched coral reefs covered in unique marine life at the heart of Sulawesi are awaiting the enthusiastic diver. Central Sulawesi is a must for any diver. Both, scuba diving and snorkeling conditions are perfect for almost all year around. Since the islands are not on the usual ‘tourist trek’, you might easily find miles of white sandy beaches all for yourself! You will find world class dive sites, including a world war II plane wreck.

This small calm stretch of water is where macro-photographers and critter hunters agree offers the most impressive diving. Along the black sandy floor you will encounter more bizarre and fascinating marine creatures than you could wish for. This is why many divers return time and again to Sulawesi, an Indonesian island where you can fulfil all your dive dreams.

The Big Guys

The biggest fish on the planet, genial monsters of the deep blue sea lazing in cool open waters – and, to a very special few, whale sharks are dive buddies. To swim alone with these delicate beasts in their native habitat is one of the most prized encounters a diver might have, and they are willing to go to the ends of the earth to get their chance.

On the rare occasions, our Managing Director-Bapak Sugeng, met these gentle beasts encountered in the wild, they treat their guests from the world above with care and gentility. Weighing in at around 40,000 pounds, the distinctive pattern of spots and stripes on each shark are unique – and who could deny the innate charm of a fish with freckles.

There are plenty of pelagic fish to look out for as well. Napoleon wrasse, dogtooth tuna, eagle rays and giant trevally are a few of the big guys you’re very likely to be swimming with. White and black tip reef sharks are also very common in the area and are beautiful to see up close. With cooler water in the rainy season from December – March, you might even see manta rays, whale sharks, sperm whales or orcas, although you really have to be at the right place at the right time to witness these majestic creatures.

As for attractions, combine the above with spectacular views and the unique cultural sites in Toraja, Rantepao, with elaborate funeral ceremonies. Enjoy the breathtaking mountain scenery draped with padi rice fields, as far as you can see. The island boast many national parks near Palu and Gorontalo with impressive untouched rain forests, waterfalls and more. Find untouched mangroves and rain forest with plentiful local wildlife, along with native Bajau villages preserving their local traditions. The Sama-Bajau, sometimes also called the “Sea Gypsies” or “Sea Nomads”, are traditionally from the many islands of the Sulu Archipelago in the Philippines. Most of them migrated during the conflict in Mindanao, to Malaysia, North Kalimantan and Sulawesi.

Continue your trip to the north and south of Sulawesi, and you will find many greater dive destinations, including Bunaken, Lembeh, Wakatobi and Bira. Lembeh Strait is known as one of the world’s best dive spots for muck diving!

Diving Season

Central and North Sulawesi is another destination that can be dived all year round, enjoy the best conditions from March to October with July and August being the busiest months. July and August are also the best months for critter spotting, although this too can be amazing during any given month. November to January is the months where you can be least certain of great conditions throughout central and north Sulawesi.

About Whale Sharks

The whale shark can grow up to 16 metres in length, with a mouth over a metre wide. So named because it is as big as many whales and like many whales, a filter feeder. Indeed, the whale shark (Rhincodon typus) holds many records for sheer size, being not only the largest extant fish species but also by far the largest living non-mammalian vertebrate, rivalling many of the largest dinosaurs in weight. Their typical lifespan is around 70 years, but they may live over 100 years. As filter feeders they pose no danger to sensitive divers, and being in their presence is both an exhilarating and completely humbling experience.

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