Pulisan & Lumbalumba Diving, September 2006
Thank you for another great holiday, it was fantastic, probably the best overall diving holiday we've ever been on. Singapore Airlines were head and shoulders above any airlines we have flown with in the past and there was no hassle with weight limits and they took special care with diving suitcases. The journey felt long but once we got to Singapore Airport we were amazed how smooth and impressive the Airport experience was. Made Heathrow look very tired indeed. Our transfer flight to Manado went fine and we were met at the Airport by Annie from Pulisan. The journey to Pulisan was interesting and we got to see a lot of the countryside.
Pulisan Resort was very good and the diving was brilliant. We basically had the whole boat to ourselves every day, with personal guide and crew taking us to Bangka, Lembeh and the mainland sites. The diving was outstanding, we have never seen reefs so beautiful and full of life, absolutely packed. There were some muck dives but mostly reef walls with some strong currents in occasional places and the most amazing soft corals. Lembeh and other muck dives were very weird. We saw Mandarin Fish and Pygmy Seahorses and the sand was alive with things going on everywhere, having said that it wasn't our kind of diving. It was great to see but we much preferred the huge coral walls full of soft corals and reef fish. We dived everyday, had lunch on deserted beaches and diving beautiful reefs was just what we had hoped for. One day we went to a Tangkoko National Park to see wild monkeys and tarsius and the beautiful jungle.
Lumbalumba was so good it was painful to leave. This resort is a perfect dive resort. Again it was very quiet with some days just us on the boat. The resort is small (5 beautiful bungalows) and lovely with a great atmosphere and fantastic people everything you could want was provided quietly in the background. Our bungalow looked out over the sea to Manado Tua. The diving here was at Bunaken mostly. The first dive there just amazed us even more. Huge reef walls, gin clear visibility, fish everywhere and the biggest turtles we have ever seen. They are huge and made every turtle we have seen in the Red Sea and Maldives up to now look like babies. We relaxed, shopped and dived having a wonderful time. The fish life was more varied with huge schools of batfish, jacks, barracuda etc. and there were black tip reef sharks, Napoleon Wrasse, leaf fish and scorpion fish all over the place. Lumbalumba's boat was the best we saw out on the water and perfect for easy diving, loads of room, stable and a crew that had a nice cup of tea ready for you and did everything to your kit you needed before you could even think about doing it. You just dived and everything was taken care of (if you wanted it to be) for you including rinsing and packing, drying etc. It really was almost too good because we knew we had to leave.
During our stopover in Singapore, we walked all over Orchard Road, Boat Quay, Clarke Quay, China Town, Colonial District etc. It was a great place where we felt very, very safe and it had a great atmosphere. The Gallery hotel was fun and just around the corner from a shop selling the most wonderful chocolate we have ever tasted. The journey home was fine until we got to Heathrow where all the usual hassles started. Our car park bus needed us to walk to another terminal with all our baggage, then it didn't turn up for ages and when it did it was full. There was people arguing with the driver and it took an age to finally get to our car and then get home. Welcome home to the UK!
We would love to go back but not sure what to do with so many places in the world to dive and see but I think we will definitely go back to Lumbalumba.
Mike & Sam Muir
The Best Day of a Young Life?!
Our rules for holidays had been, one, do it independently and two, go to places that the people I work with have not heard of.
This is how we came across Tasik Ria Resort near Manado in Indonesia. There must have been a way to find these places before the http//www came along, but short of being Captain James Cook, I donít know what it was.
They suggested that we had a look at Snooba.com and despite the fact that this broke rule number 1, we did, all by e-mail and accommodating exactly what we wanted. Two resorts near Manado, hotels (a grand term for the beach side idyll that is Pulisan), flights, a few days in Singapore for 3 of our party and a few more for the one who claimed to have some business there). All done without fuss and, much to the chief holiday organiserís disappointment, more cheaply than she could come up with had she stuck to rule number 1.
The four of us are all divers. This was the first time in tropical waters for Kate (15) and Sarah (14) and the diving is rightly up there with the best in the world (and I have to say Eco Divers are head and shoulders above any other dive operator we had ever dived with Ė a truly professional operation)
One day before we left Manado, Sarah, who seems to have the ability to come up from her dives with no less air that she goes down with, carried on with the dive master after the rest of us had come up, she immediately encountered a huge shoal of bumphead parrotfish. Estimates of the number varied but everyone who had been there said it was the largest that they had ever seen. A little further along the two of them were joined by an inquisitive turtle who swam along with them for a while, and then, as they were preparing to ascend, a huge reef shark cruised by and circled to say hello Ė Sarahís first.
I could see her beaming smile as she broke the surface and she was nearly squealing as she got into the boat (very uncool for a 14 year old) - she had after all seen things in an hour that many divers donít see in years, and said that if she now saw a dolphin, that day would be the best of her life.
Fate, or luck, did not let her down, for on the journey back we were suddenly surrounded by a huge pod of dolphins, who leapt though the wake, swam next to the bow, jumped for the cameras and generally enthralled us for the best part of half an hour.
After we left Indonesia, we finished or holiday in Singapore, which was as I expected it to be but more. It is a place that has an amazing ability to part you from your money: it is full of things that you need (although didnít realise it until you saw them) at prices you canít resist. It is referred to as a shopperís paradise but to me, and I suspect most men, those two words are mutually exclusive- one or the other but not both. Singapore is different so thank goodness for Singapore Airlineís relaxed attitude to the baggage allowance on our return flight.
I was talking to Nikola of Snooba Travel at the Dive Show a few weeks after we got back and she refused to take any responsibility for our excesses in Singapore so I donít think I should let her take any credit for Sarahís perfect day.
The truth is, of course, that without Nikola and Snooba Travel, neither would ever have happened.
P. Foster, London
Just wanted to let you know that we had a fantastic time in Sulawesi. We loved Pulisan and I think it's one of the few places I'd actually go back to. We were very well looked after by Katherine and I would have been quite happy to stay there the whole time. Tasik Ria was nice too and the kids enjoyed that very much.