Dramatic underwater landscapes
Gorontalo lies along the northern coastline of Tomini Bay in northern Sulawesi Island, Indonesia. Towering limestone cliffs plunge directly into the sea where a narrow coral reef rims the coastline. Within a few meters of the shore is the continental wall of Sulawesi. Diving here is world-class.
The first wall falls to about 30 meters where a short slope or shelf is visible. Below this is another vertical drop to 120 meters before the wall falls again. Tomini Bay itself is over 4,000 meters deep. Since deep ocean water comes right to shore, pelagic marine life passes near the wall. This includes schooling trevally, whales, whale sharks, resident pods of ghostly Risso's dolphin and strange nearly transparent pelagic tunicates.
Because this coastline of Gorontalo is limestone from ancient reefs, the wall is highly eroded by natural forces. This makes for some of the most fascinating underwater landscapes found anywhere. As you will see, the wall itself is full of holes, fissures and caverns. Pinnacles and muck basins are common. Long shore currents hit submerged points along the wall, attracting schools of fish.
Endemic marine life
Lying within the Coral Triangle, northern Sulawesi boasts the highest marine biodiversity on the planet. This area contains well over 500 species of stony, reef-building corals - over ten times the number found in the entire Caribbean Ocean.
We guarantee you will see surreal Salvador Dali sponges, a strange morphology of Petrosia lignosa only found in Gorontalo. The delightful Blue belly blenny (Escenius caeruliventris 2004) is considered endemic to Gorontalo's Tomini Bay and we know the few places where it lives. The list of new, undescribed or endemic species of marine life found in Gorontalo grows yearly. Many are found in our underwater photo book Gorontalo: Hidden Paradise (2006).
Those diving Sulawesi and looking for a new location will be pleased with the diving here. Let Gorontalo's pioneer dive operator show you the marine life and locations we have discovered since opening diving here in 2003.
Varied dive sites
With our extensive knowledge of Gorontalo waters, we can offer you a variety of Sulawesi diving environments. These include pristine coral walls, caverns, muck, multiple pinnacles, shallow coral gardens, submerged points and wrecks. We have discovered over 30 dive sites, such as:
- Traffic Circle where a village marine park protects pristine coral and its fish life
- Jinn Caves where a split in the coral wall creates a haunting environment
- Sand Castle where strange beauty awaits in sand and rubble
- Mirabella where multiple pinnacles rise from a coral and white sand slope
- Honeycomb where a deep coral point juts into the long shore current
- Japanese Cargo Wreck where 50-meters of metal sunk in 1942
What does Miguel's Diving offer?
Our business model is based on ecological sustainability and community development. We train Gorontalo fishermen as dive staff and you benefit from their local knowledge. Sailing and diving Gorontalo waters requires experience of the area's micro environments.
Gorontalo weather patterns are unique to other Sulawesi diving locations. So, we prefer to pick you up for diving about 0730. On a three dive day, we typically return to the dock by about 1600. On those days we provide a local rice lunch. Please let us know about any food issues. Also, please ask us about arranging a check-out dive on the afternoon you arrive.
During the regular dive season, which lasts from November to April, we take you to our private dock where two custom-built speed boats await. We reach the first cluster of dive sites within 15 minutes. The farthest we travel is about one hour from the dock. Olele Village Marine Park, which we helped the local community to create, is about 40 minutes away.
Please contact us about the possibililty of diving during off season.
- Two to three dives a day for certified divers
- Dive trips for 1 to 15 divers
- Five PADI licensed dive staff
- Dive equipment for rent
- Two compressors for clean air
- Oxygen and first aid on board custom-made speed boats
- Over 30 dive sites within a 10 to 60 minute boat ride
- Dive season from November to April
- Custom diving & hotel packages to suit your interests
How do you travel to Gorontalo for Sulawesi diving?
You can reach Gorontalo by air. International travelers can fly to Jakarta, Denpasar (Bali), Manado or Makassar (Ujung Pandang). Then take a domestic flight to Gorontalo. Multiple flights are available daily.
The overland route from Manado takes a full day whether by private transport or by bus.
Please contact us directly to determine current flight choices into Gorontalo.
Popular day tripping around Gorontalo City includes a visit to a cluster of 16th century Portuguese forts overlooking Lake Limboto, a dip in Lombongo hot springs after a hike to a waterfall in the jungle or an early morning trip to the fish market. Travelers with more time can view endemic wildlife like babirusa at Nantu Forest Reserve. Its remote location requires transport overland and up river! Permission can be organized in advance for overnight trips.
We provide you with the only tourist map of Gorontalo City available, which we update annually. It includes our tips on finding the hidden treasures of Gorontalo and our recommendations for eating in town.
Where can you stay while diving Gorontalo?
All accommodation is located in Gorontalo City, a town that acts like an overgrown village with its friendly residents, free range chickens and wacky motorized rickshaws called bentors. Since Gorontalo was not bombed during World War II, many Dutch era buildings are still in use. But in the mix are the conveniences of modern life. ATMs, cell phones and Internet are widely available.
Miguel's Diving offers diving/hotel packages to suit your budget and length of stay. Yulia, a local business hotel, is a good bargain. For divers who want something nicer, the star-rated Grand Q Hotel is available. Formerly known as Quality Hotel, the new owners plan to build new rooms, a swimming pool, fitness center and spa in 2014. Rooms in both hotels come with
- Twin or double spring beds
- Air conditioning
- Hot water shower
- International cable television
- Mini bar
- Buffet breakfast
We can arrange simple accommodation for budget travelers.