Diving In North Sulawesi: Gangga Island and more..

The beautiful island nation of Indonesia boasts many bucket list destinations. Particularly, the remote corner of North Sulawesi is known for having some of the best diving in all of Indonesia. 

*This post may contain affiliate links, as a result, we may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) on any bookings/purchases you make through the links in this post. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Read our full disclosure

On our recent trip to Indonesia, we had an opportunity to visit North Sulawesi and experience some incredible diving in this region while staying at the Gangga Island Resort & Spa. We were pleasantly surprised by the diving conditions. Not only that, the biodiversity of marine life in this area is vast. We highly recommend this region to any scuba diving enthusiast!

Gangga Island, North Sulawesi
Gangga Island, North Sulawesi
Traveling Soon? Here is a list of our favourite travel providers and accessories to help get you ready for your upcoming trip!
  • Book Your Accommodation HERE
  • Search for Great Tours HERE
  • Get a Car Rental HERE
  • Buy Travel Insurance HERE
  • See our Favourite Camera Bag HERE
  • Grab a Reusable Water Bottle HERE or a Filtration Straw HERE
  • Order an eSim HERE

Diving In North Sulawesi 

North Sulawesi province is situated on the Minahasa Peninsula on the island of Sulawesi, east of Borneo. It covers an area of over 13,000 sq. km and has a population of just over 2.4 million. 

Unlike other parts of Indonesia, this region is pristine, away from modernity. So, you can say that this is the perfect spot for those looking to go off the beaten path and have an unparalleled scuba diving experience. 

As we discovered during our trip, North Sulawesi is home to some of the best diving in Indonesia. Strong currents bring nutrient-rich water from the ocean depths, which creates a thriving marine environment for a variety of inhabitants ranging from small critters to massive schools of fish.

The most popular diving destinations in the area include Bangka Archipelago, Bunaken National Park, and Lembeh Strait.

Beach on Gangga Island
Empty beach on Gangga Island. Not many tourists frequent this area

Bangka Archipelago

Located at the juncture between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Bangka Archipelago consists of the islands of Bangka and Gangga. Also in this archipelago are the smaller islands of Lihaga, Talisei, and Tindila.

This part of North Sulawesi boasts more than 30 world-class diving locations with a wonderful variety of marine life. Expect to see green sea turtles, schools of trevally, and colourful reef fish along the many walls. Bangka and Gangga Island dive sites also feature a great selection of critters.

Diving at Bungka Island, North Sulawesi
Diving at Bangka Island, North Sulawesi

Bunaken National Marine Park

Covering over 75,000 hectares, Bunaken National Marine Park offers a chance to see nearly every species of coral fish native to Indonesia. Thanks to its great visibility (20-30 metres), it is considered to be one of the best places in the world for diving, especially for underwater photographers

Marine life in Bunaken National Marine Park includes eagle rays, jackfish, tuna, sharks, barracudas, turtles, and napoleons, among others. Furthermore, there are at least 30 dive sites found in the area of Bunaken National Marine Park. Appropriate for all divers, Bunaken has plenty of unique diving opportunities for every level. 

Lembeh Strait

Lembeh Strait offers a very unique diving experience, as it is a destination known primarily for muck diving. With an average of 10-20 metres of visibility, Lembeh Strait’s 25 dive sites offer an amazing array of marine life.

What this area lacks in reefs, it makes up for in the sheer diversity of critters. Nudibranchs, eels, pygmy, and giant seahorses are just some. Additionally, there are frogfish, Pegasus sea moths, cockatoo wasp fish, leaf scorpion fish, and more remarkable sea life. 

READ NEXT: 8 Best Diving Spots in Indonesia

Exploring and diving in Lembeh Strait, dive in indonesia
Overlooking Lembeh Strait

Where To Stay: Gangga Island Resort & Spa

If you are planning a trip to North Sulawesi and want to scuba dive in all of the regions mentioned above, it’s important to station yourself in a central location with easy access to all three diving destinations.

During our trip, we chose to base ourselves at an amazing dive lodge called Gangga Island Resort & Spa. It’s a beautiful eco-luxe resort nestled at the bottom of a jungle-covered hill on Gangga, a small island located off the tip of mainland North Sulawesi. The resort is located next to some of the best diving sites in the Bangka Archipelago, making it an ideal starting point for our excursions. Perfectly situated, it’s within 1.5 hours from Bunaken National Marine Park and Lembeh Strait. 

Gangga Island Resort & Spa. View from above
Gangga Island Resort & Spa. View from above
Gangga Island Resort & Spa
Gangga Island Resort & Spa

The Rooms

The resort consists of 18 Superior Bungalows and 12 Deluxe Bungalows. Both styles of rooms have air conditioning, satellite TV, a ceiling fan, a double bed, and a spacious veranda overlooking the picturesque white sand beach. Additionally, the bungalows have lots of great amenities. These include wireless internet, mini-bar, tea or coffee, bathrobes and linens. Also, a telephone, hairdryer, desk and comes with a room safe.

Bungalows at the Gangga Island Resort & Spa
Bungalows at the Gangga Island Resort & Spa


There are facilities for billiards, volleyball, table tennis, and a beautiful large saltwater swimming pool. Daily, from 5-6pm, you can enjoy tea and snacks by the pool while watching the sunset. Facilities and services were designed to provide a peaceful and relaxing stay to each guest.

If you decide to treat yourself to an afternoon at the Pasung Spa, Gangga Island Resort offers traditional spa treatments focused on health and well-being. These treatments incorporate Balinese massage techniques, healing tropical plant extracts, and reflexology. There are several treatment packages available at different price levels. 

Pool at the Gangga Island Resort & Spa
Pool at the Gangga Island Resort & Spa
Sunset by the pool
Sunset by the pool
Pasung Spa at the Gangga Island Resort & Spa
Pasung Spa at the Gangga Island Resort & Spa


Rates at the Gangga Island Resort & Spa are on a full-board basis and include buffet breakfast, as well as a la carte lunch and dinner at the on-site restaurant. The menu features a good mix of Mediterranean and Indonesian dishes, with a variety of fish and vegetarian options.

Restaurant at Gangga Island Resort & Spa
Breakfast buffet at the Restaurant at Gangga Island Resort & Spa

Sustainability Practices

Roughly 60% of the staff members are locals, and Gangga Island Resort & Spa works to help improve the health, education, and skill development of the local communities. They use profits from the resort to fund scholarships and to renovate and help construct local schools. The village on the island now also has a hospitality school, which helps prepare more locals for employment at the hotel and beyond. 

Gangga Island Resort spreads awareness of the importance of protecting marine life that lives in this diving paradise, and they work with the Biorock program to help regrow reefs, as well as employing sea gardeners to help with beach clean-up. We loved learning about the Biorock coral reef program and the opportunity to see the fruits of their labour firsthand on an afternoon dive just in front of the resort. 

Gangga Island Resort is not only luxurious, but they take their responsibility to the community and to the environment seriously. Not only will you have a great time, but you know your money will be funding something worthwhile.

Biorock reef in front of Gangga Island Resort
Biorock reef has been growing in front of the resort since 2010.
Biorock reef in front of Gangga Island Resort
Biorock reef in front of Gangga Island Resort

Diving: Gangga Divers

Gangga Island Resort and Spa is home to its own PADI 5-Star Dive Center, fittingly called Gangga Divers.

The dive centre caters to divers of all skill levels. They are able to organize a variety of daily dive trips, not only to the dive sites near Bangka/Gangga Island areas but also to Bunaken National Marine Park and Lembeh Strait. Gangga offers sensational diving, but if you have time to venture out, do it!

Gangga Divers has 5 all-wood boats. Each one is built specifically for diving, so they have easy access both for getting on and getting off. The staff is highly trained, and each boat is fully ready to help you get the most out of your diving!

Gangga Divers
Gangga Divers

Other Things To Do In North Sulawesi

During your stay at Gangga Island Resort & Spa, you can go diving, snorkelling, or fishing with the locals, and you can also request tours of the island, the surrounding islands, the highlands, and Tangkoko National Park. 

While most visitors come to North Sulawesi for diving, some also enjoy exploring the region’s land activities.


Manado is the capital city of North Sulawesi and the second-largest city in the region. Surrounded by highlands, volcanic mountains, and the sea, the scenery is stunning. The 4th largest statue of Jesus Christ in the world stands over the city like a guardian! Additionally, there are tons of beautiful churches to explore and photograph. 

statue of Christ in Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia
Statue of Christ in Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia

The Highlands

Another day trip offered at the Gangga Island Resort & Spa brings guests to the highlands, an area full of history and natural beauty. You’ll depart Gangga bright and early, stopping first at the traditional food market in Airmadidi. Here, you’ll have a chance to visit with local vendors and sample regional specialties. 

After exploring the market, you’ll head to The Waruga, a collection of ancient sarcophagi dating back to the 9th century. Then, you’ll visit Lake Linow, famous for its changing colours caused by sulphur at the bottom of the lake. 

The tour continues to Woloan, where traditional Minahasa-style houses are built. Watch as these wooden stilt houses are made before they are shipped to clients all over the world. The last stop on your itinerary is Tomohon, where you’ll visit a Buddhist temple, have lunch, and do a bit of shopping before returning to the Gangga resort. 

Tangkoko National Park

Tangkoko National Park is located about 80 kilometres or 2 hours from Manado. Surprisingly, it’s hassle-free to take a trip there! This is because Gangga Island Resort offers a tour of the National Park from the resort. 

The park is home to some unique animals, like the black-crested macaque and Tarsius tarsier. The day trip from the resort lasts 9 hours. 



Hike Up A Volcano

The resort also offers guided excursions to Mount Mahawu, a volcano in North Sulawesi. You’ll take a short boat trip to Serei, where a car will take you first to Airmadidi to explore the traditional market. 

After you browse the stalls and sample some local produce, your guide will bring you to the base of Mount Mahawu, and you’ll begin your one-hour hike to the volcano’s crater. You’ll be able to see all the surrounding islands from this beautiful viewpoint. Then, you’ll hike back down and settle into a nice lunch at Gardenia Restaurant, which is nestled in tropical gardens at the foot of the mountain.

You’ll visit the famous Lake Linow, then end your tour with some souvenir shopping in Tomohon.

A diving trip to North Sulawesi is bound to surprise and excite even the pickiest travelers. The biodiversity of marine life is amazing. Moreover, the healthy coral reefs in the area make this region one of the best diving destinations in Indonesia! That’s well worth adding to the travel wish list!


Have You Been Diving In North Sulawesi? What Part Of The Region Did You Enjoy The Most? 


Disclaimer: Our stay at Gangga Island Resort & Spa and our dives in the region were provided courtesy of Lotus Hotels, however, all opinions expressed in this article are our own. 


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Tanzania Trip Details

Enter your name and email to get our Tanzania Safari Trip brochure with more details about this trip in your inbox.

Join our 2025 Group Trips Pre-sale List

Be the first to know about NEW Trips
and SPECIAL Offers!

Have 5 minutes to share more info?
Fill out the Pre-Sale trip survey HERE

Reignite the Feminine Retreat

Love the idea of a women-only retreat in September 2024?

Help me decide where we should go! 

Our women-only gatherings will be limited to 8-10 people, so leave your details below to add yourself to the waitlist.

We'll email you first to share all the details of the trip.