There really are some great tourist attractions spreading around Sulawesi, including world-class scuba diving on the island of Pulau Bunaken. The city of Makassar is filled with attractions and resides in South Sulawesi, being something of a metropolis and known for its exciting nightlife. However, not many people are aware that there is a fascinating underwater world far away from the city of Makassar.
The Banggai Islands are situated in the western part of Central Sulawesi, between Banda Sea at south and Molucca Sea at north. There are numerous large reefs that support very rich marine lives in this area, starting from vertical drop-off covered with hard and soft coral, a lot of reef shark and turtles, schools of jackfish, tunas and of many coral reefs fishes. The biodiversity is extremely high, ringing reefs of inner islands offer all the range of the Sulawesi creatures. Anglerfishes, ribbon eels, Blue-ring octopus, bob tail and the endemic ornamental fish, Banggai Cardinal Fish, live there. The Banggai Islands is qualified by the naturalist Alfred Wallace as the “Mother of all living coral reefs”, because it has numerous large reefs that support a very rich marine life.
Sulawesi has two main cities with international airports, which are the city of Makassar and Manado. These international airports can be reached from Singapore, Denpasar and Jakarta with daily direct flights. Banggai’s location is rather far away from both cities, so you have to take another flight to Luwuk. You can also get to Luwuk by Pelni ships from Manado. Banggai islands can be reached by car or speed boat for approximately 2 hours from the airport of Luwuk.
Banggai Islands is a group of several islands around the peninsula in central Sulawesi. There are stunning reefs, walls and overhangs around here with a huge variety of marine lives. The currents can be slightly stronger than diving in the bay, and some of the walls here drop to over 100 meters. Because of that, diving in Banggai is can be done by experienced divers only. There are some main diving sites around this area. George’s Wall is a vertical wall on a huge offshore reef at the south of the Banggai. As you ascend the wall, you will greeted by bat fishes, jack fishes, surgeon fishes and schools of white tip sharks. Batu Gong is an area where two pinnacles toping covered by gorgonians and black corals lie. Here, you can see schools of surgeon fishes, fusiliers, giant jacks, tunas, schools of barracudas, eagle rays, huge schools of banner fishes and turtles. Kebun Laut is a line of reefs in the inside of the Banggai Islands. The slope of this area is covered by beautiful formation of hard corals and sponges feet and the visibility is always excellent. The endemic ornamental fish “Banggai Cardinal Fish” can be easily seen around Kokunan Bay, which is a beautiful fringing reef.
Banggai Islands in Central Sulawesi offer some excellent dive sites. This diving site is still untouched as the location is very remote. Here, you can witness some great walls, beautiful soft corals and fantastic variety of underwater life. You will also find a lot of colorful walls full of healthy fan corals, enormous table corals with sharks resting underneath and lots of fish typically seen on coral reefs. Diving in Banggai is like a great exploration.