Gangga Island is the first of the Sanghie Islands. Cunningly located, it is a mere hour away from Sulawesi’s premier dive sites, Bunaken National Park and the Lembeh Strait. However you don’t need to go that far to experience Sulawesi’s rich bio-diversity. Nearby Bangka and Sahaong islands benefit from the currents that sweep through its famous neighbours, creating an interesting mix of marine life.
Scuba Diving at Gangga island
Bangka & Sahaong Islands
Relatively unexplored, these islands are well worth the visit. We were enthralled by the variety of soft coral and large gorgonian sea fans among the thriving coral gardens. Shoals of fusiliers, jacks and snappers were common.
Busa Bora and Efrata quickly became our favourites. These sites have excellent coral growth and other marine life.
The sheer number of species present is astonishing. Take for example the frogfish (Antennariidae), our dives here brought us the giant frogfish, the painted frogfish, the clown frogfish, the hairy frogfish and the warty frogfish. An impressive array.
With our dive masters at our side, we enjoyed swaying pygmy sea horses, shrimps and a variety of nudibranchs. The local dive guides have so much to offer divers: a great knowledge of local fauna & flora, sharp eyes and great companionship.
Diving along the mainland offers a mix of muck diving and sloping reefs among black volcanic sand. Paradise Reef stands out for the number of unique marine species sighted on one dive. Starting the dive under the jetty, we spotted the promised giant yellow frogfish that previous divers here had mentioned on the boat. Colourful nudibranchs were easy to spot against the black sand. This was quickly followed by a pair of ornate ghost pipefish and flounders.
As we pulled away from the jetty, the show continued with a parade of pipefish (ringed, banded and alligator) among sea grass. Trying hard to conceal his excitement, Adi pointed out a minute juvenile flamboyant cuttlefish. Then a flash of arms as a mimic octopus cleverly concealed itself from us. Cuttlefish are abundant here as well. Even the safety stop was entertaining as we watched the antics of a juvenile octopus hiding in a shell.
Pulisan is another dive site we enjoyed, both during the day and at night. Darkness brought out an array of smaller reef creatures like spider crabs, stumpy-spined cuttlefish, bobtail squid, marble shrimps and arrow crabs. Numerous file and pufferfish dozed in the dark while lobsters and decorator crabs foraged on the reef.
This small island is located just in front of Gangga Island. It is ideal for snorkelling and open water training. Divers can enjoy dusk dives with the numerous harems of mandarinfish found among the rubble slopes. To glimpse these tiny but beautiful fish, divers must be patient and practice being still in the dark. Is it worth it? Definitely, as Lihage has so many harems you are sure to see them, unlike other places that may only have just one spot.
A three dive daytrip, including lunch, takes you to Sulawesi’s best-known sites.
Gangga Island Resort and Spa is fast gaining fame among holidaymakers and dive enthusiasts alike.
The Lembeh Strait is located 50-minutes southeast of Gangga Island, it is full of surprises. Divers around the globe come here to see the bizarre, weird and unusual creatures that live in and on the black, volcanic sand. An hour spent underwater seem like mere minutes, as frogfish, stonefish, demon stingers, sea horses, pipefish, hairy crabs, sea moths, cuttlefish, banggai cardinalfish and many more, appear before us. This is a macro heaven.
Bunaken National Park
The diving in Bunaken National Park consists of mainly steep drop-offs (up to 600m; 1970ft) and sloping reefs.
Located an hour west and south-southwest of Gangga, it gave us the opportunity of using wide-angle lenses again. All year round visibility ranges between 15-30m (49-98ft). Below the surface, beautiful walls, encrusted with tunicates, feather stars, huge sponges, black coral bushes and gorgonian sea fans awaited us. Currents can prevail, bringing larger, pelagics such as chevron barracuda, sharks and rays. Bumphead parrotfish and Napoleon wrasse were also present.