Nomad Divers, run by Sophie and Simon from England. It has been open only four months and offers only four bungalows at this stage. The property is nestled among the mangroves with a small stretch of sand out front and around the beach-front structures. It is quiet and remote (10-15 minute walk to the village) but I never felt bored – perhaps I was too busy diving or feeling exhausted. The bungalows are spacious, clean, if not a little sparsely furnished, and have a huge outdoor bathroom.
Everything here moves. It is very much a living island. Hermit crabs, lizards, monitor lizards, frogs, geckos, three friendly and playful dogs, small snakes that come out at night and fish in the water’s edge, tarsiers, and so on. It was quite cool.
So the diving…..what can I say. Brilliant. Excellent variety which I like – couldn’t imagine doing the same dive 3 or 4 times in one day over the course of a week. Bangka has walls with deep drop offs, incredible coral gardens, black and white sandy and rocky bottoms for great muck diving, drift dives, pinnacles, boulders.... it goes on. It does not however have large pelagics frequenting the waters although there is a resident dugong and I did manage to see an eagle ray. The great thing about the location is that Bunaken and Lembeh, the more famous and popular sites, are an easy day trip away. I did trips to both and still preferred Bangka.
Lembeh is purely a muck diving location, aside from a Japanese cargo wreck which I dived to get my nitrox certification. We had some poor visibility as it bucketed down the night before and didn’t find too much. Bunaken has a massive wall surrounding the island that descends 100’s of metres and the appeal of venturing out into the blue to search for hammerheads, white tips, pilots whales and mantas. We did three dives around the wall, saw one massive beast of a turtle, but drifting along the wall just bored me in the end. The coral was still amazing.
Back to Bangka….the variety of corals, both soft and hard was incredible. And you could spend weeks and weeks hunting for so many species of fish it isn’t funny. This was something I really enjoyed, finding various elusive creatures. I must make a comment here on my guide Rudolfi (Dolfi), a local guy, whom has been diving the area for some time. He had an excellent eye for the macro stuff. I don’t know how many times he showed me something minute and I signaled to him….”how the hell am I supposed to photograph that with this?!?!” One of the best aspects – I think I only saw other divers once on the 12 dives I did in Bangka itself.
I can’t recommend Nomad Divers enough. Simon and Sophie have something pretty good there and it will only get better as they continue to find their feet. It is a very affordable alternative to the 3-4 star resorts around. The staff are very good (Mama, cook, and Papa Dolfi, boat captain, and Dolfi as guide). And if there is a decent group of people there, get them to organise a spit roast pig over the coconut husks. Have a go at turning the manual bamboo spit and carving the beast.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- We are a small friendly scuba diving resort on Bangka Island, North Sulawesi. With daily trips to Lembeh and Bunaken you can enjoy a huge variety of diving with us. We have four bungalows with en-suite bathrooms and balcony and a beachside restaurant, bar and dive centre. ... more less