Muck Diving Lembeh; Stuck in the Mud

Muck Diving Lembeh; Stuck in the Mud

Explore North Sulawesi: Try Muck Diving Lembeh


Muck diving Lembeh; The ultimate underwater playground for the weird, wacky creatures of the marine world. Nothing but black volcanic sand slopes slowly down into the murky yonder. With weed, rocks and litter polluting the bottom it is an eye sore for most, but for divers like us, with a keen eye for all things small and wonderful, there is no better place to be then right here – Stuck in the mud in Lembeh.


With dive time limits based on our air consumption, our eyes scour the bottom for nearly 100 minutes.  I am starting to see tiny eyes emerge in plain rocks, not because I am tired (no way, I’m anything but tired!) but due to the immense amount of critters our guide has materialised from a plain piece of weed or an ’empty’ flat sandy bottom. In this one dive I have seen a mimic octopus, a wonderpus, an Ambon scorpionfish with its baby, a white robust ghost pipefish and a denise’s pigmy seahorse – A divers dream list; An underwater photographers dream.


I believe that when you have dived all over for 5 years solidly and you come across a place where on day one you see SIX things you have never seen before, ONE you didn’t even know existed, you have found somewhere unique and truly special.



Muck Diving Lembeh, North Sulawesi, Travel Indonesia


Dive Stats


Depths – between 3m -25m (on average around 10m)

Conditions – slight surge, little current

Visibility – dependent on surge yet somewhere from 5m – 15m

Dive Site Topography – Sandy with small coral outcrops on some sites, flat or gently sloping.

Diving Ability – Conditions are easy enough however I recommend at least a moderate background for diving in Asia and  moderate knowledge of underwater critters. The creatures you will find here in Lembeh are extremely rare, small and difficult to spot and therefore will be meaningless to someone who hasn’t heard of them before. So study up before you come 🙂


Where to stay in Lembeh Island

Lembeh accommodation really needs to be booked before arrival, reason being there is no road to access to other resorts. The entire island is navigated by boat, so hostel/deal hunting cannot be done there, it needs to be done online before you go. The two budget places on Lembeh Island are Two fish divers and Froggies Dive Resort. Both have immaculate reputations, both have good dive package deals and both come highly recommended in the dive world. Funnily enough they are right next door to each other.


Muck Diving Lembeh, North Sulawesi, Travel Indonesia



Muck Diving Lembeh Speciality Dives:

Mandarin Dive – Watch the quirky and colourful mandarinfish play between the staghorn coral. Right on dusk, these usually shy fish appear bobbing, weaving and dancing about looking for a mate. Not camera shy, these guys pose quite well for photos. At 5:30pm they start to pair up and rapidly mate. Truly spectacular and very cute they shimmy  together above the corals whilst courting and within seconds they are done and dusted, back into hiding. Even if you have done this dive before in the Philippines or Malaysia, do it in Lembeh. The mandarinfish are bigger and less shy than those we have seen before. Not only did we see 30 or so mandarinfish, we also saw a pink painted frogfish, hoards of pyjama cardinal fish, floating pipefish frenzies and popcorn shrimp.


Nudi Falls– An unexpected dive site in Lembeh, a gorgeous soft coral encrusted walls covered in nudibranch. Keep your eyes peeled for the hunting flambuoyant cuttlefish


Night Dive -You cannot possibly come to Lembeh without night diving. Get a torch and get in there. In one 60 minute dive we saw:


2 Wunderpus

1 Devil scorpionfish

1 Flasher scorpianfish

2 Spiny devilfish

1 Flamboyant cuttlefish

1 Waspfish

1 Bobtail squid (blue variation)

1 Juvinile coconut octopus

2 White feet octopus

2 Squid

3 Orangutan crabs

Cool nudies

1 Dwarf cuttlefish



Sold yet????

Our awesome ‘Lembeh Hit List’ during 1,200 minutes underwater (16 dives)

Blue-ringed octopus

Mimic octopus


Flamboyant cuttlefish

Two-tone pygmy squid

Coconut octopus (juv. and adult)

Dwarf cuttlefish (yellow variation)

White feet octopus

Denise’s pygmy seahorse

Short pouch pygmy pipehorse

Estuary seahorse

Common seahorse

Pontohi pygmy seahorse

Severns’ pygmy seahorse

Tigertail seahorse

Robust ghost pipefish (white, green, brown)

Winged pipefish

Lembeh sea dragon (Rumengan’s pipe horse)

Hairysquat lobster

Xenia commensial shrimp

Emperor shrimp (cleaning Nudibranch)

Melibe fimbriata nudibranch

Haig’s porcelain crab

Blue swimming crab

Red frog spanner crab (orange variation)

Urchin carry crab

Jellyfish carry crab

Decorator crab (hydroid variation)

Shame-faced crab

Sea cucumber swimming crab

Holthuis’ anemone shrimp (on blacksaddle snake eel)

Spiny tiger shrimp

Four-lobed porcelain crab

Beak shrimp (variation)

Free living commensal shrimp (variation)

Emperor shrimp (cleaning a many-lobed ceratosoma Nudibranch)

Clear cleaner shrimp (on okinawan snake eel)

Mushroom coral shrimp (popcorn shrimp)

Hairy frogfish

Warty frogfish

Striated frogfish

Spiny devilfish (3 variations)

Painted frogfish (pink, brown, blue)

Ambon scorpionfish (2 variations)

Cockatoo waspfish (red variation, brown variation)

Spiny waspfish (pale variation)

Longspine waspish (pink variation)

Bandtail waspfish (red vaiation)


Juvenile circular batfish

Juvenile harlequin sweetlips

Flounder (cockatoo, ocellated)

Banggai cardinal fish

Pajama cardinal fish

Fingered dragonet (male, female and green fin variation)

Picturesque dragonet

Helmet gurnard (juv. and adult)

Stargazer snake eel

Saddled snake eel

Blacksaddle snake eel

Juvenile snake eel (transluscent except eyes)



Return to our destination guide: North Sulawesi

Or find out how to get to Lembeh island cheaply




Written by

Prue Sinclair is a twenty-eight year old Aussie who for the past seven years has been exploring the furthermost reaches of the World. Living anywhere but her homeland, she now resides somewhere in the UK where she writes about the adventures of her Ultimate British Road Trip. Her message is simple: You can get anywhere on any budget, you just need to think outside the box. You can trust she’s finding her way to somewhere lesser-known and writing a ‘How To’ guide.


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