Central Sulawesi is not very well known, but a very interesting place for diving. At the very center, where the several arms of the island join together lies the driest place in Indonesia - Palu - and a small but beautiful dive area in Donggala. To the east is the Bay of Tomini with a large group of islands - the Togian islands (separate page) - an isolated area with an interesting endemic marine species. Travelling further to the east yet are the Banggai islands (separate page), best reached by liveaboard.
Palu lies in central Sulawesi on the western shore at a narrow and very deep inlet. Donggala is a small village, about an hour drive from Palu's airport, the dive resort is located at Tanjung Karang, a small beach in the north of Donggala.This is supposed to be one of the driest places in Indonesia (weather map Indonesia). We didn't have a single day of rain in 2 weeks, though the sky was overcast during 2 days . From Palu you can reach the beautiful Lore-Lindu National park, about 60 km inland from Palu. Plan enough time to do some trekking.
Dive sites around Donggala (Central Sulawesi) - print version
House reef: This is actually my favorite reef
(but avoid the weekends, when people from Palu come to beach) around Donggala.
You just grab a tank and walk in from the entrance of the resort. Then you
decide whether you go to the right towards Alex Point
or left to the Green Wall. Ask in the dive shop
and they will also bring you by boat to some spot on the reef, so you can
swim with the current back to the exit. Depths range up to 36m, but most dives
are around 15 to 20m.
This reef is teaming with life during the day - large groups of sweetlips, fusiliers and snappers congregate around the coral blocks. Take a closer look and you will find many nudibranchs, anemones and flatworms. There are always some anemonefish, specially the spinecheek anemonefish (Premas biaculeatus). I also found leaffish, pegasus, hawk fish and several ghost pipefishes. I even saw an eagle ray, but only for a very short time.
I made a night dive nearly every night because
there are plenty of really interesting animals there: twin spot lionfish,
Spanish dancer, stonefish (lying beneath a coral block just at the entrance
to the resort), many cuttlefish and small nearly transparent octopuses, lobster
and decorator crabs and much more!
Anchor Reef and Natural reef: These reefs lie south of Donggala about 10 min by boat. Depths range from 25m to 6m. Coral blocks on sand with hidden animals like moray eels, leaffish sometimes ghost pipe fish. On the deeper sandy area there are nearly always large rays. Sometimes really large groups of bumphead parrotfish and blacktip reef sharks visit this area.
Pasi Kawe, Pasi Utara, Pasi Ujung and South Atoll: These reefs also lie south of Donggala, but about 30 to 40 min by boat, near Towale. Depths range from over 30m to about 8m. At these places we always saw blacktip and whitetip reef sharks from very close. One actually swam right through our group and directly towards me and turned to the side only half a meter away! Great! These reefs are nicely covered with corals, lots of acropora and whip corals. I specially liked Pasi Kawe where I found many nudibranchs, saw a cuttlefish laying eggs and where Igede, the dive guide even found a yellow frogfish (probably Antennarius pictus)!! That made my day.
Batu Suya and Enu I and II: These reefs lie north of Donggala on the other side of the inlet, about 30 to 40 min by boat. The dive sites are all vertical walls covered with beautiful gorgonian fans and soft corals. Depths range from ca. 5m to probably 70m! There are small caves and overhangs. On one dive we had a lot of current - at one corner there was a huge group of mackerel but we had to turn back because the current was going to sweep us away. On another dive we saw bumphead parrot fishes and 3 napoleon wrasse. In the gorgonian fans there are always longnose hawkfishes (Oxycirrhites typus), these are beautiful but very shy.
Map of Sulawesi: click on dive sites
Description of dive sites
- Dive safety in South East Asia
- judge the currents
Bali - Borneo and Kalimantan - Burma and Thailand - Malaysia (east coast) - Manado, Lembeh and Siau islands - Nusa Tenggara (Lombok, Sumbawa, Komodo, Flores, Alor) - Moluccas (Ambon, Banda, Halmahera) - Palawan (Sangat, Tubbataha) - Sulawesi - Sulawesi central - Visayas (Bohol, Cebu, Negros, Siquijor)
Print version reports
Alor - Bali east - Bali north - Bali south - Bangka - Bohol - Borneo overview - Bunaken - Burma - Cebu - Flores - Gorontalo - Kalimantan - Komodo - Lankayan - Lembeh - Leyte - Lombok - Malaysia (east coast) - Manado - Moluccas - Negros - Palawan - Sabah and Sarawak - Sangat - Siau - Sipadan-Mabul - Siquijor - Sulawesi central - Sulawesi south - Sulawesi southeast - Togian and Banggai islands - Wallacea
Print version maps
Alor - Ambon - Apo - Bali - Bohol
- Borneo - Burma - Gorontalo
- Kalimantan - Komodo
- Lankayan - Lembeh
- Leyte - Lombok
- Malaysia (east coast) -
Manado - Palawan
(Tubbataha) - Sangat - Siau
- Sipadan-Mabul - Siquijor
- Sulawesi south - Togians
The Galapagos islands
German - Deutsch
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. Copyright Teresa Zubi (write to me)