Super belated post here. Here’s a summary of my 2012 scuba diving activity.
Trip VI: Manado (Bunaken and Lembeh combined)
August 2012: Back to Manado again. Somehow the operators there have the smallest single surcharge (extra fee for 1 person staying in double room).
Stayed 5 nights and did 11 dives at Bunaken. Highlights: my first sighting of an eagle ray, lots of turtles and Napoleon wrasse.
Stayed 2 nights and did 3 dives at Lembeh. Highlights: blue ring octopi (yes, multiple sightings), mimic octopus, flying gurnard.
In hindsight, should have gone for something more like 3N/4N, since the resort at Lembeh is newer, more comfortable, less crowded.
Lembeh area itself is definitely worth a longer re-visit. Note: It’s for biologist-type serious divers. Lots of small rare venomous bottom-dwellers, but no reefs or swarms of fish.
Trip VII: Similan Islands liveaboard
December 2012: First time diving in Similan Islands. Went with Khao Lak scuba adventures (http://www.khaolakscubaadventures.com/) on the Manta Queen II. I booked via http://www.diveasianow.com/ since they also arrange the 1 night hotel stay and return transfer to the airport.
Highlights: My first sighting of a manta ray. Trip leader made us do this weird ritual in the morning: umm … “everyone rub your nipples!” … yes that’s right. He claimed it would bring in the mantas, and we actually did see one. So I guess it worked?
And, while on the boat in-between dives, we spotted a Minke whale surfacing in the distance. So, two megafauna in one trip!
Photos taken by the dive guides: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151365223516449.523512.209313511448&type=3
Total 13 dives on this trip. Current total is 58, all done on an Open Water certification. Advanced isn’t required to go out and enjoy diving.