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“Black Marling, AWESOME!” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Black Marlin Dive Resort

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Black Marlin Dive Resort
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Kadidiri Island, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Togian Islands
New York City, New York
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Black Marling, AWESOME!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 16, 2012

My friends and i were here for about a week, with the sole intent on diving, and boy did we dive. The diving here is absolutely fantastic. Half of the time we were under water I felt as if I was living a real life NatGeo special (The diving alone I would give 10 stars if possible). The rental equipment is good and the dive instructors are knowledgeable. My friends and I took our advanced open water course here. We had a great instructor and great dives to go along with it. While you are here make sure you take the day trip out to Una-Una. You will not regret it.

The place its self was very basic, but very good. The water only runs at select times of the day (it is however fresh) and you get electricity at night for a few hours. One downside (or maybe upside) is that there is no cell phone service, and where there is its very spotty. The bungalows were nice, good mosquito nets, and sufficient bathrooms. One of my favorite aspects was the hammocks they provided on the balcony of each bungalow. Great place to zone out for a nap. I truly felt as if I was at a pirates secret hide out during my stay here. Just such a cool location, beautiful scenery, and so secluded.

The one thing that this place did unfortunately drop the ball on was the food situation. The food most nights was okey, but some nights was quite lacking. I just felt as if the quality could of been just a bit better. I understand its in a very remote location but other places which are equally remote have provided better food, and I truly hope that one day Black Marlin will be able to do the same.

A word of warning - There is one more resort further down the beach called 'Paradise'. My friends and I strolled down there one evening just to check it out and I got a very weird feeling. First of all the place had lots of standing water (breeds mosquitos) and there was indeed many more mosquitos around. Secondly it had lots of trash strewn about on the back side, and there were some large natural pools they had created which also had trash in them and much to my dismal some sharks too. We had confronted the guy working there about this and he said they were rehabilitating them but I wasnt buying it for a minute seeing how there were just a few, the pond was full of trash, and not sure what rehabilitation would be required.

All in all, suck it up on the food situation and you will have a great time, The owner (Crispin) is a great guy and very easy to work with and his staff is great. If you are lucky the food will have improved by the time you visit and perhaps you will rate it 5 stars!

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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87 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (12)
Date | Rating
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English first
Reus, España
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 8, 2012

This is not a 5 stars hotel, but it has many other great values that make it an unforgotable place. Most of the staff is friendly and helpful. After a while you already feel like home because it is easy to get involve and to meet the rest of the customers. The divings are great and the spots amazing. Very quite. You really feel like being in the paradise with very simpe lifestyle to take care of the environment. I recommend it.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
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København, Staden Kobenhavn, Denmark
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 4, 2012

Great place, good service, nice food, and most of all great hospitality! Specially our host Min did a great job in making us feel welcome.
We experienced the ISS diveschool as professional and pleasant.
We've heard from other travelers that in high season (July) it can get pretty busy and therefore the quality of service and food can vary a bit.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
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Los Angeles, California
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
39 helpful votes 39 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 25, 2012

I dove with Black Marlin (and their neighboring competitor, Paradise). Both are good options, and they charge the same price for dives. We went to the plane wreck and to Una Una. Una Una was a great spot, well worth paying the extra few dollars for boat fuel.

Stayed July 2012, traveled solo
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Zurich, Switzerland
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 21, 2012

We spent 2 perfect weeks at Black Marlin Dive Resort. The Staff was very helpful and friendly (always singing, always smiling). The Bungalows are basic but nice and ours was cleaned every third day. Just be aware of two things:
1st: never ever have some foods in your room except you like rats waking you up the night.
2nd: because the climate is very humid, there will be mold on all things (backpacks) lying directly on the floor for to long. It’s easy to avoid just put things in/on the closet.

For breakfast they serve every day something different, which is great. Lunch and dinner is local food consisting of rice, vegetable, fish or chicken and fruits. Guests are seated around two big tables and share the food like a big family.

There is spectacular diving around Kadidiri and the Black Marlin Dive School is according to many travellers the best place. The guides are very professional and the equipment is ok (It's not new but still working :-).

If you like colourful sunsets, you will love this place. Some evenings we were all sitting around a bonfire, singing or listening to local songs and having fun.

Summarized: On Kadidiri, there is always a reason to be happy. It's not 5-star but very nice and relaxing. TOKITOKI!!!

Room Tip: Rooms near the restaurant dont get that hot during the day
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Turin, Italy
1 review
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 19, 2012

We have been there end of April - beginning of May 2012 and we have brought back home (Italy) only great memories...wonderful sea and land, great relationship with the staff, everything was easy...a real relaxing time. A very long journey from home but it's worth it. Luciano

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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New Canaan, Connecticut
Top Contributor
135 reviews 135 reviews
53 hotel reviews
Reviews in 61 cities Reviews in 61 cities
99 helpful votes 99 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 20, 2012

This is an extensive review, but one that's warranted given the lack of good information about the Togean Islands. I've arranged it like this:

- Short Recap
- Getting There
- Accommodation at Black Marlin
- Diving
- Non-Diving Activities
- Staff
- Tips

Feel free to message me with any questions. I struggled to get solid info before arriving and would like to help if I can. I believe that all visitors to Indonesia should visit Black Marlin. After 19 months of traveling, this was the most exotic paradise that I found. Two big thumbs up!

1. SHORT RECAP:

In short: I came for three days and stayed for ten. Black Marlin is a hidden gem. Here, I found the paradise that had eluded me across SE Asia, Europe, and South America.

Is it a pain to get there? Yes, but that's what keeps the islands secluded and special. I wouldn't want it to be easier to reach! Go to Togean & stay at Black Marlin - you will not regret it! It's some of the best diving in the world, and the bungalows are really nice considering that you're in the middle of nowhere. The staff is friendly, and you'll learn to love their idiosyncrasies once you settle into island-time. I took some time to write the below review – please expand to read and message me with any questions. Lonely Planet is really, really off on their reviews of the Togean islands, so hopefully this provides some more accurate insight for you.

2. GETTING THERE:

If you're a tourist, then you might as well stick to Bali & Thailand. Honestly, I'm baffled at the ignorance of the folks who posted before me. How could any of this be a shock? How could folks honestly expect glitzy modern facilities in such a remote location? And it's not as if the remoteness sneaks up on you... everything about the Togean chain is remote!

Getting to Black Marlin is not simple. It's not really that difficult either for seasoned travelers, but it's certainly not for princes and princesses, the likes of whom have posted before me. You basically have two options (from Ampana and Gorontalo). The most convenient is to fly into Gorontalo (Lion Air, Garuda, and a few others) from Jakarta via Makassar (stop over, same plane). This is an inexpensive flight and is hassle-free.

Once in Gorontalo, you'll have to take an overnight boat to Wakai - the central village of the Togean islands. The most popular boat is the Tuna Tomini which leaves Gorontalo at 8pm and pulls into Wakai around 10am.

It's a basic passenger ferry with three classes of accommodation. The best option is the cabin, which I believe is about 400,000 Rupiah ($40). The crew's cabin fits four folks in two bunk-beds, though couples can share a bed if need-be. It is air conditioned, and while basic will indeed get the job done. The next option is "business" class, which is really a waste of money. Business class is made up of hard reclining chairs that are a bit oversized by Indonesian standards. Everyone in Business class opts for the floor. The cheapest option is to sleep sardine-style in general class. Many of these folks actually opt to sleep on the roof, on cardboard flats sold by local kids at the pier. This is much more comfortable than it sounds, but don’t expect anything romantic – this is, after all, the Tuna Tomini. The vast majority of folks on this boat are locals. Since the ship doubles as a cargo boat (and a lifeline to the tiny islands), you’ll see motorcycles, consumer goods, and mountains of durian if you time it right.

Once you land in the village of Wakai, the Black Marlin team will wait for you at the pier. They will probably have one of their dive boats to pick you up. If they’re all out on trips, then you’ll get a wooden boat. Either way, it’s maybe 10 minutes from Wakai to Kadidiri – the island where Black Marlin and other hotels are located.

One big tip – email BM to get the latest boat schedule. Gorontalo is a tiny city with absolutely nothing at all to do there (save for Double Dips – a coffee shop that will become your best friend). Try to fly in the same night as a boat departure. This is however a good place to load up on basic supplies, as there will be essentially nothing in the Togean. You can get cash at Gorontalo - folks with a VISA debit card will need to go to a specific ATM (exit Double Dips, turn right, walk a block then turn right, it's on the left in front of a hotel).

3. ACCOMMODATION AT BLACK MARLIN

Accommodation at Black Marlin will feel like heaven to travelers, and rather basic to snooty tourists. If you come expecting the Hilton, well you’re going to be disappointed. Then again, if you’re looking for the Hilton then your idea of paradise is a bit jaded and quite different from most guests that love the Black Marlin.
If I remember correctly, there are two types of bungalows – basic and deluxe. I stayed in the deluxe and loved it. I had a comfortable queen size bed with mosquito net, patio with deck chairs, hammock, and a clean bathroom that really impressed me quite a bit. Again, you’ll be on a tiny island that conjures up images of Robinson Crusoe. With this in mind, it’s great that you’ll have electricity for a couple hours at night, and running water twice daily (morning and night). The truth is that this is plenty – the shower has decent force and there’s a massive pail/bucket to save water for mid-day & flushing.
The communal area is a large pavilion on the beach. This is where breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served. There are several tables, places to relax, unlimited tea, and a bar (though it never gets rowdy at night). Often times, the staff will make a small bonfire in the evening and dance around the flames.
Food is surprisingly good. Breakfast is either banana pancakes with chocolate syrup, or nasi goring (friend rice). Lunch and Dinner are usually buffet style and consist of fish, rice, vegetables, and omlettes on demand. Being vegetarian was a bit tough here for me, as meals often came down to rice topped with sweet soy sauce, ketchup, and hot sauce. Others raved about the fish, and again, I always considered myself thankful to have decent food in a place where everything comes in by boat from quite far away.
Divers get a discount on accommodation, and payment can be made with credit card (though cash is preferred).


4. DIVING

About 70% of the folks who came to Black Marlin during my stay were divers. I took my open-water SSI dive course here and was extremely satisfied with the level of training and the quality of pristine coral & diverse fish. The course only took 2.5 days, books are in good condition, and there’s a TV room above the common area to watch instructional DVDs. Crispin is a veteran diver and ensured that I overcame some initial problems - sinuses prevented me from descending too quickly (Crispin – if you’re reading this, well thanks again!).
Diving here is really varied in terms of depth & sights. There are dozens of dive sites including a sunken US Bomber, amazing table reefs, and loads of colorful fish. I really liked the Taipei Wall site. Skill level of fellow divers ranged from first-timers like me, to master-divers who travel and teach diving for a profession. All had very positive things to say about the quality of diving here.

There are two dive times each day – 9am and 2pm (Island time). Dives last for about 60-90 minutes depending on your ability, and the dive boats are carbon-fiber with four stroke engines to keep the water clean.

Relative to other spots in Indonesia, the diving here is significantly better than anywhere west of Sulawesi. Bali and Gili can’t really compare – Gili in particular is full of dead coral that’s been dynamited (however, there are more turtles). Bunaken has changed a lot recently and the beaches there are now full of trash from Manado. Raja Ampat is meant to be amazing, but dives there cost an arm and a leg.

5. NON-DIVING ACTIVITIES

Black Marlin was also interesting for non-divers. The water immediately at the beach is crystal clear and perfect for snorkeling and swimming. You can also accompany the dive boats if you wish to snorkel in more remote locations. There was also one guest during my stay who did nothing but read several books in his hammock. While there is about two square feet of mobile phone reception, there’s not really much here in terms of activities. I would strongly urge you to bring a few packs of playing cards, an instrument, crosswords, beach games, or basically anything else to help you pass the time. There’s also a pool table inside the communal area.
Nearly all guests were couples (norm for Indonesia, outside of Bali/Gili), and ranged in age from early twenties to their sixties. I met some wonderful folks here from Hungary, Sweden, France, Singapore, and Australia. Typical stay was 5-10 days, though some did stay for three weeks. The limiting factor is really your ability to do nothing except dive, read, and lounge for days on end.

The island itself is tiny… much, much smaller than Koh Phi Phi for those who have been there. It’s really a dot in a pristine sea. There are two other dive resorts on the stretch of beach – Lestari and Paradise. Lestari is more hippie-based and really appeals to budget travelers. Paradise has more of a hotel feel to it, with a garden and many rooms on site. Their diveshop is not licensed however, and they have a small shark-pool that may rub some environmentalists the wrong way. It was also really empty and felt rather like a ghost town. Relationships between the three places are cordial – I actually became friends with the Lestari family and often walked down to Paradise for cocktails and a change of scenery.

Do yourself a favor and spend a week at the Black Marlin. It’s a paradise vacation that you’ll never forget. Yes, it’s more Robinson Crusoe than Tahiti, but that’s what really adds to the charm. This would be your own paradise, instead of some mass-marketed version.


6. STAFF

The Diving staff know what they are doing. They are licensed by Padi and SSI (you'll want to dive with them even if you stay elsewhere). The kitchen staff are also friendly and will make omlettes at any time. Be sure to tell them at arrival if you have any specific needs (vegetarians).

Opi, the custodian, isn't the most reliable fellow. He's in charge of general needs including turning on your water, so be sure to get him on your good side. He's always smiling, but really operates at island time. You'll learn to love him after a few days, but the first day or two can be tough if you're still regimented (expecting water at 4pm sharp).

Checkout is hell. There's no way to sugar-coat this. It's not that there are discrepancies with your bill, but rather that it takes the head-lady a while to compile everything. The best thing to do is find her the morning of the day before you plan to leave. Then, ask her to compile everything and have it ready for you to review at dinner time. You'll have to pay the night before leaving in any case. Doing this will make the procedure quite easy. In fairness, she likely hasn't had much formal education and is really friendly. If however you wait until the night before paying, you'll likely confuse her as there will be more than one person who needs to check out. Be sure to get the costs agreed to up front, and specify if you'll be diving when you first get to the resort. Nothing here is exorbitant, but it would help to give you clarity throughout your stay. Honestly though, you'll end up on island-time soon enough and likely won't care until check-out.

Management (Crispin from the UK) knows about the staff service levels and will apologize profusely to you. The truth is that he's trained them well, but it's hard to break island habits. He will likely replace the entire staff with western-trained Indonesians from Bali once the airport in Ampana opens up. Crispin also makes sure that the environment is respected, and is leading an effort to turn the Togeans into a designated marine park.



7. TIPS

- Bring sunscreen + things to help you pass the time (several decks of cards, games, guitar)
- Bring an iPod if you have one – there are speakers on site
- Bring more books than you think you’ll ever need
- Try to avoid spending more than a day in Gorontalo. Find the Double Dipps café and hunker down.
- Bring mosquito repellant (no malaria on Kadidiri, though there might be in more remote areas). None of the other guests took medicine for it when I was there... but I'm not a doctor
- You can do the academic part of your dive course online ahead of time, but it’s also helpful to kill time on the island
- Pace yourself with the Arak – it’s strong!
- Fly in to Gorontalo as your entrance to Sulawesi. Then fly out of Makassar, exploring Tana Toraja in the middle. I flew out of Gorontalo as well, and that required patience, as the boat docked in Gorontalo at 3am, Double Dips didn’t open until 6am, and the ticket counters at the airport didn’t open until 10am. The flight was around noon to Makassar & then some more time to get to Bali.
- Bring ear wax if you think you'll need it while diving

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Black Marlin Dive Resort

Address: Kadidiri Island, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia
Location: Indonesia > Sulawesi > Central Sulawesi > Togian Islands
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Restaurant Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Togian Islands
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 17
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Beautiful Dive Resort at the heart of the Togians with easy access to all the best divesites (including Una Una and B24 wreck) using the best equipment, boats and most experienced DMs and instructors. Relaxed atmosphere, good facilities, helpful friendly staff, clean rooms, excellent value. All bungalows right on the beach with spring beds, full mosquito nets, fans, western ensuite bathrooms, hammock on your terrace with stunning views. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Black Marlin Dive Hotel Togian Islands

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