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“Black Sands Dive Resort” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Black Sand Dive Retreat

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Black Sand Dive Retreat
Kasawari | Kel. Kasawari, Bitung 95513, Indonesia   |  
Hotel amenities
Sydney, Australia
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Black Sands Dive Resort”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 22, 2012

Stayed here for the second time in twelve months in September 2012. If anything it was better than we remembered. Nice accommodation, outstanding staff and great food (not too fancy but well presented, tasty and a choice of three dishes for each meal)provide for a very comfortable and economical stay. However if you are reading this you are probably most interested in the dive operation which is first class. The boats are small - good because you only have to share with three other divers and your guide which means you are in the water faster rather than waiting for a dozen divers to gear up and get in. They are also fast which means no site is more than about ten minutes away and that's better for the environment - the slower boats are out for hours and have on board toilets and all that S**t goes straight into the water you are diving in. We managed four dives a day generally of seventy minutes or so duration - guides were only too happy to stay with you for the duration. Night dives were awesome and the house reef superb. Most dive resorts in Malaysia and Thailand could take a lesson in how to run a dive reort in this place - 45 minutes and back on the boat is rubbish when you have travelled half way round the world to dive somewhere. Saw various octopus, a free swimming giant frog fish that swam for about 150 meters before finding a sponge to settle on - and found at least twenty nudi's that I had not seen before, squid, hunting cuttlefish. The guides are amazing at what they can find. I have dived all around the world and the operation that Bruce and Fung run is one of the best.

Room Tip: Closer to the dive center is better if you have an UW camera to take back to your room after every d...
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  • Stayed September 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
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (7)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Driebergen, The Netherlands
Senior Contributor
43 reviews 43 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 28 cities Reviews in 28 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 16, 2012

Excellent bungalows with a nice balcony and a lot of space inside. In the windy season you can not always stay on the balcony because of yhe strong wind, but there's a nice and large garden where you can sit out of the wind. The staff brought my wife a sunchair when they saw her sitting in the grass.
Food is excellent, you can choose from a menu and it's all tasty and well prepared.
Diving is superb, the guides are very well trained and show you almost everything you ask for, however keep in mind it's not a zoo and sometimes critters are just not there because of season changes. Bruce is a walking encyclopidia and can tell you almost everything about the critters in Lembeh. Boats are very nice and it's max 4 divers per boat/guide. Even the housereef is worthwhile (we found mandarin fish there).
There one monir thing: the resort is close to a small village and sometimes during daytime there's noice from the village.
However if you like very nice bungalows, with very good food and service and excellent diving, visit Black Sands Dive Retreat.

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Nieuwrode, Brabant, Belgium
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 15, 2012

Over the last 15 years, my husband and I stayed at various places all over the world (both land based and on liveaboards) to enjoy our diving holidays. Comparing these accommodation and places, for us, Black Sands Dive Retreat in Lembeh was by far the best value for money.

The resort has been strategically build on a breezy hill which tempers the heat of the tropical sun and ensures mosquito-free evenings. The cottages, set in a tropical garden with views over the Lembeh Strait, are spacious and clean, have a/c and a fan, boast large beds with good matrasses and crisp clean sheets, and have coffee and tea facilities. There is plenty of hanging and storage space in the handy walk-in closet and the modern half-open Balinese bathrooms have good showers and they even comprise a small private tropical garden.

The meals are excellent, soft drinks and beer are moderately priced and both after the first dive and the afternoon dive, snacks like cake and cookies are provided. In the main building with the dining room, you’ll also find a tv-room and an extensive library on the marine life you’ll encounter on your dives. We however preferred to make use of the cozy couches, to snooze with the soft music always playing, to gaze at our diving pictures or to check our Facebook updates with the available WiFi.

The dive center is built in a way that allows for maximum practical use. Sweet-water showers, rice tanks, a dedicated camera-room and changing facilities to get into your diving suit are situated just meters from the water. The dive guides are very professional, notice the smallest little critters and prove to have an unlimited patience with marine-photographers…
The best part of all though is the proximity to the dive spots. The resorts house reef (with a dive package unlimited accessible), actually consists of two of the most famous critter dive sites on the planet, and the fast resort speedboats bring you to all the other best diving spots in Lembeh Strait in approx. 1-10 minutes.

But this is not just a place for critter-nerd! As the resort is based near the Northern edge of the strait, wide angle dive spots with good visibility are just around the corner. Places like California Dreaming and Nature’s Window boast lush and abundant soft and hard corals and schools of fish. Go back a second time with your macro lens to capture the many ghost pipefish also found at these places.

Last but certainly not least: the owners are lovely people and there was always a very good atmosphere among the staff. People clearly liked working here.

We have no relation with the owners nor do we benefit from any advantages due to writing this review, we simply never felt more “at home” half a world away from our home.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Moscow, Russia
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 23, 2012

At the first I can not say any bad words but just for me it is place for one-time visit.

Local staff are very friendly and careful.

Diving is comfortable. Almost sites are sand bottom. Our guide Henke did them interesting - find for us many amazing creatures (mimic octopus, seahorses, baby cattlefish, baby frogfish and etc.). It is very comfortable for even beggining photographer - just lie on bottom and make photo - only you need in macro len.
I prefer site "California dream" - coral wall.
Non-diver will be boring here. As snorkeling is usually impossible because of garbage on surface. Place for sunbath dont exist. No pool, no spa. Only if you need in real Retreat.
Weather - usualy cloudy.
Food - look nice... and if it will not enough for you then you can ask a little more. There are not another place for eating nearby.
Internet - sometimes exist.
Nature - beautifull, a lot of butterflies and birds, loud only from insects)

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Jakarta, Indonesia
Top Contributor
125 reviews 125 reviews
28 hotel reviews
Reviews in 31 cities Reviews in 31 cities
54 helpful votes 54 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 1, 2012

Have stayed here at BSDR a few times. Phenomenal diving, amazing being swimming distance from world-famous sites like Hairball. TK1 and TK2 sites are literally right off the beach, incredible. I have seen Tiger Shrimp from shore dives.

Bruce (Canadian) and Phung are excellent hosts. Bruce has been in the area for a long time and there probably isn't anything he hasn't seen before.

The quality of the diving is incredible, and the dive guides are the best of the best in the Lembeh area. Hengkei deserves special praise, but all guides are fantastic.

I have stayed at other resorts in the area (Kungkunan, Lembeh Island Resort, Lembeh Lodge in the south). BSDR and LIR are my favourites. BSDR rooms are all reasonably close to the beach where the diving goes from.

BSDR also has a well-thought through, safe, camera room.

The food is also surprisingly good. Well worth a visit, especially if you haven't dived Lembeh yet.

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Bali, Indonesia
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 17, 2012

The muck diving in Lembeh speaks for itself, but this boutique resort certainly added to our wonderful Lembeh experience. We felt like we were given personalized service and attention throughout our stay and no request was too difficult for the folks at the resort to try to fulfill.

Black Sand Dive Retreat is owned and managed by an extremely affable Canadian who has an encyclopedic knowledge of the critters of Lembeh Strait, and his lovely Indonesian wife who has trained the resort and kitchen staff to a commendably high standard. The rooms are extremely well-maintained, beautifully appointed (with a large walk-in closet and gorgeous views over the Strait) the food is absolutely delicious and plentiful, the dive facilities were spacious and well-planned, the small, covered, fiberglass speedboats were fast and comfortable, and the guides were eager to help find everything on our critter wishlist. Even our boat driver was happy to hop into the water and snorkel around the boat with my 6 year old son to show him his first hairy frogfish!

While the resort has no swimming pool, the peaceful black sand beach shaded in coconut trees makes a lovely place to cool off between dives. On the shallow sand flat in front of the resort our children found seahorses, coconut octopus, juvenile emperor angelfish while snorkeling.

The smallness of the resort allows for a lot of privacy and personalized attention. I would definitely recommend this to anyone considering diving in Lembeh.

Room Tip: Bungalow 3, which is closest to the restaurant, has a good wi-fi signal in the room. It is also the...
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled with family
    • 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
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pataskala, Ohio
Top Contributor
69 reviews 69 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
40 helpful votes 40 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 8, 2011

My husband and I prefer to stay at smaller, family run places if possible. This certainly fit the bill. The bungalows were amazing and the bathroom is so incredibly beautiful. Every part of this retreat has been thought through. The rooms each have a walk in closet with shelves to set the suitcases. This made it very convienent to get in and out of the suitcases.
The view from the bungalows is great and there was always a breeze. It was amazing how comfortable the temperature was at only 2 deg above the equator.
The dive operation is first class. They have nice small, fast boats that will hold 4 divers and the dive guide. The dive guides and the boat captains were great. They were always willing to take suggestions and see what they could do to find whatever we wanted to look for. The creatures they found were amazing.
The food was wonderful. Each day you are given a menu to pick from. There was a lot of variety and there were very few things that we didn't care for. We thought the portions were great.
Bruce and Fung run a great operation. Bruce truly understands diving and the area. His staff and the facilities are wonderful. This is a first class place that I highly recommend.
This is truly paradise if you want to eat, sleep, dive, and enjoy the beauty of nature.

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 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.

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Additional Information about Black Sand Dive Retreat

Address: Kasawari | Kel. Kasawari, Bitung 95513, Indonesia
Location: Indonesia > Sulawesi > North Sulawesi > Bitung
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi )
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Specialty lodging in Bitung
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Black Sand Dive Retreat Bitung, Indonesia - Sulawesi

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