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“Depending on the moment maybe 3 stars, nowhere near 5”

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Gangga Island Resort & Spa
Ranked #2 of 38 Specialty Lodging in Manado
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed January 23, 2012

I staid a few days in Gangga Island resort, which was recommended by friends (who, just like me, are not divers). Our experience was very different, and it seems the explanation is that during my stay (there were very few clients) the owners were out of the country, the manager was out of the island, and the whole team was left to itself.
I may also say here that I probably have a personal sensitivity to noise (the water dropping next door that would annoy just one person: that would be me).

So first things first. The place is supposed to be worth 4 to 5 stars, I believe it is too outdated now to have such ambitions and charge 200 bucks a night. The bungalows are dark and poorly lit, the furniture is cheap, I remember I had one of those small screen TVs in 1990, my sheets smell a bit of humidity.
The food is OK by indonesian standards, nothing the least inventive but it's decent. There I may add that calling the clients at 9 in the morning on a sunday to ask them whether they'll have breakfast, which is served until 10, is way over the line. I had the same for dinner, as my nap (after a long trip) was interrupted because someone was in a hurry to shut down the kitchen an hour in advance.
I tried the spa. I first enquired whether I could have a booking at short notice. The spa is supposedly opened from about 10 am to 8pm, but I was told I should come the next day at 4pm, and at no other time. Fair enough, but then my coming the next day at 4 could have been anticipated. I had a decent massage after a long hour of swimming, a bit too energetic by my taste but that's a matter for debate. Then I showered, with the bathroom door barely closing, the tiles in the shower reminding me of a modest country house in the 1960s, and the shower gel and shampoo bottles being empty. I was finished (and slightly embarrassed because the door couldn't be shut) when the therapist came back with shower gel and shampoo.
The site is beautiful, it's not the resort's responsibility if so much debris and plastic stays in the water and lands on the beach; but the fact that only one guy is in charge of cleaning it (and obviously not managing it, whatever the reasons) has to be raised.

Then is my main issue with this stay: noise. I certainly find it nice that people are happy and singing. I certainly am a bit oversensitive here, but I do believe that too much is too much:
- people calling each other loud instead of walking to each other
- employees singing (and nothing but cheap indonesian pop) every time they move from one place to the other
- employees deciding that clients reading in the lounge would appreciate the sound of pop music plus the sound of them watching TV
- works being done (ie hammer and nails) at 8.30 am on a sunday morning just next door -I may point out that the bungalows walls are made of plain wooden planks with no isolation, you can actually see through
- someone cleaning with a broom the outside of the bungalow at 6.30 am (see above and figure the sound of a natural fiber broom on a wooden prank 1 m away from your head). I had a hard time having the employee actually understand that I was trying to sleep and that I couldn't because of the noise -not a language issue here, my indonesian is good enough, but obviously noone in the management told them that noise can be a pollution.
- I understand the need for a generator, but I'm not quite sure why it should be so close that you can usually hear it, and often smell the exhausts.

  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled solo
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7  Thank sebastien s
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 20, 2012

Gangga’s a great resort with lovely well-kept bungalows and a great pool area. It's well run with attention to detail that shows they’ve really thought of everything to make your stay as relaxing and comfortable as possible. A gift of home-made jams on Christmas morning was a nice touch. Great spa, good food with wide choices, and very helpful staff throughout. Oh, and the ping pong table was fun on a couple of (very) rainy days!
The only downside would be that the bungalows are semi-detached and sound does travel if the neighbours turn up the volume.
We went out on the snorkelling boat every day and on the whole were disappointed with the quality of the coral – at one site there was no live coral, few fish and lots of jellyfish so it seemed a strange place to take snorkellers – the coral and fish accessible by snorkelling in the local area really aren’t a patch on the reefs in Bunaken National Park. There is still some ok snorkelling in the vicinity though.
Through no fault of the resort, some rubbish does wash up onto the beaches with the tides. The staff do their best to clear the litter but it’s a shame to see and can also make swimming off the beach unfavourable.
All in all Gangga is a great resort with a lovely atmosphere in which to relax - and afternoon tea by the lovely infinity pool is a fun daily event!

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Londontravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 16, 2012

Gangga Island Spa and diving center is probably the best managed resort that we have ever visited. Our family stayed 10 days at the resort and we we enjoyed outstanding service together with a superb diving education. The varm, professional and personal attitude of the staff and management together with the beautifull surroundings on Gangga Island made this holiday very special for us all. Thank you Gangga

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled with family
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Thank Charles K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 15, 2012

Beautifull accomodation in 14 bungalows.Ours were right on the beach(others are only marginally set back).Beach is great although much debris is thrown up on each tide-not just stiks and logs but any item of plastic you can imagine.Half hearted attemps were made to clear iton Xmas day & boxing day but much was not collected although raked into piles opnly to be spread out again by the next tide. After that beach clean up improved leaving pristine white sand.
Food was generally superb with mixture of western ond local dishes but sevice was sometimes slow.Beer $6'95 for620ml Bintang but wine ,as in rest of Indonesia, pricey at between$50 &$55 a bottle. G & T $12.
Most customers went diving (not us)so the poor weather at this time of year was not a problem.Only 2 sunny days in 6 but accomodation so good able to chill out.
Bit disappointed at the 500,000 IDR charge per person for transfers considering the room cost.
For interest take a walk through the islands 2 villages - one Christian and one Muslim.

Room Tip: Nos 9a & b and 12a & b are right on beach
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  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled with family
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Thank Gordon037
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 28, 2011

Trip Report Gangga Island Resort

October 5-15, 2011

Pictures can be viewed at http://www.picasaweb.google.com. Search “best of Gangga 2011” and that will be the only album that comes up. Photos are by Reid McBride.

My dive-buddy husband and I have been diving for 11 years and have nearly 800 dives. We’ve been to most Caribbean locations and several in Asia/Micronesia: Palau (twice), Yap, Truk Lagoon, Thailand, and Philippines (twice). But we had never been to Indonesia. We worked with Ken at Ultimate Dive Travel to figure out a good place for an October 2011 trip. He suggested Gangga Island Resort and like many Americans, we had not heard of it. I did some research and came up with good reports – so we booked. What a GREAT decision!

Gangga is a small island 55 hectares (about 136 acres) off the north coast of Sulawesi. There are two small villages and the resort (5 hectares or 12 acres) on the island and no motorized vehicles other than boats. Gangga Island Resort and Spa (GIR) (www.ganggaisland.com) is incredibly beautiful – everything a tropical island should be without the bugs (really, we saw very few bugs during our 10 night stay). There are fifteen bungalows, all with ocean views. Each bungalow has two units with porches that are angled away from each other for privacy. Each unit also has a covered thatched platform at the nearby beach. The units are large enough for divers with all their stuff to feel comfortable. I really liked the drying rack on each porch. We had dry swim suits. There is 24-hour electricity and AC. A television in the room with BBC news and some other channels allows you to keep up with the “real” world. There is Wi-Fi in the lobby area as well as a computer with Internet access available for guest use. Electricity is 220. We took our own adapters but the resort has adapters if you need them. Take transformers if your electrical appliances don’t have them built in. Shampoo, Conditioner, Shower Gel, Hand Soap, and hairdryer are provided.

The resort is more well-known in Europe than in the USA. Other guests during our stay were from England, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Canada, France, and one other couple from the US. Of course I was embarrassed that I speak only English, while the European guests could generally speak English plus one or two other languages. Communication from the dive guides was in English and chitchat on the boat was generally in English as well so we always knew what was going on. I hope this report convinces other Americans to give Gangga Island Resort a try.

One of the reasons we went to Gangga was the biodiversity and the diving diversity. My husband does not like muck diving; I wanted to go to Lembeh. Gangga is situated so that you can take a three-dive trip to Lembeh. He agreed that one day of Lembeh diving was ok. We enjoyed the muck diving, but even I would not want to do a whole week of it. As reported elsewhere, Lembeh has a problem with trash. There was a lot of it – plastic bottles, plastic bags, chip packages, etc. We did not see much trash on the dive sites near Gangga, Bangka, or the other neighboring islands. The sites located on Sulawesi had a bit more. It is also possible to do a three-dive trip to Bunaken from GIR. We did not do that on this trip. Logistics didn’t work out and as several guests said that they thought the diving around Gangga was as good as, if not better, than Bunaken, we weren’t overly eager to make the trip.

Many of the dives that we did in the Gangga Island vicinity were a combination of muck diving, albeit in whitish sand rather than black sand, and reef. We were able to enjoy the strange creatures and beautiful corals. In addition to some truly outstanding soft corals, we loved the huge Elkhorn coral at Lihaga (a small island very near the resort), and the largest lettuce leaf coral we have seen outside of Ulong Channel in Palau. Every dive was special, but we particularly enjoyed Muka Kampung (translation means in front of the village – which is where the site is located). We dove around coral heads in beautiful white sand, schools of fish were everywhere, and the sunlight dancing on the water in the shallower areas was amazing.

Our typical day at Gangga was arise at 6 a.m.; put on a swimsuit and cover-up; go to the very nice breakfast buffet (eggs, omelets, pancakes cooked to order, wonderful breakfast breads, cheeses, yogurt, cereals, fruit); then down to the dive boat for the 8 a.m. morning dives; 20-30 minute ride to the dive site; 60 minute (or longer) dive; 60 minute surface interval on the boat with fruit, tea, and coffee; 60 minute (or longer) dive; back to the resort; put on a dry swimsuit/cover-up for lunch (salad bar every day plus choice of appetizer, soup, pasta, entrée (often fish), and dessert); quick nap; back to the boat at 3:30 for the afternoon dive; boat ride; 60 minute plus dive; back to the resort; clean up for dinner; wander down to the lounge area; enjoy a glass of wine; chat with other guests; eat dinner; read a bit; fall asleep. Dinner was always wonderful – choice of appetizer, first course, entrée, and dessert. Fruit was always one of the dessert choices – fresh pineapple, mango, watermelon, and/or papaya. The meals were western with Indonesian touches. The fish, particularly the tenggiri (Spanish mackerel, I discovered when we returned home), was excellent.

Dive boats never had more than 9 divers and there was a dive guide for every 2-4 divers, depending on the size of your group. While we usually like to have a shore dive available, it was not a problem that there wasn’t one. In fact with the afternoon boat dive, we would have been hard-pressed to work in another dive. In our nine days of diving we made 26 dives, the shortest dive was our first at 52 minutes and our longest was 68 minutes. We spent 27.5 hours underwater! Water temperature was 82°; one dive was cooler at 81° and a couple were warmer at 84°. Visibility varied from 60-70 feet down to 20-25 feet for the muck dives. Deepest dive was 100 feet and shallowest was 53 feet. Exit and entry to/from the boats was easy and the crew were very helpful with gear. Boats offered plenty of shade and towels, water, tea, coffee, and other treats. While we had one dive with crazy currents that kept switching from one direction to the other on a wall (Aerbanua Satu) that faces the Pacific Ocean off Talise Island, currents were not generally a problem. Weather was great; we had rain, clouds, and some wind two mornings, but did not have rough water.

We were assigned a dive guide who was with us for the entire trip. Our guide was Karni. Not only did he provide excellent dive briefings, find the most amazing creatures, and help me back on the boat, he also took care of our gear. Rinsing it each evening and on the last day, putting it out to dry, and delivering it to our bungalow in the evening. Dive gear is stored in a secure gear room near the dive shop. Also in the dive shop are some creature id books and an amazing camera room. Again, the area is secure, there is a large sink for rinsing cameras, each work space has outlets for charging batteries, and under the work area is a cabinet that can be locked.

For Caribbean divers in Asian waters all the fish and creatures are different. Some of the more unusual we saw: mimic octopus, at least 30 different kinds of flatworms and nudibranchs, pygmy seahorse, ornate ghost pipefish, bent stick pipefish, mantis shrimp, painted spiny lobster, cuttlefish, flamboyant cuttlefish, ribbon eel, spanner crab, a variety of tiny crabs, scorpion fish of all sorts, robust ghost pipefish, barramundi, electric fileclam, crocodile flathead, frogfish, dragonets, and more. My two favorite sightings were the juvenile many-spotted sweet lips, they are so funny with their frenetic movements; and the stargazer snake eel with his dead flounder right outside his hole in the sand.

We did not take any day trips, there just wasn’t time with so much to see underwater. Guests who did reported that they really enjoyed seeing more of Sulawesi than we saw on our drive from the airport.

Getting to Gangga Island takes a lot of time – for us about 40 hours from door to door. We flew from Phoenix to Los Angeles, Los Angeles to Tokyo, Tokyo to Singapore (where we had a long layover and spent 6 hours in the transit hotel – didn’t even have to go through immigration), and Singapore to Manado. Then a very interesting ride through rural areas and small towns to the coast where we were picked up by one of the resort’s boats for a 20-30 minute ride to Gangga Island. Check-in was smooth with sandwiches, fruit, and fresh coconut water served as we were given an orientation to the resort.

On the way home, we opted to spend two nights (one full day) in Singapore. We rode the Singapore Flyer (World’s Largest Giant Observation Wheel – Ferris wheel with enclosed cars that each hold up to 30 people) and took a harbor tour on the Cheng Ho Chinese Junk. We saw very little litter, drivers obeyed all traffic rules, and people were courteous (even on very crowded streets). We went to East Coast Park Sunday evening - lots of families were cooking out, kids were playing, people were riding bikes, skateboarding, roller skating, running, pushing baby strollers, etc. There were special tracks for biking, etc., walking, and running. People were so polite - going the right direction, staying on the path. Wow! This park is about 12 miles long and runs along the bay. There are places to rent bikes, skateboards, etc. Also restaurants, picnic tables, lots of grass, wooded areas - all with excellent sidewalks and grilling pits. We also visited several shopping malls; some were very high end - only the best international brands; others were like flea markets indoors. The prices for electronics and designer clothes were high compared to the US. There was so much more to do, I hope we get a chance to spend some time in Singapore again.

Room Tip: All rooms face the beach. Units number 5 and higher are further from the dive shop and dining room...
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  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled as a couple
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8  Thank Alabamasusana
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 25, 2011

GENERAL
This is a small island resort located just off the coast of North Sulawesi. It is about an hour per car from Manado airport and then half an hour per boat.
It is an eco friendly resort that succeeds to give back something to the community as well in the form of special projects at schools as employing local staff from the island. There are projects to grow back the coral reefs using low voltage current to promote growth of the corals (only 2 places in the world do that!!) also you can adopt a turtle (which are caught by local fishermen, instead of being killed they are placed back into their natural environment again. There is a large pool that holds salt water.
This resort is dominated by divers and couples and not really dominated by one country's visitors (we saw Brits, Swiss, USA, German, Portuguese, Italians, Singaporese, Japanese and Dutch during our stay)

BUNGALOWS
They are mostly placed on the beach front, although some are placed a bit more back.
The bungalow has airco, a fan, a fridge and a 50 liter water tank for drinking water. The bed is large and has a mozzie net over it.
The airco works 24 /7 although youy may notice when the power generators switch over from one generator to the other. The bath room has everything you need. There are some people that may think the hot water is not powerful enough. I can only say we were not bothered by it. The showers work and generate hot water using solar power. And who needs loads of hot water when it is 32 degC outside??

RESTAURANT AND STAFF
Breakfast is buffet style and even offers freshly baked bread every morning. Cereals, yoghurt, fruit, asian cooked meals and freshly friend eggs and omelettes.
Lunch and dinner are on a menu that offers a variety of meat, vegggie and fish every day.
Although they occasionally serve local dishes they are Europeanised and most food is western style such as pasta etc. I have to admit that when the chef came by at our table one night we asked for satay, which was promptly served the next day as well as a plate of nasi goreng a couple of days later.
The staff is very friendly and will do everything in their power to accomodate the wishes of their guests. So if your wishes are not fullfilled here, you have simple have not popped the question.

DIVE CENTER
Again if you have wishes they will do everything to fullfill those. There are a couple of well equiped and powerful boats and each night one of the staff comes around to ask where you want to go the next day. Usually one guide per 4 divers, if needed you can pay for a guide just for you if you wish. The dive sites are usually about 0.5- 1 hour away and you can do 2 dives in the morning, one at 3.30 PM, and a night dive. You can also ask for day trips with 3-4 dives if you wish to do so. Again ask what you want and it is likely it will happen for you.
The gear is prepared for you and will be washed and cleaned before you leave.
Most sites are at North Sulawesi and the island of Banka, howver day trips to Bunaken and Lembeh are possible as well.
This a destination for the small stuff and critters and the guides are pretty capable to point them out. Expect nubiranches, pygmee sea horses, crabs, various octopusses, manadarin fish etc.

SPA
We had a couple of massages and they were just relaxing and enjoyable
OVERALL IMPRESSION
To us(my wife and I) this resort felt a bit like the Maldives 10 years ago, great diving at afforable rates and good service. It is quiet and the sunsets on the beach are breathtaking.
We surely plan to go back here rather sooner than later.

Room Tip: try to get a beach bungalow
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  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Super7NL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 1, 2011

Sebuah tempat yang terpesona, setelah melakukan perjalanan petualangan kita di suatu tempat dengan pasir putih, surga antara dua desa di Gangga Gangga Satu dan Dua baik didedikasikan untuk desa-desa nelayan di pantai. Resor ini dikelola oleh GM memiliki sangat kuat, dibantu oleh staf yang ramah dan profesional.

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Luogo incantato, dopo aver percorso avventure che otteniamo da qualche parte con sabbia bianca, paradiso tra due villaggi Gange Gange Uno e Due entrambe dedicate ai villaggi di pescatori della costa. Il resort è gestito da un Hanne una G.M molto energica, aiutato da uno staff amichevole e professionale.

  • Stayed: August 2011, traveled with family
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Thank xtombr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Gangga Island Resort & Spa

Address: Desa Gangga Satu. Kec. Likupang Barat Minahasa Utara, Manado 95375, Indonesia
Location: Indonesia > Sulawesi > North Sulawesi > Manado
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Spa Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 38 Specialty Lodging in Manado
Price Range: $343 - $496 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Gangga Island Resort & Spa 3.5*
Number of rooms: 28
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Unwind and relish on the tip of a small island located off the cost of Manado in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, called Gangga Island Resort & Spa. Where thirty elegantly furnished & air conditioned wooden bungalows with high ceilings and a spacious veranda overlooking the beach are discreetly set at the base of a jungle covered hill. An unparalleled scuba diving experience is waiting for you in North Sulawesi! Gangga offers sensational diving where you can get up close and personal with diverse and remarkable sea life from both the Indian and the Pacific Oceans. The resort is an ideal starting point for the diving sites of Bangka Island, Bunaken National Marine Park and Lembeh Strait, making it a favorite destination for underwater photographers. For both divers and non-divers the picturesque white sand beach, the large salt-water pool, a traditional spa and the high quality of service at Gangga Island Resort will guarantee a peaceful and relaxing stay. Our friendly and accommodating staff will be happy to welcome you and assist you with your requirements, endeavor to make your stay in Gangga enjoyable and memorable. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Gangga Island Resort And Spa
Gangga Island Hotel Manado

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