Gangga Island is located around 20 minutes by boat from Manado in the province of North Sulawesi, Indonesia. This area in the Bangka Archipelago is famous for its incredible diving, so much so that you’ll see the area on many lists of the top 10 dive sites in the world.
You can dive around Gangga Island all year round but there are times that visibility and weather conditions are better than others. Let’s do a quick run down of the climate and the best times to dive around Gangga Island and the Bangka Archipelago depending on what you want to get from your dive trip.
Being an equatorial climate (Sulawesi actually straddles the equator), there are only two main seasons – wet and dry. Dry season is between July – October and wet from November – June. However, rainy seasons here are not like the monsoons in some parts of Asia, but usually consist of downpours in the afternoon before the sun comes back out again, so this time of year is still suitable for diving.
The air temperature stays in the mid 20s year round, although it can get as high as 35°c between October and March and as low as 20°c in July or August. This obviously affects the water temperature but the difference is slight. Water temperatures hit a peak of 28-29°C between October and March, and fall to their lowest at 25-26°C in July and August.
The cooler season coincides with reproductive cycles, meaning there are larger numbers of smaller critters during this time. If you love muck diving or macro photography, this is the perfect time for diving Gangga Island and the Bangka Archipelago.
Gangga Island house reef is an especially spectacular place to find smaller creatures, and night diving on the volcanic slope covered with soft corals, table corals and sponges, is incredible. You’ll see plenty of shrimps and lobsters, sometimes cuttlefish and octopus and several species of scorpion fish.
From October to December, when the water is cooler, the visibility is at its best. During this time visibility can be up to 35 metres. However, from July to September there can be strong currents and surges with high waves, with a negative affect on the visibility.
Although the water is warmer, January and February have the lowest visibility. These months during the rainy season can also be troublesome due to rougher seas. Certain dive sites can also be off limits altogether because of the weather conditions. If you plan to travel from Gangga for dives in the Lembeh Strait, bear in mind some sites at the north end of the strait may be off limits because of the sea conditions.
There are still plenty of diving opportunities during this time of year. You don’t have to travel far from Gangga while you’re diving in Sulawesi to find dives of all sorts. One great site is Lihaga Island, very close to Gangga, where around five thirty in the evening you will see mandarin fish doing their courtship dance. The male displays his dorsal fins to attract the female, and once they have chosen their mate, they rise together from their hiding place, side by side, and head for open water to release spawn and eggs. Leaf scorpionfish, bumphead parrotfish, ribbon and moray eels are often spotted here as well.
On the other hand, you will have many dive sites to yourself in this season, and also the resort on Gangga Island is more of an island paradise than ever. If you really want to get away from the world and have your own private stretches of pristine beach, this is the time for you.
As you can see, there are opportunities to dive at any time of year around Gangga Island thanks to the range of sites and bays that are sheltered from the elements. However, if you’re looking for the best visibility and range of dives, the dry season is your best option. If you don’t mind a bit of choppy water and you are confident in stronger currents, and also want to have your own private dive sites, the rainy season is also a good time for you.
Have you thought about diving in Sulawesi? Ask us anything about Gangga Island and the surrounding areas in the comments below. We’re happy to help advise you on planning the dive trip of a lifetime.