One trip – Two resorts – 1000 Bintang!
Since the foundation of Duikteam Baerne 35 years ago, our Dutch dive club organizes dive holidays abroad for their members. Located in Baarn, a village in the middle of The Netherlands, the club consist of a bunch of easy-going divers of all ages and experience levels. We train every Wednesday and organize various dive-related events throughout the year, as well as dive holidays abroad every two years. After arranging a number of SCUBA diving holidays around Europe, the Red Sea and the Caribbean it was time to focus on diving in Asia!
With about twice the flight duration from Amsterdam compared to Egypt or Bonaire, the journey better be worth it. Our dive trip was to be planned in the heart of the coral triangle, Indonesia! After researching a number of destinations, it turned out Thalassa Dive Resort Manado ticked all of our boxes, and so 22 divers arrived in November 2019 for their long awaited dive holiday.
« Team Chaos » might not be the best description, but boy – we did kind of take over the place with positive energy and happy vibes in an unorganized organized way. From the moment we arrived, 22 beers where ordered, luggage opened everywhere and people overly excited to arrive at such a stunning place. Simone, the lovely owner and PADI Course Director, tried to give a proper briefing about the resort and diving – but decided to delay it until dinner time.
If you know Simone at all, you know what I mean with ‘Team Chaos’… 🙂
The resort at Manado
What immediately stood out to everybody was the amazing staff that runs the resort and dive center. Smiling, happy people that understand customer service and hospitality but also have fun together as a team and with you as a guest (or new friend). It’s very professional yet very easy-going – a perfect match with our group.
The first night I think we already almost set the Bintang record, but of course we were also a pretty big group. How amazing it is to get acclimatized to the tropical heat while cooling down in their large swimming pool with a cold beer under the stars?!
The ocean view, the swimming pools and the tropical garden setting at Thalassa Dive Resort Manado is wow – just wow. What is so nice about Thalassa Manado is that you have countless places to relax. There are sunbeds by the pool, egg chairs at the gazebo (waterfront pavilion), lounge sofas and of course private outdoor seating on your veranda. Play a board game, read a book or check your messages while enjoying some fresh mint tea or a cocktail.
Enough about the resort, let’s zoom in a bit on why you should dive with Thalassa! As a resort guest or as an outside guest.
Diving with 22 divers
Full disclosure: I have been guiding many groups as a dive instructor before but I can tell you our group is quite different. Instead of preferring smaller groups – everybody wanted to dive together as one big school of fish. Separating the group on two boats was already « pushing it », but the idea of going to different dive sites, surface interval together, and then switch to have some more space was not an option!
It was funny to see the staff, who is trained in organizing everything more privately and giving everybody lots of space, was a bit blown away when we arrived. With two boats we wanted to move ‘seats’ like musical chairs, so the configuration and buddy teams were different every day.
Dive boxes moved, equipment ended up in the wrong boxes, everybody laughed and we never departed right on time, but the staff as well as our group had the trip of a lifetime. Underwater it was quite a ‘school of divers’ with the guides pointing out animals ‘too small’ for many of us while trying to keep the herd moving in the right direction.
The dive crew is amazing, you basically only have to check your gear, put it on, jump in the water and dive. When you return on the boat they will change your tank and a towel and a hot drink is served immediately, perfect! There are various options regarding dive times and such but when lunch is served on board it is always special. Especially for groups we think Thalassa Dive Resort is a great option, because there are not many groups around in the first place. Of course, the diving is simply breathtaking, the wall dives at Bunaken National Marine Park with all the turtles!
Lembeh is a unique dive area, that you probably heard of before (and if not, read more here). It’s a place not to miss and combining the two resorts is made so easy by Simone and her team. With only a 90 minute drive and a short boat ride you can enjoy more Thalassa on the other side of Sulawesi.
Thalassa Dive Resort Lembeh is managed by Arjen and his partner Widi. It is a bit smaller compared to the Manado Resort and more remote, well – Lembeh is a pretty small island anyway. You can read more about diving Manado, Bunaken & lembeh, the resorts and why I recommend Thalassa for your stay here.
It’s all possible
Members of our group spent 7, 10 and 14 nights at Thalassa with a few days of sight seeing thrown in. Often we only did two dives in the morning to have the afternoon off for relaxing and sometimes we did not schedule any dives in the morning. It’s all possible at Thalassa!
The jungle trip, visiting the monkeys, waterfall trip and a grilled local fish at a local restaurant right before departure, are all recommended.
We also were lucky to watch a wonderful dance performance by the children of ‘their’ school, supported by a fantastic Chinese ballerina who thought them ballet. Various performances where giving with beautiful choreography and they truly deserved the big applause they received at the end of the evening.
We loved it so much and want to support Simone and her efforts in every way. Already we are thinking of coming back for our next dive holiday!
Our top 5 highlights of Thalassa Dive Resorts (apart from the most amazing dives!!!)
- Bintangs in the pool at night
- Scooter tours in Manado and on Lembeh (they offer car trips too)
- Beautiful dance performances by the children from the school
- Waterfall visit and eating at a local fish restaurant
- Dinner at the waterfront, especially during pizza night!
Apart from wanting to support Simone’s efforts, our group simply loves to relax with a beer or two. Or three. Our group leader and dive club chairman Tim got a special reward from Simone: a certificate for an outstanding beerformance!
By the end of our trip we had consumed over 1000 bottles of Bintang – we even had special Thalassa polo shirts made for our 1000 Bintang Team. So we went from Team Chaos to 1000 Bintang Team and we left with fireworks for Tim as a thank you for organizing everything.
Simone will be at Duikvaker, the Dutch dive show on the beginning of February 2020 in Houten, The Netherlands. For sure I will be meeting her there, and probably many more members of Duikteam Baerne (a.k.a 1000 Bintang Team) as well.
Thalassa Dive Resorts… Where guests leave as friends! (This is simply true!)
Written by Marlies Wolters, PADI Dive Instructor and Founder of Dive O’Clock. This is not a sponsored article but a recommendation based on my personal experience.
If you have any questions about our group trip or what we did, you can find contact details and more information on the website of Duikteam Baerne.