Blackwater diving Lembeh
Squid blackwater lembeh
blackwater photography lembeh
bonfire diving lembeh
Critters at Lembeh Resort


Watch the largest animal migration on the planet in the Lembeh Strait

Lembeh Resort is at the forefront of diving developments and both blackwater and bonfire diving are relatively new types of diving which are perfectly suited to the Lembeh Strait. How much do you know about Blackwater and Bonfire Dives? Read on to find out more…

Marine Eco-Systems

Life in our oceans depends on plankton and both bonfire and blackwater diving rely on strong lights to attract microscopic plankton, which in turn, attracts an abundance of weird and bizarre looking larvae stage critters. The migration of creatures from the deep to shallower depths is the largest migration of species on the planet – and it happens every night of the year, right here in the Lembeh Strait.

The critters which we spot on these dives are rarely seen by other divers – which makes these dives an extremely special event, and a must for underwater photographers. Some of the most impressive larvae we encounter includes; mototi octopus, mantis shrimps, snake blennies, coconut octopus, flying gurnards and an array of other fish, crustaceans and cephalopods – we have even encountered paper nautilus before, just beneath the surface.

What is Blackwater Diving?

Blackwater dives take place at night (after sunset) and these are boat dives in the open water (ie the middle of the Lembeh Strait where the water is at its deepest. Powerful lights are suspended on lines hanging beneath the boat. The boat is not anchored or moored, it is drifting in the center of the strait with any current that is present.

Plankton is attracted to light and so it will accumulate around the lights suspended from the boat. It is this aggregation of plankton that attracts the plankton-feeding critters! Blackwater dives can be undertaken at any time of the month, however, they are more productive when there is the least moonlight. Around the time of the full moon, our lights are in competition with the moonlight and the plankton will be more widely distributed as opposed to a more concentrated plankton bloom when there is little to no moonlight.

Once our boat crew has positioned the lights, divers descend to the lights and wait for the magic to happen! The divers do not need to swim, they are simply drifting with the lights and the boat. We recommend blackwater dives for underwater photographers because this is an incredible opportunity to capture some incredible images!

Please note that due to the drifting and open water nature of blackwater dives, divers should have good buoyancy control.

Blackwater diving

What is Bonfire Diving?

Similar to blackwater diving, bonfire diving involves the lights to attract plankton, however, during bonfire dives the lights are placed on a sandy slope. Because bonfire dives take place at one of our dive sites, as opposed to open water, bonfire dives are excellent for those who are nervous of blackwater dives but still want to enjoy seeing some of the incredible critters that are drawn to the lights.

During bonfire dives, your dive guide will lead the dive by descending in the shallows and then swimming down the slope. Once at the optimum depth (usually around 15 to 20 meters), your guide will position the light(s) on the sand and once again it’s a matter of waiting for the plankton to accumulate and the critters to appear!

During bonfire dives, underwater photographers are able to stabilize themselves on the sand which makes these dives ideal for those who are getting started in underwater imaging.

Bonfire dives also provide the opportunity for participants to explore the surrounding dive site (as a regular night dive) for those who prefer not to remain stationed at the lights for the duration.

As with blackwater dives, bonfire dives can be undertaken at any time with a minimum of two divers. The best time for bonfire dives is also when there is the least moonlight.

Blackwater underwater photography

Bonfire & Blackwater Diving with Lembeh Resort

Our blackwater and bonfire dives depart at 6.30 pm and we are back in time to enjoy dinner in the restaurant. Bonfire and blackwater dives can be arranged at any time, with a minimum of 2 divers. No previous experience of blackwater or bonfire diving is required as your Dive Guide will give a thorough briefing prior to the dives. Blackwater and bonfire dives are dependent on sea conditions (choppy waters will also disperse the plankton).

For underwater photographers who are participating in blackwater or bonfire dives we highly recommend calling into our Photo Center prior to diving. Our Photo Center Assistants all have experience in these types of dives and can offer great advice for shooting during under these conditions.

There is a US $75 per person surcharge for both blackwater and bonfire dives and a minimum of two divers is required. Lights are included in the surcharge.

For more information about blackwater or bonfire diving in the Lembeh Strait contact us.