(RIP -- James Watt was a professional photographer of the highest rank. Residing in Hawaii, he traveled repeatedly to the world's finest diving destinations. With many years of experience, his opinion was based on immense knowledge. Island Dreams was certainly proud to have James Watt as a client. Jim is no longer with us, but his memory, a wealth of photographic artistry, and his Indonesia report, remain.)
Aloha Ken. It's my pleasure to get back to you following the trip. Here is a quick recap:
Everything went very smoothly. We
first went over to the Santika Resort in Mando. This hotel offers much,
much better accommodations than are available at Barrucuda, Nusantara,
etc. The folks at the Santika could not have been
nicer. There were only about 10 guests at the hotel so we had GREAT!!! service. Food was good and rooms were very nice. I think the Santika is a great value for the money.
The Thalassa dive service facility is the best I have seen in Indonesia. Very large facility with classroom, large wash down area, gear storage, Dive shop, future film processing room and its own bar and restaurants called the "Lionfish." The hotel is very much a divers hotel. The dive operation has 3 boats and 25 employees. We never touched our equipment. The crew picked all the camera gear up at the room and took it to the boat every morning and would return it after the days dive. This probably won't happen when the place is full up.
The dive masters are very enthusiastic and made lots of effort while I was there. I taught them how to find "Mandarin fish" and in short order they had evening Mandarin fish" dives on the schedule!!! I am sure they will get the place wired with time.
Diving at Bunaken is a pleasure. It is one of the most beautiful reefs I have ever seen, not a big fish place but great walls, good coral, and general reef photography. Place is getting a bit crowded but still a great area to dive. I liked the area so much that I extended at the end of the trip and gave up the days in Singapore for more days at Bunaken and Siladen. Even had a few friends from Bali come over.
Kungkungan Bay Resort (KBR) was all that you had described. Great food, fantastic critters etc. The divemasters here are exceedingly well trained. They put you on one excellent photo subject after another. Kungkungan was super.
All and all it was a great trip. I have included a few photos under the attachments. You have my authorization to share them with your readers and viewers. Thanks for the travel arrangements!
Best fishes, Jim
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