Imagine a bustling little town in a valley of green rice fields and surrounded by rugged mountains. That is your first view of Gorontalo after your plane leaves behind the deep blue ocean and circles to land. Once part of Northern Sulawesi, Gorontalo struck out on its own in 2001 and became a new province. Economic growth has changed this sleepy outpost, where Dutch-era buildings are still in use. Gorontalo now has excellent air connections, Internet and cell phone coverage. Motorized rickshaws, complete with rain shield, are a common sight along its streets. Despite these changes, the friendliness of locals is still intact.
Beyond the southern mountains is the sea. In fact, the continental wall of Sulawesi falls only a few meters from the shoreline in this part of Gorontalo. This gives scuba divers direct access to the deep ocean with short travel times by speed boat. Gorontalo has over 30 named dives sites. The first group of dive sites is less than fifteen minutes travel. The farthest dive sites used are about an hour’s journey.
Gorontalo has been named Indonesia’s “best-kept secret” by prestigious Asian Diver magazine. That means you are not likely to encounter another group of divers underwater. The world-class diving here is known for its variety of marine environments. Divers can enjoy pristine coral walls, multiple pinnacles, gloomy caverns, submerged points, muck and even a couple of historical wrecks. Regular dive season is November to April when west winds typically make for calm surface conditions. Currently are usually mild, so novice divers and serious underwater photographers can equally enjoy the underwater beauty.
Only in Gorontalo can divers see surreal Salvador Dali sponges. The surface of these sponges have strange carving. Hundreds are available, each with a unique shape. A growing number of new or endemic species of fish and crustaceans can be seen here, too. The deep waters off Gorontalo mean an opportunity to see whale sharks, dolphins and transparent pelagic tunicates.