Bira Beach and Dive Sites : World Class Diving in South of Sulawesi Island Indonesia
Dive spot at Cape Bira we regularly saw big grey reef sharks, black and white tips and also huge oceanic hammerheads. There were also napoleons, huge groupers, barracudas, eagle rays and tuna. From May to June it is whale shark season and in August there is the chance to meet manta rays. Even sunfish are seen from time to time. There are also excellent walls covered with beautiful coral.
Bira offers diving possibilities for beginners and experienced divers. However currents are very strong especially at the most interesting dive spots which are only suiteable for experienced divers. The diveboats are locally chartered fishing boats and it takes between 15 and 120 minutes to the different dive spots.
The boats are small and shaky. You will notice every wave on the way. The water was during our first stay in August 1997 extremely cold (23 – 24°C). We froze in our 3 mm wetsuits very much. I recommend 5 mm wetsuits in the “cold” season in summer! However water temerature is depending on the monsoon season. Water is very warm from September through April. During the rest of the year you better use a thicker wetsuit.
In the months of October – March, Bira is still a major hub for the liveaboard dive market, as most of the Indonesian liveaboards are actually constructed in Tanahberu in the neighbourhood. In these months up to 15 traditional Bugis Schooners can be found in the harbor of Bira, all doing their annual maintenance and most offer quick 3, 5 and 7 day liveaboard trips to Selayar Island and sometimes even as far as the Takabonerate Archipel in the south. So it is always a good idea to ask for special offers among the skippers hanging around in Bira harbour.
Bira is definitively one of the “off the beaten track” spots in Sulawesi. The difficult part is to get there: Six hours by car or bus from Makassar on bumpy streets. It’s absolutely worth it, though. The many different dive sites there are more than amazing. On a rather “average” dive (as our guide called it), we saw three huge sharks, lots of turtles and a giant marble ray. There are many more dive sites we didn’t have the time to explore.
As for accommodation: There also is a “luxury resort” (with a pool but no direct access to the beach) for about 150 EURO, Ammatoa Beach Resort.
What you can do if you don’t dive: Go to the beach (see below) for swimming and snorkeling, visit a traditional ship building factory, see an old burial cave (for more, ask the locals). Or just wander around…
Bira offers distinguish diving typicality, compared to other dive spots in Indonesia. The type with challenging adventure; under water current, White Tip and Black Tip Sharks swarming around divers. Several dive spots in Bira are highly recommended only for experienced divers ?though there are also beautiful spots for beginners, those who fancy dives with proper risks ?especially related to the intensity of current.
Bira is one of the place to passively interact with sharks; a rare spot even for Indonesia. You can reach Bira by land if you go south from Makassar. Beautiful white sand beaches with steep walls are eagerto satisfy your viewing pleasure.
The facility here can be considered as adequate, from small inns to five-star resorts are available along the sandy beaches. You can also go for snorkeling here, in case you?re not in the mood for SCUBA, or perhaps just to walk around through the natural ambience of Bira; well, it?s your call!
BIRA DIVE SITES:
There are a number of impressive dive spots around the peninsular here but currents can be strong and unpredicatable. Sharks are often sighted in the waters around Pulau Kambing where the walls drop to below 60 meters and there are plenty of big schooling fish on the hunt.
The Cape has a couple of good spots and some interesting coral formations including a spur at 30 meters that is often surrounded by reef sharks. Maramasa Pinnacles are located to the north of Bira and offer good diving although evidence of dynamite fishing can be seen.
House reef Bira :
A nice wall dive to the depth of about 20m. Usually we spot a lot of lionfishes here, from clearfin, spotless to zebra lionfishes and even the shy twinspotted lionfish. Also nudibranchs and lots of coral reef fishes.
At around 30m depth we find regular sharks, rays, barracudas, Nice hard corals.
East of the cape :
A nice wall followed by a slope which turns into the shallows. In the deeper parts (30-40m) we regularly see whitetip and gray reefsharks, eagle rays and stingrays. The shallows are quite interesting too, if you take a close look you can find nudibranches and ribbon eels.
West of the cape:
Colorful wall with a sandy bottom at around 30m. Turtles and lots of reef fish.
Tanjung Bira(Bira bay):
A great dive with dozens of sharks and if you are lucky even a hammerhead.
This dive site lies close to the harbour. You do a driff dive on a slope and sometimes there can be quite a lot of current. A good place for big fish like tunas, trevallies, sharks and cods.
Pulau Kambing (Goat Island)- WEST or EAST :
This excellent dive sites are situated in the strait between Selayar island and Bira. You dive on a wall that drops down to at least 60m. Sometimes strong current. On the dive there are constantly sharks patrolling back and forth – white tipped, black tipped sharks on the wall and nurse sharks at the coral garden that starts from about 15m up. But you are also very likely to see schools of hunting mackerels or tunas and great trevallies as well as groups of bumphead parrotfishes. In the coral garden you might find scorpionfishes, cuttlefish or octopus and with luck the juvenile zebra batfish. A great place for scuba diving!
Night dive at Coral garden:
Night dives close to Pantai Kecil (little beach) just south of Bira harbor are very nice: Spanish dancers, twinspot lionfish, turtles, several, cuttlefish and octopus. One of the highlights is a huge Conus shell (Conus geographus).
Theater/ View Inn :
Two regular ghost morenas and a nice coral garden.
Sapolohe/ White House:
Thousands of fish of every colour and shape are here including regal/ angelfish, checkerboard wrasse and masked unicornfish, against a beautiful backdrop of acripora corals, gorgonian fans and sponges.
Best to dive early morning, 2 little seamounts of around 15m with lots of red corals, anemones, eals, lion fish.
Pulau Liukang (Leokan Island) :
One of the best sites to see sharks, jacks, dogtooth tuna, schools of barracuda and surgeonfish.
Leokan – Levis 501:
Great place for macro fans: in just 12m depth lots of surprises wait for you: snakes, morenas, nudibranches…
Pulau Pasi (Pasi Island):
Beautiful coral garden and underwater landscape invite for photo shootings.
The place to see sharks and other bisg fish – but because of strong currents just for really experienced divers!
Depths: 5 – 2000m
Viz: 15 – 45m
Getting there : From Makassar to Bira or Liveaboard
Best months: Apr – Jan
01 Dives : Euro 60
02 Dives : Euro 75
Next Dive : Euro 35/dive