Located north of Manado, North Sulawesi, Bunaken offers some of the best underwater scenery in Indonesia. Having only just acquired my diving license, I was more than happy to go on a brief trip!
Bunaken is one of the five islands in the Bunaken National Marine Park. The other four are Siladen, Manado Tua, Nain and Montehage. It is the closest to Manado and the most visited.
Bunaken National Marine Park has continuous walls drop as far as the eye can see; which plunge to over 200 meters.
I had my first wall dive at Lekuan 2, which is one of the three Lekuan spots. The wall is dense with coral and fish such as Napoleon Wrasse and critters such as the orangutan crab, coral shrimp and nudibranch.
Some turtles rest on corals but often slink away if you get close to them.
Among the 26 dive sites, Fukui is popular, even though it has a slope contour in the middle, with batfish, angelfish, oriental sweetlips and, again, every diver’s favorite, turtles crowding this spot. When venturing around 20 meters, I caught sight of moray eels and giant clams.
What makes Bunaken such a popular dive site aside from its accessibility is its visibility.
As for the current, let’s say that it’s a bit challenging for a beginner, but still manageable.
With the development of tourism and diving in the area, the hospitality business has thrived. Abundant resorts have been built on the island. Resorts are built side-by-side, right by the beach and offer ample opportunity to laze on hammocks, watch the sunset, drink cold beverages and exchange stories with other guests.
Some prefer to be based nearer to Manado. A lot of divers are based in resorts or hotels at about a half-hour drive from Manado. Most of these hotels arrange dive trips to Bunaken, some even have their own dive center, like Manado Tateli Beach Resort.
How to get there
If you want to stay at Bunaken, then leave from the port behind Marina Plaza, Manado.
The crossing takes about 30 minutes and the fee is usually included in your resort booking.
Dive trips are also available in many of the major hotel and dive centers around Manado. You can sign up to one of their scheduled trips or a customized one, which costs more as you have to charter a private boat. (JakPostTravel)