One of the top diving sites in Indonesia, Bunaken Island (Pulau Bunaken) is unsurprisingly very popular with divers around the world.
The Bunaken Marine Park is not only rich with marine lives, but it is also mesmerizing for its water so clear it is truly transparent. It includes the islands of Manado Tua, Siladen, Mantehage, Nain and Nain Kecil.
Where is it
It is located in Northern Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Come visit here for diving and snorkeling, as it boasts a rich marine life in its Marine National Park. It has an amazing diverse marine life such as 70 different corals, five species of sea turtles, many fish species and even white tip and black tip reef sharks, the almost extinct dugongs, barracuda and even saltwater crocodiles!
When is the best time to go
Indonesia being a tropical climate of only two seasons, dry and wet, it is best to visit during the dry season to maximize your marine visibility. The dry season is from May to September. Bear in mind though this would be the peak season with a crowd and it might get really hot in the day.
What to do
The main thing to do here is to dive! Here you have 20 dive sites to choose from where you can expect to enjoy many hard to find marine lives. Beware that some walls are steeps and current may be strong and sudden in change.
Snorkel at many of the sites above if diving is not your thing, you’ll be pleasantly delighted that there are many marine lives as well in the shallow area.
Hiking to some of the secluded areas is possible but trails are not well marked, so please check with the locals.
Dolphin and whale watching can be arranged along with dive trips or else you may hire a boat privately for this.
Where to stay
Some people choose to stay in Manado and do day trips to Bunaken Island but if you have the time, staying on the island itself is well recommended. There are many hotels and dive resorts to choose from and if you are into diving, it is the best way to explore the sea here.
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How to get there
Fly into Manado and then take a boat for to Bunaken, which takes around 45-60 minutes. You may arrange the boat with your resorts or else there is a public boat that leaves every day (except Sunday) at around 2-3pm from Manado to Bunaken. Catch the public boat at the north side of the Manado market. It costs 25,000 Rp one way for foreign travelers while 10,000 Rp for local travelers. You may return with the boat as well via the Bunaken village jetty at around 8-8.30 am.
Where to go nearby
Get back to Manado for your city fix and then head west for example the world-famous diving site Raja Ampat or onwards to the beautiful Maluku Islands. Else head south to the Togean Islands for more diving opportunities.
Take note that there is a Marine Park fees of 50,000 Rp per day (or 150,000 Rp per year if needed). Please pay at dive resorts, dive shops or resorts wherever applicable and get your pass that would be checked from time to time.
Photo credits from top: Burmesedays, mattk1979, mattk1979, d_mcplum and d_mcplum