Bunaken Island, North Sulawesi

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.

Map of Bunaken Island in Indonesia

Map of Bunaken Island in Indonesia.
Map by Burmesedays

Why go

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!

Turtle in diving at Bunaken Island in Indonesia

Turtle sighting durinv diving. Photo by mattk1979

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.

Reefs and fishes in diving at Bunaken Island in Indonesia

Reefs and fishes during the dive. Photo by mattk1979

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.

Just chill at the beach and enjoy the beautiful sun, seas and the wind.

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.

One of the most popular resorts here is the Bunaken Cha Cha Nature Resort *, a luxurious villa by the sea with its very own private beach. Diving can also be arranged from here.

For those on a budget, Bunaken Kuskus Resort * or Cicak Senang Resort *, are good beachfront resorts with a homestay touch.

-> Find the best hotel deals in Bunaken Island at Booking.com *

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.

Village at Bunaken Island in Indonesia

Bunaken Island village. Photo by d_mcplum

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.

Travel Tips

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.

Sunset at Bunaken Island, Indonesia

Sunset at Bunaken Island, Indonesia. Photo by d_mcplum

Related articles:
Sulawesi Travel Guide
Togean Islands Diving, Sulawesi
Papua and Maluku Islands Travel Guide
Diving Raja Ampat


Author: Rachel

Fascinated by Indonesia, Rachel hopes to bring the best Indonesia Travel Guide to independent travelers so that they can enjoy what Indonesia has best to offer. Being an independent wanderer herself, Rachel knows what it takes to make a good, fun-filled yet responsible independent traveling. So let’s join her to discover wonderful Indonesia together. Google+

3 thoughts on “Bunaken Island, North Sulawesi”

  1. Dear Rachael or anybody,

    Is it better to stay at Bunaken Island or Manado???
    Where can I stay in Bunaken island???

    1. Depends on how many days you have there, if you have a lot of time and nights, it would be worth it to stay in Bunaken Island itself to save the travel times in between. It is also more convenient to stay in the island itself while it is secluded and But if you are short of time, it is also possible to do day trips from Manado to Bunaken.

  2. I am planning to go to Bunaken Island to scuba dive and will be traveling alone. Where would you recommend for me to stay?

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