Only 4 hours away from Jakarta lies one of the best diving spots in the whole wide world. I instantly fell in love with this place. It has been claimed to have the best diving in Indonesia so who wouldn’t want to check this place out?
Bunaken has more species of fish than the famous Great Barrier Reef! With over 390 species of coral found here, it’s a beautiful place to grab a snorkel and mask and explore life underwater. If you’re lucky you can even swim with the turtles! Unfortunately, we didn’t see any on this trip but they assured us they are around.
When we arrived at the island from Manado we got off to grab our snorkels, mask and flippers from a man and woman at a tiny little shop, which was just a shack. I swear this lady had super powers. She simply just looked at my feet, then handed me the exact right size of flipper. She’s obviously been doing this for years and now she has become a pro at it! After that, we hopped back on our boat where we were taken to our dive spot which was called Likuan 3. There are three famous dives within Likuan called 1,2 and 3. Likuan 3 is great for a beginner diver and you can see many different fish species. Barracudas, Whitetip Reef Sharks, Bamboo Sharks, and Sponge Crabs are the most common species here. Luckily, I didn’t see any sharks through my mask otherwise I would have panicked!
There were a few other boats on the other 2 spots, but I would not say it was crowded at all which was really nice. It was a really beautiful backdrop with the two distinct colours of the sea and the stunning volcanic island, Manado Tua in the background.
There are over 50 dive spots in the marine park so you won’t be stuck for choice! Many are for experienced divers only, but there are still loads of options for the avid snorkeler. There are resorts which offer snorkelling right off their front door step!
Where we stopped was quite shallow so you do have to be careful and be aware of your surroundings so you don’t bump the coral. We moved a bit further so we were right on the edge of the coral. It was amazing to see the colourful fish and unusual looking creatures lurking here and of course, I saw Nemo!! I highly recommend taking a GoPro with you if you have one. You will get some amazing footage of the wildlife.
After we finished snorkelling we were taken back to the island where we had lunch. There was a mixture of fresh fish which seems to be the most popular dish in Sulawesi, along with coconut chicken curry and fresh vegetables. The food here tasted fresh and absolutely delicious, I would definitely recommend eating here if you come to the island. It was called Nelson restaurant and was situated right on the beach. Oh, and of course you can’t come to an island and not have a fresh coconut! As we headed back to the boat is was apparent that the tide had gone out, and luckily our boat was still afloat!
If you want to stay on the island you can. There is limited accommodation so you may have to book early, especially if you are looking to come in the peak season (July- September + January). You can book via Agoda or Booking.com, they list most of the accommodation options available on the island.
Note: If you’re coming here when it’s the rainy season then come snorkelling in the morning as the afternoons are when the weather usually turns. You do not want to be snorkelling in the rain!
How to get to Bunaken Island?
You can get here easily by catching a boat from Manado which is located in North Sulawesi. You have two options – a public boat (25,000 Rupiah) or a private boat. The public boat leaves everyday (except Sunday) at 2pm or you can easily hire a private boat but it will cost you a lot more (around 200,000 Rupiah). It takes around 30-40 minutes to get to the island.
You can hire the snorkel and masks (which costs 150,000 Rupiah) from the little shacks on the island so you don’t have to worry about bringing your own. There is also an entrance fee to the national park which is 150,000 Rupiah. It’s your own responsibility to pay the fee and you will find if you’re staying in a resort they will add the entrance fee on top of your stay.
To keep these places beautiful forever please be mindful of how to treat your surroundings! When you are diving make sure you DO NOT stand on the coral. Be aware of your equipment and your movement, because just touching the sea life can kill it and if you don’t preserve it then it won’t be there for much longer. Also, LEAVE wildlife where it lies. Don’t touch, pick up or move any wildlife as it can cause stress on the animal. I know Starfish and other little creatures may be beautiful but just don’t do it. Once the amazing snorkelling spots are destroyed it will ruin it for future generations to come, and it’s bad for the local economy since tourism is where most of the business comes from in these kinds of places.
I had a great time snorkelling here as you can probably tell! I highly recommend coming in the future. Sulawesi is a part of Indonesia that is quiet, so now is the time to ditch the more crowded and popular islands and explore this quiet paradise. If you would like to know more about Manado and Bunaken Island I recommend talking to a guy named Steven who works for Manado Tourism. He is very helpful, he will be able to help you get from A to B and recommend the best local spots for you to discover. You can contact him via their Facebook Page or his email is: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need accommodation in Sulawesi then check out Agoda or Hotels.com, I highly recommend them!