Bunaken, a Wall of Beauty within the Sea

Bunaken is a spot in the Coral Wonders of Indonesia, along with Raja Ampat and Wakatobi. Located just on the north of Sulawesi Island, Bunaken National Park is a divided in to northern and southern parts. This national park covers several unique islands. The actual gem is underwater, though. This area is known as one of the places with the best marine biodiversity in the world.

Beautiful Coral reef near tropical island of Sulawesi, Indonesia under and above water. (c) Shutterstock
Beautiful Coral reef near tropical island of Sulawesi, Indonesia under and above water. (c) Shutterstock

This marine park has 70 genera of coral reefs, at least 91 species of coral fish (some of them can only be found here, and five species of sea turtle. Sharks, tuna, barracuda, and even saltwater crocodiles occasionally wander around this area. Here are some of the things you can do in this park.

Dive! At Bunaken Island

thousand fish below boat bunaken sulawesi indonesia underwater photo (c) Shutterstock
thousand fish below boat bunaken sulawesi indonesia underwater photo (c) Shutterstock

The thing to do in Bunaken is dive. The beauty within the waters is just so inviting. However, diving in the best spots can be very challenging as there are many steep walls of corals and the strong current can change very quickly.

Beginners can visit other spots with less dangers as there are at least 20 diving spots around the park. Diving cost approximately IDR400,000 each, with private diving guide cost IDR300,000 per day. There are lots of resorts offering packages covering all form of accommodation.

Exploring the ancient volcano at Manado Tua

Snorkeling woman over a beautiful coral reef in the background the island of Bunaken, North Sulawesi. Indonesia. (c) Shutterstock
Snorkeling woman over a beautiful coral reef in the background the island of Bunaken, North Sulawesi. Indonesia. (c) Shutterstock

Manado Tua means Old Manado. The name Manado itself comes from Minahasan Language which means ‘on the far coast’. When the settler of this island relocated to the mainland Sulawesi, they brought along the name Manado and called the island as the old one.

This cone shaped island only accessible by boat, only take 30 minutes from Manado, the capital of North Sulawesi. This island is where most of the biggest fish are located. Giant trevally, barracuda, snappers, eagle rays, Napoleon wrasse, and many more. Alternatively, you can also hike this mountain to get a better view of the park.

The Idyllic Mantehage Island

Sunset at Bunaken, Manado - North Sulawesi, Indonesia (c) Shutterstock
Sunset at Bunaken, Manado – North Sulawesi, Indonesia (c) Shutterstock

Mantehage Island is the biggest island in the park. There are four villages within this island, but there are no hotel available. If you want to stay on this island, you have to do that in one of the villagers’ house.

This idyllic island is surrounded by white sand beaches and mangrove forests. With calm waters, Mantehage is an ideal place to snorkel, enjoying its rich underwater life. You can enjoy seafood and Manado porridge here, though.

The quiet Siladen Island

Beach on Siladen island in Bunaken National Marine Park, Sulawesi, Indonesia (c) Shutterstock
Beach on Siladen island in Bunaken National Marine Park, Sulawesi, Indonesia (c) Shutterstock

Just east of Bunaken Island, a small and quiet Siladen Island is sitting silently. Seen from above, this island is like an eye. The island is encircled by shallow reef before dropping off to form a wall of coral. The shallow area are wide enough for casual diving and snorkeling.

You can even rent snorkeling and diving equipment here, with a cost ranging from IDR100,000 to 300,000. The stretch of white sand dominate the coastline of this island. Even if you don’t want to get wet, you can still enjoy sunbathing with wonderful panorama.

How to get to Bunaken and what to do there

Underwater scene. Coral reef near volcano Manado Tua, Indonesia. Under and above water.
Underwater scene. Coral reef near volcano Manado Tua, Indonesia. Under and above water. (c) Shutterstock

Bunaken is very easily accessed from one of Manado’s harbor by motor boat. Ferries from Manado to Bunaken Island leave daily, usually at 02:00 PM. Manado’s Sam ratulangi Airport itself is connected with nearly all of big cities in Indonesia as well as several cities from neighboring countries.

Getting around the park is easy enough, though it can be quite expensive. Hopping from one island to another requires you to charter a boat. Entrance fee for local is only IDR5000 and for foreign tourist is IDR150,000.

Tags
Bunaken Manado North Sulawesi Pulau Bunaken
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