BUNAKEN NATIONAL PARK, NORTH SULAWESI
Monday, 02 December 2013
Clear, warm waters (sea temperatures usually range between 27-30 degrees C), light currents and calm seas allow easy access to the underwater attraction awaiting visitors to the five-islands of the Bunaken-Manado Tua National Marine Park which sits directly offshore of Manado. Bunaken is the standout favorite, with the highest density of schooling fish and the greatest probability to see larger species such as turtles, sharks, and napoleon wrasse. There are enough sites here to keep any diver happy for over a week without going elsewhere.
Most diving takes place near Bunaken and Manado Tua, because of their many excellent sites. The following is representative of the diving in the area.
• Lekuan Walls (I, II, III)
This long wall on Bunaken is divided into three sites: Lekuan I, II and III. Together they represent the park’s best. Steep walls are marked with deep crevices, sea fans and giant sponges. The shallows are filled with fishes. The wall, often protected from stronger currents, is frequented by bumphead parrotfish, turtles, and Napoleon wrasses.
Mandolin has a knockout reef crest and a wall that attracts thousands of fishes like schooling fusiliers, surgeonfish, unicornfish, and bannerfish. They are acclimated to divers and are easily approachable.
• Bunaken Timor
There are strong currents and lots of fishes on this long wall. The shallow reef isn’t as spectacular as some but there are turtles, sharks, eagle rays, and other big fishes in the blue. Overhangs and small caves mark the wall.
• Tanjung Kopi
Tanjung Kopi is a nice wall with a small school of barracuda and lots of sweetlips. Visibility in the shallows is not terrific but the numbers of fishes make up for it. Nudibranches and fire gobies are easy to spot here.
• Siladen Island
Siladen has a beautiful wall of soft corals that bloom when the current is running. The shallows are nice with lots of fishes and schooling snappers.
• Muka Gereja
Muka Gereja is a pretty site with thousands of fishes in the shallows and deeper canyons that lead to the wall.
• Barracuda Point
Barracuda Point, on northwest Montehage, is one of the furthest sites. A school of giant barracuda are regulars along with jacks and tuna.
• Manado Wreck
This 60m (200ft) long German merchant ship sank near Molas Beach in 1942. It sits upright with the bow at 23m (78ft). The ship is split near amidships back to the stern, exposing the wheelhouse and cargo holds. Dives finish up on a nearby shallow reef. Expect 10-15m (30-50ft) visibility.
Bunaken Island is easily reached from Manado by motorized outrigger boat start from Manado harbor, Molas, Kalasey and Tasik Ria beaches. The public boats from Manado to Bunaken are leaving daily around 2 p.m (depending on tide), except Sundays, from Pasar Jengki near Manado harbor. Back from Bunaken to Manado usually early in the morning, around 7-8 a.m
Where to Stay
On the island you have the choice amongst a number of homestays, with rates starting at Rp. 40 000 per day and person including full board. Some of the dive operations on Bunaken are offering more up-market accommodation, and even running water.
You can explore the land on foot. And you can use a boat to move from one dive sites to another sites.
There are several of restaurants and cafes throughout Manado and the islands. Try their specialties: seafood, bubur manado and food made of coconuts!
Sea-related products, such as items made of seashells, corals, etc
Other Things to See or Do
Diving, swimming, and snorkeling.
Walking around on the beach.
Sampling the tempting seafood cuisine.
Ornithologists and amateur bird-watchers might find visiting Tangkoko Dua Sudara Nature Reserve entertaining.
Entrance tags and tickets can be purchased through marine tourism operators based in Manado and in the Bunaken National Park, or can be purchased from one of three ticket counters in Bunaken and Liang villages on Bunaken Island and on Siladen Island;
You should be aware that during the absolute peak season months July and August it usually gets VERY busy. Many of the better resorts and dive operators will not be able to accept walk-ins during that time since they are fully booked. Better make a reservation before; Try to hire equipment from larger firms as these tend to be more reliable, but remember the responsibility of checking the equipment is ultimately yours.