As one of the popular marine national parks located in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, there are best Bunaken dive sites covering the 75,000 hectares (185,329 acres) of five islands of Manado Tua, Bunaken Island, Siladen Island, Mantehage Island, and Naen Island. To enter this National Park, you need to buy and bring along the entrance tag during your trip. You can reach Bunaken by flying to Manado then taking a public boat to Bunaken.
With over 50 dive sites in different islands, Bunaken has been blessed with diverse marine life and exceptional seascape of colorful reefs and drop-offs. The water temperature is warm to dive all year long, but best to visit during the dry season from April to October. Here are some of the best Bunaken dive sites worth exploring around all five islands.
Located in Bunaken marine national park, Sachiko’s point is one of the best Bunaken dive sites with typical wall dives on the northeast side of Bunaken Island, featuring a steep wall with an incredible variety of healthy coral reefs and marine life like the abundant gorgonian sea fans, vibrant mix of hard and soft corals, pelagic creatures like barracuda, sharks, turtles, and Napoleon wrasse, including the nudibranch and smaller critters in the shallows. It has enough currents to complete a drift dive.
Located on the west side of Mantehage Island, Barracuda Point is clearly an awesome site where you can spot schooling barracudas – though it needs more than one hour ride from Bunaken or Siladen Island. The topography is a steep slope with a vertical wall, a home for the large sponges, whip corals, soft corals, surgeonfish, groupers, triggerfish, parrotfish, banner fishes, snappers, big schools of fusiliers, jacks, tunas, bump head parrotfish, and sharks.
In 1942, a Dutch cargo ship sank nearby the bay of Manado. Lying down on a sandy slope at 26-40 meters, this 60m long vessel can only be accessed by divers with Advanced Diver Certification. Covered with corals and sponges, this wreck is a home for the trevally, angelfishes, butterflyfishes, banded sea snake, sweet lips, snappers, batfishes, scorpionfishes, triggerfishes, surgeonfishes, parrotfishes, barracuda, napoleon, crocodile fishes, ribbon eel, white tip reef sharks, including the ghost pipefishes, mantis shrimps, nudibranchs, flatworms, orangutan crabs, occasional frogfishes, and other interesting creatures for the avid macro photographers.
Mandolin dive site, located in the southwest of Bunaken Island, is a wall descending down with some small caves on the bottom of the wall. With its depth, this site is definitely a site for a deep-diving for more experienced divers. The current in Mandolin can be strong, and the top of the reef in shallower water can be very interesting for underwater photographers where you can spot different types of crustaceans like commensal shrimps, porcelain crabs, and candy crabs. For larger fishes, you can expect to see the banner fishes, sea snakes, big sweet lips, large angelfishes, fusiliers, damselfishes, butterflyfishes, groupers, napoleon wrasse, turtles, reef sharks, and barracudas.
Lekuan I is one of the best Bunaken dive sites with walls, caves, and sandy slopes. This calm and clear site is suitable for either beginner or experienced divers, and you may encounter a large school of big-eye jacks, trevally, reef sharks, or bump head parrotfish near the point of Lekuan I. It is said that you might possibly lose count of the number of turtles spotted in a single dive, don’t miss the passing eagle rays as well. It also has many small critters, which makes this site a perfect site for macro photographers.
If you are looking for a dive site to spot a dugong, Ron’s Point might be one of the best Bunaken dive sites to see it. Located on the southwest corner of Bunaken Island, Ron’s Point starts with a sloping reef running out into a large plateau, which is a perfect spot to witness the pelagic fishes passing by, such as sharks or eagle rays.
This site is located on the Manado Tua Island, where we start the dive from the front of the Church – a steep wall with vertical canyons and caves, featuring a few great overhangs. In Bualo dive site, you can spot the angelfish, butterflyfish, parrotfish, batfish, bannerfish, leaf scorpionfish, bigger pelagic fishes, along with smaller creatures like nudibranch, anemone shrimps and fishes, a red fire goby, and the Christmas tree worms.
Siladen Island offers numerous fields of hard corals in addition to the typical wall dives. The reef top features a great variety of hard and soft corals, making it a perfect spot for snorkeling as well. The stunning wall is a home for many species, including the scorpionfish, cuttlefish, nudibranch, moray eels, ribbon eels, anemonefishes, and numerous shrimp species. Whitetip reef sharks sometimes pass by, and the gravel bottom is a perfect habitat for real critters.