Manado, located in the north of Sulawesi, Indonesia, does have not only attractions around the city and hills but also the beach and Bunaken Island, one of the famous dive destinations in Indonesia. Besides having a banana shape, Bunaken Island is also a national park that also includes the volcanic Manado Tua as a part of the park.
You can reach Bunaken Island by flights from many other cities in Indonesia to the international airport in Manado, then take a public boat to Bunaken Island (for about 45 minutes), or arrange the airport transfer with the resort you'll be staying in Bunaken. To get around on this small island, you can walk along the pathways or coastline, rent a scooter, or take a boat – there is no car on this island.
Bunaken National Park
Bunaken Island was established into a national marine park in 1991, which also covers the Manado Tua volcano, Manado Tua, Siladen, Mantehage, Nain, and Nain Kecil islands. To get into the park, you need a permit and are responsible for paying the park entry fee, and exchange it with the plastic tag that you should bring along anywhere during your visit in Bunaken Island – it can be arranged by your local dive operator, or purchased in on of the three ticket offices on Bunaken or Siladen Islands.
Bunaken National park enables you to do many activities, such as:
- Scuba diving in the marine national park arranged by many dive centers or dive resorts
- Snorkeling and kayaking (for non-divers)
- Chilling at the beautiful beaches on Siladen Island
- Hiking along the island to some secluded covers on the easter and western part of the island
- Hiking to Manado Tua volcano
- Go fishing outside the park
- Do dolphin watching or whale spotting on a day trip
When to visit Bunaken Island
The dry season in Bunaken Island runs from April to October, when July to August is the peak season due to the school holiday. Located in the tropical country, the water temperature of Bunaken Island is varied between 27 to 30 degree Celcius all year long, making it comfortable to just dive with 0.1mm or 0.3mm wetsuit.
Diving in Bunaken National Park Manado
As one of the top diving destinations in the world, Bunaken has pretty diverse marine creatures, including the five species of sea turtles, reef sharks, dugongs, pelagic fishes like tuna, and barracuda, and occasional saltwater crocodiles. The topography is also very comprehensive, including the colorful flat rees to dramatic wall and drop-offs.
Some dive sites have steep edges and strong current, which is more suitable for more experienced divers; however, there are some beginner-friendly dive sites too. Bunaken National Park has over 50 dive sites that are located on different islands.
Bunaken Island itself has over than 20 dive sites to explore, which some of the best sites include:
- Bunaken Timur 1
- Bunaken Timur 2
- Muka Kampung
- Lekuan 1
- Lekuan 2
- Lekuan 3
- Kelapa Pendek
- Celah Celah
- Alung Banua
- Johnson's Wall
- Fukui Point
- Ron's Point
- Raymond's Point
- Sachiko's Point
- Tanjung Parigi
- Mike's Point
- Benny's Point