Bunaken, North Sulawasi - lush jungle, pristine water and oh so colorful & lively coral reef!


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Asia » Indonesia » Sulawesi » Bunaken National Park
February 17th 2010
Published: February 24th 2010
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Part 2 of the diving trip around North Sulawasi, after the black sandy volcano bottom and the crazy critter heaven that was Lembeh Strait, I was in for Bunaken island and its superb healthy corals, marine bio diversity and dramatic walls.

About 35 mn by speed boat from Manado, the Bunaken National Marine Park was one of the country’s first marine parks and includes five islands one of these, the Manado Tue islands is an extinct volcano covered as all the other islands by a thick and lush forest.

The main island where most of the resorts are located is surrounded by diving sites which have made this tiny piece of paradise world known among the divers so I was in again for a very relax holiday which essentially involves lots of time under the water and short boat transfers which were the perfect time to enjoy the sun and stunning view over the crystal clear water.

Diving wise well with over 58 different genera of corals and an estimated 2000 species of fish found in the park, diversity takes all its meaning! Bunaken is as well known for its dugongs, whales, dolphins, hawksbill turtle and chambered nautilus to name only a few, all are rare or endangered species.

Low season? Just don’t tell anyone…found the perfect VVIP holiday …



You might call it luck but although it is the rainy season, only got one day on which the sun was off somewhere else and the expression “rain shower” took all its meaning, every single other day, sun sun sun!!
The great thing about low season, is that there is absolutely no one, which when it comes to diving is a dream coming true! As a matter of fact, saw only two divers since I arrived in Bunaken so I had pretty much the entire place for myself (so to speak) with a fantastic Japanese dive master and a colourful boat to go through my diving wish list, one by one…sweet!

Cha Cha nature resort, chill out time in between the sea and the jungle…



The Cha Cha nature resort was a good pick, located outside of the main touristic area, it is as well slightly more upscale while still offering a simple and familial approach. Located on the less inhabited side of the island, it is facing clean and pristine water with a beach somehow protected from the plastic bags and rubbish coming from Manado that end up on the other side of the island.

This was the chance as well to spend time with the owners an Italian/Japanese couple and their administrator Denny who took the time to share with me so many stories and take me through their community base development project and other non profits initiatives (waste management, holiday camps for foreign kids together with local kids, yoga/ cooking classes, art and craft …ect). This new site will be ready in March and nested within the jungle a few minutes only from the sea, promised to be very interesting, a great way to discover the Bunaken culture while supporting the local community.
For more info, please visit Raci Project

Bubble time, ready for some action!



As a starter, a steep wall covered with corals with on some sites really deep sections and interesting coves perfect hide out place for turtles, blue sting ray and lion fish. Down you go, and for the amateur of deep diving this is the right place to come (from 50 to 200 meters in some area)!
The main course is thegentle drifting along the wall with school of colorful pyramid butterfly fish, black damsels, neon fish and bat fish which are pretty much everywhere you look with from time to time a school of jacks, a giant bumphead or a grey reef shark passing by.
The Bunaken walls offer tremendous coral growth with massive stand of hard corals, sea fans and colorful soft corals, a real delight for the eyes although from time to time you simply don’t know where to look anymore…

The dessert usually comes after 45mn of drifting with a slow ascent followed by the exploration of the reef edge where the pristine water gives all its charm to the then even more colorful corals and tropical fish: bump headed parrot fish, massive scorpion fish, couple of bright red enemy protecting their territory (got “attacked” by one so now I will watch out for them…), giant Napoleon wrasse, porcelain crabs hiding in the bubble corals, school of angel fish or razor fish to name a few…

Favorite dive sites…Lekuan 2 and Mike’s point !

Best night dive ever… rediscovering the underwater world



The sun is low and offer sumptuous colors from pink to orange, last check of the equipment and together with Asoko, the Japanese dive master and Danny we are off for an hour night dive. Was told that those very fantastic in Bunaken and I was indeed far from disappointed. Feels like visiting a completely different place: with colors coming out differently and a whole new range of underwater species revealing themselves as you point the torch light next to them.
Everything truly feels and looks different, and this beautiful dive was the occasion to discover lots of species: I never or rarely got the chance to see before such as banded crab, sponge crab, mini cuttle fish, shrimps of every shape, two spotted lion fish, large sea ursine only coming out at night or a huge hawksbill turtle swimming by and gracing us of her presence before going back to deeper water.

In a word…it was one of those dives were you simply don’t want to go back to the surface even though you are approaching the one hour…

Thanks Asoko and Danny for this fantastic experience and your great welcome, will be back, hopefully sooner than later!

As for me, well back to Thailand for a week before heading back to North Korea, tanned and fully rested with lots of images and souvenirs in my mind! More to come soon 






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27th February 2010

Love ur pics
Especially the pic of "memo" haha.nice pic :)
6th May 2010

Fantastic photos, as usual! :)
17th June 2010

choices, choices
Love reading your blog. We just went to Sipadan and loved it. But now looking for another place to go when my sister joins us. Now it is down to Bunaken, Palau, or back to Sipadan with her. We are one diver, and two snorkelers/wanna-be-one-day divers. Since you have been to all three, which would you chose?
17th June 2010

choices, choices
Love reading your blog. We just went to Sipadan and loved it. But now looking for another place to go when my sister joins us. Now it is down to Bunaken, Palau, or back to Sipadan with her. We are one diver, and two snorkelers/wanna-be-one-day divers. Since you have been to all three, which would you chose?

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