Marine life is always wonderful to explore. Being a maritime country, Indonesia surely has lots of objects where you can witness many kinds of sea creatures. One of the best choices to get that experience is at Bunaken National Marine Park. Highly influenced by oceanic currents, this marine park is rich in biodiversity. The area covers up to almost 900 square kilometers. This breath-taking object is located not very far from the city of Manado, The Province of North Sulawesi.

 

To Get There

Bunaken National Marine Park is centered on Bunaken Island, which is easiest to access from Manado city. There are several choices of transportation you can choose from Manado city to Bunaken Island. Ferry Ship departs from Manado to Bunaken everyday at 14.00 and will return from Bunaken to Manado everyday at 07.00 or 08.00 at the early morning. Chartered Motor Boat is the easiest option as you can go anytime anywhere you like.

To reach Manado first, you need to get a flight to Sam Ratulangi Airport. Only domestic flights are available. They are from Jakarta, Denpasar, Makassar, and Sorong.

Boat to Bunaken (Source: Flickr. Credit: Taman Laut Bunaken)
Boat to Bunaken
(Source: Flickr. Credit: Taman Laut Bunaken)

Where to Stay

At the island Bunaken, you can find many kinds of accommodation, from cheap inns for backpacker up to an exclusive five-star resorts. The cheapest one is a budget inn with rates only $6 per night. But if you want a luxurious accommodation with complete facilities, you can also book your stay on several resorts available there. The rates are ranging from US$50 to US$ 150.

Some tourists prefer to book the hotels on Manado instead. The city has more complete facility and it is not far from Bunaken anyway. You can take this option if you wish to visit other tourism destination on Manado as well.

 

Marine Life

The most attractive thing about Bunaken Island is the marine life. Under the water around the island, lies a beautiful ecosystem with high biodiversity. To enjoy the entire beauty panorama in Bunaken, you need to pay about $2 for the entrance fee.

Corals and Fishes in Bunaken (Source: Flickr. Credit: Andrey Samsonov)
Corals and Fishes in Bunaken
(Source: Flickr. Credit: Andrey Samsonov)

Bunaken Marine Park has about 13 species of coral reefs with most of them are edge ridges and rocky block ridges. Between every corals, you can see plenty of fishes swimming around. Some species of fishes like to swim in a large group while some others prefer to swim individually.

Total, there are about 91 species of fishes including several endemic species such as yellow-tailed lolosi (Lutjanus kasmira), gusimi horse fish (Hippocampus), goropa (Ephinephelus spilotoceps and Pseudanthias hypselosoma), the white oci (Seriola rivoliana), ila gasi (Scolopsis bilineatus) and much more.

You can also encounter several species of mollusk including the rare and unique giant clam (Tridacna gigas). Giant Clam is the largest species of mollusk in the world. An adult giant clam could reach 12 meters length of body, 200 kilograms of weigh, and more 100 years of age. It is now specified as endangered species. Other mollusks are goat head (Cassis

Giant Clam in Bunaken (Source: Flickr. Credit: Benjamin Naden)
Giant Clam in Bunaken
(Source: Flickr. Credit: Benjamin Naden)

But the most unique animal to see in Bunaken is the dugong, a large marine mammal that sometimes is called “mermaid”. Dugong is endangered and is very rare. If you meet this animal under the water of Bunaken, you can consider yourself very lucky. Dugong could live up to 70 years but sometimes is hunted for its meat and oil.

 

Diving Spots

Around the water of Bunaken, there are plenty spots interesting to dive on. To reach one spot to another, you can ride speedboat. If you have a diving package arranged by a diving center, the management will provide the transportation for you. But if you don’t, you can rent a speedboat at the rentals on the land. Needless to say more, here are several popular diving spots with its attractions that you could try to dive on:

  • Ron’s Point

This spot is where you should go to if you wish to encounter some dugongs if you are lucky enough (considering that this animal is quite rare to appear). Don’t be upset if you don’t end up meeting them as you can still meet several black tip sharks and gray reef sharks. At this spot, there are also some schools of barracuda, ghost pipe fish, leap fish, and several kinds of anemones.

Anemone on the Coral Wall (Source: Flickr. Credit: Christian Loader)
Anemone on the Coral Wall
(Source: Flickr. Credit: Christian Loader)
  • Lekuan Walls

Lekuan is the best diving spot around Bunaken. It is a long reef covered with corals that you can’t possibly explore in just one dive. This site is divided into three regions; Lekuan I, Lekuan II, and Lekuan III. Bannerfish, Napoleon Wrasse, jacks, barracuda, and tuna are the most common fish to see. On Lekuan I, you can find some white tip reef shark hiding on the crevice. On Lekuan II, you could encounter big green turtle that visit the wall sometimes. On Lekuan III, you have the chance to see various species of nudibranchs and flatworms.

  • Fukui Point

This spot starts with a sandy slope that leads you to patches filled with various corals. On the depth of 15 meters, you will find three giant clams lining up. A school of butterfly fishes like to swim around the clams.

  • Molas Shipwreck

Shipwreck diving could be an alternative variation of diving. In Bunaken, you could see the wrecks of Germany’s Molas Ship that sunk in 1942 after got hit by a torpedo during World War II. The ship was split, exposing cargo holds and the wheelhouse. Make sure to bring a dive light when visiting this spot. The spot is located at the depth of 60 meters. Nearby the shipwrecks, there is a shallow reef that is beautiful to see.

Molas Wrecks (Source: Flickr. Credit: crisymay)
Molas Wrecks
(Source: Flickr. Credit: crisymay)
  • Muka Kampung

The name means “Village Front” as this spot is located right in front of Bunaken Village. At this spot, you can see a large number of sea turtles that naturally live there. Besides that, you can also meet some humphead parrotfish, dogtooth tuna, napoleon wrasse, and much more.

 

Tips

  • For comfortable and easy diving, take a package from diving one of the management companies available around the island. You can also get this service from the resort you are staying at.
  • There are many vendors of souvenirs offering unique items such as sea shell artworks, t-shirt, accessories, and much more. These items are worth buying as it is unique and the price is very cheap.
  • Manado is rich in culinary. So while you are at Bunaken or Manado, don’t forget to taste some local cuisine to enrich your culinary experience. Further information about Manado local culinary will be provided on separate articles from us.
  • July to August is a peak season. During this period, the island would be very crowded. If you don’t like visiting a tourism object that is too crowded, it is better to avoid those months. But if you still wish to come at this season, make sure to book your reservation

 

Bunaken is one of the most popular diving destinations in Indonesia. It makes sense that people would come across the world to this site as the underwater ecosystems offer breath taking sceneries and wonderful experience for anyone who dive in it. So if you like water adventure, make sure that Bunaken is on your travelling list of destination.

 

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