Our trip to North Sulawesi took place just over a year ago. It was one of the most beautiful places that we have ever visited in our lives. We were especially astounded with the beauty of Bunaken Marine Park. The Marine Park’s breathtaking diving experience left us speechless. The Park is considered as one of the best places in the world for diving and snorkeling. Located just offshore the North Sulawesi capital of Manado, Bunaken offers untouched beauty of nature. It was first established as a national marine park in 1991 and it covers an area of 89,605 hectares.
Our trip began when we took a Lion Air flight from Jakarta to Manado. The flight from Jakarta took about 3 and ½ hours and cost us about Rp. 450,000 .Visit Indonesia facts page for currency converter. It did not feel long at all because we were very excited about this trip. Imagine having the feeling of visiting one of the most beautiful diving spots in the world. Our excitements rushed through our veins as our plane landed at Sam Ratulangi Airport.
Upon our arrival, we took a taxi to our hotel in downtown Manado. The ride cost us about Rp. 60,000. One thing that you always have to remember when traveling in Indonesia is that everything is negotiable. So remember to always Bargain Bargain Bargain!
For your first visit to Manado, there are a couple of ways to enjoy the diving experience at Bunaken. First option, you can stay in Manado (like we did) and take a boat in the morning to the nearby islands to start your diving trip. Your second option is to actually stay in one the five islands around Manado and enjoy the ultimate diving experience as soon as you get up from your bed. It does not matter which options you choose, you will be inspired by the beauty of Bunaken.
During our visit, we decided to stay in Manado because we wanted to explore the other attractions of North Sulawesi. We stayed at Ritzy hotel, located 10 minutes walk from the harbor. The hotel is one of the upscale hotels in Manado. As soon as we arrived, we visited the mainland attractions, such as Lake Tondano, located in the Minahasa highland. Lake Tondano offers a serene environment deep in the mountains. We had the luxury of hiring a guide for all of our trips. A guide is highly recommended for various reasons, especially comfort. A guide will cost you from Rp. 400,000 to Rp. 600,000, depending on where you are going. This price usually includes the car rental, gas, and all the information that you want to know from the guide. This does not include, however, your food and your guide’s food. That’s right; we have to pay for our guide’s meals during the trip. Hotels usually have these guides on standby if you need them.
The next day, we went for our first diving experience. Important to remember: Make sure you already have your diving certificate. You can also complete your diving certificate here if you want to do so. We went to Bastianos diving resort to arrange our diving itinerary. We can only say one thing of our diving experience: It was marvelous. Clear visibility up to 30 meters, warm refreshing water temperature, 3,000 types of fish and 300 types of coral. It was nothing like we had ever seen before.
Diving price here usually varies from resort to resort. One thing for certain is that you need to pay for admission to enter the marine park, whether you are diving or not. Daily admission is Rp. 50,000 or Rp. 150,000 for a full year admission. As I have mentioned before, diving package usually varies from resort to resort. There are five main islands that you can choose to visit: Bunaken, Manado Tua, Montehagen, Nain and Siladen. Each island offers different ecosystem, thus different diving experience. If you are an experienced diver, you can go for more challenging dives near Siladen Island.
We went on four dives, mainly near Bunaken. There are actually more information about Manado and Bunaken that we would like to share, which would make a very interesting book. We are currently developing an informative site, apart from this blog, that will give you a more detailed information and resources for Manado and Bunaken. That’s our commitment to you. In the meantime, leave comments and please join our mailing list for constant updates. New articles are posted weekly and next week we are going to fly to Pontianak and Ketapang for another delightful Indonesian experience.
Hotels in Manado:
- Ritzy Hotel Manado
- Hotel Santika Manado
- Travello Hotel Manado
- Siladen Resort and spa
- Bastianos Dive Resort
- Bunaken Cha Cha Nature Resort
- Bunaken Village Resort
- Froggies Divers
- Two Fish Divers
Bunaken Marine Park map
- Silk Air to Singapore (4 times a week)
- Air Asia to Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia (3 times a week)
- For any other countries, depart from Jakarta International Airport (frequent flights) Ticket ranges from Rp. 600,000.