Surrounded by vibrant coral reefs just off the coast of Manado in North Sulawesi is your island of Bunaken. It’s one of the most popular dive sites in Indonesia. Shallow coral reefs stretching out like tentacles to the crystal clear waters surround the ocean. The reefs drop off suddenly into perpendicular coral walls that drop down 50 meters to the deep sea. It is a divers paradise. Our guide on Bunaken covers whatever you need to know to arrange your trip to the staircase. I’ve divided the guide into different sections.
It’s a simple way to reach Bunaken. All the leading undercover carriers operate national routes to Manado. You can catch domestic flights to Manado from critical transit systems like Jakarta, Makassar, and Bali with Garuda Indonesia, Air Asia, and Lion Air. The town also has an international airport with direct flights to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. In the airport, you can catch a cab to the canal across the side of Manado Market. If you have made arrangements with the hotel (more about accommodation a bit after), they usually arrange the transportation for you. Otherwise, it is possible to catch a public boat to the island.
The public ships to Bunaken depart 1 percent or 2 pm, depending on the tides, except Sundays. It takes around 45 minutes by boat to reach Bunaken. Tickets cost Rp 50,000 for both global people and Rp 20,000 for sailors. It’s possible to get access to the ticketing office. The Public ships are how most locals travel from Bunaken Island to Manado and do their daily groceries. The return trip from Bunaken leaves each morning around 8 – 8:30 am, except Sundays. If you have a big group, at most 30 passengers, you can rent a private boat for approximately 1,000,000 IDR. It is possible to arrange boat rentals supporting Celebes Hotel at Manado Harbor. Remember there is no nighttime service to and out of Bunaken. Should you arrive late in Manado, you are going to have to remain in the town.
Ideal Time to Visit
The peak season for tourism in Bunaken is from July to August. This is the dry time and also overlaps with all the school holidays. Resorts around the island immediately fill up in the high season to be well worth booking ahead. The temperature from the dry season is about 35° C with water temperatures between 27° C to 30° C. If you wish to prevent the peak season but still need some good diving, visit either side of the season (May-June to September-October). The temperature remains scorching hot, and you have good visibility. Accommodation is frequently somewhat cheaper.
Recommendation for Accommodation
Siladen is a lot bigger than Bunaken. There are just a few hotels on the island, and they’re comprehensive. The cheapest place to stay is Tante Martha Cottages. The homestay does not have a website, and there is no obvious way to book online. You can find plenty of reviews of the homestay on other sites. The simpler budget choice is Bobocha Siladen, a 2-star all-inclusive resort that begins from $60 a night for two people. Both resorts require a minimal 3-night stay. Accommodation in a beachside villa in Tanta Moon starts from $195 a night. You’ll need to fill in a form on the site to generate an inquiry.
There are 13 hotels and homestays on Bunaken ranging from guesthouses to homestays and luxurious resorts. Only some of the resorts on the island are recorded on reserving websites like Agoda. Accommodation at recorded resorts begins from approximately Rp 600,000 per night for comprehensive stay at a homestay. On the top end there are lots of luxury resorts on Bunaken. The best hotel on the island is Bunaken Cha Cha Nature Resort. Villas in the resort start from Rp 3,500,000 an evening and are on the entire board. Other resorts on the island are all priced between these two extremes. Keep in mind you want to pay 50,000 IDR per day or 150,000 annually as an entrance fee into the marine park. Some resorts include this fee over the purchase price. Be sure that you check if your hotel does.
Are you planning to visit Bunaken soon? Find out more about Bunaken and Indonesia by visiting Wonderful Indonesia.