At the northern tip of Indonesia’s Sulawesi, a tiny 8 km² island is located. It is known for its breathtaking underwater world and therefore popular amongst scuba divers and snorkelers. Meet Bunaken Island!
The island is part of the Bunaken National Marine Park: a unique tropical water ecosystem consisting of mangroves, coral reefs and many tropical fish, turtles and sea mammals. The cooperation between national and local government authorities, conservation groups, business owners and local communities has proved to be very successful, which made Bunaken a showcase example of how Indonesia should preserve its marine parks.
The island can be reached by speed boat, a 30-minute trip from the Manado sea port. While several resorts are located at the island, one of them deserves to be in the spotlight. The Village Bunaken is a small scale, comfortable eco-resort in boutique style, owned by a friendly Dutch/Indonesian couple.
Rooms come in a private hut including a hammock and a veranda; the perfect spot to watch sunsets.
The Village Bunaken serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in buffet-style with a variety of delicious dishes, both local and Western and suitable for vegetarians (vegans at request). All meals are served at large communal tables, offering you the chance to share underwater adventures with your neighbours.
Since the resort is located in the middle of a national park, The Village Bunaken is aware of its responsibility to be an eco-friendly resort. Extended achievements are made including saving electricity where possible, composting organic waste and heating water with the sun and processed non-organic waste.
The resort has its own dive centre. The local experienced dive guides provide excellent relaxed dives in small groups of maximum 4 divers per guide. Boats will take you to the perfect dive spot, no anchor is used while waiting for your return. First-time divers get a kickstart introduction in the swimming pool so you will feel secure once you’re out for the real stuff.
Get below the surface an you will be in ecstacy! The Bunaken waters include outstanding fish variety and world-class reefs. If you are lucky you might even spot a dugong or a sperm whale (though you might have more success with those while snorkeling as the bubbles can scare them off a bit), but if not there’s still an abundance of eye candy.
No a great fan of diving but still in for some underwater experience? Go snorkeling! You can easily swim to the reef from the resorts private beach. Make sure to head back before the low tide is at its peak as you will find your face in the sea grass if you don’t. Tip: wear a T-shirt and shorts to prevent sunburns.
Even if you prefer no under water adventure at all, there are still many other activities to do like Dolphin watching trips, hikes to a former volcano on the nearby Manado Tua island or walks to the villages. In the mood for some relaxation? Take a sunbath on the sundeck, a dip in the small swimming pool or visit the spa.
Prices: The minimum stay at The Village Bunaken is 3 nights. Prices come at €55 per person per night (€50 in low season), including 3 buffet meals per day and unlimited coffee, tea and water. Dives start at €35 for a single dive, several package deals are offered for more dives.
Transfer information: To get to Bunaken, you can agree with the resort on a pick up at the air port and/or at the harbour. If there is no agreement with the resort, head to the Pelabuhan Manado harbour by taxi and take the public boat to Bunaken from there. The Public Boat goes to the island every day except Sundays or Public Holidays, departure depends on the tide and would be at 1 or 2 PM. It cost you Rp 15.000 or around €1.