Bunaken: A Diver’s Hidden Gem

Bunaken: A Diver’s Hidden Gem

Are you a diving enthusiast? And are you looking for a new underwater world to explore? Then you absolutely have to go diving at least once in the Bunaken National Park in Sulawesi. A true underwater paradise for divers and snorkelers. The Bunaken National Park has more than 50 diving spots to offer for every level of diver.
Exciting drift dives, relaxing wall dives or muck dives. You can find them all in Bunaken.

As I mentioned earlier, Bunaken is a diving destination in the north of Sulawesi that is suitable for divers of all levels. But since the diving spots are mostly incredibly steep walls that go as deep as 1600 meters, it’s nice if you’re an advanced diver so you can fully enjoy all the dive sites.

Despite the walls in Bunaken National Park reaching unprecedented depths, there is a beautiful and colorful coral garden about 4 meters deep in the shallow part of the reef, making it a magically beautiful dive for the beginning divers among us. These coral gardens are considered the best in the world!

Moreover, there are countless fish and you also have a high chance of spotting larger creatures such as manta rays, schools of eagle rays, various types of sharks and of course turtles. During our dives, we kept encountering whitetip and blacktip sharks, gigantic turtles, incredibly beautiful coral walls and… phew, just too much to mention.

Oh, and if you’re very lucky, you might even encounter hammerhead sharks and dolphins during your dives!!!

Our favorite dives in Bunaken.

In total, we stayed 5 days on the tiny island of Siladen located in the middle of the Bunaken National Park, and we dove a total of 9 times in this beautiful area. While all our dives were fantastic, there were a few dive sites that stood out head and shoulders above the rest.

Likuan I & Likuan 2

One of the most famous and visited diving spots in Bunaken National Park. And not without reason. Beautiful steep coral walls with overhanging coral and various types of fish such as bannerfish, barracudas, groupers, turtles and very often reef sharks.
Level: Beginner/Advanced
Maximum depth: 30 meters
Type of dive: Wall
Current: Light/Mild

Sachiko’s point

Our personal favorite. Walls full of colorful coral, countless turtles, giant moray eels, blacktip sharks, and much more! This was truly an incredibly beautiful and interesting dive. The walls reach unprecedented depths, so if you’re lucky, you might even encounter hammerhead sharks. Because of the strong current, it might not be entirely suitable for the beginner diver who has never done a drift dive before. We are certainly not advanced divers, but we have gained quite a bit of experience with diving in currents during our dives in Flores. Despite this, it was quite a struggle in the currents around Sachiko’s Point. But really, it’s a dive that must be done if you’re going to dive in Bunaken.

Level: Beginner/Advanced
Maximum depth: 30 meters
Type of dive: Wall
Current: Mild/Strong

Mandolin

Once again, a beautiful dive site. This dive site is situated between Bunaken and Manado Tua, which can result in strong currents at this location. However, this has the advantage of attracting large species due to these currents, such as large schools of trevallies, giant barracudas, various types of sharks (particularly blacktip and whitetip), and giant turtles. You will mainly dive along the massive vertical walls, ending your dive on top of the reef. Here, you can calmly recover from this impressive dive.
Level: Beginner/Advanced
Maximum depth: 30 meters
Type of dive: Wall
Current: Mild/Strong

Dive Schools in Bunaken National Park

There is a large selection of dive schools in Bunaken, but we chose to dive with Celebes Divers. Aside from this being the most practical choice for us (as we were staying at the Kuda Laut Resort, which this dive school is affiliated with), this dive school also received a lot of positive reviews. And nothing was untrue about that. Extremely kind, friendly, and competent dive masters. You feel in good hands with Celebes Divers, and in addition to ensuring that you can fully enjoy your dives, it is also very cozy. We highly recommend it.

Celebes divers Sulawesi
Dive school Bunaken

Practical Information about Diving in Bunaken

Usually, you’ll make 2 dives per day with your dive school. You depart around 08:00 in the morning and are back at your accommodation around lunchtime. Since the area is not too large, you’ll reach your first dive site of the day in no time. We found this very relaxing!
For each dive (2 dives), you’ll pay approximately €40. A reasonable price in our opinion, especially once you have completed your dives and have been able to discover the magical underwater world of Bunaken.

Where to Stay in Bunaken?

On Bunaken Island itself, there are many accommodations. As a result, it is a bit busier than the neighboring island, Siladen. This is why we decided to book our accommodation here. Siladen itself is truly picturesque, you’ll feel like you’re on a small uninhabited island with pristine white beaches and crystal-clear seawater.
Since Siladen was one of our last destinations during our 4-week tour of Sulawesi, we decided to go for a luxurious stay. This led us to the Kuda Laut Resort. WOW! An incredibly cool accommodation. The “resort” consists of spacious beach bungalows each with its own veranda overlooking the sea and just about 10 meters from the sea. It’s a truly beautiful accommodation. If you’re going to dive in Bunaken and are looking for perfect accommodation? Then we recommend Kuda Laut!

Kuda Laut Siladen
Siladen
Siladen

How do I actually get to Bunaken?

The fastest way to get to Bunaken is, of course, by plane. Book a flight to Manado (North Sulawesi), stay there for 1 or 2 nights, and then take the boat to Bunaken. The boat trip takes about 45 minutes. We flew back to Bali from Manado, which takes about 3 hours.
Enough about diving in Bunaken. It’s now time to (when possible) discover the underwater world of Bunaken National Park for yourself.

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