The Bunaken National Park is located in North Sulawesi in Indonesia. It is a marine park - 97% of its area is covered by ocean waters. The remaining terrestrial 3% is created by 5 islands: Bunaken, Manado Tua, Mantehage, Nain, and Siladen.
The visitors usually stay on Bunaken Island. Another option is Siladen Island, but the latter offers fewer accommodation options.
The boats to Bunaken Island leave from the pier near the Manado market. At 2 pm you will get the public boat (it operates daily except Sundays and public holidays). At any other time, you can hire the private boat or pay a skipper who collects the guests of the private resorts to join the group. All the options, except the public boat, will cost you a pot of gold (Sulawesi, in general, is no budget destination).
The return is easier and cheaper. The public boat leaves daily (except Sundays and public holiday) from the public jetty in Bunaken at 8 pm. But you can always find a spot in boats transferring the guests from various hotels. Also from yours, even if it's just a homestay. The fee is much less than what is charged from Manado to Bunaken.
Tourism is strongly rooted in Bunaken National Park. The range of accommodation extends from homestays to 5-star resorts. No matter what your budget is, it's always recommended to book a room ahead.
The hotel we paid for (Kuskus Resort) was over-booked and they "sold" us to the neighboring Manado Beach Resort. We had a cottage without AC, and the heat was hardly bearable. The food was great, though.
The reason people come to Bunaken is only one - the marine life. There are almost 400 species of corals in the Bunaken reef. They form over 25-meter vertical wall where almost 100 species of fish live and thrive. Besides the fish, the visitors will have a chance to admire giant clams and sea turtles. The latter we were meeting almost every time we dipped in water.
The visitors have two options of spending time in Bunaken National Park - they can dive or they can snorkel. Those who come here for the beaches and suntanning will be disappointed - the beaches disappear during high tides. And they don't look very impressive even when the water level is low.
We don't dive but we loved the snorkeling. The reef starts a few meters from the shore and looks amazing. There's no need for joining the boat trips for divers unless someone has a need of an encounter with bigger species like sharks.
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