Destination Fact File
Enjoy the currents and walls at Bunaken. You just never know what you may see here!
There is something for every diver in North Sulawesi; whether you prefer to admire the steep coral walls of Bunaken National Marine Park, explore the reefs in Bangka area or dive in the enchanting world of nature's little wonders in Lembeh Strait, we can guarantee that you will leave North Sulawesi rich with memorable experiences.
Manado and Bunaken Marine Park are among the highlights of Indonesia scuba diving and have earned plaudits throughout the world. The facts say it all - when you're scuba diving in Manado you can see over 70% of all fish species that exist in the Indo-Western Pacific. The bay of Manado is located at the very top of the island of Sulawesi. The main diving areas are located off the islands surrounding Manado Bay; however there are a couple of dive sites in the Bay of Manado.
Top Dive Sites
“Molas Shipwreck” - The Molas ship was a twin propelled Japanese Carrier Warship. The shipwreck is sitting upright with the port side facing the reef. The bottom of the hull lays between 30 and 40m with the propellers at the deepest part. Bring your dive light to view this wreck. Leaf fish and scorpion fish can be seen at the bow of the boat. Jaw fish peeping from their holes and flying gunnards are common sights on this sandy bottom reef.
“Tanjung Pisok” - This dive site is located in Manado. The current is moderate to strong – making it a site for experienced divers. This is a good place to see leaf fish, turtles, snappers, emperor angelfish and reef white tip sharks are also found here. A lot of macro life at the sandy bottom.
The Bunaken - Manado Tua National Marine Park geographically located in Indo Pacific region and holds the richest marine diversity on the planet, where the Bunaken Island is considered to be one of the top diving destinations. Marine biodiversity is the name of the game in Indonesia generally and in Bunaken diving specifically. The park is adored by marine biologists, photographers and recreational divers alike since the richness of its waters ensure that no 2 dives are the same and that there is always plenty to see, study, photograph and marvel at. The waters around Bunaken Island are home to dolphins, whales, turtles, sharks, rays, sea snakes, sea cows, barracudas, tunas and the list goes on.
Included in the measures to protect this eco-treasure, is the creation of the marine park for which all divers must buy a pass which is used to fund conservation and village development programmes. It has long been recognised that the Manado area is an area worth preserving both for the good of the environment and the local economy. Various schemes are being undertaken to encourage responsible attitudes towards the reefs, the sea life and with regards to refuse disposal in the area. In Bunaken your few dollars really do make a difference!
“Lekuan I, II & III” - Whether beginner or experienced, in daytime or at night, you will drop down here through calm and crystal clear water to the coral wall in front of Lekuan Beach on the south side of Bunaken Island. The wall has 3 prongs imaginatively named I, II and III and is a very popular site for all levels due to the conditions and the variety of fish and turtles present.
There are perhaps 10 green turtles on Lekuan I alone and some of the males are a very impressive size. You'll see them paddling by in the open ocean or resting under the many overhangs and ledges that mark this Bunaken scuba diving spot.
Legions of bump-headed parrotfish may charge past as you make your way to the wall where there lurk many lionfish and scorpionfish. Swarms of anthias at the reef edge will keep you entertained and there is every chance that the big lips of the humphead wrasse might cruise by to say hello.
The steep walls have tremendous coral growth, some massive green stands of black coral bushes, and, unless you are a real depth junkie, they will go down far beyond your maximum depth. Lekuan II in particular has very deep sections and some interesting coves and shafts to cut across, in search of tuna and other pelagics. Diving in the Bunaken National Marine Park makes for a fine memory if you are fortunate enough to visit it.
One of Bunaken’s best dive sites it Lekuan III as it starts with a nice sandy slope with underwater pinnacles and continues to a wall, which drops to over 200m. Gorgonians and big sponges decorate the wall in a magnificent way and complete it with a huge range of colourful fishes. A very special site for night diving. Barracudas, white-tip reef sharks, bamboo sharks and sponge crabs are common here. Cleaner shrimp, scorpionfish, large nudibranches, cuttlefish, spanish dancers and basket stars can also be seen here.
“Mandolin Point” - The origin of the name of this site in the south west of the island is unknown but some have suggested it is a reference to the number of 'strings' present here in the form of whip corals. Descending down alongside one of Bunaken's typically colourful walls you will soon realise that, in the 20-45m depth range, there are more single whips than your eye can take in. For depth chargers this is a good chance to get down into the 'narc zone'.
As a good diver you will want to avoid any unnecessary contact with the reef which here is like trying to snake through a maze of tripwires. Bigger stuff to see includes Maori wrasse, bumphead parrotfish, mappa pufferfish and white-tip reef sharks. There is also no shortage of macro stuff to keep you amused with the whip corals playing host to commensal shrimps and whip gobies.
You will see the wall morphing into a mat of sponges and hard and soft corals over which the current will lead you. At this stage of your dive you can hunt around for porcelain crabs on bubble coral and gorgeous little candy crabs on soft corals. Mandolin Point is an unusual and continually stimulating spot to dive and is unlike any other dive site in the haven that is Bunaken.
“Mike’s Point” - Located on the north west of Bunaken Island, this site was named after well-known underwater photographer, Mike Severns. A wall covered with a great variety of different, colourful corals is a home for a huge range of tropical reef fish, which makes it perfect for fish portrait photography. Big fishes are common guests to this site too, as it often has a strong current which is affected by the tides. The reef floor is covered in different types of Sponges which make it a great area for deeper diving.
“Bunaken Timur” - Meaning East Bunaken, this is a very long reef, so long in fact you'll need to dive it more than once if you want to see it all. What you will see is an array of beautiful soft corals and leather corals in the shallows and a 35 metre wall trimmed with fine lilac lace coral. There is plenty to delight the eye here and you may spot several different types of nudibranch as well as plenty of bright butterflyfish, including the ever-present crowds of pyramid butterflyfish and the rarely seen zebra butterflyfish as well as the odd green turtle meandering by.
It's not all small stuff here though and you could well run into a few sharks, rare dolphinfish cruising below, or schools of eagle rays gliding elegantly into the blue. There can be a current on this dive, so it is normally reserved for intermediate divers. That said, it is not often difficult and is normally very rewarding, sometimes astoundingly so. Apparently, a Dutch couple diving at Bunaken Timur came within 1 metre of 3 orcas (killer whales)!