After touring the rainforests of the Tangkoko National Park, we went to our next destination: the Island of Bunaken, which is located right off the coast of the city of Manado. Departing by car from the Tangkoko National Park it took us about three hours to reach the harbor of Manado. And from there a thirty minute long boat-ride ultimately took us to our accommodation, The Village Bunaken on, well, Bunaken Island.
While we enjoyed our holiday, our stay at The Village Bunaken was mixed in reception and thoughts. There were some parts that I loved about the place, and some aspects that I was not so keen about. In the following paragraphs I’ll try to make this clearer.
Firstly, the staff and people at The Village Bunaken were very friendly, especially the dive-masters and dive-guides. We felt welcomed, comfortable, and always enjoyed our small talks and discussions.
Secondly, the diving experience from the resort was outstanding. The diving trips were well managed and all the rental diving equipment and the diving boats were in excellent condition. We had no complaints. The dive planning beforehand was very clear and concise. And overall, the dives were great fun, safe, and interesting. There is nothing more you could wish for.
Finally, staying at The Village Bunaken means that all the meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and 4PM snacks / teatime) are included and, largely, the food was quite appealing. The head chef of the resort, Michael, managed to surprise us on a daily basis with his delicious cooking. The meals were varied and were served buffet style. We especially loved the different kind of soups that were served as an appetizer for dinners daily. We stayed at The Village Bunaken for a week and, with the exception of breakfast and salads during lunchtime, I think we did not eat the same dish twice. Breakfast was pretty basic but good enough and filling and we’d get some fresh fruit. During our stay, we always would look forward to lunch and dinner at this place, as it was always quality food.
Now, our stay here was not perfect. We did have some issues with the resort.
Primarily, The Village Bunaken is really a resort aimed to accommodate divers. I think if you would not dive, as was the case with some of our company, you would be quite bored quite fast, because there is not much to do besides diving. Due to the large patches of dense mangroves, there is no real comfortable beach to swim and relax in. There is a pool, but in reality this is more a dive training pool and also not so comfortable to swim in. Not to mention that the pool was uncomfortably close to the restaurant.
Additionally, and this was kind of a big one, we disliked the fact that the rooms and resort grounds had a lot of mosquitoes, insect, and bugs flying around. There was no insect control. At least, not one we noticed nor one that had any effect on reducing the bug problem. Having lived in Indonesia for quite some time, and having seen many parts of the country, I can safely say I have never experienced this many bugs in a place. I thought it was especially strange, because it is an issue easily solved by periodically fogging the grounds. There was no insect repellent provided by the hotel and we quickly ran out of our own stash that we brought with us. It was quite crazy. There were also many mosquitoes in the rooms and there was no klambu, or mosquito net, hanging over the bed. This means that we were served buffet style to these little bloodsucking animals at night. Every morning we would wake up with a fresh bunch of mosquito and other insect bites. It was not comfortable.
Moreover, it was extremely hot during our time at The Village Bunaken. Granted, this was during the height of the dry season in Indonesia, and raging forest fires in Sumatra, Kalimantan, and many other places were destroying the country. We could see the haze hanging over the sea and at times the nearby islands were not even visible due to the thick smoke. This might have made the temperature much higher than usual. Due to the heat, my sleep especially was terrible here. I did not get one good night’s rest. This brings me to my next issue: air conditioning was not free at The Village Bunaken. I quite disliked the fact that having the air-conditioning turned on in your room would cost you 20 Euros per day. I still think that this is an outrageously high price and almost a rip-off. I would almost avoid recommending staying at The Village Bunaken over this issue. I think that this is just not done in this day and age, especially if a hotel calls itself a resort.
Overall, yeah, a stay with very mixed thoughts. The Village Bunaken has great staff, and the food was fantastic. And if you dive, you will not be disappointed. However, be prepared to meet a legion of bugs and mosquitoes, and also be prepared to not having any air conditioning in your room. I still find it ridiculous that we had to pay 20 Euros per day to get receive this facility. It’s kind of brazen in a way.