When in the Bunaken National Marine Park, the main activity to do is to dive, dive and do some more diving. The waters around the island are quite famous for its wall dives, which are very steep walls with crevices, caves, and rocks that are home to many species of marine life and many species of soft and hard corals. Depending on the season and currents, the difficulty of the dives varies as well. There can be strong to mild or no currents at times.
While staying at The Village Bunaken, we took the opportunity to dive several times in the seas around the islands. In short, the diving there was pretty amazing. I loved it. The diving trips were well-managed and well-organized by the resort and the dive guides were knowledgeable, helpful, friendly, and also quite funny. A good atmosphere on the diving boat and diving with cool and good-natured people is very important.
We dived in the following locations:
- Alung Banua (wall and slope dive)
- Lekuan #1 (wall dive)
- Lekuan #2 (wall dive)
- Mandolin (wall dive)
- Muka Kampung a.k.a. Turtle City (wall and slope dive)
- Tanjung Perigi (wall and slope dive)
- Tengah (wall dive)
And as you can see, we only scratched a fraction of the surface on the diving possibilities in the Bunaken National Marine Park. These are only the major diving spots surrounding the main island. There are a few more smaller islands in the area that also offer some interesting diving locations.
I think the most memorable dive must have been Muka Kampung. There were so many sea turtles of various sizes that at one point we had to stop counting them, because there were just too many. Some were resting in cracks, overhangs, caves, and hollows in the walls (even spotted one large turtle sharing a cave with a white-tip reef shark). While others were nibbling on corals or swimming around. It was a magical dive. And afterwards, while resting on the dive boat, we spotted so many turtles breaching the surface gasping for air. It was really cool.
Other interesting marine critters that we spotted were a number of whitetip reef sharks (Triaenodon obesus), hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), orang-utan crabs (Achaeus japonicas), electric clams (Ctenoides ales), several Halimeda red ghost pipefish (Solenostomus halimeda), a bunch of nudibranches (that are hard to identify), scorpionfish, lionfish, gobies (one of my favorite little critters), Napoleon wrasse (Cheilinus undulates), and large schools of fish such as tuna and jackfish. Due to the nature of the dives, I found it harder to spot the macro critters here. There often is a current, which makes it hard to find them as you have to not move as much to spot them.
The steep underwater walls were teeming with marine life. It was an amazing experience to observe and see this part of the earth. Visibility was quite good on all the dives, up to 25 meters I reckon. The temperature of the water was around 25-28 degrees Celsius.
I also took this time to practice my admittedly still very amateurish underwater photography skills. I really managed to get some valuable experience in buoyancy and photography. Hopefully, I can improve some more in my future dives around the archipelago.
In conclusion, diving in the Bunaken National Marine Park was fantastic. It was not as incredible as the diving adventures we had in Walea and the Togian Islands, but then again that area set the bar quite high. It was still very very good. We spotted tons of interesting critters and we managed to further develop our diving skills such as buoyancy and trim. And we could just enjoy the natural beauty of the area. The Bunaken National Marine Park is a top diving spot and really one of the best in Indonesia.