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  4. Bunaken island in Indonesia: things to do, where to stay and eat

Bunaken is an Indonesian island in the Gulf of Manado in the Pacific Ocean. Interestingly, it is considered the outskirts of the city of Manado, which is the capital of the province of another island - North Sulawesi. Bunaken occupies only 8 km², and the population that lives in the village on its territory is about 900 people.

Search and book hotels on Bunaken.

Crispin Jones
Crispin Jones

Bunaken National marine Park

Since 1991, Bunaken, along with 4 other islands (Manado Tua, Siladen, Montehage and Nain) became part of the newly created Bunaken National Marine Park. The territory of the park is about 750 km² and is famous for one of the most interesting and diverse underwater worlds on Earth. In water expanses with a depth of more than 1500 m, you can find many corals, fish, 7 of the 8 existing species of giant mollusks and other inhabitants. The park is believed to be home to over ⅔ of all known Indo-West Pacific fish species.


The climate on the island

Bunaken is a tropical island with a dry and rainy season. The air temperature on the island varies from +22°C to +32°C, and water - +27...+29°C. The hottest month is August, and the coldest and rainiest month is January.

When is the best time to go to Bunaken

It is better to go to the island during the dry season, which lasts here from May to September. The peak months are June - August.


How to get to Bunaken

You can get to Bunaken by water transport from Manado. In turn, you can fly to Manado by plane from Bali, Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur. Choose a flight with an arrival in the morning, as there are fewer opportunities to get to Bunaken in the evening and you will have to look for accommodation in Manado. Please also note that upon arrival you will need to apply for a visa. For most nationalities it is free.

Usually transfer from Manado is organized by your hotel on Bunaken. And if you have a reservation for more than 4 days, there is a chance that it will even be free. You can also use public boats that leave daily (except Sunday) at lunchtime from the north side of Manado Market. The trip between the islands lasts 30-45 minutes and costs about $ 1.7. In the opposite direction, the boat leaves at about 8 am.


Hotels on Bunaken

Bunaken's big problem is the rubbish that comes ashore from Manado. Therefore, we recommend choosing a hotel in the eastern part of the island. There are not many accommodation options on Bunaken, due to the size of the island itself, but there are still options for travelers with different needs and financial capabilities. Among the main types of housing presented here: guesthouses, homestays, hotels and dive resorts.

Among the latter, the best are: Bunaken Oasis Dive Resort and Spa, Bunaken Cha Cha Nature Resort, Happy Gecko Dive Resort or more budget Raja Laut Dive Resort Bunaken and Panorama Backpackers.

From homestays and guesthouses, take a look at: Novita Homestay, 4 Sisters Divers, Sunset Guest House & Bar, Arto Moro Bunaken.

Choose a hotel in the WIOTTO catalog.

Bunaken Oasis Dive Resort and Spa
Bunaken Oasis Dive Resort and Spa

Cafes and restaurants on Bunaken

Bunaken does not have a large selection of establishments, but most accommodations offer full board or all- inclusive. Some have bars and restaurants. To get to know local gastro-culture we recommend the following places:

  • Restaurant Nemo
  • Warung Baku Baku Inga
  • Bunaken Cafe N Resto
  • Restaurant Nelson Bunaken
  • Deco Stop Cafe N Bar
  • Blue Parrot Beach Cafe

The basis of the local cuisine is rice dishes with various additions, fish and seafood. Among the local drinks, we recommend trying Cap Tikus - palm wine and Bintang beer. Imported wine can only be found in the restaurants of some resorts.


What to do on Bunaken

Diving and snorkeling

Bunaken is considered the best diving spot in Indonesia and one of the best in the world. 12 out of 20 dive spots of the park of the same name are located on this island. In its southeastern and northwestern parts. Around the island there are huge underwater stone walls that attract many inhabitants of the ocean. It is for them that divers from all over the world hunt. Here you can see several different ecosystems, including mangroves, "algae plantations", coral reefs, coastal areas that are home to about 90 species of fish, 5 species of turtles, reef sharks, and if you're lucky, you can even see a dugong - a marine cow. The chances are especially great during the full moon, when the tides are high.

Most popular dive sites:

  • Mike`s point
  • Raymond
  • Tengah
  • Mandolin
  • Alung Banua
  • Fukui
  • Cela Cela
  • Lecuan
  • Kampung
  • Bunaken Timur
  • Pangalisan
  • Sachico`s Point

Since 2008, in order to be and dive in the park, everyone over 10 years old needs to have a special pass. It can be bought at diving centers, kiosks or some resorts. Approximate cost - 3 dollars /day.

Be prepared for the fact that before you plunge into the incredible underwater world near the wall, you will have to swim through the mangroves and their roots. In addition, Bunaken is famous for the strongest ebbs and flows, as well as powerful currents. Therefore, be very careful.

Snorkeling at Bunaken is also absolutely fantastic, especially on the southeast coast. The available research area there is about 2 kilometers with beautiful corals and many inhabitants of the ocean depths.


Relaxation on the beach

Bunaken is not about a beach holiday. There are no white sand beaches here. Many of the shores are overgrown with mangroves, while the south and west are plagued by debris brought in from Manado. If you still want to swim and soak up the sun, we recommend choosing a hotel with a pool or sailing to a neighboring island.

Choose resorts with a pool at WIOTTO.

Observation per whales and dolphins

Such tours are organized by local operators, or you can simply rent a boat and go on an expedition on your own.


Walks on island

There are several hiking trails on the island, or you can rent motor vehicles and go to get acquainted with the local nature and life of the locals. In a village in the south of the island there is a beautiful Christian church called Gereja gmim Patmos Bunaken and mosque.


Another of the activities on Bunaken is kayaking. The rental point is located in the village opposite the church.


Interesting facts and tips before visiting

  • Communication on the island is very poor, and the Internet, one might say, is completely non-existent.
  • There are no ATMs here, so take care of cash in advance.
  • At Bunaken, you can only drink bottled water. And if you order tea or coffee in establishments, make sure that it is also prepared from bottled water there.
  • There are only a few food stalls on the island. There are no big shops and pharmacies at all, so take everything you need with you.



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