Diving Bunaken National Park and Manado Bay
Most of the reefs of the Bunaken National Marine Park are rich and unspoilt, with pristine and abundant soft coral and fish life in huge concentration.
Diving in and around Bunaken is mostly wall diving and drift diving, but also includes several beautiful coral slopes. We dive more than 50 different dive sites, most of them within the park. The variety of both fish and soft coral is outstanding, making this area one of the top places in the world with regards to biodiversity.
In September 2012 Dr. Gerry Allen and Dr. Mark Erdmann, did the first ever scientific survey in Bunaken National Park, the result was very interesting due the extremely high per-site diversity. In general any count of over 200 fish species on a single dive is considered a very high diversity site. Of the 9 sites surveyed, 6 were higher than 200 species and two of them broke 300 species (Tanjung Kelapa/Malcolm had 310 species and Sachiko’s had 301 species)!
To put this in perspective, in over 40 years’ of survey work around the Coral Triangle region, Gerry Allen has only documented three sites that have broken 300 species: Kayoa Island, Halmahera (303 species), Tanjung Papisoi in Kaimana, West Papua (330 species) and Cape Kri in Raja Ampat (374 species). So Tanjung Kelapa/Malcolm is now the 3rd richest fish site ever recorded, and Satchiko’s the 5th, (read the full report of the survey here)
Bunaken National Park consists of five islands: Bunaken, Manado Tua, Siladen, Montehage, and Nain, as well as a part of the North Sulawesi mainland.
Bunaken National Park yields excellent visibility and is a favorite location for some excellent drift dives where you can watch schools of coral fish in all shapes and sizes and colours, as you glide by the huge sea fans and impressive sponges. Schools of barracudas and jacks, green sea turtles and reef sharks, sea snakes and napoleon wrasses are among the resident inhabitants of these steep coral walls fringing the Islands. Diving in and around Bunaken is mostly, but not only, wall diving and drift diving, it includes several beautiful coral slopes.
Bunaken offers superb opportunities for both macro and wide angle photography, as well as underwater videography.
Manado Tua, the fascinating cone-shapeId volcanic island, features steep slopes on land covered with coconut palms and even steeper vertical drop-offs under water. Siladen Islands offers huge fields of hard coral in addition to their classic wall dives.
Here you find the prettiest and most pristine coral, as well as many nudibranches and other macro life. The impressive overhanging walls are a breathtaking experience to dive, packed as they are with life, whilst the shallows provide some of the best snorkelling. In the many indents, caves and outcroppings of the walls, you often find reef sharks and other big fish, making this a preferred area for deep diving.
Night diving on the mainland dive sites is a thrilling adventure with a whole new array of creatures rarely seen during daytime and beautiful colours when the tentacles of the coral are out at night to catch plankton – yet another world to explore!
Bunaken and Manado – Dive Sites’s Map
With visibility around 25m and water temperature 28-30 C, this is a world-favourite destination for underwater photographers and naturalists alike.
Snorkeling around the drop-offs of Bunaken makes for a nice break in between dives, or even for a whole day snorkelling trip, second to none.
The reef tops on these walls offer a huge diversity of soft coral and marine life, and an astonishing number of fish. The warm waters and the shallow depths on the reef tops make the snorkelling here very easy and relaxing. Disposable U/W cameras give good results in these clear bright waters.