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Ever fancy yourself being a mermaid? Being able to swim along with other creatures of the sea , moving to the rhythm of the waves? In the Bunaken Marine Park, you will encounter a real “mermaid”, and you can also get a glimpse of sea life here.
Bunaken is an 8.08 km² island in the Bay of Manado, situated in the north of the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia. Bunaken forms part of the administrative city of Manado , capital of North Sulawesi. The marine Park around Bunaken is part of the National Park that also includes the ocean around the island of Manado Tua – or Old Manado, Siladen and Mantehage.
Within the Bunaken Marine Park, visitors can see various strange and colourful marine life along its sea bed. To reach this park, you can take a motorboat. The journey from Manado takes around 40 minutes. Entrance fee is 25,000 rupiahs per person per visit.
The translucent waters of the Bunaken seas enable people to clearly view numerous sea biota. There are 13 species of coral reefs in this park, dominated by edge ridges and block ridges of rocks. The most attractive view is the steep vertical sloppy coral reef that plunges down as deep as 25-50 meters.
Feast your eyes on 91 types of fish found in the Bunaken National Park, amongst which are the locally known gusimi horse fish (Hippocampus), the white oci (Seriola rivoliana), yellow-tailed lolosi (Lutjanus kasmira), goropa (Ephinephelus spilotoceps and Pseudanthias hypselosoma), ila gasi (Scolopsis bilineatus) and others.
Divers may also meet mollusk like the giant kima (Tridacna gigas), goat head (Cassis cornuta), nautilus (Nautilus pompillius) and tunikates/ascidian.
For those who enjoy scuba diving, this is a great place to be. With about 20 dive spots to choose from, divers will have the chance to swim below the sea, and frolic joyfully while admiring the sea creatures.
Make sure to visit Bunaken during its best season between May to August. That way you can explore the Park to its fullest.
To observe some of the fascinating images of Bunaken Marine Park, you can visit our photo essay: Bunaken&Derawan Underwater Paradise
Similarly stunning are the sceneries of Kalasey seas,at the outskirt of Manado in: The Deep Water Paradise of Kalasey Seas off Manado
Watch the video about Bunaken:
Entrance tags and tickets can be purchased through marine tourism operators based in Manado and in the Bunaken National Park, or can be purchased from one of three ticket counters in Bunaken and Liang villages on the islands of Bunaken and Siladen .
You should be aware that during the absolute peak season months of July and August it usually gets VERY crowded. Many of the better resorts and dive operators will not be able to accept walk-ins during that time since they are already fully booked. Better make a reservation beforehand.
Try to hire equipment from larger firms as these are more reliable, but remember: the responsibility of checking the equipment is ultimately with yourself.
If you're the more adventurous type, you can try diving in Raja Ampat and Wayag Island. In Papua.
You can also explore the island on foot or you can take a boat to move from one dive site to the other Just walking around the beach is already a most enjoyable experience.
The island of Bunaken is easily reached from Manado by motorized boat, departing from Manado harbor, Molas, Kalasey and Tasik Ria beach. Ferries from Manado to Bunaken leave daily around 2 p.m (depending on the tide), except on Sundays, when they leave from Pasar Jengki near the Manado harbor. The return journey from Bunaken to Manado usually leaves early in the morning, at around 7-8 a.m
There are also charter boats that depart in the morning and return in the late afternoon. These are usually reserved for travel packages organized by agents or hotels.