Bunaken: Overwhelming Underwater World Sulawesi, Indonesia

A change of plans

Back from Tangkoko, we booked a flight to Ternate for the next day. Ternate is practically just a volcano sticking out of the ocean. Unfortunately for us, that volcano decided to spit out some big ash clouds the day we wanted to fly and all flights to Ternate were canceled indefinitely. Since nobody knew when Ternate airport would be re-opened (it was actually operating again the next day – very funny), we decided not to take our chances and booked the next available (and affordable) flight to Papua. The few days in between we decided to spend on Bunaken Island north of Manado.

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Small shop on Bunaken Island

Waiting for the boat

There’s a boat every afternoon at 3 p.m. or whenever the tide’s high enough for the boat to leave the harbor. If you can call the jetty between food stalls along the river a harbor. While waiting for the boat to depart, we ate the worst fried noodles ever and watched the garbage floating past in the river leading to the ocean. Oh, Indonesia.

The boat not only transports people but also lots of supplies, food, and drinking water for the island’s inhabitants and the many hotels. There’s no fresh water on the islands (which means showering and brushing your teeth with salty water), so every boat going to the islands is fully laden with fresh water. The whole hour long boat trip I was scared the old, wooden, overloaded boat would sink so I sat a close as possible to the four life jackets on board. Everything went well though (they do this trip every day…) and once on Bunaken we quickly found a nice bungalow at Daniel’s Homestay.

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On the boat

A coral reef on your doorstep

Bunaken is all about diving but most accommodations also rent out snorkeling equipment. Just in front of Daniel’s there’s a good place to snorkel with lots of corals and fish of all sizes and colors. We spent the days snorkeling, relaxing on the balcony, and, when there was electricity and therefore internet, planning the next few weeks. Just to change our plans all over again a few days later.

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Mangroves along the coast of Bunaken Island

We had a good time on Bunaken. It’s a great place (for non-divers as well) to spend a few days and enjoy the island life. And there’s nothing better than to hear the waves crash on the beach when you slowly drift off to sleep.

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