Diving in Manado
Bunaken Island National Marine Park
The Manado dive area is among the highlights of Indonesia scuba diving and has earned plaudits throughout the world. When you're scuba diving in Bunaken National Marine Park you'll witness some of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world, with outstanding fish variety and world-class wall diving. The clear, warm waters contain astonishingly high numbers of species, whether corals, sponges or fish.
Dive in the deep waters of Bunaken from your choice of dive resort and you can see 7 times more genera of coral than Hawaii, 33 species of butterflyfish and over 70% of all fish species known to the Indo-western Pacific.
Oceanic currents sweep past Bunaken Island bringing a steady supply of nutrients. It's a sure certainty that where there is plenty of food in the sea, there will be an abundance of marine life, and you can be here to witness this rich harvest too. From the smallest commensal shrimp to black tip reef sharks and eagle rays, there is something for everyone in this very special dive destination.
Manado diving in Bunaken is very popular with fun divers and marine biologists both of whom can take great pleasure from the diversity of coral and fish found here. You will surely encounter marine life here that you have not come across elsewhere.
The most notable recent find within the park was in 1997, when the coelacanth was discovered living in the lava tubes of Manado Tua. This 'living fossil' fish brought international media attention to Bunaken Island. Unusual mammals that can be seen include dugongs, which feed on the sea grass beds in the south of the park, and sperm whales, which travel through the area on their way to calve in the Sangihe Archipelago.
The Bunaken National Marine Park is located just out of Manado Bay in the Sulawesi Sea, off the northern tip of Sulawesi, and features some 2 dozen diving sites spread across an area of 75,000 hectares and the 5 islands of Bunaken, Siladen, Manado Tua, Montehage and Nain.
Dive Site Descriptions
Lekuan I, II and III: Often referred to as 3 different dives sites, this area is one of those sites that typify why Bunaken scuba diving is such a dream for many divers. Excellent as a day or night dive, this site has some of the superb, healthy and varied coral that makes diving Manado truly memorable and against this colourful backdrop you can see turtles, Napoleon wrasse, tuna and plenty more.
Black Rock: Also known as DJ Point, this site offers a break from Bunaken's trademark wall dives. Instead you need to poke around a series of rocky patches to uncover this Manado dive site's underwater marvels. With a little patience you can spot all manner of macro delights including cuttlefish, leaf fish, pipefish, commensal shrimps and candy crabs.
Celah Celah: This site is a favourite site for photographers diving Bunaken, thanks to the sheer, fissured wall from which sprout innumerable fans and sponges in a range of bright colours. Sunlight beams down in shafts through the deep fissures adding interesting light to the vibrant scene. Look out for pygmy seahorses and ghost pipefish plus a wide range of nudibranchs. Occasional glances over your shoulder into the blue can allow for sightings of dogtooth tuna, eagle rays and blacktip sharks.
How to Dive Bunaken
There are a lot of dive resorts around the area of a variety of standards and not all are very good value for money. We recommend only those professional, well managed resorts that have high quality boats and dive staff, both on the Manado mainland and Bunaken Island itself.
If you have time it really is worth seeing more of the North Sulawesi region. Consider adding a few days stay in the Lembeh Strait where you can enjoy the best macro diving and critters in the world. Lembeh is really a must for any divers visiting the area.
Got a question?
Have a look through our Frequently asked questions
You can enjoy Bunaken Island diving all year round but overall the best season for dive conditions is from March to October. November to late-February sometimes sees winds and rains so surface conditions can be occasionally rough with 1 or 2 metre swells at that time. Litter washed up from the mainland can also be a problem in rainy season too.
Water temperature (27-30°C) and visibility (20 - 35m) are pretty constant all year round.
Sperm whales migrate through the region to calf in the Sangihe region in March and August.
Good for: Small animals, wall dives, underwater photography, drift diving, reef life and health, dive value-for-money and advanced divers
Not so good for: Wrecks and non-diving activities
Depth: 5 - >40m
Visibility: 20 - 35m
Currents: Normally gentle but can be strong
Surface conditions: Calm
Water temperature: 27 - 30°C
Experience level: Beginner - advanced
Number of dive sites: ~50
Distance: 18 km north of Manado Bay (40 mins)
Access: Bunaken and Manado dive resorts
Recommended length of stay: 7 - 10 days
Dive Site Descriptions
For more on the detailed Bunaken diving sites:
• Manado travel information
View a map of:
• Sulawesi - Indonesia
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