Taking a week long break at the Kima Bajo Resort in North Sulawesi, turned out to be a great idea. The resort is definitely something to write home about with luxurious villas, sumptuous dining and a cocktail bar next to an infinity-edge pool with glorious views over the ocean. Situated on its own private beach, it made a top-notch dive break for soothing away ones worries in comfort and style, while being superbly placed to take in the more than 22 Manado dive sites around Bunaken Marine Park.
We were often the only boat diving these remote sites. Incredibly healthy corals are easily visible in the clear waters surrounding the islands. An amazing variety of marine life thrives in the often strong currents. Steep walls are covered in gorgonian fans with hidden seahorses, an inquisitive Napoleon wrasse swim right up to you and eagle rays dance in the blue.
The serenity of an exclusive getaway, warm sea and sheer volume of creature sightings made this vacation totally memorable.
The diving is managed by Eco Divers who go the extra mile by rinsing your gear at the diving centre located inside the resort. 3 modern dive boats carry 8 guests each and the double outboard motors get you diving within 30 minutes of embarking. On the occasional rainy day the hot drinks and snacks served in the onboard indoor saloons are a welcome relief.
Diving the 5 islands in Bunaken was glorious with visibility of between 20 and 30m. Sunlight penetrated to 15m allowing the underwater photographers in the group to take great photos of the coral covered steep walls at Depan Kampung. A drift dive at Bunaken Timur was thrilling as we were accompanied by barracuda and white tip sharks.
The lasting impression from my stay at Kima Bajo is of the professionalism and warmth of the staff. They all contributed to making my holiday truly relaxing.
When not diving you can either do a land trip to see the sights in Manado, or take advantage of the facilities at the resort. Their spa offers everything from massages to yoga classes. Most satisfying for me was soaking in the jacuzzi while re-living my Manado diving experiences. The other alternative is to tan by the pool overlooking the beach. Watching the sun set while enjoying free hot drinks and snacks at the Bunaken Sunset Bar make a great end to a perfect day.
The Nibong Restaurant provides buffet style breakfast, lunch and supper. I never had the same meal twice as the chef prepares a varied menu of Indonesian and Mediterranean dishes. Being Italian I had to have pasta and I'm pleased to say the Pasta Carbonara was cooked to perfection. Tasty Indonesian specialities like Ikan Masak Woku and Nasi Goreng were served with many vegetarian options and a generous supply of fresh fruit and salad at each meal. I always tumbled into bed after dinner feeling totally satiated.
The private wooden balcony of my luxury villa had a magnificent view over the meticulously cared-for lawns to the dive centre framed against the ocean. I was extremely lucky to get such a good villa as not all of them have seaviews, so my advice is to book early. Despite being 'far from the madding crowd' the rooms have all the amenities one would expect: hot water showers, air conditioning, Wi-Fi and satellite TV.
Getting to Indonesia via Jakarta and then hopping on a domestic flight to Manado seemed like a good plan at the time, but the other guests had all caught a Silk Air flight from Singapore, which turned out to be a better choice.
The comfort and luxury at the Kima Bajo Resort combined with the professional diving services from Eco Divers is a recipe for a great Manado scuba diving holiday.
Escaping to the magical underwater coral landscapes at Bunaken National Park to soar alongside turtles only to be swamped in a school of bright yellow fusiliers definitely gets a thumbs up from me. And in this instance it doesn't mean the dive is over, but that it's only just beginning!
Read the full version by Ricardo Rossi: 'Unmissable Diving at Kima Bajo Resort'.