Bunaken National Marine Park is located off the west coast of North Sulawesi Indonesia, surrounding Bunaken Island which is 18km from Manado, the capital city of North Sulawesi. The area was declared a National Marine Park in 1991, covering an area of 890.65 square kilometers. Other islands within the Bunaken National Marine Park include Mando Tua (an inactive volcano island), Mantehage Island, Nain Island and Siladen Island.
The waters are deep around Bunaken Marine Park, with the deepest around 2000 meters. Most of the dive sites are wall dives off the islands in the park. The reefs start close to the island and slope down and then a dramatic wall straight down which can go down to 80 meters, then a slope and then a further drop to the very deep bottom. When scuba diving make sure all your equipment are secured as you don't want to drop your camera as it will be lost to the depth.
There are more than 40 dive sites, most around the many islands and some along the coast of the mainland of North Sulawesi. Read more about Scuba Diving in Bunaken Marine Park
Bunaken is also known for strong, changing current so lots of drift diving is done along the walls. There are also strong up and down currents. The down currents are the most dangerous as they can drag you down 5 or more meters in a few seconds. If caught in a down current, inflat your BCD and kick down and try to swim side ways. The down currents are usually only 10 or 20 meters across so you can swim out of them.
The water is most calm, with only mild currents in March, April and May. The strongest currents can occur in the peak tourist season of July and August.
Marine life in Bunaken National Marine Park
The marine park has an incredibly diverse marine ecosystem with 70% of the known fish species of Indonesia living in this area. There are over 390 species of coral.
Some of the most beautiful and interesting marine creatures found in Bunaken National Marine Park include the Green turtle, reef sharks, Eagle Rays, Kuhl's Stingrays, Flamboyant Cuttlefish (which changes colours when excited or threatened), the Harlequin Shrimp, the Harlequin Crab, Red Tooth Trigger fish, Blue ring octopus, Orangutan Crab, Madarin Fish, a variety of moral eels, garden eels and a large variety of the most amazing Nudibranches.
7 of the 8 species of giant clams that occur in the world live in the Bunaken National Marine Park.
Dolphins in Bunaken National Marine Park
You can also do boat trips out to see the Bottlenose Dolphins in Bunaken National Marine Park. Sometimes there are pods of over 100 bottle nose dolphins feeding in the open sea around 1 hours boat ride north of Bunaken Island. The boats leave at 6am and then motor around in the open sea for around 30 minutes searching for where the dolphins are having their breakfast (usually eating small tuna). You can get off the boat and snorkel around the see the dolphins underwater. There is no guarantee that you will see the dolphins. I have been out once and we didn't see the dolphins. It just depends where the schools of fish are that they like to eat in the morning.
As well as the Bottlenose Dolphins, sometimes you will also see some Pilot Whales feeding in the same area as the Bottlenose Dolphins.
PADI Dive centres
There are quite a few certified PADI Dive centres which offer scuba diving boat trips into the Bunaken National Marine Park.
Cocotinos Boutique Resort is located 1 hour north of Manado, located on the Sulawesi mainland, their PADI dive center Odyssea Divers arrange boat trips. It takes around 25 minutes by boat from Cocotinos to the north coast of Bunaken island or 45 minutes to the south coast of Bunaken island.
Bastinos Dive Resort is located on the southern coast of Bunaken island, a qualified PADI dive resort.
More Information on the Marine Life in Bunaken National Marine Park
Click on any of the pics below to read more about these marine creatures that live with the Bunaken Marine Park