Bunaken National Marine Park Dive Sites
Ron’s Point or Happy Vomit
Cela – Cela
Lekuan III, II en I
The Manado Wreck
LUMBALUMBA House reefs
Popooh 1 & 2
“Muka” means ” in front of” and “Gereja” means “church”. Once you arrive at this site, it’s as clear as the water below why it got such a name. Muka Gereja is a beautiful wall dive with very little current and calm water. Therefore it is often your first dive in the park. What can you expect at Muka Gereja? A steep wall with lots of caverns and overhanging cliffs. There are huge barrel sponges, mysterious shallow caverns and rich coral growth. One of the best observations was an immense school of striped catfish, so big and so dense that most of the divers thought it was a huge whale! Visibility is good to excellent and as said earlier, current is most of the time mild. The magnificent view of Manado Tua’s 800 meters high volcano gives this site an extra dimension.
Negeri follows Muka Gereja eastwards. Currents can be stronger than on Muka Gereja, but it depends strongly on the wind direction. Whether we go to Muka Gereja or Negeri, it is simply a matter of where the leeward side is. Again, this is a real quality site, with fantastic coral growth. For some unknown reason we hardly ever see a shark here, but other fish are as abundant as everywhere. At one particular point there is a carpet of anemones, found at a very shallow depth. Visibility average is 20-25 meters and is good for snorkeling too.
“Tanjung” means “cape” and “Kopi” is “coffee”. So we’re talking cape coffee here – and it can be strong coffee! As easy going as Muka Gereja and Negeri are with current, so challenging can be Tanjung Kopi. We normally do not take beginners here and especially not on your first day. In spite the current, it is a great dive site. Due to the current, the chance on spectacular marine encounters are BIG. There is never a guarantee, but big schools of jacks, barracuda and tuna are more usually seen than not. Sharks, turtles and rays will all show you how you really should behave in serious current. Sometimes there is no current and then it is just like the average cover photo of a dive magazine. Very tempting….
“There you go” Mike, “a real dive spot with your name”.
Named after the world famous underwater photographer, Mike Severns. Mike has spent so much time at this excellent wall, that the dive guides eventually named it after him. Big pelagics, soft coral, large gorgonians, bump head parrot fish and Napoleon wrasse are likely to be seen. Current can be pretty strong, depending on tides but usually it is a mild flow that leads you effortlessly alongside the steep wall.
This is where you probably will end up if strong current brings you south from Mike’s Point. No need to be disappointed though, as Raymond is a beautiful wall with good hard and soft coral. Lots of current-loving whip tail corals and the fish life is rich, including big pelagic species. At one point there is a large and sloping sand patch where several stingray like to rest .Great spot and the winds’ direction often makes us decide to dive here.
Tengah means “in the middle”, which refers to the middle of the west side of Bunaken island. In between tides, it is a relaxed dive and “you decide where you go”, but if the tides take over, don’t fight it, just fly with it. Don’t be surprised if you end up one kilometer further and prepare yourself for encounters with rays, turtles, Napoleons and an occasional shark.
The reason why it’s named after a music instrument, is because of the harmony you will find at this dive site. Some say it is better at the top, some say it is better in the middle, and others say it is best at 30-35 meters. All these different opinions have one thing in common; no matter where you dive at Mandolin, it’s spectacular! Turtles, sharks, eagle ray, large schools of fusilier, Napoleon wrasse, anemones, moray eel and huge Acropora “table” coral You name it – all have been seen here! Current is usually mild and visibility varies from 15 to 35 meters. Although mainly a steep wall, there are a few more sloping parts. Very good for snorkeling as well.
For most people it’s Ron’s point, but no one has any idea where this name originates from. For us it’s “Happy Vomit” and we are quite willing to tell you why, if you pay us a visit!
Happy Vomit lies exactly on a spot where two currents comes together. It is not for beginners and there are no guarantees, but there are moments at this site when everything comes together at the same time. Normally it is one guest with one guide that goes down and simply waits. Just wait and see what is going to pass you by in the current. Huge jacks, tuna, plenty of sharks and rays have all been seen. It’s not for everybody, but it can be a nice change……………
Named after a Japanese diver who dived this site 20 years ago and wrote an article about it. Fukui is very different than the rest of Bunaken’s dive sites, as it is actually the only dive site with a gentle slope. It is not just sloping, there are a few short steep drops , but all together, Fukui is a good start for a first dive. It is also a so called “cleaning station”, which means that all kinds of big fish have themselves cleaned while they take a rest. It is a perfect place to observe Napoleon wrasse, barracuda, Jacks and big snapper. A more sandy part of Fukui is home to a colony of garden eels. Spectacular but rare sightings have been thresher shark and a huge ocean sunfish. At a depth of about 17 meters, there are 5 big “Tridacna” giant clams lying in a row. Fukui normally has a very mild current that can occasionally be a bit stronger. Average visibility is 20-25 meters.
“Alung Banua” is the name of the friendly village and oposite the village is a wall, which has a lot of value for macro photographers. Although turtles are quite common and eagle rays are no rare sighting, you really should try to concentrate on the ” masters of camouflage”. Crocodile flat head, leaf fish, ghost pipe fish and frog fish are often observed here. The person who writes this is still bit embarressed that he missed this “robust ghost-pipe fish” (Solenostomus paegnius) and Renee Sutter from Turicum didn’t, but anyway, It was there! If the current (if there is any) brings you east, you will probably see, at a depth of between 18 and 25 meters, a beautiful collection of shallow caves. In this case it is better to have your wide-angle lens with you as well, as the sighting of it is also makes for a beautiful panorama. By the way, sleeping white tip sharks can be there, so keep an eye out for them too. As said, currents are usually mild and visibility range 15-25 meters.
This site borders a conservation zone. A zone where we are not allowed to dive.That is not very difficult to obey, as at Cela Cela there is hardly ever any current. No fear of drifting into forbidden areas.
It starts with a sandy slope. Resting white tip sharks can be expected while you descend and after the slope, the landscape changes into a capricious wall with lots of interesting corners and mysterious niches. Good site to observe resting barracuda and it is one of the few places where an “ocean sunfish” (mola-mola) has been seen. Cela Cela has a mooring and we often have our lunch there.
Lekuan 3 is the first (or the last depends from what side you start counting) of a fascinating stretch of wall. It is so long that is has been divided into three parts, but our opinion is that it could have been easily 7 or 8 parts.This absolute”world class” dive spot has all the ingredients that also make up the park; Big pelagics as tuna, jacks and sharks at Lekuan 1. Turtles, rays and Napoleon wrasse at Lekuan 2. Huge schools of bat fish and midnight snapper at lekuan 3. Butterfly fishes, fusiliers, sweet lips, angelfishes, basslets, you name it – it is there. Overhanging cliffs, caverns, niches and all covered richly with corals, anemones, sea fans, feather stars and sponges.
Great snorkeling also at the reef flat, with lots of macro stuff. Lekuan 3 and 2 are normally mild with currents, but Lekuan 1 can at times be a real challenge.
It’s meaning: “short coconut trees” and refers to a row of, indeed, short coconut trees. Oh boy, where do we get our names from………. 🙂
Steep drop off and current often lesser than at Lekuan 1 and Muka Kampung. Very richly grown with fans and corals. It is Maria’s favorite dive site. Very sweet encounters are the small groups of the eagle rays that seem to like it here.
Located opposite the village of Bunaken. A steep drop off with a sandy sloping path on the tip of the reef corner, where we often observe eagle ray, stingray and thousands of butterfly fish. Even from the surface, currents are visible and Muka Kampung normally ends up as a good old fashioned drift dive. Traditionally, Muka Kampung is the entrance to the village of Bunaken. Until now, strait over the reef flat.
There are advanced plans for the construction of a permanent landing jetty, (thanks to the park entrance fee!) so further damage in the future will be prevented. Visibility varies from 15 to 30 meters.
Pangalisan has often some of the current leftovers from Muka Kampung.Visibility, however, is more
stable. The shallow reef flat and the steep wall offer excellent macro life, but also bigger things can be expected. Dugongs or sea cows, the only vegetarian sea mammal, and dangerously close to extinction, are sometimes spotted here. It is not clear where these individuals come from. It is a fact that Arakan, at the southern part of the park, is home for a more or less, a steady group of 75 dugongs. They do swim long stretches and it is possible that the ones we sometimes see, come from there.
Simply means “East Bunaken”. This site is the whole reef section between “Pangalisan” and “Sachiko’s Point”. It could have had at least 4 different names, as it is a very long reef and it is impossible for you to see it all in only one dive. During strong west winds, or when storms suddenly turn up, “Bunaken Timur” can be the only place to dive, as it is on the safe lee ward side of the island. Current is mostly mild, and it is good for snorkeling. What sometimes happens is that we get caught up in between two currents. No problem, just let yourself drift with it while slowly ascending until the current is finished. Very rich on coral growth. Deeper you have good chances on sharks and rays. Great to dive out on the edge of the reef flat and the wall. In between, a never ending movie of Bunakens’ fish charm.
Named after a Japanese tour operator who decided that this site was her favorite. You’ll know why once you’ve dived at this spectacular wall. There is usually some current, but it is likely to bring in the bigger ones. When you go around the “corner” there can be a bit of a chilly up welling, but at 25 degrees we think its still bearable. Common sightings are black and white tip shark, large tuna, jacks, turtles and rays. Hard coral growth is rich and soft coral growth is excellent. Exciting encounters with sea snakes are not rare, especially at shallower depths. It is the only site (so far) where on several occasions we have spotted hammer head sharks. Visibility varies from 20 to 35 meters, depending on the tides. Also good snorkeling.
Siladen is one of the smaller islands of the park. It offers good snorkeling at the south side and good diving all around. Siladen point starts on the south side and begins with a steep wall. Because the reef flat is not so wide here, we can come real close to the beach, which gives this site an extra dimension. Currents are usually mild, but incidentally can be quite strong. Rich on corals and good macro life at shallower depths.
Is an interesting site and Siladen on the north side. Where most other sites have their shallow reef flat that falls dry with low tide, Spaghetti Crossing has a “flat” at 20 meters. In the middle there is a channel that shows you that there must be regular strong currents. After the flat, there is a regular wall.
We call it Spaghetti Crossing as it’s not always clear were to go; stay on the flat, or go to the wall…..Sometimes we have no choice, and let the current decide. We have had a number of excellent dives at Spaghetti Crossing, but it can be a bit choppy on the surface. If the swell allows it, it is definitely worth to check it out.
Marine life to be expected varies from turtles, mantas and Sharks, to frog fish, stone fish and blue ringed octopus (yes!). Good hard and soft coral, but because of the depth, not suitable for snorkeling.
A “Pisok” is swallow and refers to the amount of swallows that like to pick up insects at dusk and dawn at this site.
Tanjung Pisok is a spawning site for groupers. It is not very likely for you to observe that, as this happens only rarely, but several studies have confirmed that groupers have chosen this area to reproduce.
Until 20 meters depth it is a slope with large pipe corals and after that a wall dropping in steps. There are sandy patches with blue ribbon eels and there is a chance of seeing larger groupers, but also parrot fishes, Napoleons and eagle rays.Current can be intensely strong.
Nobody is quite sure and no records exist anymore about this once proud merchandiser. Some say it is German, others say it is Dutch. We like to stick with that last opinion.
It is for sure that she sunk in WW II and that there is 60 meters of spectacular dive adventure!. The wreck lies on a slope, with the bow up, starting at 22 meters and the intact twin propellers stop at exactly 40 meters, with high tide.
After so many years, her superstructure can not be trusted anymore, so no penetrations. But don’t get discouraged, there is enough to see without entering!
Nudi branches, leaf fishes, sometimes a resting white tip shark, bat fish, groupers, sweet lips, black coral, soft corals, it’s all there.
The visibility is not always too good. A river flows out close by and can bring sediments in. Less than 10 meters visibility is rare.
One time diving the wreck, 8 huge manta rays circled it as if to say, “he guys, lost something?”
Because of the depth, it is not a beginners dive. Also because of the depth, most divers run out of no deco time before they run out of air. We do not allow deco-dives, so after the wreck we slowly swim out to shallower parts on the reefs nearby and finish our dive there.
Although not in the park, reefs are found everywhere and we have them also in front of our jetty and nearby vicinity. All third dives are made on these reefs and the night dives as well. You can also decide to make all your dives of the day here.
In general, the quality of the hard corals are a bit less, but it is heaven for photographers. Particularly macro photographers.
We have seen the mimic octopus, blue ringed octopus, various species of ghost pipefish, mantis shrimp, mandarin Fish, frog fish, leaf fish, countless nudibranches. Also big pelagics as mantas and even Marlin! We have discovered sites with names such as 45 Bananas, Circus Critter and Sponge Garden. We still explore this area and every time find new worthwhile sites.
It is a good alternative if you have had enough of the walls for a day, or when you do not want to spend the whole day on the boat. Snorkeling is possible too, but you should not be a beginner.
Popooh is where we enter the southern part of the park. Interesting sites with lots of soft coral and good macro stuff. It is also one of the places were most probably we can show you pygmy seahorses.
In general the current is strong when the tides change, but in between, it is nice and calm. Snorkeling is possible too.
The whole southern part of the park still needs a lot more exploration. Until now all was focused on and around Bunaken. However, the first few dives at Arakan showed definitely potential for this area too. We also invite you to come explore with us.