A small paradise for divers. More than 3000 species of fish and 300 types of coral. The island is part of the Bunaken Madano Tua Marine National Park. There is not much to do around on the island so don’t make a stop if you are not keen on snorkeling or diving. The beauty is under the sea (and sorry we don’t have pictures from there).
Connections from Bunaken
Discover the amazing Tana Toraja around Rantepao (you can fly from Manado to Makassar and then take a bus or if you are not in a hurry take a car/bus to cross Sulawesi island).
You can also go to the Togean islands (complex trip due to the boats schedule but worth it for more diving and beaches).
Getting from Singapore to Manado
Fly from Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) to Manado (MDC)
Silkair does not fly everyday to Manado so you may need to fly back on a Monday. A good option could be to fly there on a Wednesday and come back on a Monday. This means you need to take 3 days off.
Getting there: Silk Air: 9:25 AM – 1:05 PM (3h40 flight)
Coming back: Silk Air: 1:50PM – 5:05 PM
Return ticket from SGD 440.
Get your ticket NOW to enjoy the best fares. Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flight.
Getting from Manado airport to the city
The Airport is located 13 km from the city center of Manado.You will need to get from the airport to the harbor.
You have several options to get from the airport to the city/harbor:
- Mikrolet (public transport like a mini van): you can take a Mikrolet to the Terminal Paal 2 (it’s the main mikrolet terminal), 3500 Rp. Once there, you can take another mikrolet heading to the city (around 2300 Rp), to Pasar 45 or the harbor for instance. Ask around if you are not sure which Mikrolet to take. It might be a bit challenging if you have your diving equipment with you.
- Fixed price taxi: IDR 85,000 to get you from the airport to anywhere in the city.
Then, you will need to get from the Manado harbor to your resort on Bunaken Island. If you use a public or chartered boat you will have to walk from the pier to the resort (which can be OK if the weather is OK and you do not have heavy bags but can really be a pain if it’s raining or if you are carrying heavy stuff).
- Resort boat: the easiest way is to ask your resort to arrange one for you (for about SGD10 per pax per way). The good news is that the boat will take you directly to your resort (you will not have to walk from the pier to the resort).
- Chartered boat: You can find a boat on the harbour (for about SGD 25 for the whole boat if it is small). It’s a good idea to bargain and to find people who want to cross together with you. The crossing will take you less than 30 minutes.
- Public boat: IDR 50,000, 1 hour, every day expect Sunday, From Manado to Bunaken at 3PM. From Bunaken to Manado at around 7 or 8AM (ask when you get there).
Where to stay in Bunaken?
Most resorts are located on Pantai Pangalisang. The beach itself is not nice as it’s mainly covered with mangrove. However, swim a few meters and snorkel there. You don’t need a boat, just take your mask and scuba and go say hi to the thousands of fishes living there lives. It’s simply amazing. You will also find some resorts on Pantai Liang.
Most resorts, if not all, offer full board pension (3 meals a day). So take this into consideration when you look at the price. Prices are quite high there as many tourists come directly from Australia, Europe or the US to dive. The price tags follow them. Still, there are a few cheaper options owned by Indonesians, where some Indonesian families stay. There is no 5-star luxury hotel on the small island but still some decent places to stay if you want to pamper yourself). When you book your accommodation, remember that you will very likely dive with the resort and also eat their food 3 times a day. So, yes, rooms and service are important factors, but you also need to look at the diving and food. Use the Agoda box below to book your trip now. Don’t wait until the best rooms are sold out.
Or book your tickets with
To see & to do in Bunaken
Snorkeling and diving
That’s the main (and only?) interest of Bunaken. The corals and fishes are really amazing. You will also see turtles. Whether you are snorkeling only, a first time diver or an experienced diver, you will be impressed by the richness of the life under the sea. As the site offers everything from a 1 or 2 meter depth into very deep sea just a few meters from the shores, it makes it a very good site for all levels. There are many dive sites. Ask your resort to recommend the best for what you want to see.
Walk around the island
The island itself is nothing extraordinary and some places are covered with garbage. However, there are some houses and a small village that are nice. You can walk around to get an idea.
There are a few interesting places to see around Manado if you have time on your way there. If you have a few more days, you can visit quiet Tomohon and climb up the Lokon volcano (but check if it’s not too active as it’s often close to tourists)
More info to prepare your trip
Internet access in not available in most resorts.
What to pack for Bunaken
Your main bag
That’s the one you leave at the hotel. Ideally you want to avoid checking in your luggage when flying. So check the weight and dimensions for hand carry luggage with your airlines (some airlines will allow only 7kg, some will allow up to 10kg). From head to toes.
- Short sleeves tops: your main outfit. Everybody will see them on all your pictures. You really want to take that old Mickey Mouse T-shirt? Be mindful that you will be in a different environment so it might be a good idea to adjust your wardrobe.
- Long sleeves tops: to protect yourself from the sun (if you’ve stayed for 5 hours on a motorbike with short sleeves you know what I mean) or to enter religious buildings or to protect yourself from mosquitoes in the evening.
- Pullover. Yes I know, you’re going to a country where the temperature never goes down below 25 degrees and you need to pack a pullover? You will thank us when you’re back. Remember that flight during which you were freezing? Or this museum where the aircon is set to the “polar bear” temperature?
- Short/skirt (you should be able to chose the appropriate one by yourself).
- Trousers for the same reasons you need to take long sleeves tops. Jeans are usually not a good option. They are heavy and keep you too warm.
- Underwear: well, you know. If you plan to walk or ride motorbikes for long hours, take something comfortable as the combination heat + friction can make you regret this sophisticated silk underwear. Cotton is good.
- Shoes: one pair of flip flap and one pair of confortable shoes. Remember that you are going to spend most of the time on your feet. Forget about high heels and leave your Westons at home.
- Swimsuit: even if you don’t plan to go to the beach, you never know. A nice river, a swimming pool, a heavy rain? Always have one with you.
- Raincoat and protection for your bag. Even if you are visiting the country during the “best season”, you never know what the sky will be like.
- Torch: take a pocket torch with you if you visit countries where the power is not reliable… Can come very handy when stuck in the dark in your room.
- Toilet bag: Shampoo, soap, toothbrush & toothpath, deodorant, sun screen, tiger balm. Ideally, all these in miniature formats.
- Sleeping bag liner (if you plan to stay in very cheap or dirty places, not required if you are staying in a 5-star hotel…)
- Your IT stuff: iPad, eBook, laptop, chargers, memory card, batteries, etc.
- Dryer sheets: they will help keep a fresh smell in your bag.
Your small bag
That’s the one you keep with you, all the time. Hence, a backpack is the best option.
- Your passport, cash, credit cards and other life saving items like your insurance card with emergency contact details. Not a bad idea to put them in a zip-lock bag in case it rains. It will keep your documents dry.
- Your driver’s licence if you plan to rent a car or a motorbike (some countries are quite particular about this so take it with you in case you are not sure, even for a motorbike rental).
- Your emergency medical kit: painkillers, mosquitoes repellent, dressing/plaster, disinfectant, anti diarrhea, eyewash
- Tissues and toilet paper (you will thank me later). Remember that in a lot of countries, you will not be provided napkins when having a meal.
- Water – plastic bottles are a good option as they are lighter than a gourd/flask.
- Biscuits (always buy some before you go when you are not sure what you will find. Always have “emergency” biscuit and water in case you cannot find food around and need to recharge batteries)
- Sunglasses: you’ll need them. Take them even if it’s raining. Weather can change very fast in the region.
- Scarf (krama, or any kind of fabric that you can use to put around your neck, put on your head to protect it from the sun, cover your shoulders in temples, dry your sweat, etc). Can come very handy in some situation. It will not stay clean for long so it’s wise to pick a dark color…
- Camera and its protection.
Remember that this one comes on top of the Regular pack (above)
- Beach towel or equivalent (pareos / sarongs are lighter)
- Snorkeling equipment: mask, scuba, (fins?)
- Shoes you can wear on the beach or in the water (to protect your feet from being cut by corals)
- Dry bag if you plan to go on a boat and want to keep your stuff dry.
Well, you will probably adjust your bag after a few trips. Remove the stuff that you have not used and add the one that you missed. Post a comment to share your tips!
Happy packing (it’s the worse part of the trip but it’s worth it…) and travelling!
- Language: Bahasa Indonesian
- Time zone: Jakarta, Sulawesi: GMT + 7, 1h ahead of Singapore;
Bali has no time difference with Singapore
- Currency: Indonesian Rupiah (IDR)
- Phone: + 62
- Electricity: 220V 50 Hz
Immigration and airport taxes on arrival
- If you are eligible you will need to pay for a visa on arrival. The price is USD 25 or the equivalent in other currencies. It is valid for 30 days. Check as it may vary (some airports charge 22 EUR, some others 25 EUR).
- If you travel to Bintan, Batam, or Karimun, you can get a 7 day Visa on Arrival for USD 10.
- On busy weekends, expect to wait for quite a while at the immigration counter.
- Make sure your notes are perfectly clean and without any note or stain. USD bills must be from 2003 or more recent. Coins are not accepted. Change (if any) is given in Ruppiah.
- On departure, you will need to pay the airport fees. These fees are not included in your tickets when you book your trip (hence the price difference between the inbound and outbound flights to Indonesia). They vary from one airport to the other. They are usually around IDR 150,000 per person. You need to pay these in Rupiah
National Public Holidays in Indonesia
|Thursday||January 01||New Years Day|
|Saturday||January 03||Maulidur Rasul|
|Thursday||February 19||Chinese New Year|
|Saturday||March 21||Hari Raya Nyepi|
|Friday||April 03||Good Friday|
|Friday||May 01||Labour Day|
|Thursday||May 14||Ascension Day|
|Saturday||May 16||Isra Miraj|
|Tuesday||June 02||Waisak Day|
|Thursday||July 16||Cuti Bersama|
|Friday||July 17||Hari Raya Puasa|
|Saturday||July 18||Hari Raya Puasa|
|Monday||July 20||Cuti Bersama|
|Tuesday||July 21||Cuti Bersama|
|Monday||August 17||Independence Day|
|Thursday||September 24||Idul Adha|
|Thursday||December 24||Cuti Bersama|
|Friday||December 25||Christmas Day|
* check the exact date as it varies from one year to another, check this website for other years.When Public Holidays falls on a Sunday, the following day will be Public Holiday.