Bunaken – A Marine Paradise on Earth

Bunaken Marine Park is considered as one of the best places in the world for diving and snorkeling. Located just offshore the North Sulawesi capital of Manado, Bunaken offers untouched beauty of nature. It was first established as a national marine park in 1991 and it covers an area of 89,605 hectares. It is one of the most beautiful places that I have ever visited in my lives.

There are a couple of ways to enjoy the diving experience at Bunaken.

* First option, you can stay in Manado and take a boat in the morning to the nearby islands to start your diving trip.
* Your second option is to actually stay in one the five islands around Manado and enjoy the ultimate diving experience as soon as you get up from your bed.

It does not matter which options you choose, you will be inspired by the beauty of Bunaken.

During my visit, I decided to stay in Manado because I wanted to explore the other attractions of North Sulawesi. I stayed at Ritzy hotel, located 10 minutes walk from the harbor. The hotel is one of the upscale hotels in Manado. As soon as I arrived, I visited the mainland attractions, such as Lake Tondano, located in the Minahasa highland. Lake Tondano offers a serene environment deep in the mountains. I had the luxury of hiring a guide for all of our trips. A guide is highly recommended for various reasons, especially comfort. A guide will cost you from USD$ 40 to USD$ 60, depending on where you are going. This price usually includes the car rental, gas, and all the information that you want to know from the guide.

The next day, I went for my first bunaken diving experience. Important to remember: Make sure you already have your diving certificate. You can also complete your diving certificate here if you want to do so. I went to Bastianos diving resort to arrange my diving itinerary. I can only say one thing of my diving experience: It was marvelous. Clear visibility up to 30 meters, warm refreshing water temperature, 3,000 types of fish and 300 types of coral. It was nothing like I had ever seen before.

Diving price here usually varies from resort to resort. One thing for certain is that you need to pay for admission to enter the marine park, whether you are diving or not. Daily admission is USD$ 5 or USD$ 15 for a full year admission. As I have mentioned before, diving package usually varies from resort to resort. There are five main islands that you can choose to visit: Bunaken, Manado Tua, Montehagen, Nain and Siladen. Each island offers different ecosystem, thus different diving experience. If you are an experienced diver, you can go for more challenging dives near Siladen Island.

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