Introducing Pulau Bunaken
The incredible shapes and colours of the fringing coral off the small island of Bunaken have earned it celebrity status among divers and snorkellers around the world. The marine biodiversity here is extraordinary, with more than 300 types of coral and 3000 species of fish. Drift along the reefs and enjoy the ultimate underwater epic. The 808-hectare island is part of the 75, 265-hectare Bunaken Manado Tua Marine National Park (Taman Laut Bunaken Manado Tua), which includes: Manado Tua (Old Manado), the dormant volcano that can be seen from Manado, and climbed in about four hours; Nain and Mantehage islands; and Pulau Siladen, which has some more accommodation options.
The nearby city of Manado is both a blessing and a curse for Bunaken. It’s a blessing as it has an airport offering connections with Singapore and most parts of Indonesia and is the supply base for the island, but ultimately it is proving a curse, as huge amounts of garbage are generated by the city and westerly winds often sweep mounds of the stuff onto Pantai Liang, turning the picturesque tropical beach into a refuse heap overnight.
Most of Pulau Bunaken’s residents live in Bunaken village at the southern tip. The scarcity of fresh water has limited the island’s development, and villagers must import their drinking water from Manado. Washing water is drawn from small, brackish wells. Pantai Liang is the most developed part of the island for tourism, but the rubbish problem means that many prefer to stay around Pantai Pangalisang on the east side of the island. There is a concrete path connecting Pangalisang and Liang, about a 30-minute walk, and both beaches are also connected by path to Bunaken village. The best beach is actually just to the north of Bunaken village, close to MC Homestay.
Many of the tourists who come to dive around Bunaken are on short vacations from Europe and elsewhere. This tends to mean higher prices on Bunaken than the mainland when it comes to things like Bintang beer. It also means some of the resorts actively discriminate against nondivers, either by charging higher accommodation prices or turning them away. Diving is where the real money is made on this island.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
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