The Bunaken Marine Park, Bangka, Talisei, and Gangga islands, are blessed with white sandy beaches, palm trees. And also, among the most transparent, most crystalline seas which you’re ever likely to see. The Sangihe islands that make natural stepping stones towards the Southern Philippines are still mostly unexplored by divers.
If this wasn’t enough, there is another place that can’t be left out of the logbook of any respectful scuba diver seeing Bunaken Marine Park. It is a sea covering the west shore of Sulawesi and a tiny island, a short boat ride from the beach. At first glance, the site in the strait of Lembeh, with is muddy seafloor, seems of little interest, however, hiding in these waters is a creature as impressive as it’s bizarre.
Even on dry land, there are some fantastic day trips, for example, to the Tangkoko National Park. It is home to the Tarsier (adorable primates that may rotate their head around 180° and have eyes that are larger than his mind ). Get in Lake Tondano, or cross through rice paddies and traditional villages set against Sulawesi’s spectacular all-natural backdrop. For the game-loving, the Mahavu and Lokon volcanoes make excellent treks. While seeing Bunaken Park, a trip to the summit of Manado Tua Volcano is a must.
Dive Sites of Northern Sulawesi
Located on the northern tip of Sulawesi, Bangka and the neighboring islands are vulnerable to the weather and receptive to powerful currents from all directions. Large pelagic fish are regular visitors, traveling with all the currents and feeding on the nutrients.
The coral reefs around Bangka are full of color. Dive sites off the shore offer steep pinnacles with walls coated in highly colored corals. That protects from the strong currents to big shoals of fish such as snapper, fusilier fish, and surgeonfish.
- Sangihe Archipelago
The Sangihe Archipelago is a key of 40 spectacular volcanoes 136 kilometers, 220 kilometers from Sulawesi, forming a natural bridge between Indonesia and Philippines. The wonder of this Sangihe Archipelago is the natural isolation and the truth that’s completely untouched and unaffected from the modern world. From the depths of this sea surge, it’s here, towering volcanoes, including the busy Siau Volcano.
These forested islands reach 1,400-meter in height. At night time, this place put on a spectacular show due to the lava and stones coming from the volcanoes.
The highlight of Sangihe Archipelago is a dip at Mahangetang, a submerged but lively volcano nearby Siau. From depths of 400-meter, the summit reaches just under the surface. The surrounding area is isolated, with hundreds of bubbles attracting volcanic gases to the surface, upon closer inspection of the site. You are likely to locate little starfish, algae, tiny worms, and corals, a clue that a new coral reef is being created at Mahangetang.
Dives from Sangihe Islands are incredibly wealthy. The plankton blooms and upwelling of nutrients make a food chain that attracts enormous schools of fish. The surrounding waters have been visited frequently by large cetaceans such as sperm whales, pilot whales, melon-headed whales, and numerous dolphin species.
- Bunaken Marine Park
Launched in 1991, the Bunaken Marine Park occupies 343 square miles (89.065 hectares) of the sea, 97 percent of which are clear warm tropical waters. You can see almost any kind of Indonesian sea life on the reefs in Bunaken, such as white and black-tipped reef sharks, giant sea turtles, napoleon fish, and dugongs. You might even find yourself diving in a pod of dolphins or an occasional passing subway.
There are around 22 official dive sites within Bunaken Marine Park. Dives are usually wall and present/drift dives. Schools of barracuda and jackfish, reef shark, green turtles, sea lions, and napoleon wrasse will frequently join you throughout your dive. The seas of Bunaken are also full of stunning corals; reef fish of all colors, shapes and sizes; even enormous sea fans and sponges. Bunaken Marine Park is ideal both for macro and wide-angle photography.
- The Lembeh Strait
Located close to the port of Bitung, the Lembeh Strait is a mixture of macro life and bizarre underwater critters. The murky waters appear the most amazing animals, like the pygmy seahorse, the mimic octopus, flamboyant cuttlefish, harlequin shrimp, skeleton shrimp, colorful crabs, and flatworms. Amongst the typical reef fish, you can even find less common species such as the Ambon Scorpionfish, the hairy frogfish, stonefish, devilfish, sea robins, stargazers, and rhinopias frondosa.
You could also find fantastic pegasus seahorse, mandarin fish, ghost needlefish, and the endemic Banggai cardinalfish. Also, Lembah Strait is a place with a staggering variety of nudibranchs of shapes and colors. Lembeh is a dip destination where it’s genuinely possible to detect new species throughout every dive. An exceptional itinerary that allows you to fully appreciate and enjoy the underwater wonders of the tropical sea.
Can’t wait to enjoy your trip to North Sulawesi, especially to Bunaken? Let’s visit Bunaken and North Sulawesi shortly! Before you go, you can explore more about Bunaken by visiting Wonderful Indonesia.