Bunaken is famous throughout the world by scuba divers for the steep drop offs that surround the island. Together with the islands Siladen, Manado Tua, Mantehage and Nain and some parts of
the coast line along the mainland of Manado, Bunaken island is part of Bunaken National Park.
Bunaken National Park is home to some of the richest marine biodiversities in the world. The 89,000 hectare park provides habitat to at least 1000 species of coral reef fish and approximately 400 species of hard coral. This is amongst the highest diversity of corals ever recorded for such a small area, which makes Bunaken National Park the perfect spot for diving.
All visitors of Bunaken National Park are required to pay an entrance fee which will be allocated to protect and clean the reef and to ban illegal fishing.
The resorts on Bunaken are situated on two different beaches, Liang Beach on the south side of the island and Pangalisang Beach on the east side. The coral reef circles around the island,
so both beaches offer amazing snorkeling and scuba diving possibilities.
The two beaches are joined by a path that also joins the three villages on the island. It takes about half an hour to 45 minutes to walk from Liang to Pangalisang. On Bunaken there are no cars, the only means of transport are by foot or on a motorbike.
The resorts on Pangalisang are located right by the path on a flat bit of the island and the beach there is mostly surrounded by mangroves. Liang Beach is a long bay with fewer mangroves, therefore offers more extended views over the sea. It is far enough away from the main path to sleep undisturbed by passing motorbikes. The resorts on Liang are situated of a hill with amazing views of the sea and to admire the sunset you need to be on this side of the island. Other than that you will find the souvenir stalls, foodstalls and the Bunaken National Park Office on Liang.
Many travel guides, amongst which Lonely Planet, write about the rubbish problems on Liang Beach. Unfortunately it is true that when the wind becomes quite strong and from a certain
direction plastic and other rubbish drifts on to the beaches of Bunaken. However, this is not only the case on Liang Beach.
Pangalisang also gets its fair share of rubbish; basically it all depends on the wind and or the currents. Both islanders and resort staff clean the beaches daily. Of course the obvious way to deal with the rubbish problem is to teach the population of Manado that they shouldn't dump their rubbish in the rivers. All in all the beaches are pretty clean.
The best time for a visit to Bunaken is in the dry season, from May up until October. In these months there is little rain, but it can get quite hot though!
For both snorkeling and diving the weather conditions are generally fine all year round. During the rainy season a visit to Bunaken is still well worth the effort. It then is a little less hot and you can expect a daily shower, mostly at the end of the afternoon or during the night.