As I mentioned in my first post about Bunaken Island, it has some of the best diving available. The whole island is surrounded by a coral reef, dropping off into a beautiful wall filled with diverse under-water life.
We stayed at and dove through Cicak Senang, and were giving a bungalow with a beautiful view of the beach. It was a bare minimum kind of arrangement, with no internet or wifi. Although I would not recommend staying there if you are a 5-star hotel kind of vacationer, I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who does not highly prioritize posh accommodations. The owner was so friendly, always willing to help us with whatever crazy thing we could think of requesting. All of the food was included (I’m telling you, rural island. This means zero restaurants.), and they had the most amazing staff. Jimmy and Ratno were fantastic SCUBA guides, and Nicolas a wonderful boat driver!
Ferdinand, a kind and experienced Dutchman with fantastic English, was our instructor. I would encourage you to dive with him; you can find his website here.
On the first dive, we explored Likuan 1, which my new friend Frans, from yesterday, told me was his favorite. We worked our way across endless, colorful reef, swimming in water clear enough that we could see 40 or 50 meters down! This was our deep dive, so we swam down to about 40 meters, looked around there, then made the most of our allotted oxygen by continuing at a shallower depth. I had never been so far below the surface of the ocean before, and found the view up breath-taking. I watched schools of fish pass by at different depths, random large fish weaving in and out between them, and the sunlight streaming down and highlighting it all. Rolling over, I looked down on sea turtles, crocodile fish, and even sharks!
Our second dive, in the same day, was a night dive. We waited until the sun had set, then took the boat to Johnson’s place, a location near the place we were staying. Night diving is an entirely different experience, as you can only see that which is located within beam of your torch. I liked this for several reasons. First of all, the way that sunlight filters through the water makes things at deeper levels seem less colorful. The flashlights do not have to filter through so many meters of water, so this way of viewing the life restores its vibrant coloring. The focused view also aided me in seeing things I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, and realizing the depth of the coral itself. Finally, you see different kinds of life on these dives; specifically, we came across fewer fish and greater amounts of “bottom dwellers.” Throughout the dive we saw sea cucumbers, lobsters, shrimp, crabs, snails, lion fish, stingrays, and even sea horses!
As we were figuring out diving in the area, we didn’t bring cameras on the first few dives. The next post will have pictures! 🙂 Here are a few shots of Bunaken, though!