How to get to Bunaken Island from Manado?

Shortly after my Australia trip, I missed the flight to Manado, Indonesia again.

I was feeling pretty jaded. And speechless (at myself).

But still, it didn't deter me. I flew in a few days later to join my batch of dive buddies.

manado from sky view

Manado is a small town located at the tip of the North Sulawesi Island of Indonesia.

It's the capital of the province there too.

manado map

I have to admit, it's not a popular travel destination spot. And most people who travels here uses it as a transit to travel to other parts of the Island or Indonesia.

manado harbour

So why travel there?

Well, my destination was actually a small tiny island off the town Manado, called Bunaken.

bunaken map

An island so un-commercialized that you can't even find a proper road made out of cement or concrete on it. So under developed that internet is non-existent on the island, and electricity only comes in the evening after 6pm and goes away just after sunrise.

BUT because of this, it offers one of the world's Top 10 Best Diving Destinations due to its unspoiled nature and it's amazing geography situating in the middle the South Pacific Ocean.

bunaken dive map

HENCE my exact reason of going there.

manado taxi

Arriving at the airport, I was flooded by random taxi drivers who wanted to earn a few quick tourist bucks.

My take, skip all the taxis. walk to the road, catch yourself one of these blue mini vans which they called public buses, pay 5000 rupiahs (RM2) and take a ride to the town and then transfer again to the jetty (total: RM4). Better than paying 200,000 rupiah (almost RM80) for a one way trip.

cramped passengers
Lady in the middle was squatting on air in between seats.

Just endure the cramp in the vans, they tend to take more passengers than they can handle.

If you have the chance to stay in a hotel beside the harbour of Manado, you will be greeted with quite a splendid view of the city.

manado harbour 2

It's not a spotless perfect view, but somehow the imperfections of it all make this shot a worthwhile wallpaper of its own that captured the essence of Manado.

manado wallpaper
Click for wallpaper size. (ah hah! Manado wallpaper to your collection!)

Now head down to the jetty, don't ask or rent for a boat which would cost you quite a bomb (roughly RM40 ~ 80 per person).

manado pier

Rather, go local and pay less (haggle with the local fisherman or boatmen). You should be paying around 40k to 80k rupiah one way.

boarding the boat

That's what I did.

sitting on boat

Though if you are dark enough and can pass off as a local, learn a few quick Indonesian lines and hop onto the boat for 15,000 rupiah into Bunaken.

Sitting on top of the boat, I was the only Chinese there (fairest of them all).

Careful not to wear heels, else I'll be praying for you when you board this boat.

cute kid

We waited quite long till the entire boat was filled with villagers who came to mainland to buy veggies and groceries and daily supplies that's needed on the island.

villagers on boat

uncle on boat

It took over an hour but the boat was soon filled with locals. You could tell that they were pretty used to traveling in this manner.

ladies and umbrella
Lady, I like your Red Umbrella!

I chatted with a few locals on the boat about the weather, the dive season on the island, the tourist population on the island and mainland, etc. The sea view was nothing spectacular after my visit to Sipadan.

But an hour later, my journey was just about to start.

bunaken pier

Bunaken Island! Here I come!


12 kissed Nicole

  1. another location uncorrupted by the vice of commercialization.. thanks for the pics nicole, keep them coming!

    you have no idea how entertained i am just looking at these travel photos.. :)


  2. Thanks Nicole for adding up your wallpaper collections! Actually, before the wallpaper you made, that's another cool wallpaper you should put too!

    Actually, you may photoshop it to make the sky and the sea blue in the sense of darker blue so that it will be a very nice sea shot!

  3. Anyway, seeing that you love travelling, i reckon you've been to a number of developing nations so you should know many children don't have the privilege of education.

    If you have the time, please visit , and perhaps you can donate a laptop to a school-age child in a developing nation.

    By giving them a way towards education, a window to the outside world, you're empowering them to change their lives. So why not, let's make a difference in their lives!


  4. nicole i want to see ur NEW HAIR CUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Enjoy your dive nic :-) and update us soon with beautiful pics!

  6. Hi Nicole! Hi, I'm Julia! I am a frequent visitor of your blog. (Ever since last year I googled Puroland I got sucked into your blogspot!) You give such great detail to the places you travel. Thanks for that! I envy your ability to travel!

    Anyways I entered my mom in a restaurant contest for mother of the year and would like your vote! I know I'm stretching it, is there anyway you can link it to a post or something. Everyone can vote once a day. If not possible, totally disregard that question :P Under the entry Julia 18 Temecula. I'm desperate for votes! I'd really like to get my mom the year of food. Hehe

    Thank you so much for your time. Stay cute!!
    Love from California

  7. Wow! Amazing how you can jet-set here and there and not feel tired. Keep it up!! and Enjoy!

  8. cute little girl sitting on a boat! :)

  9. hello. nice trip report you got here. I'm planning to dive bunaken but the dive resort packages i checked are really expensive d\for my budget. they want me to have 5 days as minimum stay. Is bunaken accesible from manado anytime? is it possible to jsut show up at any dive resort to do 2 days diving? do you recommend any mid-range dive operator?