Manado is the capital of the province of North Sulawesi and the second largest city on the island of Sulawesi after Makassar. This city is one of a kind in Indonesia with its stunning underwater landscape and great mountain panorama. Its nearby island, Bunaken is an 8 km2 island in the Bay of Manado. The marine Park around Bunaken is part of the National Park that also includes the ocean around the island of Manado Tua, Siladen and Mantehage. providing habitat to 390 species of coral as well as over 90 types of fish, mollusk, reptile and marine mammal species. The Park is representative of Indonesian tropical water ecosystems, consisting of seagrass plain, coral reef, and coastal ecosystems. The waters of Bunaken National Marine Park are up to 1,566 m deep in Manado Bay, with temperatures ranging between 27 and 29 °C. Bunaken is a great place to be for divers with over 20 dive spots to choose from and these dive sites were ranked among the top in the world for marine diversity. The journey from Manado takes around 40 minutes with a motorboat.

Bunaken Island - Photo Credit: Matt Kieffer (

Seafan - Photo credit: Bernard DUPONT (

Manado is the capital city of North Sulawesi province, and become an interesting city to be visit for its tourism destination, while the location itself is located at the Bay of Manado, and is surrounded by a mountainous area. The word Manado is arrived from the Minahasa language, Mana rou or Mana dou, in Indonesia means “Di Jauh” or In Far Away. The most inhabitants that live in Manado is Minahasa people. As the largest city in northern Sulawesi, Manado is an important tourist spot for visitors. The ecotourism become the biggest attraction in Manado. Scuba diving and snorkeling at Bunaken Island is also popular amongst tourists. Another interesting place is Lake Tondano, Mount Lokon, Klabat Mountain and Mount Mahawu.

Bunaken has been populated since 1400, and the first inhabitants of this place are immigrants from the kingdom of Manado Tua. With the arrival of Europeans in North Sulawesi, since 1600, commercial traffic increased between the main city on the north coast, Manado, and Sangihe archipelago, located hundreds of miles north side, almost to the southern border of the Philippines. First the Portuguese, then the Spanish and finally the Dutch, who ruled for over three centuries on these lands, gave a huge boost to the commercial exchange and started a migration flows between the various islands. Between 1830 and 1840 the island's name officially became Bunankeng, and then become permanently Bunaken.

Bunaken National Marine Park was discovered in 1975 by a group of divers who came here from Manado City for a diving expedition. There are over 20.000 people live inside the park in approximately 30 villages. The park has been populated for many generations.

Sunset – Photo Credit: Niek van Son (

Diving at North Sulawesi – Photo Credit: jipii (

Tondano Lake is the largest lake in North Sulawesi, Indonesia and is one of the famous attraction. It is situated by the village of Remboken, about 3 kilometers from Tomohon city or approximately 30 km from Manado. This lake is surrounded by lush hills of 700 meters high. Besides enjoying the sceneries and the tranquility around the lake, you can also take a rented boat around the lake. There is chance to see the local community catch Nike fish using nets that resemble a spoon that held by bamboo sticks on either side.

View of Tondano Lake from Rurukan, Sulawesi
Photo Credit: Tanti Ruwani (

Bunaken Island situated 45 minutes away from Manado, is regarded as one of the top scuba diving destinations in stunning Indonesia. People come from all around the world specially to dive here. Bunaken National Park is the main attraction for divers and non-divers alike. It consists of five islands: Bunaken, Manado Tua, Siladen, Montehage, and Nain, as well as a part of the North Sulawesi mainland. Bunaken Marine Park is famous for its bottomless walls, clear waters and variety of marine life. While the walls go down extremely deep, they also rise as shallow as 1 metre with the right tides which gives perfect conditions for snorkelling.

Underwater in Bunaken - Photo Credit: jipii (

There is a small village on the south-eastern corner of Bunaken Island with a nice Catholic Church and a small mosque. You can do a day trip over to Manado Tua island and climb to the top of the inactive volcano. The climb takes several hours and is quite steep. Along the way you see lots of monkeys.

Scuba Diving is the number 1 activity to do while visiting Manado and Bunaken Island and it has some of the world’s best dive sites. It is mainly wall dives off the coast of Bunaken as about 20 meters off the coast from the beach the water drops off dramatically to very deep water with huge vertical walls which has heaps of amazing marine life. There are over 20 dives sites directly off the coast of Bunaken Island or you take a further boat trip to the other islands in the Bunaken National Marine Park.

Underwater in Bunaken – Photo Credit: Bernard DUPONT (

Although Bunaken is mostly a diving destination, it is also possible to do many other things during your stay for the non divers. Snorkelling the coral gardens. It is just fantastic in front of most of the resorts. The centre of the island is mostly jungle and they have built a nice wooden walk way that makes its way to the centre of the island. You walk along here for your chance to see the native animals of Bunaken Island. If you enjoy fishing, why don’t head out with a local fisherman for some relaxing fishing time plus some catch for seafood dinner. But do take note to fish outside of the marine park.

Snorkeling – Photo Credit: Fabio Achilli (

Dolphin watching is another popular activity that you can experience in Bunaken. The trip takes about 7 hours. You will be able to see the Bottlenose Dolphins feeding in the morning. There are pods of over 100 Bottlenose Dolphins chasing after small tuna fish in the mornings in the open seas. The boat goes around 1 hour north of Bunaken Island, into the open sea where the dolphins feed each day. You also have a chance of seeing Pilot Whales around the same area where the dolphins are.

Manado Tua Island lies about 10 kilometers from Manado, and it takes about 60 minutes trip by a motor boat to get there. It also belongs to the five islands within the borders of the Bunaken National Park. This island has a volcano overgrown by shady trees. Just like the Bunaken and the Siladen, the Manado Tua also has spectacular underwater panorama which will surely enchant any diving lovers. There is a path to the top of the volcano and the summit offers great views over the other islands and Manado Bay. In good weather you can see the smoking cone of Gunung Soputan which is about 60 kilometers away.

The airport of Manado; Sam Ratulangi International Airport is an entry point to Bunaken Island. This airport serves mainly domestic flights, but is at least well connected within Indonesia. Lion Air flies daily and directly from Jakarta and Denpasar, and several times a week from Singapore to Manado.

To get to Bunaken Island after arriving in Manado, you need head to the harbor, where once a day in the morning a public boat leaves towards Pulau Bunaken. But it might be more advisable to take one of the chartered boats offered by local operators on the way to the harbor. Bunaken is about 45 to 60 minutes by boat from Manado. Depending on the size and number of passenger seats of these boats, prices vary from Rp. 150,000 to 500,000 one way.

The island of Bunaken is easily reached from Manado by speed boats, departing from Manado harbor, Molas, Kalasey and Tasik Ria beach. Ferries from Manado to Bunaken leave daily around 02:00 PM (depending on the tide), except on Sundays, when they leave from Pasar Jengki near the Manado harbor. The return journey from Bunaken to Manado usually leaves early in the morning, at around 07:00 AM - 08:00 AM. You may also opt for charter boats that depart in the morning and return in the late afternoon where usually reserved for travel packages organized by agents or hotels.

There are several options to get around in Manado. There are several taxi operators here: Bluebird, Taxi Kokapura, Trust, Celebrity. The most reliable one is Bluebird, the blue taxi. It is the most trusted taxi operator in Jakarta and other cities in Indonesia. Car rental is another more expensive option. It is around Rp. 500,000 per day, included driver and gasoline, or self-drive approximately Rp.300,000 per day. Ojeks are motorcab taxi, pronounced O – jack, is a typical cheap land transportation in Indonesian cities. In Manado, ojek rate is not fixed, depending on the distance and negotiation. For a very short distance (+/- 1 km.), it will be around Rp. 3,000. Angkot also known as mikrolets or bemos is a minibus for maximum 8 – 10 passengers. This is Indonesia's cheapest way of transportation inside the city. Most of cities in Indonesia have this Angkot, as well as Manado currently at Rp. 2,900 per trip. Angkots in Manado come with all front-facing seats. Manadonese are known for being picky and would only take the good-looking and full music angkots.

Bunaken is quite a small island and getting around is pretty easy. There are no cars on the islands. So you can either walk, hire a scooter or take a boat. There are several lovely pathways that connect various settlements which is worth exploring. Take note that many of the pathways are impassable after rain. Do watch out if walking along the coastline, as the beach may disappear when the high tide rolls in.


Visa is required for residence of People’s republic of China to travel to The Philippines.

Passport validity

To enter The Philippines, you must be in possession of a passport still valid minimum six months with a tourist visa or three months for a transit visa or without visa.


The currency is the Philippine Peso (PHP). Bill denominations are: 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 pesos. If possible, bring your cash in 500 PhP denominations as you will find that getting change for 1,000 PhP bills is at times difficult. ATM machines are scattered around the city.

Foreign Currency is best exchanged at the banks or money changing stores. Only the larger restaurants and hotels accept credit cards including MasterCard, Visa and American Express, although a 5% surcharge on credit cards is standard. Personal checks are generally not accepted.

Best Time to visit

The best time to visit Manado and Bunaken Island is from March until January, of which June, July, August, September and October are the peak season. September is the hottest and driest month. Dolphin and whale watching is usually offered in month of July and August. The wet season is from November to February so visibility is affected during this season.


Manado enjoys a hot tropical climate throughout the year as it is located very close to the equator. The maximum monthly temperature is 34°C and the minimum is 19°C. The average temperature levels at about 27°C. The rainy season is from November to April and a dry season from May to October, when the water visibility is at their best. Bunaken Island receives less rain than the north Sulawesi mainland and is well ventilated with sea breezes.

Traditions of Indonesia are traditions, beliefs, values, and customs that belong within the culture of Indonesian people. Indonesia is a vast country of sprawling archipelago with a diverse demographic range of over 300 ethnic groups, and speaking more than 700 living languages.

With 202.9 million Muslim s (93.2% of the total population as of 1909), Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world. Indonesia also has significant numbers of Christians. Protestant and Catholics population are the majority, with other Christian groups existing as well. The majority of Hindu demographics in Indonesia living in the island of Bali. Buddhist Indonesian are located throughout the country, and are ethnically identified as Chinese Indonesians.

In Indonesia, etiquette – methods of showing respect has been considered as one of the key factors in social interactions. Etiquette varies greatly depending on one's status relative to the person being interacted with. Some key points of Indonesian etiquette include:

?Hierarchical relationships are respected, emphasised and maintained,

?Respect is usually shown to those with status, power, position, and age

?Elders must be respected

?Avoiding direct confirmation

?Saving one's face means one should consider others' dignity and avoid them to experience shame or humiliation

?Openly correcting or pointing one's mistake would cause someone to felt ashamed, and humiliating someone is considered extremely rude.

?Saying?terima kasih?("thank you") after receiving services or favours demonstrates one's good manner.

?Addressing Muslims by using Islamic greeting?assalamu 'alaikum, and will receive?walaikum salam?reply.

?When greeting or introducing oneself, smiling, handshake (salam) and a slight nod is a good gesture, gently touch the counterpart’s extended hands, before finally bringing one’s hands back to the chest to demonstrate that you welcome from the heart.[5]?The greeted party will then reciprocate this gesture.

?If it is not possible to handshake your counterparts, for example addressing larger crowds with a distance between you or to avoid direct touch with opposite sex, making a greeting gesture by putting your hand together in front of your chess while slightly bowing.

?Always using right hand, when shaking hands, offering a gift, handing or receiving something, eating, pointing or generally touching another person.

?Do not touch the head of an adult, as it is commonly believed that the soul inhabits the head, and the head is therefore sacred.

?One should avoid putting their chin upward, putting their hands on their hips or pointing when talking to other people.

?Pointing toward someone with index fingers are considered rude, pointing with thumbs are considered more polite.

?Speaking softly but clear with somewhat subdued tone is recommended, speaking too loud are considered rude.

?Conservative and modest dress sense should be adopted — especially by women.

?When visiting a place of worship, the proper dress etiquette for such places is of utmost importance.

?When entering a mosque, always remove your shoes.

?Bathing suit and?swimwear?are only suitable to wear in and around beaches and swimming pools.

?Women swimwear and bikini are best covered from hips with?sarong?when coming out from water.

?Food is often taken from a shared dish in the middle. In banquet seated dinner party, you will be served the food and it would not be considered rude if you helped yourself after that. Wait to be invited to eat before you start.

?It is better to sit down while eating, yet in some circumstances eating while standing is acceptable.

?Depending on the situation some people may use their hands. Eat or pass food with your right hand only.

?Making sounds while eating is considered not polite, try not make a sound when slurping or the sound of spoon touching the dish.

?Trying not to mix and "play" with one's food too much, as it is considered as not polite and childish.

In Indonesia there are many kinds of festive ceremonies and rituals that linked to agricultural activities, from plant the seeds to harvest. One of them is Seren Taun, an annual traditional Sundanese rice harvest festival and ceremony. This festivals originally held to mark the new agriculture year in Sundanese ancient calendar as well as thanks giving for the blessings of the abundance rice harvest, and also to pray for the next successful harvest. Other ethnics such as Javanese might held slametan ceremonies for starting agricultural calendar to harvesting. While Dayak people performing Hudoq dances during harvest thanksgiving festival. Hudoq is deity that symbolize pest, and by appeasing Hudoq is believed will deter the pest in coming agricultural cycle.

If you go for a walk on Bunaken, then pay attention to falling coconuts particularly at a strong wind.

it is a really good idea to invest in travel insurance for scuba diving, because you never know what could happen and when you might need it.

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