Pulau Bunaken
Bunaken Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia, 2009-05-05 12:00 by Laerke
Upon leaving Rantepao and the land of Tana Toraja a very l o n g journey ensued. We boarded a night bus at 9 in the evening and bumped along all night long, it was a luxury bus and we sat pretty comfortably but the air-con was on way too high and we were freezing! At 4 in the morning we reached the airport in Makassar, now we had to wait until 12.25 for our flight, and Makassar airport is not the most interesting airport in the world... Finally almost 9 hours later we flew towards Manado in the most northerly part of Sulawesi. Manado airport was of course mayhem, with crazy taxi drivers completely overcharging for the ride into town, just what we needed at this point. It was now 14.30 and a boat to Bunaken Island, our final destination, was scheduled to leave at 15.00 from the harbor. We pleaded with the taxi driver to hurry, but still it was 15.30 before we reached the harbor. After fighting off a bunch of guys trying to get us to charter a boat to Bunaken, one of them was kind enough to take us to where the public boat leaves from – and yeah!!! It was still there just about to leave!!! It was packed to the rafters with women, kids and lots of goods, but we managed to squeeze in and found a place to sit. The women on the boat were nice and I ended up sitting next to a 10 year old girl, we chatted a bit and she ended up singing Indonesian songs for me all the way to the island, she was such a sweetie. What a nice ending to a very, very long journey.

The Main Street on Bunaken Island.

After staggering around on the island for a bit we found a place to stay, a small bungalow on the beach. There are 6 bungalows here, but we are the only guests so it is so nice and quiet. The price of the bungalow includes 3 meals a day, which is lucky because there aren’t really any restaurants here. All the meals, except breakfast, are fish, rice and some vegetables, simple but tasty.

The beach here is kind of like a lagoon, with mangrove forest right off the beach; at high tide it is great for swimming. At low tide the mangrove is exposed and you can walk out and explore, we saw loads of starfish.

One the other side of the island, an hours walk away is another beach, Pantai Liang, it is beautiful with clear turquoise water. But on the beach itself a lot of driftwood and trash washes up from Manado and too much construction is going on right by the water; too bad as it could have been a perfect paradise beach.

We hired a local fisherman to take us out snorkeling for half a day – some of the better reefs are a little off-shore so it was nice to have a boat nearby. We drifted slowly with the current along the reef drop-off