Sunday, July 3, 2005

M.C. homestay & dive center on Bunaken

As agreed beforehand, Ron, the Dutch manager of M.C. DiveBunaken picks us up behind the Celebes hotel at 10am, for a free 25' boat ride to his homestay on Bunaken, right beside the village, facing mainland Sulawesi. At 9 Euro pp/night, including three meals, it's a bargain. The food is excellent. Even though we had fish and rice twice a day, for most of the week, I never got tired of it. Coffee, tea and water are free of charge. With even a big 19l water bottle in the bungalow for our convenience.

The bungalows are basic, with an Indonesian style mandi and a small terrace. They're a bit too dark for my taste, but OK. All the front row bungalows are being renovated at the moment. There's no power during the day, but at night the homestay is connected to the village's generator. The village's proximity is a bit of a nuisance due to the noise from the public addressing system in the evenings and mornings. Imagine a woman rallying people to donate for a new church or house for the priest, every evening, again & again. And religious pop songs at 5am... Interesting local customs indeed.

Two boat dives cost 35 Euro (including, I think, equipment). There's a 7 nights (room+meals), 10 boat dives and 1 night dive package for 210 Euro. Visitors must pay a 150000 Rp Marine Park fee, valid for one calendar year. Jimmy, one of the two dive guides, is friendly, but doesn't speak much English.

The wall dives around Bunaken are relaxed and nice, with quite a few soft corals and big barrel sponges. Fish life is abundant especially at reef corners, but don't expect anything bigger than an occasional napoleon or a turtle. With a bit of luck though, you might spot an eagle ray passing by or a reef shark down below. And if you're really really lucky, as was a Vietnamese girl during our stay here, a juvenile whale shark might cruise in from the blue for a closer look!

The wreck between Manado and Bunaken is definitely worth a dive. Especially for wide-angle photography. With a maximum depth of about 39m, it's a bit deep, but it allows some nice swim throughs.

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