Reef and Muck Diving, Rainforest Trips and Village Tours: A Diving Adventure in North Sulawesi
This 12-day itinerary to Northern Sulawesi explores both above and below the water. You will experience the reefs, wrecks and muck diving of Bunaken National Marine Park and have the opportunity to explore inland, including the Tangkoko National Park, and visiting lakes, volcanoes and local villages.
Itinerary at a Glance:
- Experience world-class wall diving in Bunaken National Marine Park
- Relax on the beautiful, remote island of Siladen
- Go macro diving in Manado Bay
- Explore inland Sulawesi including lakes, wildlife and villages
- Explore the tropical rainforest in Tangkoko National Park
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When To Travel
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Day 1: International Flight
Pack your bags because your North Sulawesi diving adventure begins today, as you catch your international flight from London to Manado. Flying via Singapore, the trip takes around 18 hours, so make sure you have a good book to read and try to get some shut-eye.
Day 2: Arrival to Siladen
Your flight from London arrives in Manado, on the eastern tip of North Sulawesi, the following day. Once you have landed and collected your bags you'll be met by your private driver.
Travelling northwest via car then a boat, it takes around 90 minutes to reach your resort, which is located in the stunning Bunaken National Marine Park. Once you have checked into your room and settled in, make sure you take a moment to relax, before you start exploring the resort.
Day 3: A day of Diving in Lekuan
This morning marks your first day of diving and where better to start diving in North Sulawesi than the waters of Bunaken National Marine Park. The diving here is all about reef diving and there are about 50 dive sites to choose from - all of which are within easy reach of the resort.
The real highlight of the area is Lekuan, which is located within Bunaken National Park. The Lekuan wall stretches for miles, with beautiful reefs that gently slope towards walls with a steep drop off. The walls are covered in sponges, sea fans and beautiful black corals. There is also a shallow coral garden which is perfect for snorkellers.
Aside from the coral, you're likely to see plenty of green and hawksbill turtles, and numerous critters such as nudibranch and shrimp, to name just a few.
After an action-packed diving day it's time to head back to the resort for a delicious dinner.
Day 4: Exploring the Minahasa Highlands
Today it is time to experience North Sulawesi from a different perspective - on dry land.
This full-day tour takes you to the mainland to experience the local way of life. The first stop on today's tour is a traditional local market and village. After exploring the market stalls and the village, you'll head to Lake Tondano for lunch, which is all about sampling the local cuisine. After a delicious lunch, it's time to head to the village of Pulutan, which is known for its pottery and ceramics. It's the perfect place to purchase some beautiful, locally-made handicrafts.
Your journey back to the resort includes a stop off at Linow Lake, for a moment of calm on its shores. The lake changes colour due to its sulphur content, so have your camera ready to capture some seriously scenic shots.
Day 5: Diving in Manado Bay
It's time to get back in the water for another day of diving. Today's underwater adventure will see you experience a different side to diving in North Sulawesi, heading to the famous black sands of Manado Bay.
Manado Bay is all about muck diving so you are likely to see frogfish (painted, hairy and clown), cuttlefish, mimic and wunderpus octopus and plenty of nudibranchs. Dive into an explosion of life, as you swim over the black sands and discover the marine critters that call this area home.
Day 6: Exploring Tangkoko Rainforest
Today you'll be staying on dry land as you explore Tangkoko Rainforest. Heading south-east from your resort - back to the mainland - you'll be travelling to this incredible tropical rainforest which lies within a protected nature reserve.
Explore the national park, traversing walkways between ancient trees that tower above you, creating an emerald green canopy. The island of Sulawesi is home to stunning tropical jungles, all of which house an incredible variety of flora and fauna. Listen to the sounds of the canopy above you as birds sing and monkeys call through the treetops. Explore the paths, trying to find waterfalls and the river, which meanders through the thick forest.
Be on the lookout for the more iconic residents of the national park including black crested macaques and tarsiers. If you are into your birds, keep your eyes peeled for hornbills sitting in the treetops, or gliding through the canopy.
After an exciting and tiring day of exploring the jungle, it's time to head back to your resort for a well-earned dinner and rest!
Days 7-9: Diving in Bunaken National Marine Park
It's time to get back in the water today as you head into the waters of Bunaken National Park to explore more of the beautiful walls that lie just beneath the surface.
Today's dive sites depend on the conditions and the current of
the day. Along with the wall diving sites, there are more sheltered
sites such as Celah Celah, which is home to interesting crevasses,
swim-throughs, caves and canyons.
Wherever you end up diving today, your time underwater will be filled with plenty of unforgettable marine sights.
Day 10: Diving the Molas shipwreck
Today's adventure in North Sulawesi brings you the opportunity to enjoy some wreck diving.
You'll be heading to the 196 foot-long Dutch cargo ship - Molas - which sank during the Second World War. The ship lies upright with the deepest point at 37 metres and the shallowest at 24 metres. The wreck acts as an artificial reef and is covered with both hard and soft corals, a particular highlight being the huge sponges that now cling to the ship's body.
On this unforgettable dive, you are likely to see schools of batfish, barracuda and pufferfish.
Day 11: Relaxing on Siladen Island
Today calls for rest and relaxation. After a leisurely breakfast, the day is yours to spend as you wish - relax by the pool or the beach, soaking up the sun and enjoying the beautiful, remote island surroundings. You might want to book a massage or go for a swim for the ultimate last day in paradise.
Day 12: Home Time
It's your final morning of your North Sulawesi diving holiday and, sadly, it's time to head home. Hop into a boat and then a car for the 90-minute journey back to Manado, arriving in perfect time to catch your flight home.
Your afternoon flight to London, travelling via Singapore, takes around 23 hours, so make sure you get plenty of sleep before arriving back in London.
Emily C, Eleanor and Jacqui are our experts for this itinerary and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.