Bunaken Snorkeling - Sulawesi Indonesia

Bunaken is part of the Bunaken National Marine Park, which has some of the highest levels of marine biodiversity in the world.[citation needed] Scuba diving attracts many visitors to the island. Bunaken is located at the north of the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia. It belongs administratively to the municipality of Manado.

The Bunaken National Marine Park was formally established in 1991 and is among the first of Indonesia's growing system of marine parks. The park covers a total surface area of 890.65 km², 97% of which is overlain by sparkling clear, warm tropical water. The remaining 3% of the park is terrestrial, including the five islands of Bunaken, Manado Tua, Mantehage, Nain and Siladen. Although each of these islands has a special character, it is the aquatic ecosystem that attracts most naturalists.

The waters of Bunaken National Marine Park are extremely deep (1566 m in Manado Bay), clear (up to 35-40 m visibility), refreshing in temperature (27 to 29 °C) Pick any of group of interest - corals, fish, echinoderms or sponges - and the number of families, genera or species is bound to be astonishingly high. For example, 7 of the 8 species of giant clams that occur in the world, occur in Bunaken. The park has around 70 genera of corals; compare this to a mere 10 in Hawaii. Although the exact number of fish species is unknown, it may be slightly higher than in the Philippines, where 2,500 species, or nearly 70% of all fish species known to the Indo-western Pacific, are found.Oceanic currents may explain, in part, why Bunaken National Marine Park is such a treasure trove of biodiversity. Northeasternly currents generally sweep through the park but abundant counter currents and gyros related to lunar cycles are believed to be a trap for free swimming larvae. This is particularly true on the south side of the crescent-shaped Bunaken Island, lying in the heart of the park. A snorkler or diver in the vicinity of Lekuan or Fukui may spot over 33 species of butterfly fish and numerous types of groupers, damsels, wrasses and gobies. The gobies, smallish fish with bulging eyes and modified fins that allow them to attach to hard surfaces, are the most diverse but least known group of fish in the park.

Biologists believe that the abundance of hard corals is crucial in maintaining the high levels of diversity in the park. Hard corals are the architects of the reefs, without them, numerous marine organisms would be homeless and hungry. Many species of fish are closely associated with particular types of corals (folious, branching, massives, etc.) for shelter and egg-laying. Others, like the enormous Bumphead Parrotfish, Balbometopon muricatum, are "coralivores" and depend on hard corals for their sustenance. Bony mouth parts fused into an impressive "beak" allow these gregarious fish to crunch corals like roasted peanuts.

Some 20,000 people live on the natural resources of Bunaken National Marine Park. Although there are inevitable conflicts between resource protection and use by people, the Indonesian government is taking a fairly unusual and pragmatic approach to park management. The idea is to promote wise resource use while preventing overexploitation. Local communities, government officials, dive resort operators, local nature groups, tourists and scientists have played an active role in developing exclusive zones for diving, wood collection, fishing and other forms of utilization. Bunaken Marine Park has become an important example of how Sulawesi, and the rest of Indonesia, can work to protect its natural resources.

Snorkeling Areas
What else can be the best areas for Snorkeling other than the reefs!
And Bunaken Island is Surrounded by reefs that are more or less easily accessible from the beaches.
At Bunaken Cha Cha we have our own "House Reef" just meters away, in front of our private 60 meter wide beach, we also provide a snorkeling pontoon, a pontoon that floats atop of the reef so that should you get a little tired you can have a rest on it without having to come back to the beach, a good place to get a close up view of dolphins passing by, and then........time for a bit more snorkeling.

Cha Cha "House Reef" is home to 100s of different hard and soft corals and 100s of different types of reef fish not to mention all the other marine creatures such as nudibranchs, shrimps, crabs, sea cucumbers etc.
Looking for bigger fish? move slightly away from the Reef Top and you come to "The Wall", a virtual drop off and here you have the opportunity to see barracudas, tunas, eagle rays, turtles, schooling spanish mackerel , white and black tip reef sharks and of course there are also some surprises
from time to time such as Dugongs.

Need a change of Snorkeling Scenery?
Why not join one of our dive boats for a 4 hour morning snorkeling trip, here you will have the opportunity of viewing the islands around the park, maybe even dolphin watching while we transfer you to two different snorkeling spots, many times giving you the possibility of experiencing snorkeling at other islands within the Park.

You want flexibility?
You can charter one of our Snorkeling boats for 4 hours with a capacity of 6 guests, our snorkeling boat allows you the flexibility to try even more snorkeling points and not have to share a boat with divers.

Don't worry about the Equipment
Bunaken Cha Cha has all the equipment required for snorkeling, thus should you not bring your own you can easily hire it from us.
Masks, snorkel, booties, fins, wet-suits and even life vests or buoyancy aids.

Snorkeling tips

Choose a snorkel that fits easily in to your mouth, and a mask that fits snugly.
Test this by putting it to your face without using the strap and breathe in through the nose. If it fits properly it will not fall off, even when you lean forward.


Choose a pair of booties & fins that fit your feet comfortably.


Wear a t-shirt/rash guard or wet-suit to protect yourself from the sun and a waterproof sunscreen on exposed areas of your skin such as the neck and the back of your knees.

Ask a member of staff for our "Snorkeling at Cha Cha Guidelines", indispensable information related to sites, how to enter and exit the water without damaging the fragile corals and more tips and tricks to help you enjoy and be more comfortable.

We require all snorkelers to wear booties and use fins, booties will make walking to the snorkeling point more comfortable and fins will help you swim should there be any currents.

And finally, do not walk or step on the corals, they are not stones they are alive and take seconds to damage but many many years to recover.
Be a conscientious Snorkeler.

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