Bunaken Dive Day – It’s a balmy 77 units with a light headed gust as I council our barge on the north tip of Sulawesi. Our group of eight fits easily onto the spacious wooden decks of our dive barge. I stretch out in the open compartments and take in my surroundings it’s a multitude of tanks, masks, belts, and various diving accessories, all scavenged and ready for our adventure today.
We are heading from the two sides of the strait to a tiny island off the coast about 40 minutes by motorboat from Manado. This crescent-shaped island is announced Bunaken; at only 3 square miles, most pilgrims are not coming for the flake of land, but instead it’s incredible underwater view.
Silky penetrating blue hot water applies way to emerald and turquoise shoals that seem to light with lucidity. Palm trees thickly pipeline the shoreline as we realise our way to the first dive location of the day a 36 meter wreck diving I am thrilled about.
The dives are everything I hoped for. The Molas wreck, exactly off mainland Sulawesi, is a behemoth we swim through, over, and around. It is still in huge requirement with such structures of the vessel is not simply noticeable, but swimmable. I forget about the 100 paws of sea above me as we knit over decks, through doorways, up and down passages with our two ushers heading the way. Our second dive makes us in the various regions of the channel to exactly off Bunaken’s shores. Our maximum penetration is slightly shallower at 60 paws, but mesmerizing in a different way. This sheer wall dive applies us our first turtle meetings and attracts immense class of ridge fish.
After our dives we don’t feel quite ready to front back. The sea is very inviting and the day too perfect. The sun doesn’t burn me so much as burnish. White switches to brown to a light-headed mocha. We brandish at two young boys diving off a small single-hulled wooden canoe. They paddle by with what looks like a 2×4 timber and you can’t help but smile at their forgivenes and boldness on the sea.
We stay out as the sun dips into the glassy sea, silhouetting the dormant volcanic elevation in the distance. The sky switches fiery pink and discolours us all with its warm light. We are still in our swimming clothes, but none of us are freezing. The first stars peek out as we motor back to the marina. This is Bunaken. Carefree and marvelous. It is a place which motivates backflips and low key luxury amongst some of the most startling underwater view. A region genu enough to do what most people cannot- slow down, loosen, take time to revel in the magic.