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Cheap or Demanding Holidays on Bunaken?

(Last Update: December 2012)

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Bunaken - one of the best diving areas worldwide

I found my first information about North Sulawesi and Bunaken with many useful tips in the year 2001 on the Internet at North Sulawesi Information Pages . By this I received the impression that for my diving hobby Bunaken would be of one of the most beautiful areas of the earth, particularly because of the enormous variety of species of the sub-water world and of its intact reefs. See video on YouTube

Living as a backpacker on Bunaken

For the first time after my student days I had once again plenty of time at the disposal to allow myself a long journey. However such a stay meant for me, that I couldn't make any great demands for reasons of cost regarding accommodation, . I therefore decided to carry out my snorkel or diving adventures on Bunaken as a "backpacker". After I had my "centre of life" on the island at that time for almost 2 months, I had enthusiastically returned home and could persuade my family to accompany me there in the following year 2002. We spent altogether 5 months there - mostly again in accommodations of the lower price range. Since then I spent these kind of cheap diving holidays from 3 up to 6 months on Bunaken every year. I have gained different experiences in the Homestays on the island. Of course you cannot have any too high expectations at a price range of 80.000 - 150.000 rupiah/per person/per night (at present approx. 6 - 11 € ) for accommodation and 3 meals . The price mostly includes coffee and tea as much as you want. Moreover you can buy cold drinks. There is also filled drinking water of the brand "AQUA" freely available in some accommodations. The palatable local food is dominated by rice, fish and vegetables and. With the meals you get - according to the season- fresh bananas, papaya, pineapple and mangos. The breakfast consists of various little cakes , baked in coconut fat or pancake. You can even get toast with egg in some Homestays of Bunaken. You take a shower in North Sulawesi customarily by scooping water with the ladle from a big tub and pouring over you. As a rule, one also expects you not to use any toilet-paper but to master the Asian technique of cleaning by "running" water. Within the last few years one could watch that many Resorts with Indonesian owners on Bunaken adapted to the habits of their guests in this respect, though.


More demanding Resorts on Bunaken

Then in the course of the years there opened new dive resorts with a higher-quality offer regarding lodging and service. With increasing age also our demands rose from year to year. We made the decision to shorten our vacation to be able to spend more money for cleanness, location, furnishings, service and ambience of our lodgings. More detailled you can find some differences between cheap Homestays and more expensive diving centres on Bunaken on this page.


If you want to pass a small comment on this web site or if you like to write about own experiences, then take a little time for my Guest Book. You may help other travellers by this.

Pictures of Bunaken

With the following photos I would like to convey you an impression of my experiences of the first years on Bunaken:
My first cottage on Bunakendouble bedMy Wardrobe

This was my first accommodation on Bunaken in summer 2001: A modest cottage made of native wood, built in a traditional way. There was no wardrobe. Therefore my double bed and several nails on the wall served as a garderobe. I locked in my values into the suitcase.


BathroomView to the beach (eas side of Bunaken)Behind my cottage
There was my own bath with toilet on the back of the Cottage. The water came from the nearby well. Because of its proximity to the sea it was a little salty, though.   View from my balcony in the direction of the sea. A mangrove zone which serves as protection is in front of the sandy beach. A law takes care that it is not destroyed. At every high tide plastic waste and driftwood were washed ashore. So already early in the morning hard-working hands were engaged in cleaning the sandy beach. Large wood trunks and joists were pushed out into the sea again to "please" the neighbour already a few hours later with that. All other things landed a couple of metres behind my cottage to be disposed by a big fire from time to time. This place was by the way also excellently suitable for haircutting.
RestaurantFresh CoconutBreakfast with Fruits

The chef did her very best to please her guests with a palatable and varied local food. There was fish in different variations. To this she served rice, potatoes and vegetables. In between times, her husband climbed fastly a palm and offered us exquisite coconut juice.  For breakfast I got fruit, sometimes with pancakes, sometimes with various sweet pastries.

Cottages on the Hill (western side of Bunaken)CottageInside the Cottage

In the following year we lived in this Homestay. Since we wanted to stay several months on Bunaken and two of our children also wanted to follow in their holidays, we could negotiate a special service: Daily the table was set on the balcony of our own. The owners are extremely helpful and would offer also other particularly nice guests :-) this service for certain.

Washings on a rainy dayBackside of Cottage
No wardrobe was available also in this hut of course. Therefore a couple of nails were beaten into the wood walls and a clothesline put up  again. In the cottages there are mosquito nets. These are often decorated, however, with more or less big holes. I recommend you therefore to bring your own protection. When it rained intensely occasionally (this happened very rare, though) , we had to stay in a place in the cottage where it remained dry. Or to call the owner. He then slid a piece of carton between the "bricks" and the places in question were repaired the next day.
Bathroom with ToiletBalcony View to the Reef (Liang Beach, western part of Bunaken)

Also here the customary bath. The broom with which one could clean the floor daily was important. One had only to transport the dirt through the door to outside with the help of water . This was also done by the owner from time to time, though.


When our children had arrived, the balcony was extended by a couple of reorganisation measures without further ado. We could therefore take our meals also with sixth in the family circle. On the right photo one can recognize where the reef ends. Snorkelling is possible in many places around the island. There are also homestays/resorts on Bunaken with a wonderfull housereef.

Beach BarPlaying and SingingSing sing song

In this much visited diver Homestay with German-speaking Padi-Instructor I lived in 2005 and 2006. Here you can frequently meet other guests and the employees for playing instruments and singing together in the beach bar after dinner. Who has once celebrated these tropical parties will not forget his experiences. Sample1. and Sample2. But if somebody lives in a cottage directly nearby, however, he will often not be able to find any sleep until midnight or furthermore. And as a participating diver you should always pay attention, that you yourself and also the local dive guides  do not drink too much alcohol. Don't forget in these happy moments: The next day you want to dive safely. It is also a matter of your responsibility for other divers.