Diving at Bunaken Island

December 15, 2010 by Luka 

Bunaken island is one of the best places for diving in Indonesia and it is relatively easily accessible from Manado. I never have dived before and since I was already at North Sulawesi it seemed a perfect opportunity to give it a try. After an internet research I decided to go with Two Fish Divers, a small Bunaken based resort run by an English couple Nigel & Tina. It turned out a great choice.

Since I was late to Manado to catch Two Fish boat I decided to get to the island in “economy” style using public boat. Nobody could tell when departure is so I rather stayed with the boat not to miss it. It was damn hot and humid and I was already very tired from travelling to Manado from Tangkoko nature reserve. After three hours of waiting (and having fun with locals) the boat finally moved.

Indonesian playboy :) He spoke decent English and told me a lot of useful information for my further journey into central North Sulawesi.

Bunaken was nothing I expected it to be. Life on the island was still unspoilt by tourism and scenes like this one were a common sight. Very relaxed atmosphere – exactly what I was looking for!

Two Fish diving resort is placed on the Eastern side of the island in a beautiful setting with dense Mangrove forest.

After settling in to my room I met Lucy my PADI instructor. She was very professional explaining me every detail of Open Water diving course. We agreed to start next day. It took me three days to complete it and I had the privilege to be the only student. After completing the course I stayed four more days diving. Wonderful time!

Before my trip to Indonesia I purchased Ewa Marine underwater camera bag (or housing as they call it). I heard from a friend that it does the job. Must admit that I was a bit sceptical at the beginning. Well this was a great opportunity to test it properly. U-BXP100 housing is tested for 20m depth but I only took it to about 6-7m. No problems whatsoever.

Well I am certainly not an underwater photographer (yet) and cannot give proper review of Ewa Marine bag but I will share some thoughts about it. It is much cheaper than all serious camera underwater housings very basic but it does the job – keeping camera dry. If you are planning to buy one get a version where you can put hot shoe flash unit in. The drawbacks of this underwater bag is that you cannot use all of the camera control and its difficult to see through viewfinder. I ended up shooting with live-view mode which is a bit clumsy but still better than not seeing anything. Also the front glass of the bag causes heavy distortion and loss of sharpness in the corners of the image when using wide angle lens (maybe you will notice it in the photo above). But in the end I am glad I bought it – it comes handy from time to time. It was indispensable when we were shooting canyoning in July.

One of my fave images made using underwater camera bag.

Star fish – there were hundreds of them all around the island.

Fresh diver :) Photo made by my dive buddy John (one of the most experienced dive masters at Two Fish).

And a sunrise as seen from Two Fish dive resort. I really liked their service and the resort itself was very nice with friendly staff and excellent Indonesian food. Highly recommended!

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9 Responses to “Diving at Bunaken Island”

  1. Stan on December 15th, 2010 11:20 am

    Great shots and story! I was wondering about underwater bag – it seems unreliable, but am glad you tested it first :)

  2. Ana on December 16th, 2010 11:55 am

    Love the photos, especially the one with a diver and a school of fish. I don’t think I’ll invest in a proper diving housing any time soon, but the bag looks like a decent substitute for shallow dives.

  3. Dyah Kusumaningrum on December 16th, 2010 6:51 pm

    Dear Luka,
    Your blog is always an inspiration for me …. your photos and stories are great. As I asked you before about Derawan Island (and I managed to go there n enjoyed my stay in Mei 2010) Bunaken and Ewa housing are another subject that I really want to do about it.
    Did you use your Ewa housing with your Nikon DSLR camera ? Your photos are really sharp and got enough light. Did you use internal flash or external ? I want to take underwater photos, but not confidence to bring my DSLR underwater (what a nightmare….) and plan to buy G12 instead with its underwater housing. Is it a good choice?
    Thanks a lot for sharing..
    Next time when you come to Jakarta maybe we can have some photo session…


  4. Luka on December 16th, 2010 7:52 pm

    Hey Dyah,

    thanks for following my blog! Its great to hear such nice words.

    I did you my dslr Nikon d300 with SB-800 flash. The camera was on aperture priority and the flash was on TTL with dialed -1EV in. Its necessary to get some colours underwater. Since the bag is not some state of the art equipment you need to be very careful and double check it doesnt leak.

    About Canon G12; When I was to Bunaken I met quite some people using G11 with underwater housing. They were all very satisfied with results (I’ve only seen their shots on camera LCD so cant tell you my opinion). The truth is this is probably the best Price/quality compromise on the market. So go for it! And also it is probably much easier to use than a dslr in Ewa marine bag!


    See you in Jakarta next time!

  5. Luka on December 16th, 2010 7:56 pm

    @Stan: well I gave it a try and my camera survived :)

    @Ana: my thoughts exactly!

  6. karolina on January 15th, 2011 5:00 am

    Looks like a beautiful place! Actually looking for a good place to learn how to dive. Right now I’m in Laos, maybe I’ll go to indonesia instead of Thailand… thanks for the tip!

  7. mat on February 27th, 2011 11:32 am

    Zares odlične fotografije! Le tako naprej!

  8. Tomohon and its volcanoes | Luka Esenko's blog on March 14th, 2011 11:09 am

    [...] Manado Tua and Bunaken island. [...]

  9. Peter on August 16th, 2011 11:09 am

    I’ll never forget my trip to Bunaken National Park. The visibility was 30 metres. My first dive was along one of the immense walls. My divemaster knew exactly where to go – he headed straight for a sea fan and after less that a minute of searching found a pygmy sea horse. That was within the first few minutes of my first dive!!! On later dives we saw turtles, reef sharks, devil rays, and some huge Napoleon Wrasse.

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