Bunaken Island and Lembah Bay are both world class dive destinations for very different reasons. Bunaken dives are big walls, lots of pelagic and currents which can make for some very exciting dive experiences. If you wag a large DSLR around I recommend you carry a reef hook just in case you get stuck in a strong passing down/up current. Stay near the walls is my advice. One of my favourite sites is Mike’s Point (drift dive). Here, the wall has a concave curvature and is covered with a high abundance of barrel sponges, black coral and giant gorgonians. Eagle rays and reef sharks are not uncommon. The end of the dive feeds around a shallower point which is a profusion of colorful soft corals, anemones, tons of schooling yellow snapper and the occasional triggerfish with an attitude.
My second favorite dive on the Bunaken side is actually a muck dive called Critters Circus. This site is in front of Tasik Ria Resort, south of Manado town. Do it in the late afternoon and you won’t be disappointed. Just a few of the critters living in this oasis are fingered dragonets, blue ring octopus, army shrimp, frogfish, nudibranchs and seahorses. Extensive sea grass beds cover part of these shallows, attracting tons of pipefish.
Diving Bunaken is a year-long pastime but the dry season is May to October. The monsoon season from November to April is moderate. Visibility can range up to 30-40 meters on the walls.
Recommended dive operator
Tasik Ria Resort: http://www.tasikria.com