South West of WA




Bunaken & Lembeh

Scapa Flow

Lake Baikal

Komodo Island

Pulau Weh

South Africa

HMS Hermes

Ambon & Banda Islands

SS President Coolidge

Murion Islands



Wakatobi & Raja Ampat

Truk Lagoon


More Dive Trips

Budget Diving at Bunaken island and Lembeh strait, Indonesia


Recently I spent two weeks in Indonesia, diving at two well known dive spots, namely Bunaken island and Lembeh strait. Both these locations are accessible from Manado, North Sulawesi, a city with flight connections from Denpasar, Bali.
To keep costs down I flew a combination of low cost carriers, namely Jetstar (from Sydney to Denpasar), Lion Air (from Denpasar to Manado return) and Air Asia (from Denpasar to Perth). Due to flight times, the trip involves overnight stays in Manado. The total cost of these flights was about $900.



Bunaken Island


To get to Bunaken Island, I took the public ferry ($5) from Manado, which leaves about 2pm and takes about half an hour. On Bunaken I stayed at Daniel's Homestay, which cost about $25 per day including all meals. For this I had a beachfront cottage, with a verandah and toilet / shower and a fan. The meals were fairly basic, eggs or pancakes for breakfast, fish, chicken or pork, with rice and vegetables for lunch and dinner, with some fruit for dessert.
The dive operation at Daniel's is called Immanuel Divers, and they have two dive boats that leave directly from in front of the homestay. All the dives are guided, and when I was there I had a guide all to myself, and often as not the boat also! You can do up to three dives a day, but I chose to do only one, and spend the rest of the day relaxing or snorkelling, the latter being really excellent. I had all my own gear (except for tanks and weights) and for the five days I was there the diving cost me $125.

The diving at Bunaken is pretty good, nearly all wall diving, generally good visibility, with some spectacular coral. There are a lot of fish, but not many larger eatable ones (despite it being a marine national park), although there are plenty of turtles. The only negative is the floating plastic, which, although I have seen worse (at Menjangen island, Bali), could be better.




Lembeh Strait

Daniel's has a sister Homestay on Lembeh island, where you can dive the critter paradise of Lembeh Strait. I got a transfer over to there from Bunaken with their boat, a taxi, and then their boat to Lembeh island for $25, you can do it about 3 to 4 hours. My dive guide came with me and I was the only guest at the Homestay, and naturally the only diver! The Homestay was the same price, and the cottage was similar, although the meals were a bit more basic and repetitive than on Bunaken. The dives were more expensive ( $35), and you had to do double dives as the distance was a bit further, but as I was the only diver that wasn't bad! I did a total of nine dives. Staying there also gave me a chance to imp
never seen before I lost count. Below are a few examples:
rove my very basic Indonesian, as there was limited English spoken.
It was very different diving to Bunaken island, with no walls, silt or sandy sloping bottoms, but the visibility was ok, and the marine life unbelievable! I saw so many things that I had never seen before I lost count. Below are a few examples:


On the way back from Lembeh to Manado, I stopped over at Tangkoko nature reserve, in order to see a special type of monkeys called a Tarsier, in their jungle environment. It was well worth it.
All up the two week trip from Australia cost me about $1,700, not bad for ten days of some pretty good diving and cultural experiences.
For further info check their website:


May 2013