Bunaken is a small island next to the much large island of Sulawesi, Indonesia. It is roughly in the middle of the Bunaken National Park, which covers about 890 square kilometers and where 390 species of coral and 90 species of fish. This is claimed to be more than 70% of all the known species of fish in Indo-Western Pacific.
Besides biodiversity, the current make diving at Bunaken an experience to remember. The oceanic currents often form counter-currents and gyros and they get mixed with rising and descending currents near the walls.
Diving in Bunaken
The two most popular forms of diving in Bunaken are wall diving and muck diving but there are also some wreck sites. There is a plenty of small animals to see and most of the local dive guides are experts in spotting them.
At the top of the walls, at some 5 to 2 meters most walls turn into coral reefs that are magnificent in their own right. You may, however, need to specifically ask your dive guide to take you there or, otherwise, you may catch just a glimpse of the reef during your safety stop at the end of the dive.
If you have the needed experience, do not miss the night diving in Bunaken. That is when the most interesting creatures come out such as huge sponge crabs.
At the surface
There is really just one way to get to Bunaken. You fly to Manado airport and take a boat to one of many diving resorts. Most resorts can pick you up at the airport. From there it takes about 45 minutes to get to the boat and about the same time to get to the island.
Mind you, there is a local village on the island and you you can visit there by foot but, other than that, the resorts are quite isolated places. One of the better known resorts is Living Colours but there are plenty of others to choose from.
The Cook Islands is a country comprised of 15 island in the South Pacific Ocean. The country lives of tourism, which is its main industry. There are some 100 000 tourists visiting the islands every year and quite many of them are divers.
English is one of the languages spoken by the islands’ population of less than 20 000 people. Most people live on the southern islands and only about 10% on the northern islands.
Most dive sites are within 10-20 minutes boat ride away and, yes, practically all diving around the Cook Islands is boat diving.
The water is almost invariably extremely clear and from 23 to 30 degrees Celsius (73-86 degrees Fahrenheit). You can expect to see a lot of corals, canyons, drop-offs and caves .
Rarotonga and Aitutaki are two key islands in the south. This is also where most dive centers are located.
Experienced cave divers should definitely visit the Croc Caverns. It is a cave system — a chain of relatively large caverns — with a well-hidden entrance. You just may just come across a white-tip shark or a Spanish dancer.
Another popular site is the Mataora, which is accessible to even the less experienced divers. This cargo ship was intentionally sunk to depth of 18 meters to create an artificial reef.
Whales and black pearls
To get a chance to see humpback whales, you want to time you visit to the Cook Islands between July and October.
If you would like to get a glimpse of the truly rare treasures of the Cook Islands, the black pearls, you need to go to north where they are produced on the Manihiki and Penrhyn islands.
Barbados is an island country in the Caribbean and, like many other islands in the area, it has a lot to offer to scuba divers. This coral island is about 34 by 23 kilometers (or 21 by 14 miles) and has the population of about 280 000 people.
You will find dive sites all along the west coast. There are also several sites along the east coast: starting near the easternmost point of the island — the East Point Lighthouse — and stretching several kilometers north.
Reef diving in Barbados is best done by boat. The reefs are several hundred meters from the shore and, in some places, they can be out as far as three kilometers (two miles).
Wreck diving in Barbados
If you want to go wreck diving in Barbados, Stavronikita is a must-see. It is a 365 foot cargo ship that lies some 400 meters from the shore on the west-coast. While “the Stav” is arguably the most impressive wreck in the waters of Barbados, you may find the Carlisle Bay Marine Park even more intriguing. The park has 6 ship wrecks in close proximity and on a single dive you can visit more than one of them.
There are at least two local dive operators, Barbados Blue and Eco Dive Barbados on Barbados. The cost of diving in Barbados is reasonable even though it is definitely the lowest in the Caribbean.
Saba, an island in the Caribbean, was incorporated into the Netherlands in 2010. It is a home for about 2000 people. It is also a scuba diving heaven.
The 13 square kilometer (5 sq mi) islands can boast of 29 of dive sites and, if you are on a larger vessel, even more.
If Saba is your next diving holiday destination, you can expect warm water year around (26-28 C or 77-88 F ). Unless there is heavy rain or swells, the visibility is from 20 meters (60 feet) upwards.
Saba’s coastline has been shaped by volcanic activity and it is therefore not suitable for shore diving. There are three licensed dive operators to choose from with a variety of vessels to take you to the dive sites.
Even though Saba is part of the Netherlands, it is good to know that English is the principal language used on the island and the official currency is US Dollars, not Euros.