I‘ve watched the years roll by in Spain, Italy, France and now Indonesia. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel every birthday since my 22nd. As luck would have it, this year continued the tradition of being away from home and getting to age adventurously. My 25th birthday weekend was heavenly and gave me more than enough to reflect on and be thankful for…Where had I been in a quarter of a century? Where would I go in the next? With days filled with sunshine, snorkeling, and hammock napping, I’d say that’s just about the best way to relax and recharge. After seeing places like Bali, Lombok and even Bira, I wondered if I could still be thrilled by the beauty of Sulawesi. I was so, so wrong. The beauty of Bunaken was more than I contemplated – crystal clear tropical water, lush green mountains, water teeming with wildlife and exotic corals – it all stunned me. Apparently, Bunaken is home to 70% of all fish species found in the Indo-Western Pacific. Besides the amazing aquatic ecosystem, the inner quiet to be revered on the island is a major perk and the main reason I would go back. What struck me as especially pleasant was the one quality I find hard to derive from even the greatest big cities. There’s something so restorative about pure silence and awe inspiring nature, being completely disconnected from the hyper connected society we have become. Being on an island like Bunaken reminds me what life is like when all the noise, pollution and worries get washed away. We could all use a place like Bunaken nearby to clear our minds. In short, our days were spent on the resort’s boat going from dive site to dive site, exploring the water and looking for turtles and every exotic fish imaginable. By night the only sound that rocked us to sleep was the wooshing of the waves hitting the shore just steps from the bungalow. Bagus.
We chose Cakalang Diving Resort for this weekend trip. This place is simple and nice and is by no means a luxury option. They are two clean basic bungalows located several steps away from the water and mangroves cover the shore. Power is cut during the day and there’s no warm water, but this isn’t a problem if you’re diving and snorkeling all day. The great thing is that full board is included and the food is plentiful and delicious. The diving instructors are very knowledgable and super friendly. The owners were very welcoming (a Dutch man and Indonesian woman) and for my birthday, they surprised me with a cake that was brought from the mainland. Their jolly staff played music for me and other guests as well late into the night. Great budget option!