MOUNT BROMO

the magnificent Mt Bromo will not disappoint with its spectacular views and dramatic landscapes. At 2392 meters tall, Mt Bromo is not among the tallest of Indonesia’s mountains but its stunning beauty lies in its incredible setting.

BOROBUDUR TEMPLE

Borobudur is the world’s largest Buddhist monument and a priceless ancient center for pilgrimage and education in Mahayana Buddhism. The world’s largest Buddhist monument draws pilgrims from around Southeast Asia to a remote hilltop in central Java, surrounded by lush green vegetation and ringed by volcanoes—one of which remains active

GREEN CANYON

Green Canyon, yes, make no mistake it’s not America’s Grand Canyon, but it is Pangandaran’s Green Canyon on the southern coast of West Java. Originallya called “Cukang Taneuh”- the local Sundanese meaning for Soil Bridge- Green Canyon has a 3 meter wide bridge made up of soil above the twin cliffs on both river banks. This natural wonder is surely a spectacular scene that you will not find anywhere else.

UJUNG KULON NATIONAL PARK

This national park, located in the extreme south-western tip of Java on the Sunda shelf, includes the Ujung Kulon peninsula and several offshore islands and encompasses the natural reserve of Krakatoa.

THE ANAMBAS

Named Asia's Best Tropical Island by CNN.com in 2013 the Anambas islands are indeed a tropical paradise. Located in the South China Sea, the Anambas are among Indonesia's northern-most border archipelagos.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

LAKE SENTANI

LAKE SENTANI


Your Guide to Vacation AMAZING INDONESIA ( holiday travel guide )

Papua or island known as Earth of bird paradise does have beautiful marine tourism no less other than areas in Indonesia. One of the most beautiful places in Papua is the Lake Sentani. Lake Sentani is 70-90 meters above sea level. Located also in the Cyclops Mountains and is a volcanic lake.

 

Source water comes from 14 large and small rivers with a single river mouths, the lake’s depth is very steep. Lake Sentani offers incredible Scenery. If you visit the Lake Sentani, you will find some of Crane and the Eagles are going to grab a fish in Lake Sentani.


Lake Sentani Festival

Sentani city located in Jayapura has lots of natural beauty. In order for indigenous values and culture, the art of the tribes around Lake Sentani region doesn’t come to fade, then the Sentani Cultural festival held deemed necessary. Lake Sentani Cultural Festival held each year in the kalkote Region Tourism-lake Sentani, Jayapura regency, Papua. This event is a cultural festival from several villages around Lake Sentani and several districts in Papua as an effort to support government programs to increase tourist visits Indonesia.


Lake Sentani Festival intended to preserve cultural values as a unique asset, and put it together with tour package, so can be enjoyed by domestic and foreign tourists. At this festival will be displayed a unique cultural heritage, such as War Dance on the boat and other traditional dances from various exists tribe in Jayapura. At this festival also celebrated by Papua’s other cultures and other areas in Indonesia which have similar characteristics with Lake Sentani.





GREEN CANYON

GREEN CANYON


Your Guide to Vacation AMAZING INDONESIA ( holiday travel guide )

Green Canyon, yes, make no mistake it’s not America’s Grand Canyon, but it is Pangandaran’s Green Canyon on the southern coast of West Java.  Originallya called “Cukang Taneuh”- the local Sundanese meaning for Soil Bridge- Green Canyon has a 3 meter wide bridge made up of soil above the twin cliffs on both river banks. This natural wonder is surely a spectacular scene that you will not find anywhere else.

The name Green Canyon is believed to have been dubbed by a French tourist who came to the location in 1993. It is said that the clear green water of the river and the abundant green moss on the cliff had given it its popular name. This little natural wonder is located at the Kertayasa Village, in the Ciamis Regency, West Java  Province, about 31 Km or 45 minutes’ drive from Pangandaran Beach.

As you arrive at the main entrance, which is the parking lot of Green Canyon, you will see a row of wooden boats popularly called “Ketinting” lining up by the river. Those are boats that will take you to Green Canyon and costs IDR75.000 per person. The arrangement for renting the boats is very organized: once you pay the fee you will receive a number. You will then get into your boat once your number is called.

The ketinting will then take you on a ride down the river, splitting the clear green water and creating small wave on both sides. From the boat, you will see green forest trees along the banks, and sometimes snakes or lizards jumping into the river, or come up to surface.

As the boat slows down and makes its last turn, an astonishing view jumps right in front of your eyes. Twin cliffs standing tall on each side of the river, with stalactites and stalagmites overhead , and crystal clear water below. You may think that this may be the Garden of Eden.

Water pours down from each side of the cliffs creating a rumbling sound of waterfalls. At low tide, you can walk under this once great cave and marvel at the sight between the two high cliffs.

Since your clothes will surely be soaking wet by now, you may as well dive into the inviting waters and feel its cooling freshness, although the location is not too far from the sea. To swim against the current, between these giant cliffs and under the canopies will be an experience unlike any other. Most noticeable about Green Canyon is that this place is kept very clean. There are no floating garbage on the river or scattered snacks or cigarette wrapping.

Located not too far from Pangandaran, Green Canyon is a must for those who plan to visit Pangandaran. “A piece of heaven on earth”, as those who have been there describe it. A true Natural Wonder  hiding behind the thick bushes and trees of Pangandaran’s forests. If you think you have never heard about this place, it is only because Green Canyon is the best kept Secret of Pangandaran.

To Do

Perhaps, among many things that are possible to do, all will keep on doing is just shout:  WOW! and stand silently as your eyes gaze at the marvelous view.  As you recover from this stunning experience, grab your camera and start capturing every angle of this landscape. It doesn’t matter if you only have a pocket or even cell phone camera, because a great object beats a great tool. Swimming under the stalactites and dripping waters obviously beats swimming in any ordinary man-made swimming pool.

To Eat


The Parking Lot or the main entrance is the facility center of Green Canyon. Here you can find a number of restaurants that mainly serve traditional Sundanese foods and Sea Foods. There are also some food carts that sell Bakso, Chicken porridge and other common carted foods. To learn more about traditional Sundanese cuisine you can refer to our West Java Specialties



To Buy

There are a lot of souvenir shops Located in the parking area. T-Shirts or hats with pictures or writing of Green Canyon, key chains, slippers and various other items are offered for bargaining.

Get There


You must first fly or travel by car or train to Bandung. There are direct international flights from Malaysia and Singapore to Bandung.  A number of “City Trans” companies operate comfortable, sometimes luxurious buses between Jakarta and Bandung.


From Bandung, the means to get to Pangandaran is by bus, or rented car. If you use public transportation, from the Pangandaran Terminal you can take a minibus headed to Cijulang Terminal. From the Cijulang terminal, the trip continues on “Ojek” ,  popular bike taxies found almost everywhere in Indonesia. 

Saturday, 28 March 2015

KERINCI

KERINCI


Your Guide to Vacation AMAZING INDONESIA ( holiday travel guide )
 Kerinci Seblat National Park (TNKS) is a natural conservation area. This one and half million hectare area is located in four provinces; West Sumatra, Jambi, Bengkulu and South Sumatra. In West Sumatra, it covers some 260,000 hectares and is located in Pesisir Selatan and Solok districts.



Types of flora protected in TNKS include Kantung Semar (Nephents Ampularia), orchids, and tropical trees among others. Types of fauna protected include Sumatran Tigers, bears, deer, various primates and birds among others.

Types of endemic primates protected in TNKS include Simpai, Ungkou, Siamang (Symphanlangus Syndactylus), monkeys, and long tail monkeys among others. Types of birds protected include Rangkong, Tohtor and Kuau birds and eagles among others. Most of these fauna are endangered species.

Get Around

TNKS is a special tourist destination. Meaning, TNKS is the right place for nature lovers who love to trek across thick forest. Trekking must be accompanied by rangers assigned to each resort station. If you like to stay overnight, visitors can also be accompanied by at least one local inhabitant assigned to carry tents and cooking tools.

TNKS is a difficult area due to its nearly 90 degree slopes, mud and small rivers with stones.


Tips


Before visiting TNKS, visitors must first obtain a SIMAKSI permit from the Central Office of the Management of National Park II (PTN II) at Khatib Sulaiman street no.46 Padang, Phone/Fax: 0751-447668.

If you like to travel around TNKS off Lumpo Resort, it is best to save time by staying in the forest so that you can enjoy the beautiful nature, flora and fauna. It is necessary for visitors to bring extra clothes, supplies, tents, torchlights, salts for prevention against snakes, tobacco to avoid leech bites and anti-mosquito lotion. Despite the difficult environment, it is possible for you to visit Lumpo waterfall and return on the same day. You can come in the morning and return in late afternoon.


Get There


The easiest access to TNKS in West Sumatra is from Painan, Pesisir Selatan district, or Solok Selatan. From Minangkabau international airport, visitors must go to Padang first and continue their journey to Painan by rented car or arranged travel by an agent for about Rp 40,000 to Rp50,000. In Painan, visitors must first report at the Office of Lumpo Resort, which is located behind Painan bus station and the market, and bring along the Entry permit to a Conservation Area (SIMAKSI) from the Central Office of the Management of National Park II (PTN II) in Padang.

To Do


TNKS area in Lumpo Resort has a waterfall called Air Terjun Lumpo which consists of three levels with the highest level of about 80 meters high. From Limau Gadang village border, it will take four to five hours to travel 7 kilometers to the waterfall. Bukit Bontak and Mount Kerinci are located in Solok Selatan.  Besides trekking, this protected forest area can also be used for camping.







DREAMLAND BEACH

DREAMLAND BEACH


 Your Guide to Vacation AMAZING INDONESIA ( holiday travel guide )

Dreamland Beach is a beautiful beach with white sand stretch 100 meters and leaned on a steep of white stone cliff overlooking to the amazing view of Indian Ocean. This beach is very attractive for tourist including the surfers offering the elegant, tranquility and spectacular sunset view that create the romantic nuance that make it as one of the place many visited by tourist every day. 


Dreamland Beach is located in strategic area of Pecatu Graha, the huge area of luxurious residences, hotels, villas, world-class golf course (New Kuta Golf), water fun game and more that finally make this beach is increasingly popular. The advantages of this beach are big and powerful wave that make it as one of the most demanded surfing points in Bali Island by the experience until professional surfers. You will be very easy to locate the public facilities at this surfing point like restaurant and accommodations. This beach is also suitable for family holidays where you can do relax at the beach while enjoying the warm tropical atmosphere.


Dreamland Beach is located in Unggasan Village, South Kuta District, Badung Regency and Bali province – Indonesia. The beach is situated very strategic and accessible by all vehicles and only 15 minutes from Denpasar Airport, 5 minutes to GWK (Garuda Wisnu Kencana), 15 minutes to Uluwatu Temple or 20 minutes to Nusa Dua. 


The beach is situated in Dreamland area, an elite resort area where the luxury hotels and resorts has been built offering the world-class services and facilities. New Kuta Golf is a new golf course in the island of god as the first choice golf course among the golfer on their visit to Bali. This beach is close with other famous surfing points such as Uluwatu Beach, Bingin Beach, Padang-padang Beach, Balangan Beach, Impossible Beach and Suluban Beach.


Best Season For Surfing

The best session for surfing at Dreamland Beach is during dry season. It is because the wind flow from the southeast to the west hence it could create the great wave even barrel. This season is very much love by the surfer when go for surfing at this surfing point where the wave is powerful and big but inconsistent.





BALURAN NATIONAL PARK

BALURAN NATIONAL PARK


Your Guide to Vacation AMAZING INDONESIA ( holiday travel guide )

In stark contrast to the lush green scenery found elsewhere on the island of Java, the Baluran National Park, located on the east-most edge of Java, consists predominantly of open savannahs, where wildlife roam free. Here one can watch grazing, the large Javan water buffaloes called “banteng”, small Java mouse deer known as “kancil”, peacocks strutting about displaying their colorful plumage, eagles flying overhead and macaques fishing for crabs with their tails.

Coverning 250 sq km, the Park forms part of the district of Situbondo, in the province of East Java, comprising lowland forests, mangrove forests and 40% swathes of fertile savannahs, they provide abundant food for the animals.  Here also are many typical Java trees like the Java tamarind and the pecan nut trees.
Discovered by Dutchman A.H.Loredeboer, in 1937 it was designated Wildlife Refuge by the Dutch colonial authorities, and in 1980 Indonesia designated this as a National Park.
At the center of this large Park stands the extinct Baluran volcano, watching over its pristine environment
Dominated by the dry east wind, Baluran receives on average only 3 months of rain. The rainy season in East Java being between November through April, peaking in December and January, while the dry season lasts from April through October.
During the dry season, the land parches and water becomes scarce, while when it rains, water slides over the black alluvial land with little being absorbed, forming water pools especially along the Park’s southern part that connects Talpat with Bama Beach.
 When you visit Baluran during the rainy season, you will see ample water holes, but during this time the Banteng and the wild bulls prefer to wander in the forests, although other animals like peacocks, mouse deer, and wild fowl do come out and can still be observed.

Baluran National Park boasts 444 species of trees, some unique to the area like the widoro bukol (Ziziphus rotundifolia), mimba (Azadirachta indica), and pilang (Acacia leucophloea). These plants are able to adapt to dry conditions when others have long wilted. Other trees also remaining green are the candle trees or kemiri (Aleurites moluccana), gebang (Corypha utan), api-api (Avicennia sp), the tamarind tree (Tamarindus indica), gadung (Dioscorea hispida), kendal (Cordia obliqua), manting (Syzygium polyanthum), and kepuh (Sterculia foetida).

The Park is habitat to 26 mammal species among which are the banteng (Bos javanicus javanicus), wild water buffaloes (Bubalus bubalis), the ajag (Cuon alpinus javanicus),  the muncak deer (Muntiacus muntjak muntjak), the rusa (Cervus timorensis rusa), leopards (Panthera pardus melas), the mouse deer(Tragulus javanicus pelandoc), and mangrove cats (Prionailurus viverrinus). The Banteng are specific to Baluran and are therefore the Park’s mascot.
 Additionally, Baluran is habitat to 155 types of birds, among which are the rare fire kite (Hirundo rustica), the red forest fowl (Gallus gallus), kangkareng (Anthracoceros convecus), hornbills (Buceros rhinoceros), tuwuk or asian tuwur  (Eudynamys scolopacea), peacocks  (Pavo muticus), and herons (Leptoptilos javanicus).
A safari trip to Baluran is indeed a precious journey.

Tips

 Before driving deeper into the Baluran National Park it is best to visit the Information Center to receive more detailed explanations on the Park, or you can view a slide pressentation at Batangan.
  • Best times to visit the Park are between March through August. You can watch fights between male deer from July thorugh August and observe grey monkeys catch prawns with their tails at low tide. You can also watch the dance of the peacocks during the mating season between October through November.
  • All visitors are prohibited from disturbing, taking or destroying any flora, fauna and the ecosystem.

  • Gas stoves can be hired, but it is best to bring your own cooking equipment since none are available here. Also donot forget to bring mosquito repellents to spray or as lotions. Rangers are very hospitable and helpful and can guide you anywhere you wish, provided you are fit enough to take long treks.
  • For nature lovers, students or anyone wishing to camp out, there is a camp site at Batangan, some 500 m from the entrance gate. Besides the availability of water, there are also bathrooms.
  • Those wishing to see the panorama of Bekol, there is a watchtower located behind the Bekol Post guard.  If you wish to watch wildlife at night or watch the sunrise, there are simple accommodations at Bekol and Bama Beach.

  • Those intending to make a research, they most write in first to the Head of the Baluran National Park, and attach your proposal. You must, however, also promise to give your book results in two copies to the Head of the Baluran National Park.
  • For further information write in or contact : Taman Nasional Baluran, Jl. Jenderal A. Yani 108 Phone./Fax.  +62 333 24119 Banyuwangi-68416. The office is located behind the office of the Baluran National Park at Batangan. Here you can obtain all the information you need and buy your entrance tickets.
Office : Jl. KH Agus Salim No. 132 Banyuwangi 68425, Jawa Timur
Phone:   +62 333 424119; Fax.  +62 333 412680
E-mail: tnbaluran@telkomnet and office@balurannationalpark.com
Web site:http://www.balurannationalpark.




To Do

To get up close and observe the behaviour of wildlife here, you must wake up really early before dawn, at 4am or 5am when you can watch herds of large animals cross the grassland.

Watch out for the Baluran Banteng, recognizable by the white patch on their behind and the white “socks” on their legs. They have sturdy bodies and elegantly bent horns where the left almost touches the right horn.
You will also notice eagles flying high in search of their prey or perching on the branch of a Pilang tree, the tree that bears a striking resemblance to the one depicted in the film “Avatar”. Peacocks with their long plumage are looking for food, while monkeys swing above from tree to tree, among the chirping trill of hundreds of small birds.
Look out for the group of Ajags, animals similar to the fox with their brown bodies and black tails. You may even see one dragging a deer for breakfast. Female deer are usually attacked right on the neck and on the back.  However, never fear, since the ajag is afraid of humans. To date no ajag is known to have attacked a human being in this Park,
Continue your safari to the water hole where buffaloes wallow and drink. Bantengs and water buffaloes never fight over water nor food. They share the water hole. Normally the Banteng are seen here after the buffaloes have finished. Bantengs usually wait until the mud has settled to the bottom before drinking the water.
Bantengs are shy animals and rarely travel in more than three in a group. A 2007 survey found that there were only 30 of these beautiful Bantengs left in the Baluran National Park, most of whom have been killed by poachers searching for their elegant horns. Another reason is the increase of accacia trees that kill the grass around the trees and are now found in 10 % of the land in the entire National Park. Dryness and depletion of available water may also be other causes for the disappearance of the Banteng. To increasse the supply of water for the Banteng and other animals, park rangers collect water during the rainy season, ready to fill the waterholes for the Banteng, buffaloes and deer in the dry season for the animals to wallow and drink.

Bekol
At Bekol is a watchtower at a height of 64 meters above sea level. From here you can observe the different animals like the banteng, deer, water buffaloes, wild boars and other animals in the morning and in the evenings and enjoy the stunning view over the Baluran Park. Here are also 3 cottages that accommodate 28 persons, a shelter, a small mosque, a rangers lodge, a canteen and a parking lot.
Bama Beach
At Bama, the scene at sunrise is awesome.  Wild boars often come here in the morning when you have your breakfast, or around noon and in the evening hours. There are also lizards in the morning basking in the sun. Donot be surpirsed when these lizards return in the afternoon or evening to look for food behind the kitchen. The boars and monkeys also come scavenging for food among the garbage cans.
Bama is a white-sand beach with plenty of corals and tropical fish making this their home.  Bama Beach is protected among mangrove forests and accacia trees for 3 km long. The beach is relatively small but very inviting and pristine looking. Here you can take a dip, go snorkeling, take a boat along the beach or go diving.  At Bama, Balanan, and Bilik, besides swimming, fishing or diving, during July through August you can also observe wild water buffaloes drinking at water holes, deer and rusa, wild boars, and lizards, or chance upon two deer fighting. You may also enjoy the different types of mangrove forests found here. Here is the largest mangrove tree in the world that has a diameter of 450 cm.  At Bama Beach you will also see the largest tree in Asia whose trunk has a diameter the size of 6 persons holding hands encircling it.
The wild fowl may also emerge from the forests to look for food around the lodge. In the afternoon at low tide herons and egrets (Egretta sacra) and other sea birds will look for food along the beach.
While at Popongan, Sejile, Sirontoh, and Kalitopo, you can enjoy boating along the coast and admire the many colorful tropical fish in the sea, and watch flocks of birds migrating across the sky. At Curah Tangis you can go rock-climbing to a height of   10meters to 30 meters with an incline of 85%. At Batangan are a Japanese cave, and the grave of the son of Maulana Malik Ibrahim. At Manting and Air Kacip are springs that donot run dry the whole year around. This is also habitat of the leopards, while for cultural heritage you will find here the Candi Bang, Labuan Merak, and Kramat.




 


LAKE TOBA

LAKE TOBA


Your Guide to Vacation AMAZING INDONESIA ( holiday travel guide )

Lake Toba is one of the awesome natural wonders of the world. This is a crater lake so enormous it has an island almost the size of Singapore in its centre. At over 1,145 square kilometers, and a depth of 450 meters, Lake Toba is actually more like an ocean. This is the largest lake in Southeast Asia and one of the deepest lakes in the world.



Toba is a place to come and sit back, relax and absorb some beautiful pristine scenery. As you sit and take in the view of the picturesque mountains set against the cool clear lake, you will feel the worries of the world melt away. As the lake sits 900 meters above sea level there is a cooler climate here making a refreshing break from the heat, humidity and pollution of the city.
It’s hard to imagine a more scenic place to come and enjoy hiking, swimming and sailing although once you arrive it might be difficult to resist the anesthetizing effects of the lake. The cool clear water coupled with the relaxed atmosphere and friendly people is what draws visitors from all over the world to Toba.



Venture onto the island of Samosir in the middle of the lake and you will discover mountains steeped in cool mist, clear waterfalls to swim under and locals taking their water buffalo out in the fields.
This is a place to come and enjoy the legendary Batak hospitality. Say cheers and enjoy some traditional palm wine with the locals. Sit and have coffee and chat with islanders keen to practice their English. Where-ever you go, it won't take long to make a new friend.



On the main land, there is accommodation available in the town of Parapat. Parapat occupies a small, rocky peninsula jutting out into the lake. On the way down to Parapat from the hill town of Berastagi you will get some spectacular views as the lake first comes into sight and the road winds its way down the mountain closer to the shoreline. In Parapat live the Batak Toba and Batak Simalungun people who are known as a happy and easygoing people, famous for their lively and sentimental songs. Although the majority have embraced Christianity, ancient beliefs and traditions still persist.



Many visitors prefer to take the more scenic option and stay on the massive island of Samosir in the middle of the lake. The original home of the Batak Toba people, the island has many traces of ancient days including stone tombs and traditional villages, such as at Ambarita which has a courtyard with stone furniture where in the old days convicts were tried and beheaded. Or visit Simanindo where traditional Batak ritual dances and music are performed. Here is where you'll be able to discover unique and ancient Toba culture. At Tomok you can find mementos and Batak handicrafts. Buy the distinctive red and black hand-woven shawls called ulos- that are still used today at important life-cycle occasions-, a Batak calendar on rattan, woodcarvings and more. Samosir is accessible by regular ferries from Parapat. Boats also ply around the island regularly.


And if you wish to better understand Batak culture, visit the Batak Museum at Balige, further south on the mainland shore side.
There are many hotels and smaller accommodations around the lake, especially at Parapat, and at Tuktuk on the island of Samosir.


Despite being a tourist spot for many years, Lake Toba still remains a natural and undisturbed natural beauty. Venture away from the small villages and you will find yourself in the country surrounded by farmland, churches and strange tombs peppering the landscape.
Photo courtesy Richie Sugestian
Relax and watch the video of Lake Toba below.


Tips

The weather here is cool but pleasant, but if you’re used to hot temperatures remember to bring a jacket.
Change all the money that you will need before you leave Medan as the exchange rate can be poor in the Toba area.
If you are taking the bus between Medan and Parapat make sure you get on an express bus to avoid doubling your travel time.

To Buy

In Parapat you can buy souvenirs such as T-shirts and keychains. There is also a traditional market which happens twice a week selling fruit, vegetables and clothing.
For more unique souvenirs (even antiques) try shopping on Samosir. If you're interested in buying some ulos cloths, famous for beautiful motifs and smooth weaving, visit the traditional village of Jangga where you can even witness ulos in the making.

Get Around

Feel the wind in your hair and do as the locals do by hiring a motorbike to explore this beautiful part of the world. If you’re on Samosir, take the day to explore by taking a drive on the road running around the edge of the island. Although rough and unpaved in places, this road offers some spectacular views of the lake from the highest points on the island.  
If you’re staying in the popular village of Tuk Tuk on Samosir, the best way to get around is to walk, or wander, down the main street at a leisurely pace.

To Do


If you’re feeling energetic, throw yourself into some of the activities on offer here. In Parapat, there area facilities for swimming, water skiing, motor boating, canoeing, fishing and golf.
From Parapat take a leisurely walk in the beautiful Naborsahon River valley where you’ll see spectacular bougainvilleas, pointetties and honeysuckle flowering all year round.  
Many visito


BUNAKEN MARINE PARK

BUNAKEN MARINE PARK


Your Guide to Vacation AMAZING INDONESIA ( holiday travel guide )

The Bunaken National Marine Park was formally established in 1991 and is among the first of Indonesia's growing system of marine parks. The park covers a total surface area of 89,065 hectares, 97% of which is overlain by sparkling clear, warm tropical water. The remaining 3% of the park is terrestrial, including the five islands of Bunaken, Manado Tua, Mantehage, Nain and Siladen. Although each of these islands has a special character, it is the aquatic ecosystem that attracts most naturalists.


The waters of Bunaken National Marine Park are extremely deep (1566 m in Manado Bay), clear (up to 35-40 m visibility), refreshing in temperature (27-29 C) and harbor some of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world. Pick any of group of interest - corals, fish, echinoderms or sponges - and the number of families, genera or species is bound to be astonishingly high. For example, 7 of the 8 species of giant clams that occur in the world, occur in Bunaken. The park has around 70 genera of corals; compare this to a mere 10 in Hawaii. Although the exact number of fish species is unknown, it may be slightly higher than in the Philippines, where 2,500 species, or nearly 70% of all fish species known to the Indo-western Pacific, are found.


Oceanic currents may explain, in part, why Bunaken National Marine Park is such a treasure trove of biodiversity. Northeasternly currents generally sweep through the park but abundant counter currents and gyros related to lunar cycles are believed to be a trap for free swimming larvae. This is particularly true on the south side of the crescent-shaped Bunaken Island, lying in the heart of the park. A snorkler or diver in the vicinity of Lekuan or Fukui may spot over 33 species of butterfly fish and numerous types of groupers, damsels, wrasses and gobies. The gobies, smallish fish with bulging eyes and modified fins that allow them to attach to hard surfaces, are the most diverse but least known group of fish in the park.



Biologists believe that the abundance of hard corals is crucial in maintaining the high levels of diversity in the park. Hard corals are the architects of the reefs, without them, numerous marine organisms would be homeless and hungry. Many species of fish are closely associated with particular types of corals (folious, branching, massives, etc.) for shelter and egg-laying. Others, like the enormous Bumphead Parrotfish, Balbometopon muricatum, are "coralivores" and depend on hard corals for their sustenance. Bony mouth parts fused into an impressive "beak" allow these gregarious fish to crunch corals like roasted peanuts.



Some 20,000 people live on the natural resources of Bunaken National Marine Park. Although there are inevitable conflicts between resource protection and use by people, the Indonesian government is taking a fairly unusual and pragmatic approach to park management. The idea is to promote wise resource use while preventing overexploitation. Local communities, government officials, dive resort operators, local nature groups, tourists and scientists have played an active role in developing exclusive zones for diving, wood collection, fishing and other forms of utilization. Bunaken Marine Park has become an important example of how Sulawesi, and the rest of Indonesia, can work to protect its natural resources.



The Bunaken National Marine Park was formally established in 1991 and is among the first of Indonesia's growing system of marine parks. The park covers a total surface area of 89,065 hectares, 97% of which is overlain by sparkling clear, warm tropical water. The remaining 3% of the park is terrestrial, including the five islands of Bunaken, Manado Tua, Mantehage, Nain and Siladen. Although each of these islands has a special character, it is the aquatic ecosystem that attracts most naturalists.






The waters of Bunaken National Marine Park are extremely deep (1566 m in Manado Bay), clear (up to 35-40 m visibility), refreshing in temperature (27-29 C) and harbor some of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world. Pick any of group of interest - corals, fish, echinoderms or sponges - and the number of families, genera or species is bound to be astonishingly high. For example, 7 of the 8 species of giant clams that occur in the world, occur in Bunaken. The park has around 70 genera of corals; compare this to a mere 10 in Hawaii. Although the exact number of fish species is unknown, it may be slightly higher than in the Philippines, where 2,500 species, or nearly 70% of all fish species known to the Indo-western Pacific, are found.

Oceanic currents may explain, in part, why Bunaken National Marine Park is such a treasure trove of biodiversity. Northeasternly currents generally sweep through the park but abundant counter currents and gyros related to lunar cycles are believed to be a trap for free swimming larvae. This is particularly true on the south side of the crescent-shaped Bunaken Island, lying in the heart of the park. A snorkler or diver in the vicinity of Lekuan or Fukui may spot over 33 species of butterfly fish and numerous types of groupers, damsels, wrasses and gobies. The gobies, smallish fish with bulging eyes and modified fins that allow them to attach to hard surfaces, are the most diverse but least known group of fish in the park.



Biologists believe that the abundance of hard corals is crucial in maintaining the high levels of diversity in the park. Hard corals are the architects of the reefs, without them, numerous marine organisms would be homeless and hungry. Many species of fish are closely associated with particular types of corals (folious, branching, massives, etc.) for shelter and egg-laying. Others, like the enormous Bumphead Parrotfish, Balbometopon muricatum, are "coralivores" and depend on hard corals for their sustenance. Bony mouth parts fused into an impressive "beak" allow these gregarious fish to crunch corals like roasted peanuts.

Some 20,000 people live on the natural resources of Bunaken National Marine Park. Although there are inevitable conflicts between resource protection and use by people, the Indonesian government is taking a fairly unusual and pragmatic approach to park management. The idea is to promote wise resource use while preventing overexploitation. Local communities, government officials, dive resort operators, local nature groups, tourists and scientists have played an active role in developing exclusive zones for diving, wood collection, fishing and other forms of utilization. Bunaken Marine Park has become an important example of how Sulawesi, and the rest of Indonesia, can work to protect its natural resources.



BUNAKEN THE BEST WALL
Bunaken Island offers a plethora of wall experiences for visiting divers. Everyone has their favorite site and mine is Lekuan 2. Judging from the number of divers who frequent the site, many agree with me. The reasons are obvious immediately upon entry. You can't help but notice the high concentration of schooling fish from the drummers and fusliliers that greet you as you begin your descent, the blizzards of brightly-colored anthias you pass along the edge of the reeftop, continuing to fall through the clouds of pyramid butterflyfish and bannerfish underneath. The variety of reef fish is astounding: you could pick out over 20 species of butterflyfish alone if you so desired.


The start of the traditional dive offers small treasures as candy crabs frequent the beautiful soft corals in the area, often adorning themselves with a sprig of live soft coral they've affixed atop their head. The faerie crab, a fingernail-sized squat lobster that's pink and hairy can be found by a discerning eye peering among the outer folds of barrel sponges. But don't become engrossed with the macro life so much that you miss any of the larger residents: sharks that pass you by below your fins, napoleons wrasse or bumphead parrotfish above you, or turtles out in the blue off the wall.

Toward the end of the site, the Lekuan point, the current predictably picks up just as you notice the schools of redtooth triggerfish around you. Sharks enjoy the current as well, often coming up to only five meters in depth to cut over the point to Lekuan 1. Resident napoleons, giant trevally, jacks, batfish and solitary giant barracuda are predictably seen along this stretch, but smaller denizens such as leaf scorpionfish are common as well, keeping your attention divided between the lush wall and the blue ocean.



With the wall going from only 2-5 meters along the top to 50-70 meters along the bottom, where a narrow shelf exists before the wall continues to plunge into the abyss, you can alter your depth to find an entire new set of attractions dive after dive. Boredom is definitely not an option.