This spot has been added by

snorkeling team
Snorkeling Report's team
Other contributors You can help us keep this page up-to-date by uploading your pictures to the photo gallery, or by sending us your comments via the contact form

Last updated on

Bunaken Timur (Bunaken East) refers to the reef fringing Bunaken Island’s eastern shore. With its gorgeous coral formations alive with hundreds of fish species and a lot of sea turtles, it is the best snorkeling spot on the island.

Bunaken Timur's reef, seen from a boat, approximately in front of Lorenso's Cottage.
Bunaken Timur’s reef, seen from a boat, approximately in front of Lorenso’s Cottage.

How to get to Bunaken Timur snorkeling site?

Bunaken Island is just off Sulawesi Island’s north shore. It can only be accessed by boat. Manado is the main starting point to get here. Most hotels also offer transfers for their guests.

Bunaken Timur snorkeling spot extends over the southeastern coast, between Lorenso’s Cottage (northern limit) and the main jetty (southern limit, see map below). If you are staying on the eastern coast of Bunaken you can walk along the shore to reach the location.

Some boat snorkeling tours departing from Manado, Siladen, or Bunaken include a snorkeling session at this location.

Bunaken Timur snorkeling map
Bunaken Timur snorkeling map.

Water entrance for snorkeling Bunaken Timur

The water entrance is better at high tide, when the water is deep enough on the reef flat to snorkel to the drop off.

To snorkel this location, it is important to check the currents. A light current usually runs along the reef. Most of the time, the current direction is from the North to the South (as marked on the map above), but it can also run northwards. The best way to explore Bunaken Timur is then to drift-snorkel it, by entering and exiting the water from different points.

When the current direction is southwards, the recommended snorkel entries are in front of Lorenso’s Cottage (entry 1 on the map above), the Bunaken Sea Garden Dive Resort (entry 2), or Two Fish Divers (entry 3). The southernmost entry is near the Raja Laut Dive Resort (entry 4), but it is to be avoided if the North > South current is too strong. You can exit the water at any of the small beaches found between the mangroves. Stay away from the jetty, around which there is important boat traffic.

If you take part in a snorkeling tour, your boat will take you directly to the reef.

Bunaken Timur Reef snorkeling exploration

The snorkeling area covers the reef fringing the island’s south-eastern shore. Corals are very healthy over the whole area, except for a few dozen of meters north of the jetty where some of them are damaged.

The reef drop off at Bunaken Timur.
The reef drop off at Bunaken Timur.

Put on your diving mask and enter a magical place where thousands of fish peacefully swim over dense coral gardens. Following the drop-off, you will spot different species of Butterflyfish going by pairs, Trumpetfish, huge Porcupinefish, Parrotfish, and Boxfish.

Above tabular corals, schools of hundreds of Chromis hide with every sudden movement. You can spot several clownfish species here, the most common being Clark’s clownfish and pink skunk clownfish. However, you will spot fewer anemonefish than you might around neighboring Siladen Island.

School of Razorfish at Bunaken, Indonesia
A school of razorfish, known for swimming almost vertically, with the head pointed downwards.

Some of the most colorful fish in Bunaken are angelfish: the Regal angelfish is most often seen around the reef flat, which makes it quite photogenic, while the Majestic angelfish dwells in deeper waters (↕10-12 feet/3-4 meters) along the drop-off.

Keep an eye on the drop-off and you might repeatedly spot the silhouettes of sea turtles (The Green sea turtle and the Hawksbill sea turtle can both be seen here). They like to swim along the reef but seldom enter the reef flat. If you skindive you can try to get closer to them, but they are fearful creatures and they might escape to the deep blue in a heartbeat.

A Bristletail filefish at Bunaken Timur.
A Bristletail filefish at Bunaken Timur.

Restaurants and accommodation in Bunaken

There are many accommodation options on Bunaken East Coast, fitting all budgets. Lorenso’s Cottage and Living Colours are the closest to the reef’s main access at low tide.


  • Level required Beginner
  • Protected areaBunaken National Marine Park
  • Maximum depth6ft on reef flat, 60ft behind drop-off
  • Water entranceEasy
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsFree (or tour price)
  • Public toilets & showersNo

MAP Spot

These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.