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Siladen Island is included in the Bunaken National Marine Park, one of the oldest protected areas in Indonesia. This tiny island located north of Sulawesi is entirely fringed by coral reefs. These reefs offer fabulous coral drop-offs where soft corals, sea anemones and sponges thrive. Siladen Island is in the heart of the Coral Triangle, one of the World’s hotspots for biodiversity. The number of species inhabiting the reef is unparalleled and each snorkeling session will provide you with different wonders to enjoy.

Siladen coral reef
The Siladen southwestern reef as seen from a boat. In the distance is Bunaken and Pulau Manadotua.

How to get to the Siladen snorkeling location

Siladen Island is located only a few miles from the north coast of Sulawesi Island. The island can only be accessed by boat, usually from the city of Manado located on the main island.

A one-way trip from Manado airport to any hotel on the island usually costs from $60 to 90 for transportation and a 30 to 45-minute boat trip. Some hotels  offer free shuttle service from the airport with scheduled pick-up times.

Bunaken Island is only 2 miles from  Siladen. If you are staying at one of the many hotels in Bunaken, consider taking a day trip and taking a boat. A one-way trip is about $25. Some of the snorkeling excursions leaving from Bunaken also include a stop over in Siladen.

Siladen Island snorkeling map, Manado
Siladen Island snorkeling map.

Water entrance for snorkeling Siladen Island

You can enter the water from almost anywhere along the sandy beach but try to take into account the currents, which can change direction several times per day.

If you want to avoid swimming a long distance to reach the drop-off, the recommended snorkel entry is close to the jetty, where the reef is the narrowest.

Siladen Island snorkeling tips

The best snorkeling at Siladen is found at the coral drop-off, which is at a distance of a minimum of 43 yards from the beach near the jetty.  It is about 440 yards from the beach fringing the Siladen Island Resort & Spa.

Once in the water, swim towards the drop-off. On the way, you will explore the reef flat, which is quite shallow (↕2-3 feet/0.5-1 meter). This flat features a mix of sand, small coral and seagrass. Butterflyfish, Moorish idols, damselfish and anemonefish are easy to spot in the shallows.

Shallow coral reef at Siladen Island
Siladen Island’s reef is loaded with many types of hard and soft corals.

At the end of the reef flat, you’ll reach a dramatic drop-off that falls from 10 feet down to 30 feet. You’ll see a healthy profusion of corals, sponges and gorgonian that cling onto the flat here.

In this area, you will be amazed by the density and variety of coral. There are dozens of species to observe, including huge leather corals, tabular coral, branching coral, and large red sea fans. Among them, you will notice many giant clams and sea anemones.

Ocellaris anemonefish in a carpet sea anemone in Siladen
The Ocellaris anemonefish is one of the many clownfish species that can be seen around Siladen.

More than 30 species of butterflyfish can be spotted on Siladen’s reefs, including pyramid butterflyfish, teardrop butterflyfish, double-saddle butterflyfish and the most common sunburst butterflyfish. (see species list at the bottom of the page)

Of the dozen clownfish species inhabiting Siladen’s shallows, six are easily spotted. Those are not the spot’s only attractions: angelfish, hundreds of chromis, moray eels, lionfish, bannerfish and batfish can also be seen at snorkeling depths.

Sea turtles are occasional visitors to the reef, but they are much less common at Siladen than at nearby Bunaken.

If you want to explore further, follow the reef northwards. When in front of the Siladen Resort & Spa,  swim towards the shore. You will enter a shallow area covered with seagrass (1-3ft) which is famous for hosting hundreds of starfish. The horned sea stars, in particular, are abundant in this area.

Starfish at Siladen seagrass beds
Siladen seagrass beds are home to many horned sea stars (left) and the more sporadically seen blue starfish (right).

To fully enjoy your experience, take tide times into account. The sea meadows are too shallow to swim in at low tide, and the ebb tide brings a current driving towards the open sea. Currents occurring along the drop-off can change direction very often, check with the dive shops if you are not sure about the current direction.

Restaurants and accommodation on Siladen Island

There are several accommodation options on the island, including the world-known Siladen Resort and Spa. If you plan a day trip from Bunaken, consider booking your lunch in one of the hotels or guesthouses.


  • Level required Beginner
  • Protected areaBunaken National Marine Park
  • Maximum depth6ft on reef flat, 60ft behind drop-off
  • Water entranceEasy, from a sandy beach
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyNo
  • 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.