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Siladen Island is included in Bunaken National Marine Park, one of the oldest protected areas in Indonesia. This tiny island located north of Sulawesi (formerly Celebes) Island is entirely fringed by coral reefs offering fabulous coral drop-offs where soft corals, sea anemones and sponges thrive. Siladen Island is in the heart of the Indonesian “coral triangle”, one of the World’s hotspots for biodiversity: the number of species inhabiting the reef is unparalleled and each snorkeling session will show you different wonders.

How to get there?

Siladen Island is located only a few kilometers from Sulawesi Island’s North coast. It 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 in the island usually costs from 50 to 70 euros (car + a 30-45 mn boat trip). Some hotels also offer free shuttle service from the airport (scheduled pick-up times).

If you’re staying on one of Bunaken Island’s many hotels (it is located only 3 kilometers away from Siladen), consider coming on a day trip and taking a boat (one-way trip: about 20 euros). Some of the snorkeling excursions leaving from Bunaken also include a stopover in Siladen.

Spine-cheeked anemonefish in Siladen, Indonesia

Water entrance

If the island is entirely fringed by reefs, there is one area best suited for snorkeling: it is located between the Island’s southern point (Onong Reef) and the entrance of Siladen Island Resort & Spa. This area is perfect for snorkeling because of its narrow reef: it is easy to swim to the drop-off. In addition, water is usually calm and currents-free here and the coral cover is outstanding. Look for the easy-to-spot pontoon close to the village and just enter the water from the beach.

Siladen Island snorkeling map, Indonesia

Exploration

You will mainly explore the coral drop-off, located about 60 meters from the beach (at the pontoon level), but you can also add a detour to the sea meadows next to the Siladen Resort and Spa for a starfish-loaded experience.

Once in the water, swim towards the open sea and the reef edge. Only a few meters after leaving the beach, corals begin to cover the seabed (0.5-1m) and you can already spot fish: butterflyfish, Moorish idols, fluorescent-blue damselfish and even clownfish in their anemone! With a depth lower than one meter and very clear water, this is the perfect place to take pictures.

Siladen island coral reef snorkeling

Swimming further you finally come close to the reef’s edge, which is sheltered from waves and currents in this area. The drop-off is so steep that it looks like a mere wall. Its external side is actually of little interest for snorkelers who quickly swim over dozens of meters of blue water. Remain on the main reef (1-3m) where submarine life is at its best. To put it simply, you will be amazed by the density and variety of coral formations. There are dozens of species here: huge leather corals, broccoli and tabular coral sharing the seabed with sponges, giant clams and sea anemones. More than 30 species of butterflyfish can be spotted on Bunaken reefs, including yellow pyramid butterflyfish, teardrop butterflyfish, double saddle butterflyfish and the most common sunburst butterflyfish. Upon the 20 clownfish species inhabiting the National Park, 4 can be spotted easily here. Those are not the spot’s only attraction: angelfish, hundreds of chromis, moray eels, lionfish, bannerfish and platax can also be seen.

If you want to explore further, follow the reef northwards. Swim towards the shore when you are level with the Siladen Resort & Spa security post. You will arrive in a shallow area covered with seagrass (0.5-1m) which is famous for its starfish. Hundreds of chocolate chip starfish (protoreaster nodosus) cover the seagrass meadow, you simply can’t miss them. With their shades of beige, red and orange, together they compose gorgeous colorful waterscapes. In addition to these you might spot less numerous but nonetheless beautiful blue starfish. Both species are harmless and you can touch them, but avoid taking them out of the water.

Chocolate chip starfish at Siladen Island

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 (it can turn your way back to the beach into a sport). This spot is usually quiet, but boats stop here. Waste is a curse on this spot, as it is in the whole National Park, and (sadly) you will certainly pass by plastic bags and cans drifting upon the reef.

Restaurants & accommodation

There are several accommodation options on the island, including the luxurious Siladen Resort and Spa. All are full board and there are no restaurants: if you plan a day trip from Bunaken, consider booking your lunch in one of the hotels or guesthouses.



Species you may spot while snorkeling Siladen Island
COMMON NAME SCIENTIFIC NAME ABUNDANCE FISHBASE WIKIPEDIA
Regal angelfish Pygoplites diacanthus  
Spinecheek anemonefish Premnas biaculeatus  
Clark anemonefish Amphiprion clarkii  
Fire clownfish Amphiprion melanopus  
Orange skunk clownfish Amphiprion sandaracinos  
Pink skunk clownfish Amphiprion perideraion  
Sunburst butterflyfish Chaetodon kleinii  
Teardrop butterflyfish Chaetodon unimaculatus  
Pyramid butterflyfish Hemitaurichthys polylepis  
Double-saddle butterflyfish Chaetodon ulietensis  
Yellow longnose butterflyfish Forcipiger flavissimus  
Moorish idol Zanclus cornutus  
Vagabond butterflyfish Chaetodon vagabundus  
Sixbar wrasse Thalassoma hardwicke  

 

  • 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.