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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
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.
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