Pulau Bunaken with kids


By Katrina Griffiths

We have just spent a week on Pulau Bunaken, Manado, which is a Christian Island in the very far north of Sulawesi.  Bunaken is lush, green and surrounded by a spectacular reef, which is famous for the sensational diving.  Despite being easily accessible to tourists it is still quiet here and the vibe is very laid back, so we did very little other than snorkeling everyday, either hitching a ride with the dive boats or swimming out from the beach. It is a fair swim for the children to get out to the best coral gardens, but totally worth it.

The local village is charming. There are no cars or shops, just friendly people who just love a good singalong. Its all good clean fun round here with tambourines, ukuleles and singsongs galore! The electricity supply is very unpredictable. For me, this means a dodgy Internet connection and difficulties getting in touch with people back home. For the children this means NO ICE CREAM. I keep taking them to these terrible places without freezers and it’s so hot and IT’S ALL MY FAULT.

It has rained heavily, which is to be expected in the rainy season. It is still so warm and pleasant, but very steamy and everyone’s hair has gone ringlety. The downside of all the rain and damp is that nothing dries properly and we smell like mould.

We stayed in Daniel’s Homestay, which was fantastic.  All meals are included in the price of the room and the food, local fare, is delicious and plentiful!  The accommodation is basic but perfectly comfortable with the option of air conditioning in a couple of the rooms. I especially credit the owners Daniel and Hapni for their warm hospitality. They really took to the children and even did some babysitting for us so we could go out on the reef together. They tell me they have plans to build a children’s pool, which will make the place even better for kids.

So far, I have been lying around doing very little other than eat, read and snorkel for over 3 weeks and I seem to be moving in slow motion. Somebody said that if we were lucky, we would get to see a manatee. My only concern is that if I live like this for much longer, someone will confuse me with one.