The Bunaken Islands from our resort: swim and dive venue.
Adventures coming out of your ears
June 23-July 1, 2020
Sulawesi has grown into one of the great adventures in ocean swimming. We're putting more adventures into this oceanswimsafari, now. Now, every day offers something different, exciting and memorable. We're turning it into a swim and dive trip with a couple of land-based adventures thrown in, such as whitewater rafting. This, at the bottom of the Celebes Sea, in the area of the greatest marine diversity in the Indo-Pacific region.
Lots of ocean swimmers also dive. When we go to Sulawesi, we've often been asked, "Can we dive, too?" Sulawesi is home to some of the world's best dive sites in some of the world's best water. So the answer is, Yes, you can dive, but our program has not accommodated that demand. Until now. As well as swim days -- where we swim along some of the best coral reef you'll ever experience -- over the week that we're on the ground, we're also programming in two days dedicated to diving. As well, we have two land-based excursions -- a Highlands tour, including a visit to "The Extreme Market" (expect the dramatic), and whitewater rafting down the Nimanga River. If you don't dive, no problem. Whilst some dive, you can do more swimming or snorkelling over the reef.
Our target area in Sulawesi is the islands of the Bunaken National Park. We stay at a small dive resort on the mainland, boating out each day for swims or diving.
Sulawesi is one of the places that is right out of left field; a place you've probably never heard of, let alone been to. Or even considered as a destination. It's very much at the exotic end of the spectrum.
Sulawesi is the funny-shaped Indonesian island at the bottom of the Celebes Sea, perched between West Papua, Borneo and The Philippines. Western visitors -- usually just Dutch and German -- commonly are divers, and that’s how we heard about this area: from a diving friend who swims. They told us, it’s perfect for an oceanswimsafari. And that's exactly as we found it.
Our area of interest is at the very nor’-eastern tip of Sulawesi, around the city of Manado. It’s a predominately Christian part of Indonesia, and most western visitors tend to be European – Dutch, German, Swiss. Very few Australians or Kiwis.
Our accommodation is a nine-room resort with “chalets” that range up the hill. oceanswimsafarists eat together on a Captain’s table (although you can have something set up for yourself, if you like) on an Indonesian feast each night, gazing out from the steep hillside over the fishing boat-bobbing sea.
The shoreline is steep, so the resort has spectacular views out over the Celebes Sea towards the Bunaken Islands, a national park, with pristine water that’s warm and clear, and teeming with sea life. We lost count of the number of turtles that glided by, distracted by the big tuna, the trevally, the coral. Just above the equator, the water is warm. We saw nothing untoward during our visit, just a reef shark or two -- and they're not that interested in us -- despite swimming along the drop-off from reefs where you couldn’t see the bottom. The sea just went down, and down.
From our resort, the dominant feature of the Bunaken Islands is Pulau Manadotua, an island volcano. Each day, we venture out on the resort's dive boat, which is our swim boat. There’ll be four day trips to swim along the reefs. We’ll have two day trips on land, one a tour of the highlands behind Manado with more volcanos and Danau Tondano, an enormous highland lake, locals towns and markets. The lake’s shores are lined with seafood restaurants. We’ll have lunch at one of them. We’ll visit the Extreme Market. That really is what it’s called. What do they mean by “Extreme”? Fancy some python?
We’ll go whitewater rafting: 9km down the Nimanga River. The drive there and back is worth the trip alone.
One of the highlights of this oceanswimsafari is the food. Our resort's chef prepares exciting food, different each night, using an array of fresh, local ingredients.
Despite the remote location, Manado is easy to get to: through Singapore, from where Singapore Airlines’ regional carrier, Silk Air, flies direct to Manado. Going up, there’s an overnight in Singapore, which is not hard to take. But coming back it’s usually possible to come straight through with as short as a three-hour layover in Singapore.
Along the drop-off in the Bunakens, where the sea drops into infinity.
We’re allowing an overnight in Singapore on the way to Manado, but we plan to come straight back without the need for an overnight. We’ll have seven nights in Sulawesi. It’s an eight-night oceanswimsafari to a place you’d never otherwise visit.
- Dates - June 23-July 1, 2020
- 1 night Singapore, incl. breakfast
- 7 nights Manado (Sulawesi)
- All meals in Sulawesi
- Two swim day excursions (two swims each day, lunch aboard)
- Two dive day excursions (two dives per day, lunch aboard, dive equipment extra at own cost as necessary)
- Two day excursions – Highlands Tour and Whitewater rafting
- Airport transfers
Package costs range from $A3,322 to $A3,833pp Twin or Double, or $A3,713 to $A4,375 single depending on room type chosen.
There are three basic room types at our resort in Sulawesi: free-standing chalets, duplex, and triplex. Contact us for more info.
Space is very limited on this oceanswimsafari. We plan to fill the resort so that its resources can be devoted solely to our requirements.
If you prefer, you can do more diving on land excursion days (at own cost).
We keep our package costs under review continuously and reserve the right to adjust them in line with movements in exchange rates and individual cost components.
Airfares are not included, because they vary and depend on rates at the time of booking. You can get to Singapore however you like, but it's important that you are on a particular flight from Singapore to Manado. We will advise you on this when you book with us. The key is that we all must be in Singapore on the evening of Tuesday, June 23, so that we can connect on to Manado in the morning of Wednesday, June 24, 2020. Return flights should be dated Wednesday, July 1. If you're coming straight back to Australia, this means you'll get back on Thursday, July 2.
Time for a drink.
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Cobbers escort us back to base after a day's swimming.
High on the hill, our resort.