Dive Sites at Siladen Resort, Sulawesi, Indonesia

Introduction

Siladen Island is a small island, in far northeastern Sulawesi, located off of Bunaken Island, the larger and more well-known of the two islands for the national park. You can access the same Bunaken National Park dive sites from the more low-key little sister island. Most of the dive sites around Bunaken are walls, but there is also muck diving towards the Sulawesi mainland.

I spent 4 nights at Siladen Resort and Spa and dove every day. I cover my time here in 2 posts – the dive sites and staying at the resort and other logistics.

Diving

Most of the guests I talked to love the diving here. While there are many pluses, for me, the diving was only so, so. The sea is generally calm with warm water. In mid-October water temperatures were in the mid-80s. There is only occasional current which the guide usually avoided by heading in the opposite direction. Therefore most dives were easy from start to finish and did not require much extra energy.

Bunaken Island

The reef walls of Bunaken have lots of turtles hanging about on the wall shelves and begging to be photographed. They are not the least bit skittish. The walls also had a good amount of colorful fish and schools of smaller fish raining down. Occasionally you see bigger life out in the blue. I did not see any. The wall also is home to many smaller creatures which the guides are good at finding and pointing out to you.

Some of the wall sites have very interesting formations with lots of crevices and hanging shelves to explore. It was the coral on the wall that I found somewhat disappointing. I would say is in OK condition but there were lots of areas of dead or decaying coral. Visibility too was OK but not great.

Alung Banua

Bunaken Timor I

Lekuan 3 and 1

Celah Celah

Muck Diving on Sulawesi Mainland

This was my first experience muck diving, looking for small creatures in the sandy bottom. The dive site didn’t look like much, more like a moonscape of nothingness than an inviting dive site. It’s the creatures you find, however, that make dive sites like these exciting.

More advanced divers seem to gravitate to muck diving for the thrill of finding new and interesting creatures. Most often the life forms are quite small and blend into their surroundings making it a challenge to find them. I could really only see the creatures that the guide pointed out and didn’t find any on my own. That said I can see the attraction of finding and photographing these amazing creatures and why more advanced divers become interested in this type of diving.

Darunu

We visited two dive sites on the mainland. The first one, Darunu, was a dirt-colored sandy bottom where Vandy, the guide, found some amazing creatures that looked more like their surroundings, a leaf or stick, than an animal. Although some of the creatures can be amazingly colorful, none of these were.

Kampung Baru

The second site, Kampung Baru, started at a place where they had sunk several vehicles including a small truck. Still not an attractive site with everything covered in a brown silty sand. It didn’t help that the visibility was poor. A little bit further on we came into an area with a mix of hard and soft coral islands in the sand. A lot of it wasn’t in good shape but some if it was quite beautiful with a fair amount of interesting fish and other creatures. It was here that I saw my first juvenile harlequin sweetlips. Such a fun little fish that dances around in a white fringed costume.

Day Trip to Bangka Island

The resort offers a 3-dive boat trip to Bangka Island, about 1.5 hours by boat from Siladen. 2 morning dives are followed by a barbeque lunch on the beach and a third dive. The diving around Bangka was the pretties diving I saw during my stay at Siladen. The area has numerous soft corals as well as hard corals, a good number of colorful fish as well as a wide range of interesting critters – nudibranch, crabs, pipefish, etc.

The first dive, Batu Sahaung, was a pinnacle dive, not so narrow that you noticed underwater but it had a fair amount of current which we swam into most of the dive. The other two dives were far more relaxed at about 60ft but still with lots of pretty soft corals and critters. In fact the last dive of the day was the most productive. Unfortunately my camera battery cut out and I only had the GoPro for the last half of the dive.

Batu Sahaung

Tanjung Husi

Busa Bora

Barbeque Lunch

Lunch was on a small pretty beach with the clearest air I’ve seen since I’ve been in Indonesia. They had a nice spread of salads, grilled fish and chicken and cut fruit. We sat on cushions on the ground or on rocks on the shaded upper part of the beach.

If you want to do this dive be sure to sign up in advance or when you first get to Siladen Resort. When I arrived the first 2 days were already booked and I could only do the Banka trip on the third day of my stay.

Black Water Dive

The black water dive is a special night dive where they hang a string of lights from a float. The bottom light is at 60ft. The lights attract small embryos and undeveloped fish, usually the stage between the egg and the juvenile. There is also a lot of plankton in the water making it look thick when the light is shined on it. The small creatures are fascinating to see and are not shy of divers. They hang right in your face for the longest time. Sometimes there are also bigger visitors. Squid are frequent but on our dive we also saw a blanket octopus, a crazy octopus that opens up from a tubular shape to a bright orange scarf looking thing.

This is a drift dive but as you and the float are all drifting together you don’t really notice. It’s a one-to-one dive with your guide with you at all times. All you have to do is watch your buoyancy and stay level with your guide. Generally this was easy to do, until I saw something exciting and was paying attention to my camera and not the guide so much. I found my self 15ft below where I should have been. You won’t lose your guide because he has the light on what you are looking at the whole time.

Some divers love this kind of diving. The other guest I was diving with was very experienced and had a top notch camera. He’s done this dive numerous times and took some fabulous photos on this dive as well. For me I enjoyed the creatures I saw in the water and the blanket octopus was unlike anything I have ever seen before but I found the conditions with the plankton in the water claustrophobic. I would perhaps do it again sometime but I don’t think I would make it a regular type of diving. I prefer normal night dives where you have a sense of the bottom or a wall.

Sept 16-20, 2023