Siladen Resort and Spa, 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 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.

Siladen Resort and Spa

Siladen Resort is located on a secluded beach with many of the bungalows facing the beach and water with views out to the Manado Tua volcano.

I spent my time diving and didn’t do much else, but for non-divers they also offer snorkeling, day trips to the mainland, boat trip such as dolphin tours and classes such as yoga and cooking.

The resort attracts a lot of repeat guests. I met several guests, long time scuba divers, who come to Siladen Resort regularly and stay for a couple of weeks or more. I can see why, the charming hosts Ana and Miguel take great interest in their guests’ wellbeing. At least one of them is at every meal interacting with the guests and making sure their needs are met. For someone who was traveling on her own it was especially nice as I was instantly introduced to other staff and guests and never ate lunch or dinner alone. They have a large communal dining table where guests can eat with other guests and staff when they want.

Common Areas

The grounds of Siladen Resort are well tended. Late in the dry season they were not as lush as they might be otherwise. The common areas such as the bar, lounge and restaurant are open air and wrap around the pool area with the beach just beyond. The open air spaces have an upscale casual vibe using natural materials such as wood floors and rattan furniture. Even if you do not have a villa directly on the beach there are plenty of lounge chairs to enjoy the sea views.

The resort also offers spa services such as massages which many guests raved about.

Villa

I was in a garden view villa. The duplex buildings are nicely spaced along a walk through a well-tended jungle of sorts with plenty of greenery around each building. The spacious room has a king size bed, a small writing table and an armoire with a safe for storing your belongings. The bed was comfortable and had mosquito netting which was pulled down with the evening maid service and put back up with the morning service.

They also have an in-room water station with both cold and hot water. Instant coffee, tea, creamer and sugar are also provided. The room has several outlets for charging electronics. The Wi-Fi connection can be spotty and slow at times.

The bathroom is equally spacious and is semi-open to the outdoors with no roof over the large shower area. I particularly liked the feeling of showering outdoors. Other might not like the no-ceiling aspect of the room. A few leaves did rain in but I did not see bugs or other critters. The sink and toilet area are covered. There is plenty of counter space around the large sink and a shelf below.

My biggest complaint about the room is the dim lighting. Even with numerous light fixtures in the room, it is never very bright when you need light for something.

Dining

The breakfast buffet is served in the dining room. During my 4-night stay this was the only time we ate in the restaurant. During the dry season they serve the other meals, usually buffet style, at tables set up on the beach.

Breakfast is mostly a Western type spread with pastries, breads, jam and butter, cereal and milk (yogurt can be requested), a couple of cheeses and charcuterie, cut fruit and salad items including avocado. Hot items include pancakes, beans, breakfast meats and an Asian dish. There is also an egg station. Coffee is served to your table.

Lunch and dinner are usually a combination of Western and Asian dishes, often with a theme or specialty dish, such as sushi, pasta dishes, Indonesia BBQ (good but tasted more like curry), beef Wellington, etc. Generally both meals are a buffet but from time to time the dinner main is served individually from a select menu. Out of my 4 nights, one night’s dinner was served individually.

The buffet for both lunch and dinner include a variety of breads, salads (both prepared and build your own) small specialty dishes and a variety of hot sides such as potatoes, vegetables and rice. There is also an extensive dessert and fruit table.

The dishes are prepared with care using quality ingredients and are in keeping with a resort at this price point.

Diving Logistics

On the opposite side of the common areas from the rooms is the dive center, lockers and dedicated camera room. They have a nice set up for those who know how it works. Unfortunately it was never really explained to me what was available or how it worked. Unlike the accommodations setup which was explained by Ana, the dive center explanation was lacking and I had to ask how things worked and what was where.

My other complaint was the lack of ½ kilo weights on my first two days of diving. All the ½ kilo weights were being used by other guests.  Since I needed one for each weight pocket this put me either a full kilo overweight. Lea found a couple for me on my third day which made diving much more comfortable.

They generally do 3 regular dives a day that go to either to Bunaken National Park or the mainland. Bunaken is generally wall dives and the mainland is muck diving. There is a 2-tank dive in the morning leaving at 8 and a 1-tank dive in the afternoon leaving at 3. Guests are assigned to a boat with a maximum of 4 guests to a guide and usually 8 guests on a boat. In addition to the regular dives there is a day trip to Bangka, night dives and the black water dive.

They ask you the day before when you want to dive the next day. If you want one of the specialty trips you need to book it ahead of time as it can book up. When I arrived I could only book the Bangka day trip and the black water dive for my last day. It was doable to do both on the same day but made for a long day.

Your gear is kept at the dive center and the staff takes it on and off the boat for you, washes it and dries it overnight. There is a camera room that is locked overnight for you to use. It’s a spacious room with lots of stations but I didn’t know about it until later in the trip and therefore dealt with my camera in my room.

For those with mobility issues it’s a bit of a walk from the villas to the dive center. Took me under 5 minutes, but it could be long if you are carrying anything heavy.

The dive boats are spacious for the number of divers and have plenty of indoor seating out of the sun. You can also sit on the back deck or roof if you like sun. Dives are 60-70 minutes with an hour surface interval. Coffee, tea and water with a light snack of cakes or cookies and fruit are served after the dive. The boat has deck towels and space to keep your dry things dry. There is also a toilet on board.

The staff sets up your gear for you and helps you put it on if need be. You put your wetsuit on in the boat on the way to the site.

They use a back roll off the boat and a ladder re-entry. You can take off your tank in the water before coming up the ladder if you want.

Overall it is a beautiful and well-run dive resort. It is also popular and should be booked far in advance. I reserved a room nearly a year in advance and got the last villa for the dates I wanted.

October 16-20, 2023