Sam Wren went to Indonesia and tells us all about his amazing trip.
I came into the Murex Manado Resort off the main road, down a private track, past there security office and into the main area. As soon as I got out of the private transfer minivan I was greeted by 3 members of staff. All who welcomed me by name and took my bags to the room gave me a refreshing drink and asked how my trip had been getting there. I felt at home already.
On the way to my room staff members I hadn’t met yet greeted me with a “Welcome to the resort Sam my name is…”, it made me feel like I knew 10 people before I met the other guests, which was a really nice feeling being a single traveller.
I was shown to my room which had its own veranda looking out to the rest of the resort they all are in a horseshoe shape, but nicely spaced around. There was a stream flowing down to the waterfront and birds chirping away. The room was very spacious and had aircon, a water cooler and I was given my own metal water bottle for the entire stay. The bathroom was enclosed but had elements of an outdoor shower, very spacious too.
The beds were cosy and dense, it was a cool room (the aircon was a relief) and I managed to get a good 9 hours in but woke at 130am wide awake as the others did. But easily checked in with the family as it was 1830 at home. The time difference was decent as when we woke up they were just heading to sleep.
Large stepping stones lead me back to the heart of the resort.
Once I had freshened up I was invited to the main hall where they ran the brief. At this time there were just 5 of us on our first day in resort. We had a coconut to drink from and this is where we met the rest of the team.
The brief talked us through everything we needed to know, was short but to the point and they answered every question we had. They introduced us to Rico (you’ll hear more about him in my Land Tour reviews) who is a gem of a tour guide! I thought it was really good that they wanted us to go and explore their country not just dive the waters.
Mealtimes and Food
We had really good weather so we spent every meal out on the terrace, with the water lapping up the volcanic sandy beach. As it was early in the year, the sunset over there pool around 18:30 and was a really nice atmosphere. The staff would top your water up without you asking and again each time they spoke to us was using our first names.
The breakfast buffet on the beach was lovely. There were cereals, omelettes and fruit available. You can have eggs and bacon, or toast and croissants. Lunch and Dinners were buffet style again with corn fritters, spiced pork, fish, garlic rice, potatoes, salad and soups. They had a good selection of fruits and drinks on hand for dessert also. For each meal, they had a cooking station, if you wanted to have something more bespoke. Plenty of different tea bags were available but the same with anywhere in the world, if you can’t get out of bed without your UK teabag then take them with you.
The Diving (and snorkelling)
Non-Divers will be glad to hear that the snorkelling at this resort is not just a non-diver thing to do, they are actively growing there snorkelling market, and have many opportunities to head out snorkelling, and is as exciting as the diving in this location.
The main reason to dive from this resort is the access to the Bunaken national park. Pristine reefs, breathtaking drop-offs, hard coral and amazing wall diving.
All of your dive gear was on the boat ready for the days diving. They operate a box system where at night you leave your gear in the box and in the evening it will be washed. You check your name on the dive board and cross your self off if you’re not diving, but if you’re on then they will put all of your gear on the boat ready for your 1st dive of the day. You head out after breakfast for the 2 dives.
There was barely any current during my dives in Bunaken which is typical and the amount of turtles was jaw-dropping. Of course, this is nature but on the week I was there, we saw so many hawksbill and leather backs. There are huge schools of fish, big jacks and tuna and some really pretty corals along the way. A really great diving destination that’s been sculpted by the area’s volcanoes. Max depth we went to was around 20m as most of the action was between 5-15m, which is one of the reasons the snorkelling is so good here.
As I got there for 3 pm on the 1st day, which is typical for the Singapore flight, and by the time I’d got everything sorted and eaten, the only dive I had time for on the first day was the night dive. It was really great, the beach is black volcanic sand, and as I waded out around 10m we dropped under and on to there house reef, I started seeing many things I had not seen before, pipefish, banda sea snakes, phantom batfish but the best of all was the hairy frogfish that met us on the way back! What a start to the trip. The house reef and local dives are great for muck diving and have some really interesting creatures.
I was there in February officially there low season and the water was 28C, air temp was 30C and my 5mm shorty was just fine.
So nice they teach English to the locals too! They believe that being sustainable and integrated into the local community is important. The other nice thing is that many of the staff have been here long over 12 months. They often follow the guests over to Bangka for there stay, which is again another nice touch as you already know half the staff when you get there.
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