Plastic tables and chairs, mangrove trees and Bunaken island


It’s been quiet here, at the Manado Santika hotel.

The grounds are quite expansive and quite hilly, and from our rooms on the third floor you can see the ocean in the near distance.

The dive center is on location, right on the way to the 370-meter long wooden pier that juts out past the mangrove trees into the water. During low tide, you can see the ground and the mangrove roots as you walk up the pier. The soil is full of tiny colorful crabs and other miniature creatures. During high tide, the water runs all the way up, covering the shore.

As you stand at the end of the pier, you see Bunaken Island in front with its white church and white mosque, and the big volcanic-like mountain. Another smaller island is to the right; more islands lie in the distance. When you turn towards land, you see just greenery – palm trees and coconut trees – all along the hills. It’s quite beautiful.

It’s also very peaceful. The lobby and restaurants are all open air. The big tree cafe, where we had dinner last night, is perched on a small hill, overlooking the ocean. It’s rustic and quite romantic at night, a perfect setting for couples on a honeymoon. If you’re looking for a party or a wild night out, this is not the place.

But, it’s literally a five-minute boat ride to the house reef – where I saw a lobster, all kinds of fish, including ones who look like they’re standing straight up, an electric blue eel whose body is mostly hidden underground, fan corals and loads of other amazing things. Last night we also saw a pod of dolphins swimming near the boat. Two of them jumped up in the air!

And, earlier, during the morning dive, we saw three turtles!! The dive master took my arm and led me down right next to the wall by one turtle’s little hideaway. He was literally within my reach, though to my regret, I wasn’t allowed to touch him. He stared at us and swam away; we were probably too close for comfort. A small fish tagged along on his shell. That made my day, right that moment.

So this is what you can expect if you ever come here. Busy, fun-filled days underwater, then exhausted, you eat your dinner, have a drink, and by around 10:00 or 11:00 pm you are so tired, you plop right down to sleep.

Right, will join Dom now. She’s done with the morning part of her diving class, and at 13:30 she’ll have her second open-water dive.

I, in turn, will have my reflexology massage. Have taken the day off to give my body a rest, and so I can join more underwater excursions tomorrow. Write more soon.

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