We have been travelling to Raja Ampat, Sulawesi and the Coral Triangle for more than 15 years. We return three times a year to do the world class diving the area has to offer, and we always return to Siladen Resort & Spa in the heart of beautiful Bunaken Marine Park, Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Siladen is the perfect combination of breathtaking beauty, gourmet food, luxurious comfort, and excellent diving with a combination of walls and muck – where the water is warm and the sea rich with life, where the day we leave, we are making plans to return.
As we sit for our half hour boat ride from Manado to Siladen, we can feel our thoughts drifting away, as we breathe more deeply, and serenity washes over us. We feel like we have known this place all our lives. We approach our island paradise which is located right there on the beach. We disembark with our feet in the water and then step onto the sand.
To add to all this, Siladen Resort has a beautiful pool with an ocean view and waterfall, and a spa where traditional and Balinese massages are performed by a well-trained group of masseuses. The entire staff is friendly and kind, and go out of their way to make you feel as if you are a part of the Siladen family.
Along with all this luxury, the pièce de résistance is the wonderful diving, with the best dive operation, and the greatest dive team in the world.
The dive centre is run by Natalie and Mike, very professional and experienced dive managers. The dive team is comprised of local dive guides who know the area better than anyone; most have grown up swimming and diving in the Bunaken area.
From the minute you arrive, the dive team knows your name and knows your gear. In fact, you will not see your gear again for the whole time you are there, except to dive! Each morning your equipment is set up and when your dive day is done, your dive guide rinses and puts away your gear, ready for the next day.
The dives are done from the same comfy, spacious dive boat that brought you to the island, with a sun deck that is great for tanning or talking to your new friends. The dive briefings are done on the boat, with two dives in the morning, and surface interval time on the boat where hot towels, cookies, fresh fruit, coffee, tea and water are served. Afternoon and night dives are also available.
The diving in Bunaken Marine Park is divine with only a 15-20 minute boat ride from Siladen to most dive sites. There is so much to see and the eagle-eyed dive guides can find it all: mola mola, turtles, sharks, seahorses, sea snakes, electric clams, batﬁsh, eagle rays and nudibranchs to name just a few. Topside, we have large schools of dolphins and false killer whales.
The walls are beautiful, teeming with life, filled with gorgeous coloured soft coral, hard coral, whip coral, sponges, and sea fans. The muck diving is world class, where we have seen blue-ringed octopus, mimic and long-arm octopus, the elusive mototi, all sizes of frogﬁsh, ornate, robust and Halimeda pipeﬁsh, cuttleﬁsh, squid and more.
After a day of diving, there is the sunset over Manado Tua. It is breathtaking and the best end of the day’s activities that we could wish for. It lifts our spirits, captures our imagination and prepares us for the days ahead.
This is a resort where we have made lifelong friends and where we are always eager to return. Where, more often than not, the chance to see guests we have met on previous trips is highly likely, because this is a place people return to over and over again.
From the staﬀ to the guests, we are all one family – we are all at home. Siladen gets better each time we visit. Come and see for yourself. We’ll very likely be here!
If you have somewhere you think of as your 'Diving Paradise' then why not enter our competition and let the world know. Winning entries will be published in our Winter print edition with a chance to win £100 of gift vouchers - and all submissions will automatically be entered as nominations for our 2017 vote for top dive centres, liveaboards and destinations around the world. Watch this space...!