he first glimpse underwater makes it immediately clear what to expect from a visit to Bunaken, a diving paradise at the northern tip of Indonesia's Sulawesi Island. We have slipped out of a boat near a coral reef that is swarming with a huge array of fish, each more colourful than the last. Now, however, is not the time to admire the wealth of colours and species. Our diving guide is leading us down the steep wall of the reef to a depth of 25 metres. There, protected by a certain sea fan, lives a herd of pink pygmy seahorses. These rarities, each the size of the tip of a pinkie finger, would be impossible to spot without the eagle eyes of a guide. We continue along the reef wall past soft corals of various sizes and colours. Sometimes we spot a moray or a lobster in a crevasse in the rocks, as a big Napoleon wrasse and a school of batfish float slowly by. Suddenly the atmosphere becomes electric. Our guide points GOOD TRANSPORT AND upward to where a FINE CORAL REEFS MAKE green turtle is approachFOR EXCELLENT DIVING. ing, more than metre long. The smoothlyswimming creature seems oblivious to us, allowing us to watch it for several minutes as it paddles calmly by. The turtle continues on its way toward the depths. We use the rest of our oxygen tanks to study coral and fish close to the surface. ISLAND HOPPING The next days under the water are at least as rewarding. No wonder Sulawesi has become one of the world's most renowned diving spots. Situated between Borneo and Papua, the island is far from everything. In recent years, though, flight connections to the island have improved significantly. The biggest choice of domestic flights is from Jakarta and Bali. From Europe and elsewhere in Asia, the best connection is from Singapore, a direct flight that brings you to Manado in North Sulawesi in just over three hours. From there, it's a boat trip of less than an hour to the island of Bunaken. Good transport links and coral reefs teeming with life have made little Bunaken Sulawesi's favourite diving area. T
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