In October we returned from our two weeks trip to Bunaken and it was a memorable experience. Unfortunately I have to say this was not due to the services of Daniel's Homestay but in spite of.
To plan our trip we had contacted a German called Papa Klaus who runs a very helpful website about Bunaken (www.bunaken-klaus.com). Following Klaus’ suggestions we asked Daniel's Homestay for accommodation and for our diving trips we contacted Ferdinand Nuij (email@example.com), a Dutch freelance diving instructor who lives on the island. Ferdinand lends his diving boat “Kurnia” (together with its captain Feki and a diving guide) to groups of divers. Since we were four quite experienced divers and one snorkeler we saw this as a great opportunity for us to explore the Bunaken islands on our own and to save some bucks on the dives. After some delay due to the uncertain internet connection on Bunaken we arranged with Ferdinand about the boat, crew and diving tanks and Priscilla from Daniel’s Homestay sent us the voucher for board and lodging at the homestay. In her e-mail Priscilla stated explicitly that we would pay the normal price instead of the promotion price for divers since we wanted to arrange the dives on our own. This was in July, about three months before our trip started.
When we arrived in Manado at the end of September everything seemed fine. Some guys from Daniel’s picked us up from the airport and brought us by boat to the island. Once we were there we found the accommodations a bit Spartan and the concentration of pelagic plastics, chemical sludge, and other debris in the sea in front of the resort reminded us that civilization is never far away but of course you can’t expect too much from what is one of the cheapest resorts of the island.
The real problems started the next morning when Daniel the owner of the homestay asked us to his office. Here he told us in a quite rude way that we only could stay if we decided to do our dives with the diving of his resort. We were quite surprised to discover that Daniel had not been informed by his daughter Priscilla about the terms of our booking (at least that’s what he told us). It seems that Priscilla stays in Japan from where she coordinates the online bookings for the homestay (or tries to). Even after we had shown the printout of Priscilla’s confirmation e-mail to Daniel he stuck to his decision: “Dive with us or leave the homestay within the next day”. As we intended not to break our agreement with Ferdinand Nuij to rent his diving boat we had practically been kicked out.
We were a bit worried to find ourselves without a place to stay on a small island far away from home but thanks to the precious help of Ferdinand we soon found accommodation at the nearby Kuskus Resort (http://bunakenkuskusresort.com/), slightly more expensive but way more comfortable. Ferdinand hired Son, the head of Kuskus’ diving center, as our diving guide and this turned out to be a great choice. Son is a wonderful person, extremely reliable as a guide (which unfortunately is not to take for granted on Bunaken) and absolutely incredible in finding and pointing out all the bizarre and often hardly visible wonders the sea around Bunaken has to offer. If you are keen to meet families of seahorses, ghostpipefish, neon luminescent cuttlefish (http://tinyurl.com/77ox877) or the mimic octopus then ask Son to take you to the recently discovered diving sites Aba and Wori Point. If you are more into big encounters then you should ask Feki, the captain of the “Kurnia” for a dolphin tour and with some luck and the hints from local fishermen waiting for thunas out on the sea on their selfmade catamaran canoes you could even meet a family of spermwhales! (http://tinyurl.com/86s9tft).
A special thank you to Ferdinand, Feki, Son and Papa Klaus who made our trip to Bunaken such a wonderful experience!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.