This review is long overdue but I wanted to share my recent experiences with Cocotinos Manado.
Since my previous review of Cocotinos in 2009 we have been back every year, with our most recent trips in May and July this year. And our experience at Cocotinos only gets better with each visit.
Our visit in May was a recreational trip with our week there spent entirely on underwater photography, both my better half and I are avid underwater photographers. In July I was back again, this time with my regular tech buddy to dive the deep walls off Bunaken Island & Manado Tua.
On our visits this year we noted that there have been quite a few recent improvements at Cocotinos. New beach-front villas have been added to the resort. The old jetty has been extended significantly and makes getting on and off the dive boats a breeze even during very low tides. A couple of new dive boats have also been added to the fleet. The restaurant menu has been refreshed and updated and during our stay, no lunch or dinner set menu was repeated. Wi-Fi internet access is now available in guest rooms for a small fee, but is still complimentary at the restaurant area.
I find that a big advantage of Cocotinos is that it’s the closest dive resort from the airport in Manado. Transfers from the airport to the resort only takes 25 mins and from its location on Wori Bay, mainland dive sites are only 5-15 mins away. Bunaken is only a 40 min boat ride. This means that if you take the SilkAir flight from Singapore, you will be diving the very same afternoon that you arrive in Manado.
On both our visits here the resort staff was their usual attentive self and really tried their best to please. We understand that no resort can get everything completely right every single time but for us what’s important is the resort’s willingness to accept feedback and their attitude to meeting their guest’s requests, and we certainly cannot fault Cocotinos’ desire to look after their guest’s needs and comfort. Everything was done with a smile and no request was too much.
The diving experience here remains among the best we have experienced anywhere. Every diving day was hassle-free, the dive center staff ensure that everything is taken care of and did their best to fulfill our requests. We are keen underwater photographers and the dive guides know how to handle our special photo needs even when we were diving with other groups. Our usual dive guide, Hengky, was as always, ‘eagle-eyed’ in looking for macro subjects for us and ever attentive to our diving needs. Another dive guide and instructor here, James, himself an underwater photographer, even dove with us on his day off to assist us with our photography. The dive staff have kept up the excellent and professional service that we have come to know and expect from them. As I mentioned in my previous review, we are avid and experienced divers and we know and appreciate a good dive guide when we see one.
Cocotinos is one of the few resorts here that is able to support technical diving. If you need trimix, the helium has to be preordered and the resort is able to order the gas in time for your visit. The resort has a number of double-tanks, stage bottles and deco bottles all rigged and ready to go. With the amazing visibility off the islands of Bunaken, Mando Tua, Siladen and Montehage, deep dives down the walls to 80+ meters offers a completely different vista. On our deep dives we saw numerous large sharks, dog-tooth and yellow-fin tuna, large marble rays and schools of jacks and snappers.
With our diving needs taken care of so excellently by the dive center staff, the rest of the service staff took care of everything else. The resort’s local director and GM, Martinus, personally ensured our stay was comfortable. His warmth and hospitality and attention to detail made us feel like family. The dive center manager, Djeky, even bought ‘nasi kuning’ and personally cooked a delicious local pork dish for our breakfast one morning.
From the time we were warmly met at the airport on arrival, and throughout our stay till the time we were dropped off at the airport to return reluctantly to Singapore, we were made to feel like part of the ‘family’. We cannot compliment Cocotinos enough for the professional dive service and the warmth and hospitality of the service staff. It’s no wonder that Cocotinos has so many repeat guests. In fact next month we have a big trip to Raja Ampat (flying to Sorong from Manado) and we have decided to spend a few days here in Cocotinos before and after our Raja Ampat trip to relax and chill-out.
We can certainly say that Cocotinos remains our favorite dive resort!