First of all I want to make a quick comment on the diving. The dive sites and walls, and fish life are all just as fantastic as ever. We've done 4 trips in 6 years to this area and we're still seeing new things. Unfortunately the trash situation is now the worst we've ever seen it. On a couple of dives we had to give up the dive site simply because there was too much trash to be able to drop into the water at the planned spot. Ok, we can dive at Lekuan 2.5 instead, but for the price of the marine park fee you would think the officials would be doing something about the trash. They aren't.
In short, do not believe the owners/managers of these resorts concerning the trash problem. Those people have a vested interest in keeping the problem quiet, and it's become a bigger problem every time we have visited.
As for the Onong Resort itself, I have very little that is good to say. Six bungalows in the middle of a small island village is not my idea of a resort. Someone has delusions of grandeur here. Putting a resort level price tag on things didn't improve my mood either. There are just some things that are standard at certain price levels, and they simply do not exist at Onong. A room safe would be normal for instance, but it's not there.
Onong is only one small step up from Bastianos, and that only because the food quality is somewhat better at Onong. It was a 4 day meal plan though, which is fine if you're only staying for 4 days. After 12 days an overweight and balding middle-aged man like myself will gladly enter a Micheal Jackson look-a-like contest, moonwalk, and lip sync "Billy Jean" just for chance at a cheese burger. It will be months before I can look at a plate of chicken and rice again.
Just like at Bastianos, Onong has feral animals lifting a leg and spraying the communal furniture, daily power outages, and a distinct lack of running water. Power or water failed almost every single day or night. Ceiling fans are fine for me, but they don't work very well when the power goes out. We were the only guests for most of our stay, but the few days that there was another diving couple, there was little to no water pressure when 2 people wanted to take a shower at the same time, like, when arriving back from the morning dive trip. I have no idea how this place copes in high season.
The rooms themselves are sparsely appointed, but some money has been spent on some nice but rock hard mattresses. Our room hadn't been aired out for several weeks before our arrival and it took a couple of tries to get the bar fridge operating properly. One night I took one of the lounge chairs to the bathroom, because that was the room with the most light, for reading.
There is absolutely no entertainment here, outside of the scuba diving. At these prices a television in the room with a satellite feed would be normal. It's not like the Siladen Village Disco is having a couples only night for Over-40's either. Take a lot of books with you.
Another problem came up on our first diving day. There are no towels on the dive boat. Hell, even Bastianos does that! Two divers in the middle of the rainy season are going to need more than a bathmat and beach towel, particularly when it's 30 degrees C, and we've come from the land of minus 10C. The local children seem to think a dive boat is a community playground too. Even with a "superior" sea view room you will have little to no privacy.
Lastly I want to mention some awfully poor table manners from a couple of the managers. They will typically eat lunch and dinner with the guests, but with two of them I had to politely mention that I would be happy to pass the rice if they simply asked, rather than reaching across in front of me or my wife. Even after being polite about it, it happened again on more than one occasion.
In short, go for the diving, and go back again and again because the diving is amazing, but stay somewhere else.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
The Celebes Divers Management would like to react to the entry of Nofirstname n dated March 4th 2012, a Canadian man living in Berlin, Germany.
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Upon arrival in our resort Mr. Nofirstname n already had one or two complaints on-hand. The travel website that advised him and booked his holiday (which is NOT one of our genuine Travel Agents) made promises that could not be held.
The garbage problem in Indonesia exists, nobody can deny that, especially after heavy rainfall when the rivers transport the garbage from Manado and the smaller villages in the area to the ocean. The local government of North Sulawesi and the NSWA (North Sulawesi Watersports Association, of which Celebes Divers is an active member) are working hard to solve this problem with education in schools and giving information to the local people, re-organization of the garbage disposal system and (on smaller scale) reducing the plastic garbage in the resorts. During the last 3 – 4 years there is a slow progress noticeable and the amount of trash is slowly reducing. Due to the huge dimensions of the North Sulawesi area and the Bunaken National Park solving a big problem like this overnight is impossible, nobody can disagree on that.
The Onong Resort is situated next to Siladen Village, with one small resort separating the two. The prices for a cottage in Onong Resort are a result of a very difficult logistic which is normal for an island. Everything needed in Onong Resort is brought in by boat and electricity is produced by private generators at the moment (plans for solar power are studied at the moment). That said and comparing the prices with other resorts on the island one could say that the Onong Resort prices are moderate. Room safes are not present but, when needed, guests can store their precious belongings in the “house-safe”. Criminality is (until now) extremely rare on the island and until today there is no direct necessity for room safes.
In both our restaurants there is a big variety of fish, seafood, pork, beef and chicken available in dozens of different ways of preparation. In case somebody does not eat fish or seafood they will of course have less choice, especially on a fishermen’s island. In that case it is possible that different chicken dishes will be presented. Cheeseburgers are merely available in Manado.
Everywhere in Asia (and also in other continents) when one stay in a beach resort pets of the nearby villages visit the premises once in a while. Although we do all that is possible to keep the animals away from the resort sometimes they will “visit” us. The outdoor furniture like sunbeds etc. are cleaned at least two times a day and the guests will never find any droppings from any animal in the resort.
Unfortunately during the stay of mr. Nofirstname n we had problems with a malfunctioning water pump. The problem is solved and water pressure is back in all the cottages. During the wet-season the humidity can be as high as 95%. This humidity does not work out very well in wooden cottages. The smell of the tropical wood will be more present as it is in the dry-season. Also with airing out this smell will not go away, this just belongs to the wood. In case people don’t like this smell we suggest coming in the dry-season or chose a resort with stone bungalows.
Staying in an island resort on a remote island with only one small village is a choice that people make to get away from the crowd. That is also the reason that we neither offer entertainment nor television in both our resorts. For people want to stay in touch with the “outside world” we offer WiFi free of charge that they can use with their private laptops, Ipads or Smartphones. In case people don’t want to miss a play of their local hockey club, a remote location should not be their choice.
In every cottage are three towels per person; a huge beach towel that they can take with them on the boat, a large bath towel and a smaller hand towel. In case guests need more towels they just need to ask and they will be provided within minutes.
Unfortunately Onong Resort did not meet the expectations of mr. Nofirstname n, nor would have any remote resort in Indonesia.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.