We spent 5 nights here for scuba diving. The resort was fully staffed with wonderful people even though we were at times the only guests there. Other days we shared the resort with 4 others and the service was excellent at all times. Our main reason for choosing Bunaken island rather than staying on the mainland was to be close to the Bunaken reefs for diving. This resort was perfect for short boat rides. The boat was an old, wooden style boat and perfectly set up for diving. The dive staff was excellent at all times, even giving me special help lugging my tank over to the side of the boat for the backroll into the water. All dives were 2 tank, morning dives and this was relaxing on the boat between dives with a snack and hot tea or water. The dive equipment was always set up for the next dive by the staff, and we didn't touch our equipment for the whole time there, except to do the buddy check before diving in. They even rinsed our wetsuit each day and hung everything up to dry. The dives were typically 60 minutes total, diving the wall first, then spending a good 20 minutes or so in the beautiful shallow reefs. The reef here is the healthiest we have seen so far and we have dove, the Philippines (Puerto Galera), Bonaire, Curacao and Maui. Bunaken is a place we will definately go back to someday and next time I will request to do a few dives only in the shallows. It's like swimming on top of a giant, colorful aquarium, so many small fish and colorful corals you can just relax and get into that dreamy place all divers know about in their minds.
Some days my husband did the afternoon dive while I relaxed on our veranda. Our room was #4 I think, up some steep steps to our room. In fact there were only 2 units closest to the water that had very few steps, and those were closed for renovation. Other units were up more levels of steps to the top of the resort and I would not like having to walk up that far to my room. So, we were lucky to be assigned the lower unit. Our room was very clean and comfortable, and BIG too! It had an outside bathroom with a door to keep the critters out of our room. We didn't have any bugs or snakes in our room like another person posted. We did find a few bugs in the bathroom but that was to be expected being outdoors. 2 closets, a small safe, lounge chairs on the veranda with a jungle view over flower gardens. The staff always came up to our room and lit insect coils on the veranda, so we had no misquitoes at all the whole time there. The cleaning staff did an excellent job at all times, twice a day. The best staff we have ever experienced on our travels. They were always polite and attentive to us, we felt very welcomed by them.
Now, the food. AMAZING food... The pictures of the website cannot describe how good and plentiful the food is. Traditional dishes of Indonesian, Asian styles with a good variety to choose from. This was not your typical resort food, it was special. The food service girls were excellent and attentive. The table was set perfectly and we all ate family style with the owners and guests. It appeared that we had an assigned seat each meal because a few times we tried to sit by another guest to talk for the meal and the staff was reluctant to change the planned seating. The owner smoked cigarettes after a meal and tried to push away from the table, but for me is was not pleasant to smell the smoke. But, you have to remember, the Asian culture still smokes everywhere, unlike the USA where it is prohibited in most public places so we have to adapt to their ways and enjoy the good things.
The owners made an attempt to get to know us and to share our lives with them. It made for a personal approach to the stay there. We even went diving with them a couple of times. They were always polite to us and did their best to make sure our stay was perfect.
Cha Cha has no dock and getting to the boat at low tide was a bit of a muck walk out to the boat, but an easy walk with booties. I'm pretty sure most resorts on Bunaken island have no dock though so it is normal for the island. The beach is very small and limited for any walking so we did walk up above the resort to the local village. It had been raining so the path to the village was muddy, but soon became paved. After seeing the local village and how primative it was, dirt floors in most houses, no stores, pigs and chickens roaming, we can see how Cha Cha is helping the villagers as an employer. There is not much else for the islanders to do for work, no economy except diving resorts.
(First Impressions:) When arriving at Manado airport we were transported by a taxi to the harbor. Manado was busy and poluted, the rivers were full of garbage, exhaust from every vehicle, traffic jams through a rundown, dirty town. No traffic rules, lots of honking, then on to the boat which is an old, wooden boat. It was not the cleanest first impression of Cha Cha, they could try to spiff up the transport/supply boat a bit for their clients. It got us to Bunaken Island safely though loaded with some supplies from the mainland. All the food and supplies had to be purchased on the mainland and brought over on the boat to Bunaken and we were thinking it might not be safe to eat here, upon first impression. But, noone got sick from any of the food, and in fact it was amazing how fresh and good the food was at every meal.
One other poster said the air quality in the scuba tanks gave him a headache. We too had headaches and one other guest had a headache but only one day, so who knows if the tanks are the blame. I would feel perfectly safe to dive with Cha Cha again when we return.
We went on to Lembeh Straits from our stay here. Our memories now of Cha Cha are most positive, the service was excellent, and especially the staff made our stay there the best ever!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Hotel/Resort situated on the clean and tranquil side of Bunaken Island comprising 3 Villas, 2 Superior Cottages and 3 Standard Cottages tastefully decorated, all with hot fresh water showers & A/C, exceptional views over the surrounding islands and mountains of the mainland. Cha Cha boasts its own quaint private beach, house reef and in-house Padi Diving Center. The Sea Top restaurant offers a variety of Indonesian, Japanese and fusion dishes with emphasis on healthy eating. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Bunaken Cha Cha Nature Hotel Bunaken Island