To avoid any confusion there are two “Panorama” establishments on Bunaken Island. One is the Panorama Cottages and the other the Panorama Diving Resort. Located between them is the Bunaken Island Resort. Bunaken is a car free island, there are tracks and a little 'official' road which is concrete covered and about 1.5 meters wide. The only transport methods available are your feet, motorbikes, cow drawn carts and boats.
The journey starts at Manado airport. A driver greets you and takes you to the ferry terminal - you would not want to drive yourself! Either a chartered boat or one of the Panorama dive boats, laden with shopping, conveys you to your tropical island. Welcome, this is Indonesia.
Panorama Diving Resort is a hidden gem. This was our third trip to Bunaken. We stayed for 10 nights in the middle of May. We dived every day and enjoyed every minute of it. Our room was one of the Deluxe Minahassa bungalows which had a superb view of the sea and the extinct volcano Manado Tua. The balcony was equipped with a hammock, chairs and tables. Sitting watching the sun go down after a days diving was great. The room had a very comfortable king size+ four poster bed enclosed with mosquito nets. There was no air con, but a rotating fan on a stand kept the air circulating, especially when the windows to the balcony were open. Complete with a spacious Balinese style bathroom and western toilet what more can you want. Electricity was available overnight but there is usually no electrical power during the day. As short power cuts do occur a torch is recommended. We use wind up torches, that way you do not run out of batteries.
The resort spreads up the hill from the beach and there is a level garden area at the top. The steps are steep and irregular and there are no handrails. This is more or less standard for the resorts on Bunaken. WIFI is free, the signal is good, subject to the occasional power cut, but it is best accessed from the top of the resort.
As is common in most places on Bunaken, meals are taken on large tables on the dining deck. This only became an issue for us when a group decided that it would be great to smoke! The food was good and plentiful. Beer and other drinks are provided via an honesty sheet. Beer is very reasonably priced at 50,000 IDR, about £2.50 Sterling for a 620ml bottle of the local beer Bintang.
The diving on Bunaken is superb. There is no other word for it. The dive guides at this resort are excellent and able to find the 'invisible' pygmy sea horses, ghost pipe fish, boxer crabs that we all dream of seeing. Big thank you to our guide Victor. The dive briefings were good, the air was high quality and the dive team set up, dismantle and wash your equipment ready for the next dive. They are a great crew. Sven, the boss, is an enthusiastic and very knowledgeable diver. If you want to learn to dive then I would strongly recommend Sven and his team.
Will we go to Bunaken again? – yes. Will we stay at Panorama II Diving Resort again – most definitely yes.