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Kima Bajo Resort- Diving in North Sulawesi

By Erin Boyajian

When my buddy and I were looking for a place to dive in Indonesia, we were told about North Sulawesi and Bunaken Marine Park. The diversity of life found in that area has a reputation of being far and away an excellent choice for world class diving. 

 
After spending a week in Bali, we were excited to see what this area would have to offer us, both topside and in diving. We chose to stay at the Kima Bajo resort, which is just minutes from the marine park. 
 
Kima Bajo sits upon a hill, with bungalows nestled into the jungle hillside offering breathtaking views of the bay or private, wooded expanses. The rooms are well appointed with a large vanity and sink area, enclosed indoor shower and bathroom, and a spectacular, tiled outdoor shower, adorned every day by staff with fresh flowers. 
 
The main room of the bungalow had firm, comfortable beds under optional mosquito netting. The juxtaposition of the white bedding and the dark Indonesian wood of the bedframe and accompanying furniture is stunning. There are several large windows and sliding doors that provide outstanding views outside, but equally generous draperies if privacy is what you’re after. You can step out onto a private deck, with benches and comfy pillows and read for hours, as I did many times. The rooms are quiet, even if all windows and doors are open. Privacy and serenity seem to be key ideas here.
 
The amenities in the room included a well-stocked refrigerator, hot water heater, and toiletries, robes and slippers. Even though the resort has many amenities and supplies on hand should you forget something, keep in mind that it’s an hour car ride into town, so pack accordingly. 
 
The room was well laid out and easy to move around in.  The air conditioning is quite effective, and even though I was tempted to sleep with the sliding doors open to listen to the sounds of nature, I opted for the AC every night. 
 
When we arrived, we were greeted in a reception area with a large welcome drink and a briefing of the resort. We were told that crates could be found outside our bungalow for all of our dive gear. Once unpacked and put into the crates, a staff member takes it down to the dive center, where it is stowed, rinsed and dried every day.
 
Our dive briefing was held at the dive center. It is run by Ecodivers, and was a top-notch operation. All staff at Ecodivers were attentive, warm, and friendly. Ecodivers is committed to respecting the rules of Bunaken Park, some of which include not touching anything, and not disturbing the animals in any way. A metal rod was recommended and available for use during dives. These allow you to “hold on” to the reef with out damaging it with your hands. As with most marine parks, no gloves are allowed. This keeps hands off the reef.   These staffs are particularly helpful if you want to stop and take pictures, or just be still and observe while the current was active. 
 
All gear was brought to and taken off of the boat every day. Just like when we first arrived, when we wanted a part of our gear taken back to our rooms or an item brought down, it was done for us with the crates. It was simple and organized.
 
The guides were excellent during the dives and were open to requests for locales. They were expert spotters and pointed out a staggering variety of marine life. After the dives, the guides were happy to sit with you and discuss what was seen, and help find it in a variety of texts and guides that are kept aboard. In this way, diving with Ecodivers stood out as a solid educational experience. The dive guides were also consistently safety and eco-minded, reminding us to communicate with our buddies and respect the reef and its inhabitants.
 
Every evening, there was a fun happy hour in the lounge. Because the resort is on a hill, the lounge is above the dive area and below the restaurant. This gives guests a variety of views to choose from at any given time. Happy hour at the lounge was a great way to enjoy the sunset and break down the day’s dives with new friends. It was very easy to meet people at Kima Bajo because the whole crowd was pleasant and friendly. People seemed satisfied, open and relaxed. 
 
The restaurant offers buffets and a la carte options. There is a meal plan available. I loved the cuisine and thought that the Indonesian and European breakfasts were especially spectacular.
 
There is a reasonably priced and well-staffed spa at the resort. A one hour massage was approximately $40 US, and worth every penny. Even though they were able to accommodate me several times, be sure to book as soon as possible, because if not, you will have limited options.
 
One of the special things about Kima Bajo is the friendly staff. I think they did a lot to put the guests at ease and create a relaxing and warm atmosphere all around. It was this collective amiability that piqued my curiosity about North Sulawesi, and the region beyond the resort.
 
I was not disappointed. My off-gassing day was filled with cultural adventures and the making of new friends. 
 
I would absolutely return to Kima Bajo, and hope to soon.

 

 



Erin Boyajian is co-founder, Vice President and Editor-In-Chief of TopSideDiver.com.