Divemaster course


All in all, we can 100% recommend doing your Dive Master Course if you want to improve your skills, get to know the dive industry closer and if you possibly want to start your career in diving. Further we would highly recommend doing your Dive Master Course with Living Colours on Bunaken Island as you will be guaranteed unforgettable diving and a wonderful team off passionate, friendly and skilled people to help you take the next step in your diving career!

We had been planning and dreaming about doing a Dive Master Course for quite some time, yet the timing and the location remained open. Finally, we decided to make some time for the course and started to consider the suitable location for us. We had been diving in Indonesia before and felt that there's so much more to see there. We heard a recommendation and read about the amazing diving around the small island called Bunaken (in North Sulawesi as you probably know already). We decided to contact Living Colours Diving Center and do some further online investigations about the area. Soon after the decision was made. We would start the Dive Master Course in the beginning of September! Here is a quick practical guide based on our experience.

If you are a foreigner, you will need to arrange visas and flights to Indonesia first. For the visa you will likely have the following 2 options. 1) Visa on arrival (if you happen to be included on the visa waiver list - check Indonesian Immigration for details) or 2) Paid visa. Both of these are valid for 30 days with the difference that the paid visa is eligible for a 30-day extension while in the country and the visa on arrival is not. At the time of writing, the paid visa cost $35 USD (Yes USD, not Indonesian rupiah) and you can apply for one prior to passport control at the border. There is an Immigration Office in Manado where it is possible to apply for the visa extension if you wish to stay in Indonesia for longer than 30 days. 

In order to get to Bunaken, you need to fly to Manado first and continue by boat from there. We got flights from Bali, yet there are other options as well. It is mostly domestic flights that operate to Manado, however at the time of writing, there are direct flights also from Singapore and China. If you do fly domestically, Garuda Indonesia is a good option as they allow you to bring diving equipment free of charge as an extra checked in piece of luggage.

Bunaken island dive resort

When you have arrived in Manado, you will need to catch a speed boat or a public boat to the island. Speedboats can be easily arranged at the Manado Port and will cost around 350000-500000 IDR depending on your negotiation skills. The public boat runs once a day (no service on Sundays) and costs 50000 IDR per person. The public boat runs at 2PM. Living Colours also have boats running between the mainland and Bunaken, but the boat does not run everyday so check availability in advance.

On Bunaken Island accommodation and meals go hand in hand. Accommodation is mainly "all inclusive” and there aren't really many other kinds of options. The good thing is that the all inclusive options come also for budget travelers. For active divers this is a nice setup as you are usually starving after diving and food will be ready according to your schedule. However, if you enjoy strolling around the village in the evenings looking for restaurants, there aren't really options for this. Also maybe it is worth mentioning that Bunaken is a small island and there is not much else to do that dive and snorkel, which by the way are both amazing right in front of the dive center. Some have even seen Dugongs here!!

PADI DM course


What can you expect from your Dive Master Course?

In order to start your Dive Master Course you need to be a certified rescue diver together with valid EFR certification. It is of course possible to do these too at Living Colours. Just ask for details and you will get the course setup according to your needs. We both had the prerequisite ready, so we started directly with the Dive Master Course. 

The Dive Master Course will help you refresh your existing diving skills as well as teach you plenty of new skills. You will be spending your days being part of the diving operation as much as possible, following courses, following fun dives, helping out with equipment and guests and naturally diving a lot! Studying for the course can either be done before arriving to the Island with PADI eLearning materials or on the island in the evenings by studying the required printed course materials. Both options have the same contents they are just in different formats.  

We had reserved about one month to finish the Dive Master Course. For us this was a pretty nice pace, as we had rescue and EFR courses already completed before arriving in Bunaken.  During the month we had the possibility of doing plenty of amazing dives and meet a lot of nice divers who came to enjoy the beautiful Bunaken Island. If you need to complete the EFR and Rescue courses too, you might want to add a week or so to your schedule. 

During your course you will improve your diving skills very quickly as you get used to spending every day in the water. You will be spending time with your instructor practicing basic diving skills, dive master duties and being a role model for other divers. With such a diverse diving environment on Bunaken Island, you will also learn a good amount about different types of marine life. Some sources say that you can find up to 70% of Indo-Pacific fish species in the waters near Bunaken so you will quickly develop an eye for spotting the most interesting creatures!

Divemaster course Bunaken

A question that comes often is “Should I bring my own gear"? Even though it is possible to rent gear from Living Colours, it is not a bad idea to get your own. Firstly, you are likely to dive much more after your course and having your own gear will make every dive that little bit more familiar. You’ll also be able to get the gear that best fits you and suits your needs. If you need any help choosing the gear, the staff at Living Colours have great knowledge of gear and are happy to give recommendations. 

Even if you wouldn’t want to invest in your own equipment, it is highly recommended that you buy diving insurance. Not only for the Dive Master Course but for any diving activities. There are many options for Insurance and again, Living Colours will be happy to guide you in choosing an option and pointing you in the right direction.

 Bunaken dive course


General tips for Bunaken Island:

The Island and life there is quite simple. Your daily routine will naturally revolve around diving and outside of that the atmosphere is very relaxed. There are a couple small villages on the island which you should explore and get to know the local people too who are wonderful, kind and super welcoming. There are not really any shops on the island, so if you need any personal items such as hygiene products, you will need to bring these with you. Manado has plenty of shops where you can find all that you need, but this will naturally take a day away from diving.

Bunaken island beach

All in all, we can 100% recommend doing your Dive Master Course if you want to improve your skills, get to know the dive industry closer and if you possibly want to start your career in diving. Further we would highly recommend doing your Dive Master Course with Living Colours on Bunaken Island as you will be guaranteed unforgettable diving and a wonderful team off passionate, friendly and skilled people to help you take the next step in your diving career!

Text: Erja-Liisa Lappalainen & Hannu Stewart
Photos: Erja-Liisa Lappalainen, Hannu Stewart, Petra Laurinen & Mikko Jantunen



Bunaken island dive resort


On arrival to Living Colours you realise that you can't really see the resort from the sea. We are well hidden by the mangroves and there's only a narrow channel for boats to enter to our beach. The trees in front of us are quite majestic, and many guests have noted that they haven’t seen this tall mangroves elsewhere.

Mangroves have roots growing above the ground that they use to take in oxygen. It makes the trees look really mythical. During low tide you can see the roots sticking up from the ground. The roots differ a bit depending on the species, we have more than 20 different mangrove species growing in the national park area.


Bunaken mangroves


Mangrove trees play an important role in the ecosystem. They protect the beach and the reef by providing a natural barrier against erosion. They filter pollution from the water and prevent harmful substances from getting to the reef. The roots also act as a nursery for juvenile fish, and mangrove forest is a natural habitat for a number of animals below and above the surface.


Diving Bunaken


The mangroves trees are very important for us, too. During strong winds and high waves the mangroves provide shelter for our beach and boats. So they work as a wave breaker, our own bumper against bad weather. 

Snorkelling on the reefs is amazing, but next time it might also be worth to have a look in the fish nursery between the mangrove trees while passing by!


Bunaken marine life 


Text Petra Laurinen
Photos Ralf Åström



Rental Dive Gear


The regulator is the most important part of your scuba diving kit. After all, it only provides you with the air you breathe. So it’s important to take care of your regulator and keep it properly maintained. Here are some tips to make sure your regulator is safe and ready to dive.

Inspect it on land

Before you get in the water, give your regulator a careful check. Visually inspect all regulator hoses for wear or cracking.
Make sure there are no holes or tears in the mouth piece and make sure the cable tie around it it tight enough. Check the metal fittings for corrosion. If you use hose protectors make sure to slide them away and check underneath them as well.

With your regulator connected to the tank and the valve still closed, inhale from the mouthpiece; if you’re getting air, there’s a leak somewhere (likely the exhaust diaphragm). This would mean you get water in your mouth when diving. Open the valve fully and, while watching your pressure gauge, take a couple of deep breaths. Air should flow freely, and the gauge shouldn’t move. Don’t forget to give your octo the same inspection.

Keep It Clean

Water — especially the salty kind — is the enemy of your regulators inside. The best way to clean a regulator is a long soak while it’s connected to a tank and pressurized; that ensures no water can get into the first stage. After a holiday before long storage, ensure the first stage dust cap is tightly attached and wash it in warm water while rotating regulator/spg where it attaches to its hose. If you don’t have a tank handy, make sure the purge valves do not get depressed and the first stage dust cover is firmly in place — otherwise water can get in while you are soaking.

Sand and dirt can muck up your regulator. Be mindful of where you set your gear in between dives — especially when shore diving. Get in the habitat of securing your octo so that it doesn’t drag along the sea floor to keep it debris-free.


Rental Dive Equipment

Follow The Schedule

Service schedules (usually every 12 to 24 months) vary by manufacturer, so make sure you follow the servicing guidelines specific to your reg. All regulators have internal components that will degrade over time (especially O-rings), and a professional servicing with a careful inspection is the only way to spot wear, damage or corrosion.





 EcoReefs Living Colours


At the beginning of this century Bunaken Marine Park was chosen to be the first place in the world for new state-of-the-art ceramic reef models. With the lead from marine biologist Dr. Mark Erdman, a new artificial reef system “EcoReefs” was introduced. Unlike any earlier artificial reef structures, the idea behind EcoReefs was that the installed non-toxic ceramic blocks were designed to mimic natural reef thickets of branching Acroporid corals to be ideal for new corals to attach and grow. The settling plates at the center of each module create a shaded microenvironment for small creatures and eventually the blocks will become part of a natural reef ecosystem, leaving nothing artificial behind.


eco reef installation Indonesia


The very first study site was established in Manado Tua island, in front of a village called Negeri. The reef had been destroyed in 1970’s by damaging fishing activities and corals were reduced to rubble. Local villagers were eager to restore their reefs and agreed to help and protect the installation. The reef’s recovery exceeded all expectations. Few years later it was time for a second Eco Reef installation in Fukui, Bunaken island.

Like Negeri, the vibrant dive site Fukui in Bunaken used to be a popular fishing spot among local islanders. Before Bunaken Marine Park was establishes in 1991 destructive fishing activities and boat anchoring had caused considerable damage to the shallow reef areas, and due to regular strong current sweeping over the reef, many corals were broken into rubble. Even though the dive site had for years been protected from further fishing activities and the only visitors to the site were divers and snorkelers, the rubble areas had not shown much improvement. Because of the currents small coral pieces were regularly turned over and over, making it difficult for new corals to attach and grow. The EcoReef installation in Fukui was was funded by Dr. Erdmann's family and friends in memory of his brother Stephen, who died in a bus accident in Egypt in 2003, and was carried out with the help from the marine park’s dive community.


Arificial Reef Bunaken Indonesia


Scientists were amazed by the speed that both reefs started to recover from the very beginning. Now, over ten years later, the corals in Negeri and Fukui are thriving and the reefs sustain healthy fish and invertebrate ecosystems.

Earlier articles:


cheap diving indonesia


Photo credits: Edo Ang and Jaakko Aalto




Bunaken beach


Being a bit of tradition I’m now writing about my time in Living Colours Dive Resort in the lovely Pulau Bunaken. And just to start with I’ll introduce myself. First you’ll hear a small story my dad loves to tell.

While you were a little girl, maybe around four years old, my colleagues were asking what will you do as a grown up girl. And you know how they expected you to answer something common like a vet or a princess (you were still so young). But with no doubt you told them that you’ll become a scuba diver and you can only imagine how their faces looked after you said that with plain certainty in your voice. And eight years later you came to me with the brochure of PADI Open Water Diver –course starting in few weeks. And less than a month from that you already had your Junior OWD –certification. 

PADI Divemaster Indonesia Young Sara, photo Hannu Waenerberg 

Since then I’ve been exploring the diving around the world (including Finland). And now, nine years later I’m finishing my PADI Divemaster -course in a place to be. During the nine years I’ve also found my way to the Kajaani University of Applied Sciences where I’m currently studying a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports and Leisure Management which includes instructing sports from basketball to hiking and gym training to swimming. As a part of the studies we’re required to complete an internship including planning/implementing sports sessions and also getting hands-on experience from the managemental tasks and administration of a sports business. When it was time to decide the place for the training I had already got many negative answers but then I remembered this place where I was on holiday four years ago and sent an email to Mia about the training. She welcomed me to Living Colours and Bunaken and I was able to start figuring out the practical things to actually get here.

So now when the major part of the training is over and the return to the daily life and routines is pretty close, you’ll get to know few pros and cons of my time in here.

People and atmosphere in here are one of a kind. You’ll find the locals very nice and positive, always smiling to you and greeting you. They will also try to help if there’s any problems (even they might not speak English) calling around multiple people to find the solution. On the evening if you happen to walk outside the resorts you’ll find locals playing guitar and signing (probably also drinking) and having a great time. They might as well be playing cards or just hanging around with friends. By being here four months you’ll also get to know the staff quite well and sometimes even end up in the middle of their houses enjoying the evening with friends, good music and some local snacks.


Boat to Bunaken Boat trip from Manado to Bunaken with a local family, photo Jii Danya


Diving is the main reason people come to Bunaken. The island is surrounded by the worlds best coral walls and most diverse marine life. Majority of the sites around the island are walls but we do have a few nice slopes too not to forget the great muck diving just across the strait in the shores of the mainland. Just to mention, my favourite sites are Lekuan 3 and Beruntung (Lekuan 2,5) due to the various shapes the wall has and of course the unbelievable amount of creatures living there. Other sites I enjoy are Bunaken Timur 2 (and the whole house reef: Timur), all the Lekuans and Muka Kampung, Wori (muck) and the Molas Shipwreck. I’ve seen so many great things underwater: hundreds of turtles, red-tooth trigger fishes and nudibranches in various sizes and shapes, few sharks, rays and huge groupers. We also found both Nemo and Dory underwater and many tiny tiny seahorses (which I never found by myself, only with the guide).


Bunaken dive sites Sachiko's Point Bunaken, photo Jaakko Aalto


 I rarely ate spicy food in Finland and at start I found almost everything with chili too spicy for me.  Now after four months I’m able to eat local foods with sambal or dabu-dabu with much better feelings and less tears. The food in our restaurant is great; I haven’t lost any weight during my time in here whilst I still have been diving  quite a lot. They have multiple dishes from where to choose and the options vary on a daily basis. I’ve also eaten few times in Manado in the street restaurants and few times in my friends home in Bunaken. What a great food you can find also from there. And mostly the spicy sauce is served separately so it’s easy to adjust the taste. I’ve also learned how to eat rice, chicken and veggies with only one hand. Huh – that was difficult in the start, but time after time you’ll get used to it (and the locals laughing to your effort).


Spicy foodLocal delicacies, photo Sara Waenerberg


One thing I found very difficult in here was to adjust to the Indonesian time. Given that in Finland mostly people are on time or even a bit early, here it’s nothing like that and you’ll have to get used to waiting multiple things such as locals coming to work, food, boat ride etc. But after you settle to the idea, you can manage with it and find waiting actually more pleasant than you first thought. If you have to be somewhere on an exact time, you should consider reserving great amount of time to actually get there, because it’s obviously possible to be late in Indonesia too.

One of the worst things to happen in a place like this is to get sick. I had prepared with few antibiotics and pain medication plus a whole bunch of medicines to the possible ear problems when I left from Finland. You should really pay attention what medicines should be brought with though Living Colours do have a nice small availability for the most common medicines needed. I had quite a few issues with my ears whilst in here. The key to avoid ear issues is to keep them anti-contaminated: rinse with fresh water and dry after contact with sea water, protect from wind. While being sick I was feeling blue not being able to dive but also because I have my own routines back home whenever I catch a flu or something else. Luckily though I had one good friend in here trying to cheer me up and Annika and Mia will also be happy to help you if needed.

Overall my time here have been amazing, great, unforgettable, sometimes also boring and sad, but still the best thing in my life for a while. I will miss every and each one of here: people are the ones who made this like it have been. So I would thank you all the guest visiting Living Colours during my internship, the whole staff working in here, especially Mia and Annika who have been the warp and woof for me and all the Bunaken people I’ve met during these wonderful four months.

Diving BunakenDivemaster Sara, photo Teemu Siimes 

Terima kasih banyak! Sampai jumpa temanku!     

Text: Sara Waenerberg




Thumbnail     Thank you all for the great reviews again! We're pleased to announce that Living Colours Dive Resort has been recognized with a 2018 Certificate of Excellence, based on the consistently great reviews...
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Thumbnail   All in all, we can 100% recommend doing your Dive Master Course if you want to improve your skills, get to know the dive industry closer and if you possibly want to start your career in diving....
Hiding behind the mangroves
05. September 2017
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Contact Details

Living Colours Diving Resort 
PADI 5 Star Dive Resort S-36220
Pangalisang Beach, Bunaken
North Sulawesi, Indonesia

Tel: +62 812 430 6401 Mia | +62 81 2430 6063 Jaakko

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