Staying on Siladen

My sister and I just spent three nights on the tiny Indonesian island of Siladen, and we wish we’d stayed much longer. One of five islands within Bunaken National Marine Park, Siladen has easy access to great dive sites and incredible snorkeling just out the front door.

When I say that the island is tiny, I mean it: at 31.25 hectares (or 0.013 square miles, for those of you in the US), you can walk the length of the island in less than 20 minutes at a slow stroll. The population in the small village checks in at just under 200 people. Add to this three fairly small resorts, and you have a pretty pocket-sized place.

We stayed at Bobocha Siladen, the resort in the middle of the island. It’s small — it can accommodate a maximum of 18 guests — but it had everything we might have wanted: out-of this-world food …

… sea and mountain views …

… soft sand …

…. a perfect plunge pool …

… and truly spectacular snorkeling at the house reef (definitely the best reef situation on the island).

Bobocha also deserves a shout-out for its great staff, especially our hostess, Sarah, and our snorkel guide, Andreas. If there’s a downside to staying here, it’s that the entire island loses electricity from seven in the morning until five-thirty in the afternoon every day. This means no hot showers to rinse off in the middle of the day, which is manageable — but wow, do you miss hot showers when you don’t have them.

The other great part about staying on Siladen is that you have the opportunity to see life in an island village.

The economy relies pretty much 100% on two things: fishing and tourism (this translates to a shore lined with fishing boats and dive boats).

A walk through the village led us past the grand town church …

… the local boat-building area …

… laundry spread out both on lines and higgledy-piggledy wherever the sun could dry it …

… and houses with giant speaker set-ups outside.

These speakers were set out especially for the New Year, which is celebrated in three ways. First of all, on New Year’s Eve, anyone who owns a speaker set-up begins blasting music the minute the electricity goes on in the early evening.

The music continues unabated until the wee hours on New Year’s Eve (this music extravaganza is repeated all over again on the night of New Year’s Day, but with an earlier end time).

Secondly, just before midnight, a blaze of fireworks begins.

There are so many fireworks across the channel in Manado that it looks like the hills are dancing.

The third island tradition is the most fun: on New Year’s Day, once church and lunch are over, neighbors gather and go door-to-door singing, playing instruments, eating, drinking, and dancing.

One of the things we especially liked about this were homemade instruments, including the ukuleles …

… many of which were carved to look like mini-electric guitars …

… and this fabulous one-stringed bass (which you hit rather than bowing). It can be wheeled all around town:

I don’t know if visitors can see this kind of a music scene at any other time of year, but you might get lucky. And whether you’re here for three days or three weeks, Siladen is a great place to be!

One response to “Staying on Siladen

  1. What an amazing experience, and really intimate with the limited numbers. I thought that first image over the water was beautiful, but the underwater shots-wow!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s