SIZE: 80 acres
TAGS: Empty Indo, resident dugong, night snorkeling
Indonesia’s more than 17,000 islands range from overpopulated (Java) to overvisited (Bali) to overhyped (Sumba). But tiny Siladen is a largely ignored corner of the archipelago and a gateway to one of the world’s great underwater wonders—the 305-square-mile Bunaken Marine Park. The island has three guest houses, a small village, a school, and the Siladen Resort (from $217), which is the perfect base camp from which to explore. From its serene beachfront villas, it’s an easy swim out to snorkel the marine park’s clear water—with 100 yards of visibility—and its intact reefs. Seventy percent of the fish species in the Indo-Pacific are found in Bunaken, in addition to five species of sea turtles and a resident herd of dugongs. Tuna, wahoos, and sharks charge up from the 3,000-foot depths. The resort has the best dive shop in the area; be sure to take its spooky guided night snorkel to see nocturnal marine species like bamboo sharks and pygmy sea horses.
ACCESS: Fly 3.5 hours from Singapore on SilkAir to Manado and arrange for a water taxi through your Siladen accommodations.