When the dive boat slides away from the jetty at Tasik Ria resort I get a similar feeling of excited anticipation that I had as a child when we boarded the cross-channel ferry at Dover every summer. Adventures await and anything could happen.
As the captain takes the helm and the lines are cast off we gently edge out of the little bay and pick up speed. The jetty falls behind, we steam past the wonderful house reefs and turn north to start our 50 minute steam towards Bunaken.
Clearly visible ahead is the impressive, perfect volcano shape of Manado Tua (extinct), one of the five islands which make up the spectacular Bunaken National Marine Park. This is the moment I absolutely love. The sun is invariably beating down, the water is calm, a day of spectacular, world class diving lies ahead.
Divers find comfortable spots on the sun deck or prepare cameras on tables inside the spacious cabin.
The wonderful, attentive crew start preparing fresh fruit and delicious dishes for lunch while the dive guides check the equipment. I make a cup of tea and sit back, dreaming of the wonders we will see today and keeping a weather eye out for a pod of passing dolphins or pilot whales.
As we approach the first dive site the guides do a detailed briefing either on the top deck or inside the cabin.
Everyone kits up and the dive begins. The dives in Bunaken National Park are invariably drift dives along incredible walls and spectacular slopes. Turtles are everywhere and colourful sponges and masses of fish adorn the walls.
Happy divers jump off the boat and do two dives before enjoying a delicious lunch prepared by the crew.
There are large rinse tanks for cameras; tea, coffee, hot chocolate and importantly water are available all day; soft drinks can be bought on the boat.
Two days a week the 3rd dive is also on Bunaken, the other days round the diving day off with a bimble around the prolific house reefs which I will describe in a future blog.
And as the captain takes us safely home, we often see the most spectacular sunsets on the way.