Such astonishing diversity is partially a product of Sulawesi’s tortured geography. The island’s four outstretched “arms” are in a sense all separate; they rise from a deep seabed formed by contiguous folds in the earth’s crust but are isolated from one another by steep ravines, dense forests and forbidding peaks. Unlike many other Indonesian islands, only Sulawesi’s northeastern and southwestern extremities (the Minahasa and Makassar regions) are volcanic, and instead of gently sloping contours and broad plains, most of the island consists of jagged uplands and rugged plateaus lying 500 meter (1,600 feet) or more above sea level. The central peaks of Sulawesi reach as high as 3,400 meters (11,000 feet).
Sulawesi features, steep mountains, deep gorges, fast flowing rivers, blue highland lakes, lush rainforests, Savannah’s and white-sand beaches and a fascinating range of unusual flora and fauna. Many species of fauna found in Sulawesi can not be found else where in the world, like the black macaque, the babirusa wild boar, the anoa dwarf buffalo, the eccentric maleo bird, the saucer-eyed tarsier, and many beautiful and colorful butterflies.
Manado, bustling capital of North Sulawesi province, sprawls inland across low, palm-clad hills around a wide bay fringed with luxuriant tropical vegetation. In the distance, a backdrop of three volcanoes completes the city’s spectacular setting. With a limited number of intrinsic attractions, Manado’s main interest for travellers are its convenient location as a base for exploring the Tondano region, and the splendid underwater scenery of Bunaken. This municipality is the capital and commercial Centre, the main gateway to North Sulawesi Province.
WHERE TO EAT
Due to the influx of settlers throughout the archipelago, there is a wide variety of tasty local food, Western food is available in the better hotels, but the growing city has many cuisines to offer the discerning traveller.
Getting To Sulawesi
Manado is served by daily flights from Jakarta, Ujung Pandang and Balikpapan by Garuda Indonesia Airlines.
Four Pelni ships the KM Kerinci, KM Kambuna, KM Rinjani and KM Umsini maintains weekly services between Manado and other major ports in Indonesia. Two Pelni ships call at Bitung on a weekly basis. The adventurous can take the grueling overland journey across Central Sulawesi, or the three-day boat trip across the Gulf of Tomini.
Tondano, in the North Sulawesi hinterland, is reached in about an hour by bus from Manado, Bitung, the province’s main port 50 kilometres to the south, in about an hour. Kotamobagu is a cool city in the hills 180 kilometres west of Manado, which can be reached overland in about four hours. Gorontalo is 370 kilometres away from the North Sulawesi provincial capital and takes a seven hours journey to reach. Meter taxis now cruise the streets of Manado, also with less official private taxis hired on a per-trip or hourly basis. Horse carts are numerous and a pleasant way to tour the city. For intercity road travelling is good, particularly the network linking Minahasa, Bitung, Bolacng, Mongondow and Gorontalo.
Ornaments of intricate carved wood are common in the entire district. In Sangir the wood used is ebony. In Gorontalo, however, it is rattan. Krawang is a special kind of embroidery from Gorontalo, which is well known throughout Indonesia.
Tasik Ria is situated about 20 km southwest of Manado and has a beautiful sandy beach, with coconut trees. Ideal for sunbathing, swimming, fishing, diving and snorkeling. Tasik Ria seashore resort is completed by its four-star “Manado Beach Hotel” with 250 rooms, swimming pool, bar and discotheque is a lush seashore resort. Easily reachable by public bus or taxi from Manado.
15-km further southwest from Tasik Ria this village has traditionally been the Centre of Minahasan, culture and arts. In Tara-Tara traditional dances can be enjoyed in the open air at Kemer Garden. There are World War II Japanese caves at the Ranowangko dam, and the Kemer natural bathing spot nearby in the shadow of the volcanic lagoon, mount Kasehe and mount Tatawiran. Easily reachable from Manado by public bus or taxi.
About half an hour by a motorized outrigger canoe from Manado, Bunaken Island is a paradise for snorkelers and scuba enthusiasts. The coral reef off Bunaken Island is particularly good for snorkelers and divers and should not be missed while you are in this region. The drop off wall at Liang Cove is not only rare in the world, as it’s described by international divers as being spectacular with caves, gullies, and caverns harboring an immense wealth of marine life. The water visibility is sensational over at 30 m. The Bunaken Sea garden is rich with colourful tropical marine life.
Manado Tua Island
Manado Tua is the main island of its sister islands group: Bunaken, Siladen, Mantehage and Main situated just off Manado City in the Bay. The path to the top takes several hours to climb but the view takes in all the islands in the Manado Bay. Superb for snorkeling and skin diving, and ideal for corals and sponges. The beach is a mixture of white sand and coral formations. Beautiful reefs and coral gardens are also found around the islands of the northernmost tip of the Minahasa peninsula and along the East Coast. The reef lines the coast of Tangkoko Batuangus in the area of a nature reserve. A permit should be obtained from Sub Balai Konservasi Sumber Daya Alam Nature Conservation Office in Manado, before heading for this reserve.
Lake Tondano – Rembaken Tourist Site
About 36 km southwest of Manado is lake Tondano, 600 m above sea level. The drive to Tondano passes through picturesque villages and clove plantations. Situated right on the edge of the lake is the Remboken Tourist site an ideal place for water skiing, fishing, and boating. Bungalows, hot water swimming pool and restaurants are available at this site.
A megalithic stone of the ancestors of Minahasa, its surface covered with crude, mysterious live drawings and scripts which have never been deciphered. According to Minahasa history, this is the place where the ancestors first divided up the land among the people, Watu Pinabetengan means “The stone of discussion about the division. The ruling was made in order to ensure a peaceful and harmonious life. Seven divisions were made amongst different areas of Tombulu, Tonsea, Toulour, Tontemboan, Tonsawang, Ponosakan and Pasan Ratahan. This is located in Tompaso, about 45 km from Manado.
An ancient cemetery of Minahasan ancestors consists of 144 Sarcophagi, which is a remnant of the Megalithic age. It has a special historical value. Specific Sarcophagus known, as “Waruga” are unique square stones with holes in the middle and prism shaped lids. The artistic aspect of the Sarcophagus is known by the decorative sculpture and carving around the tombs and the lids with various motifs such as of human beings, plants, animals, and traditional geometrical motifs like clouds strings curls, double braids. Located in Sawangan village, about 24 km from Manado.
A nature reserve on open grassland covered with a great variety of plants. Located on the slopes of mount “Duo Saudara” the area is composed of impressive green hills and valleys with amazingly scenic views of natural beauty. There are black apes, maeo birds, snakes, wild pigs, hornbills and ruse deer. Located north of Bitung, it covers an area of 3,196 ha. This nature reserve has several cottages and small restaurants nearby. It is only reachable by four-wheel drive jeeps from Girian village over a rough road.
Dumoga Bone National Park
Located on the border between two districts, approximately 260 km from Manado, this park covers Dumoga in Bolaang Mongondow and Bone in Gorontalo. Its mountains and hills covered by dense forests and vegetation make it an ideal reserve of rare and specific animal species like maeo birds, anoas, hornbills, wild pig’s tarsius spectrums and fruit bats. The rainfall favours a very rich flora. A entry permit should be obtained from Sub Balai Konservasi Sumber Daya Alam Nature Conservation Office in Manado. This National Park has several cottages and small restaurants nearby.
Hot baths with water originating from hot volcanic springs attract people for relaxation and health reasons. Located in the village of Karumenga, Langoan, about 50 km from Manado.