North Sulawesi: Adventures Beyond Dreams

17 Februar, 2011 | Source: North Sulawesi Tourism Organisation

North Sulawesi is one of the 32 provinces in the Republic of Indonesia, with its capital city being Manado (formely also called "Menado"). This region with an area of 1,533,698 ha is located at 0º30"- 4º 3" North Latitude and 121º127" East Longitude. Based on the regional government system, North Sulawesi is subdivided into the Manado Municipality, Bolaang Mongondow District, Sangihe Talaud District and Bitung Municipality. To the North this region borders on the Republic of the Philippines, Sulawesi Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The Eastern part is on the Maluku Sea and the Southern side is the Tomini Gulf. The western part borders Gorontalo Province which until the end of 2000 was a part of North Sulawesi and then became an own province.



Manado offers a variety of terrain with hills, volcanic mountains and scenic plateaus. It is estimated that Manado was inhabited in the 16th century and was called "Wenang". Later, in 1623 the name was changed to "Manado". Influenced by the foreign occupation, the culture reflects the outside influence. Urbanization of the people from Sangihe Talaud, Bolaang Mongondow, Gorontalo and Minahasa has resulted in a diverse population and culture. Manado`s population is 342,264 people (1996). There are many places of interest in and around the city.


The world famous Bunaken Marine National Park, with an area 75.26 hectares, is located very close to Manado and comprises of 5 islands: Bunaken, Manado Tua, Siladen, Mantehage and Nain. The superb diving and snokelling sites puts the Marine Park in one of the top 10 dive area of the world and is a mecca for seasoned and beginner divers alike. Wall diving offers a spectacular drop off 100`s of meters deep and the warm water is particularly inviting. 

But it is for the diversity of sea life to be found around the Park that attracts divers from around the world. Whether you are a fan of big pelagic fish down to the smallest anemone, whatever your fascination, you certainly won`t be disappointed. For those who are avid underwater photographers be sure to bring countless rolls of film, photo opportunities abund.

The variety of fish and other marine life often spotted include: Napoleon Wrasse, Angelfish, Turtles, Blue Ribbon Eels, Stingrays, Eagelrays, Snappers, Groupers, and sharks to name a few. There are hundreds of other species too numerous to list but easily located at a variety of sites.

There is now a number of professional dive operators in and around Manado with well-trained staff and a commitment to safety. Accommodation is available at most dive operations and full packages including equipment hire and meals are extremely competitive.


This island is the main island of the group. There is a hiking path to the top which takes several hours to climb, and offers a spectacular view of all the islands of Manado Bay. Superb for diving and snorkeling.


This island is comprised of many white sandy beaches. Good diving for experienced divers, but good snorkeling for all. To those who feel the need to escape from civilization, this tranquil place offers a pleasant opportunity for relaxing and sunbathing.


This track is primarily used on holidays, national days and for special events where the public can witness horse racing as well as the traditional cart racing. Check with you hotel front desk for information.


This 19th century temple, the oldest in east Indonesia, is the worship place of Chinese Buddhist believers. The temple is located on Jl. Panjaitan in the center of the city. During Toa Peh Kong each February, a traditional Chinese parade dating from the 14th century is held.


A monument to commemorate the meritorious young men from North Sulawesi, Wolter Monginsidi and Pierre Tendean. Wolter Monginsidi died during the struggle of Indonesian Independence and Pierre Tendean died in the so-called "communist rebellion" on September 30, 1965. Situated on the waterfront, facing the Bay of Manado, it is usually crowded with people who want to relax while enjoying the beautiful panoramic view of the bay. The monument is located in Bahu at the intersection of Jl. Monginsidi and Pierre Tendean.


This Provincial Museum offers visitors and students alike, information about art, culture and history. It includes displays of the four ethnic groups inhabiting North Sulawesi, as well as the Batak Tribe (West Sumatra), Lombok, Bali, Central Sulawesi and Irian Jaya. Historical artifacts from the Dutch, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese and Swedish can also be seen. It is located on Jl. W.R. Supratman, Manado.


A memorial to commemorate the destruction of Manado which was heavily bombed and to honor the victims of World War II. It is located in the center of Manado next to Gereja Sentrum (City Center Church).


Wenang Golf Course, a nine hole course, located on the road from Manado to the international airport covers an area of 1800 square meters. Clubs are available for hire as well as caddies.


The city of Bitung is located on the northern coast of Sulawesi, approximately 47 km from Manado. Its land mass covers a total area of 30,400 Ha with a population of 118,633 people (1996). Bitung is a signifigant commercial port in Eastern Indonesia and as well a tourist gateway. The port is well equipped with a pier capable of accomodating modern cruise ships. A major asset for Bitung is the Lembeh Strait and Lembeh Island which acts as a natural shield protecting Bitung from wind and rough seas. It is believed that the name "Bitung", was taken from the name of a shady tree that grows in the coastal areas, offering people shelter from sun, rain, and wind.


Located at the foot of Dua Saudara Mountain, the area is comprised of rolling hills and valleys with a variety of hardwood trees and unusual plant life.

The animal life is also quite varied, and one can often view Tarsius Spectrum (world`s smallest primate), black tailless monkeys, Maleo Birds, wild pigs and kuskus (marsupial family). Tangkoko Batuangus Reserve offers a suitable protective environment to help prevent these animals from becoming extinct. Tangkoko is located in the northern sector of Bitung, and comprises an area of 3,196 Ha, and takes about 1.5 -2.5 hours to reach from Bitung or Manado, respectively. Please note that the road to Tangkoko is somewhat difficult and visitors are recommended to visit with a local tour operators to ensure a safe journey and to take advantage of an experienced guide who can assist in spotting the wildlife. Losmen (simple guesthouses) are available for overnight stays.


Lembeh Strait is a 12 km. long stretch of water separating Lembeh Island and the mainland. Bitung is actually the half way point along the shores of Lembeh Strait. This pristine section of water in North Sulawesi is home to many unique sea animals which include the pygmy seahorse, mimic octopus, ghost pipefish, as well as other larger species. It is a fantastic dive area for underwater photographers and the diversity of smaller creatures ensures many memorable photo opportunities. There are several undeveloped beaches on the shoreline of Lembeh Strait which are excellent for swimming and snorkelling. Presently, Lembeh Island is undeveloped and has no tourist facilities.


As Bitung played an important role in WW II as a home base for the Japanese Forces, it became the last resting place of their soldiers who died during the War. To commemorate this time in history and the men who died, the Japanese and North Sulawesi Government constructed this monument located at Manembo-nembo 7 km from Bitung center.


Is situated on a bluff at Lembeh Island Beach, the DC3 monument and park offers a nice opportunity to observe ships going by as well as being a gathering place on Sundays and holidays. Reachable by motorized outrigger.


The Minahasan region covers an area of approximately 418,862 Ha with a population of 733,029 people (1996). The capital of this district is Tondano, a town close to Lake Tondano. It is situated on a plateau 700 m above sea level, surrounded by magnificent countryside with cool mountainous air. Minahasan people believe the legend that they are descendants of Toar and Lumimuut. The reminders of this time long ago are the Waruga, stonegraves in Sawangan Airmadidi, and Watu Pinabetengan in Tompaso. The word Minahasa which means unification of the traditional tribes was derived from the word esa or one, hence the land was named Minahasa.


The highest mountain in North Sulawesi (1995 m) is a 5-6 hours climb beginning near the Police Station in Airmadidi. Try walking up at night during a full moon and staying overnight to watch the sunrise. On Sundays and holidays Mt. Klabat bustles with the activity of students and hikers.


The ancient Waruga, stone graves (sarcophagi), of the Minahasan people, dating from the Megalithic age are extremely interesting. 144 stone graves were built to house the remains in the sitting position. The pre-Christian belief was that the babies were born in the sitting position in the mother`s womb, and it is in this position that humans must pass on to eternity. The engravings on the headstones depict the cause of death, the deceased`s hobby, character or occupation, etc. There is a small shop in front of the gate and a small donation is suggested. It is located at Sawangan village near Airmadidi, 24 km from Manado.


This site pays homage to the national heroine of Women`s Rights in North Sulawesi. She was born on December 1, 1872 and died on April 22, 1924. An organization called "PIKAT" was established by Ibu Walanda Maramis to involve women in social and educational development.


This monument, and grave site, located in Tondano, memorialize this national hero from North Sulawesi, born in Tondano 1890 and died in 1949. Situated on a hill with an unspoiled view of Lake Tondano and surrounding rice fields, it reminds us of the spirit of national heroism during the revolutionary period.


This sleepy town, 13 km. from Tondano, situated on Lake Tondano, is an ideal place for various water sports. Bungalows, hot springs and local fish restaurants are available on a limited basis.


Kayai Modjo was the commander of Pangeran Diponegoro during the Java War (1825-1830). He was exiled to Tondano and died in 1848. The mausoleum that was built in his honor, is located in the village named Kampung Jawa about 12 km from Tondano.


This monument, 1km from the center of the town, honors the Tondano War, 1808-1809 led by Sarapung, the chieftain of Tondano Touliang and Korengkeng, chieftain of Tondano-Toulimambot tribes.


This area in Tataaran features hot springs and impressive views of rice fields. It has limited facilities for overnight stays.


This picturesque town, 25 km. from Manado, is the center for many of the Christian Missionary groups. It is located on a plateau between two active volcanoes, Lokon and Mahawu. The cool fresh air enables a multitude of flowers and all kinds of the more exotic plants to proliferate. Bukit Inspirasi, (auditorium) facing Mt. Lokon is the home to national conventions, festivals and other events.


The volcanic mountains Lokon (1.580 m) and Mahawu (1.311 m), both have crater lakes of considerable beauty. Lokon is sometimes considered to be the most beautiful of the two. The trek to the top should be made by climbers in reasonable condition. The steaming crater lies 600 m below the peak of the mountain and the lake is about 60 m deep. The best time to start walking from Kakaskasen is 7 AM and it is possible to arrive at the crater while the morning is still cool. It is important to contact Pos Pengamanan Gunung Lokon and Gunung Mahawu in Kakaskasen III, Tomohon.

Mt. Mahawu Crater

Mt. Lokon


This active volcano is situated in Tombatu, about 60 km from Manado or 10 km walk from Toure village. Soputan, 1825 meters in height, is still active, often times steaming and spewing volcanic ash. Trekers will pass through plantations, as well as areas overun with "Edelweys" flowers, usually called "Bunga Abadi" or "Eternal Flower". Often times people choose to camp overnight in the Casuarina Forest before making the final accent which begins at 4:00 AM.


Pinabetengan village, about 50 km from Manado, is the home to an ancient stone, shaped like a table. It measures 4 m long and 2 m high and is one of remnants left by the Minahasan Tribes where they negotiated the territorial division, unification, peace, and war against their enemies. Pictography carvings on the stone cannot be deciphered.


These caves are located alongside the road between Kiawa and Kawangkoan, countryside villages about 45 km from Manado. The caves were built by the Japanese during the World War II primarily for storage.


This monument, located in Kawangkoan, 45 km from Manado, commemorates Bernhard Wilhelm Lapian and Charles Chus Taulu, the leaders in Peristiwa Merah Putih, February 14th, 1946, which represented the heroic fight to defend the Republic of Indonesia. B.W. Lapian was also a religious hero who established KGPM (Kerapatan Gereja Protestan Minahasa).


This mausoleum, located 7 km from Manado, represents traditional Minangkabau architecture and honors Imam Bondjol, a national hero from Minangkabau in West Sumatera. He was a hero of the Perang Paderi (Paderi War) against the Dutch and was later exiled to North Sulawesi. He was born in 1791 and died in Lota Village, Pineleng in 1864.


Located in Kali Village, Pineleng, about 10 km from Manado, this natural 60 m waterfall is an ideal place to enjoy nature and fresh water pools at the base of the falls. It is easily reachable from Manado by public transportation followed by a short 30 -45 minute hike past the village. Please read Tips for Excursions.


Bolaang Mongondow is the name of a district, which covers the highlands & lowlands between Minahassa and Gorontalo. The population is 411,086 (1996). Beside the legend of their origin, Bolaang Mongondow is renowned for their traditional ceremonies, which are unique and impressive and portray the process of human life from birth to adulthood. These celebrations are great tourist attractions that should not be missed. Another cultural attraction is the traditional dances, which have been preserved over time.


This tranquil lake, about 23 km from Kotamobagu, is situated in the highlands, 1000 m above sea level, is surrounded by dense forest with abundant bird and animal life.


This beach is 50 km from Kotamobagu, offshore from Motabang village on the tiny island of Molosing. This tranquil tropical island is pleasant for swimming, fishing, boating, as well as snorkeling. There is basic accommodation and restaurants.


This impressive mountain is reached by passing through the coffee plantations between Modayag and Lake Mooat and is 27 km from Kotamobagu. This nature reserve offers a crater lake, unexplored forest and hot mud pools.


The National Park, 260 km from Manado, has a land mass of 193,600 ha, altitudes of 200 - 1,968 m and stretches from Dumoga in Bolaang Mongondow to Bone in Gorontalo. Its mountainous terrain and dense vegetation make it an ideal home for maleo birds, anoas, horn-bills, wild pigs, tarsius spectrum and giant fruit bats. Giant fruit bats were a new species discovered in 1992. The major reason for establishing this area as a National Park was to protect the watershed and stop deforestation. The World Bank has lent its support to this program. Much of the forest is at comparatively low attitudes and correspondingly rich in fruit bearing plants and trees, such as wild durians and wild nutmeg.


This district consists of 77 islands, of which 56 islands are inhabited. The population is 260,370 people (1996). Most of the people are involved in agriculture, which include coconut, vanilla, nutmeg, and clove. The islands are located north of the Sulawesi Peninsula, and south of the Philippines The islands are divided into two main groups; Sangihe, consisting of the islands Sangir Besar, Siau, Tagulandang and Biaro; and Talaud consists of the islands of Karakelang, Salibabu, Kaburuan, Nanusa, Miangaas, plus many other small islands. The capital of Sangihe Talaud is Tahuna, which is located on Sanger Besar.

The airport located about 21 km from Tahuna is serviced by domestic airlines on a irregular basis. Please check with a travel agent. There are seaports in Tahuna, Siau, Tagulandang and Beo which are serviced by various ferries and local boats.

Sangihe Talaud is renowned for its magnificent white sandy beaches with amazing coral gardens as well as an underwater active volcano. It is also known for its beautiful dances with a variety of war dances and those re-enacting legends.

Traditional music of Sangihe Talaud consists of Oli-Oli and Musik Bambu.

Handicrafts from Sangihe Talaud include wonderful ebony carvings and beautiful fine embroidery from Batunderang Island in Sangir Besar.


Is the old royal residence used during the period of the Tahuna Kingdoms, Manganitu and Tamako. Inside the building you can still see relics of the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and Tagalog episodes. This is a definite must see.


This church is located in Manganitu, Sanger Besar Island. It was built by Steyler, a German missionary in the last century. There is nothing left inside, however the building is still intact. There is a family gravesite on the property. Take a look, as it is one of the few historical sights in the islands.



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