Update: October 2018
10 Amazing things to do in Sulawesi
Sulawesi sprawls in the centre of the amazing Indonesian archipelago. It is one of their main islands with attractions to please adventure and nature lovers alike. There are so many amazing things to do in Sulawesi! The coastline boasts pristine beaches with crystal waters to match, whilst the contrast of lush mountain and jungle are every hiker’s dream. Animals lovers fear not there is something here for you too with the calm and friendly Crested Black Macaque living in the north of Sulawesi.
With cities like Makassar and Manado to remote villages with indigenous people like Tana Toraja to a diving paradise like Bunaken, Sulawesi really is a hidden gem of cultural bliss.
At the end of April, I was invited by the Indonesia Tourism to embark on a 7 day trip around Sulawesi and Ambon. Below is a wrap of some of my favourite things to do in Sulawesi featuring Manado, Bunaken Island, Palu & Makassar.
Related: “Our Ultimate Bali Travel Guide“
How to get to and around Sulawesi
You can fly from Australia direct to Jakarta with Garuda Airlines or Qantas, once in Jakarta you will need to fly to the Island of Sulawesi. You can fly with Garuda to either Manado (North) or Makassar (South) depending on where you wish to start your itinerary.
You can search for your desired dates and locations below or use these tips: ‘How to find cheap flights‘.
Once in Sulawesi, there are a number of ways you can travel around. More than likely you will end up using a variety of methods. In the city I would suggest using Blue Metre taxis as like in Bali they have the best reputation and run on a metre. Other options include private transport or hiring a motorbike.
Where to stay in Sulawesi
Enjoy the sunsets
I absolutely adore sunsets ( I adore sunrises too but am never up early enough to catch them :P). I am forever amazed by the magic the sky can make, the colours that come to life are always welcoming! Here are a couple of gorgeous sunsets we witnessed in Palu and Manado!
Visit the Wakatobi Islands
One of the top Sulawesi tourist attractions is Wakatobi Islands which actually consist of four islands [Wangi-Wangi, Tomia, Binongko and Kaledupa. It is located in the Southeast of Sulawesi and is a large marine national park It’s also a Marine National Park, one of the largest coral reefs in the world with lots of species of fish, beautiful types of coral, making it a popular dive spot for the avid adventurer!
Like a lot of Indonesia, this underwater paradise is still a bit of a secret destination in Sulawesi meaning there isn’t a lot of Tourist infrastructure making it a little bit tricky to get to (but oh so worth it!)
Once you arrive, stay at the Wakatobi luxury dive resort. Wakatobi seamlessly blends five-star amenities and civilized comforts with a pristine natural environment; a pairing that has secured its reputation as one of the world’s finest resorts!
Climb the Hill of Love
Bukit Kasih or Hill Of Love is located in the Minahasa Regency of North Sulawesi. On arrival, we were greeted by a mob of men with their owls wanting photos, thank goodness none of the group acknowledged this poor attempt at tourism. This sulphuric hill spans over 2435 steps to the top, and with active sulphur that has eroded parts of the track, the walk is eerie, to say the least.
This highland is called the Hill of Love because it is where people from different religions can gather and worship their own faith symbol in peaceful harmony. There are five houses of worship: a Catholic Church, a Christian church, a temple, a mosque and Hindu temple.
Get in touch with nature
There is so much nature to appreciate here in Sulawesi. The coast has incredible waters whilst the middle part of the island is blessed with spectacular rainforest and mountain ranges! My absolute favourite thing about Indonesia is the mass of palm trees, which means photo op around every corner! Basically an Instagrammers dream!
Have lunch at Tondano Lake
Tondano Lake, the largest lake in North Sulawesi, sits 600 metres above sea level. It covers an impressive 4,278 hectares and with its lush vegetation and mystical mountain backdrop, it makes for a spectacular lunch stop. The lake, situated by the village of Remboken is around 30 km from Manado. Enjoy the local caught fish at one of the many food stalls and restaurants surrounding the lake.
Snorkel at Bunaken Island
Bunaken Island is located in the bay of Manado in northern Sulawesi, Indonesia. Its main attraction is the incredible marine life. We took a ferry from the Harbour Marina port which took around 40 minutes. The translucent waters of the Bunaken seas allow for fantastic snorkelling, just be aware of the incredible albeit a tad scary cliff drop on the edge of the coral reef then plunges down more than 25 metres.
Explore Tangkoko National Park
A top Sulawesi tourist attraction is The Tangkoko Nature Reserve! A flora and fauna conservation area on Mount Tangkoko in the district of Bitung in the province of North Sulawesi, about one hour’s drive from Manado. The reserve is attractive for its unique wildlife, in particular, the Black Macaques.
Bonus: just on the other side of this jungle is Black Sand beach. We caught the last glimpse of light, the perfect way to end the day! I would recommend visiting these two tourist attractions as they are one of the top things to do in Manado
Eat Delicious Food
We indulged in some ENAK SEKALI (very delicious) meals on our trip around Sulawesi. Most meals consisted of fish (about 10 different ways ? ), a vegetable dish, something deep fried and sambal (chilli)- always sambal. I must admit by the end I was very much sick of the sight of fish – I did enjoy though, the always tasty and full of exotic spices that Indonesian food is known for.
Discover the Amazing Beaches
One of the best things to do in Sulawesi is to visit the beaches! Boarded with rows of palm trees the beaches of Indonesia are a photographers dream! The water is clear, the sand is white and the smiles are never ending! My smile was beaming the entire day we explored Tanjung Karang Pantai with a coconut and Bintang in tow!
Get to know the friendly locals
I whole-heartedly believe we become better humans by exploring and learning about other cultures. The best way I have found to do this is to immerse with the locals. The Indonesian people are some of the friendliest, welcoming and cheekiest people I have ever met! Everyone we came across always made sure we were enjoying our time!
Visit Togean Islands
The Togean Islands are a small set of islands in the Tomini sea in the north of Sulawesi. It is one of the best-kept secrets in Indonesia, especially if you like diving and you want to check out some of the amazing underwater creatures in this part of the world.
Although hard to get to it has pristine sands, sparkling turquoise waters and rich diversity of marine life and coral formation making it one of the best places to visit in Sulawesi!
There are a few dive resorts and family-run guest houses to stay at once you arrive at the island.
Have a Bintang
Because travelling is hard work…..
So that is my wrap up of things to do in Sulawesi! Have you been to Indonesia? What did you like/dislike? Comment below!
[ One of my goals this year was to start producing Video content. It’s been a slow start but here is my first real attempt at a Travel Video; A wrap-up of my time in Manado…..]
I was a guest of Ministry of Indonesia, but as always opinions are my own
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