Magical Manado

‘You are going to Indonesia? So Bali?’

‘Ah no, there is more to Indonesia than just Bali…..’

 

This seems to be a a pretty standard conversation when it comes to planning a trip to Indonesia. But what if I told you that there was more to Indonesia than just Bali? What?! You don’t believe me? Well let me tell you about this little hidden gem called Manado in North Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Manado (pronounced Ma-nado) is the capital city of the North Sulawesi province in Indonesia. In 2010, Manado had a population of 408,000 of some of the happiest people you will ever meet. The name Manado comes from the words manadou which means ‘on the far coast’. Manado has a Spanish and Dutch influence due to early settlement. In 1942, the Japanese captured Manado and the city was heavily damaged by the allies bombing in WWII.

Waruga Stones
Waruga Stones

What to see and do:

Waruga Stone – okay so if you are a bit morbid like me, you may enjoy going to old cemeteries to check out the old structures and tombstones. Waruga has these little stone like houses that is a type of sarcophagus that date back to the 9th century. The warugas were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1995.The dead were firstly wrapped in woka which is a type of leaf from a palm. The bodies were then placed inside the stone structures facing north in a kneeling position. The Dutch banned the waruga in 1828 and the locals were then forced to start using coffins.Originally the warugas were located all over North Sulawesi but is was feared that they were behind disease outbreaks (such as typhoid and cholera) so they were all collected and assembled in this one area.  Unfortunately, like most cemeteries, most of the waruga have been looted for all of its valuable contents. They have little notches in the side of the roof that indicates how many bodies are inside. The warugas really are quite beautiful. To add to the stark contract, local children run out to meet you and sit on the wall to watch you.

Hill of Love
Hill of Love

Hill of Love – If you want to feel the burn in your thighs and butt than I would highly recommend this walk for you. The Hill of Love was built in 2002 and is dedicated to the five religions on Manado, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Catholic. When you reach the Hill of Love you have two options, the left path or the right path. The left path will take you up 2,435 steep stairs to reach Bukit Kasih peak which is a giant cross. As you are walking up the stairs you will smell the rotten egg odour of all of the sulphuric clouds spilling out of the ground. The sulphur causes this odd mist that sweeps up and down the mountain side. As you get closer to the top, the path looses its steps and becomes a muddy steep pathway. It is an adventure but be careful as it is very slippery! My tip for you is to NOT wear thongs (aka flip flops) as they tend to break when the wearer slips. If you choose to go right, it is still a lot of steps but no where near as steep. At the top of the loop you come across the five different places of worship with an epic view down below through the sulphur clouds. If you go left or right, it doesn’t really matter as both views are absolutely amazing.

A Black Macaque
A Black Macaque

Tangkoko National Park – This is a must see on your Manado list. Do you remember the selfie of the black money that took over Facebook a couple of years ago? Well that cheeky little guy is from this national park and you have the opportunity to get right up close to them. When I was there, I saw both the black macaque (selfie monkey) and the little spectral tarsier – the world’s smallest monkey.

Spectral Tarisus
Spectral Tarsier

 It didn’t take us very long to find the black macaques. There was a lot of them and they were running a muck. They were fantastic to just sit back and watch them do their own thing together, grooming, playing and who knows what else. I am not sure how the tour guides find the spectral tarsier but he was hidden up in the branches, he was such a little cutie. I didn’t see them but there are also cuscus, bats, pigs, babirusa, deer, hornbills that are in the park along with abundant walking tracks.

Tangkoko Beach
Tangkoko Beach

After seeing both of these monkeys, I got another treat – seeing Tangkoko Beach aka the black sand beach. This has to be one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen and it also appeared to be very untouched. Tip – when heading to the park, don’t forget your mozzie repellent!!

Diving at Bunaken. Image by Aga Koźmic from A Matter of Taste
Diving at Bunaken. Image by Aga Koźmic from A Matter of Taste

Bunaken – Bunaken is a little island that is a part of the Bunaken National Marine Park which is on the northern tip of Sulawesi. If you want to snorkel or scuba dive, this is the place for you to go. This place is an island paradise with beautiful turquoise waters and a lovely resort over looking it all. Once of the most amazing snorkelling spots is right over a cliffs edge. The sealife is The waters of the marine park is up to 1,566m deep and with temperatures ranging from 27 – 29 degrees Celsius. The park has an amazing biodiversity with beautiful corals, sponges, fish, turtles and 7 of the 8 species of giant clams in the world. There is a boat that goes from Manado to Bunaken between 8 and 9am and leaves from Bunaken to Manado between 2 and 3pm. It takes about an hour to get over there and costs IDR 50.000 (approx $5AUD).

Near Bunaken Dive Site
Near Bunaken Dive Site

Getting to Manado isn’t as difficult as what you think. If you are coming in internationally, your best bet is to fly to either Jakarta or Denpasar (Bali). There are many daily flights to Manado from Jakarta or Denpasar or even other cities around the Indonesian archipelago with airlines such as Garuda, Silk Air, Lion Air or Merpati Airlines. The currency in Indonesian is the Indonesian Rupiah and my tip to you is to try and get it exchanged before getting to Manado as it can get quite expensive (dependant on the amount of the note you are exchanging to the Rupiah). I would highly recommend staying at the Mercure Manado Tateli Beach Resort. This resort is right on the water and has a stunning pool that you can just lounge around at and watch the world go by.

Hotel
The pool at the Mecure Manado Tateli Beach Resort

 

For the best tour guides in Manado, check out either MANADO TOURISM on Facebook or email them for more information at stevenmenthol@rocketmail.com.

Fish Curry
Fish Curry

42 Comments

  • Angie (FeetDoTravel)

    June 10, 2016

    This is such an interesting post and covers pretty much everything anyone could want! Hiking, pretty views, wildlife, food …. it’s wicked! And I love that you have highlighted a really cool pace in Indonesia for people to visit other than Bali 🙂

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      June 11, 2016

      Thanks for the feedback Angie! I really do appreciate it. I am glad that is what you got out of it as that was exactly my aim!

  • Kelly Turpin

    June 12, 2016

    Wow! What an awesome place. I am hoping to get to Sulawesi next year but I am not sure where I will get to visit. We will be cruising there on our boat. I hope I will be able to visit Manado, it looks spectacular!

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      June 12, 2016

      Thanks for the comment! I really do recommend Manado as it really is a whole new world. I will also be putting a pot up about Ambon soon (Maluku Islands) which isn’t that far from Sualwesi at all. Where else are you going?

  • Cristina

    July 8, 2016

    Amazing read! Manado looks like paradise indeed! Wish I was there now!
    Thank you for sharing this Helena!

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      July 8, 2016

      Thank you so much Cristina, glad you liked it!

  • Kirk Beiser

    July 8, 2016

    I have started researching Sulawesi for a trip a few years from now. Right now I plan on taking 1 trip each year (from Taiwan so it is sort of close) to Indonesia because I love the country. My next trip is Lombok. Flores and Eastern Java are also near the top of the list but there are so many cool places (like Raja Ampat) to go to.

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      July 8, 2016

      Fantastic! It sounds like you have heaps of amazing trips set up. Raja Ampat is definitely on my to see list as well. Do check out Manado if you get to Sulawesi, it is really worth it!

  • Manado looks like such an amazing place and sorry I missed it when I was in Indonesia. The hotel you stayed at looked great and of course the diving sounded good. Must put this on the list to visit next time I’m there.

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      August 8, 2016

      Thanks for the comment Stephanie! There is just so much to see in Indonesia so I understand that things will be missed but I would highly recommend going to see Manado when you are over on that side of the world again. The hotel is fantastic and if you are a diver than there is nowhere better to be!

  • Marcelle Simone Heller

    August 5, 2016

    Stunning wildlife photographs! I’ve been in Indonesia on several islands but Manado wasn’t on my list. I’ve to change that next time.

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      August 8, 2016

      Thanks for the comment Marcelle. I hope you get to Manado next time you head over there. It is just so different from the rest of Indonesia and great to explore!

  • Lisa

    August 7, 2016

    What an fabulous looking place. I would love all the wildlife. This is definitely a different adventure with a little bit of everything.

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      August 8, 2016

      Thanks for the comment Lisa. It really was a fabulous place to explore. I would highly recommend checking it out if you get the chance. The animals over there are just so different and fun to watch!

  • verushka

    August 28, 2016

    Interesting read. That cemetry looks so intriguing especially learning about the death rituals. The black sand beach looks great.

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      September 15, 2016

      Thank you. Agreed, I found the cemetery quite interesting. The black sand beach was gorgeous!!

  • Carlie

    August 29, 2016

    This sounds a little like paradise to me! BTW, I love visiting old cemeteries too 🙂

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      September 15, 2016

      It was paradise!! Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  • Bart & Eena

    August 29, 2016

    Bali has always been on top off our list when it comes to Indonesia and this is a good read and underrated one, makes it want to explore more from the country. Thank you for this suggestion!

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      September 15, 2016

      I am glad this has sparked your interesting in exploring more of Indonesia. I hope you do get to Bali and more. Thanks for the comment.

  • Kerri

    August 29, 2016

    Manado – so much to do in the areas around it. Loved being able to see these places with you and take home such great memories.

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      September 15, 2016

      It was such an amazing trip. I am so glad that I got to meet you over in Manado 🙂

  • Corinne

    August 29, 2016

    When I return to Indonesia, I’ll have to go to Manado. The natural beauty and wildlife looks amazing.

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      September 15, 2016

      I would highly recommend checking it out when you go to Indonesia next, it won’t disappoint!

  • Castaway with Crystal

    August 29, 2016

    Great guide – good info. Can’t believe you got to see a black macaque. What a cutie 🙂 🙂

    Crystal recently posted… Spectacular Photos Of The NT That Will Make You Get The Next Flight

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      September 15, 2016

      Thanks for that! I was so happy to see the black macaques!!

  • Evan Kristine

    August 29, 2016

    I like your heading here, there’s more to indonesia than bali! It is true that most people don’t look further than the famous tourist destination. I would love to visit the hill of love one day, looks like a great trail!

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      September 15, 2016

      Thank you. I thought my opening line was quite true. I hope you get over to Manado one day as it really is a fantastic place to explore.

  • Smidge

    August 29, 2016

    What a lovely post. I love finding out about these places that I would have no idea about otherwise, great photos and blog 🙂

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      September 15, 2016

      Thank you so much! I completely agree, blogs can be some of the best places to discover places that you didn’t know about 🙂

  • Bethanny Sudibyo

    October 10, 2016

    Oh my goodness.. I completely agree with the first two sentence on your blog. I’m from Indonesia and everyone only knows Bali or Jakarta. I guess it happens everywhere doesn’t it? I really like how you highlighted Manado. I’ve never been but I have friends from there and have heard beautiful things from Sulawesi, including Manado. Hope you had a great time there <3

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      December 20, 2016

      Thank you Bethanny! I am glad you agreed with the starting sentences on my blog!! I prefer to promote the hidden gems and show it to the world. Hopefully get to explore there one day!

  • Amy

    October 10, 2016

    So glad you chose to highlight the “other” parts of Indonesia worth visiting! It looks spectacular! Ok, wo I may skip the Waruga Stones, I’d be all over the Hill of Love and my kid would love the animals found in the National Park.

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      December 20, 2016

      Thanks Amy. It really was an amazing part to explore in Indonesia, it was just so different and wild. Hopefully you get there one day!

  • Diana - MVMT Blog

    October 10, 2016

    Tangkoko looks beautiful! I’ve seen black sand beaches in Hawaii and Iceland before, and I’m still amazed by it every time. I would love to have the opportunity to visit here one day.

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      December 20, 2016

      There is just something so beautiful about a black sand beach! I think you would love it out there!

  • Angela

    October 10, 2016

    We love old cemeteries too! I always feel like people think we are a little off, but they are usually so beautiful. Sounds like a perfect place to visit, thanks for sharing!

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      December 20, 2016

      I completely agree with you Angela! I like the serenity of old cemeteries. I hope you get the chance to explore there one day.

  • One of the best things to do while traveling is getting to know the “other side” of a country–the places less traveled by the masses. Thanks for sharing this BEAUTIFUL area of Indonesia, I’m glad you had the opportunity to experience more of their culture!

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      December 20, 2016

      Thank you so much Jessica. I do prefer to promote the hidden gems. I just find it so much more interesting to see the less travelled places.

  • Eric Gamble

    October 12, 2016

    Ma-Nado! I was actually practicing saying this out loud while I read it! Ha!
    Great revelation! I love finding the road less travelled but what I really like is those Waruga Stones! Being from New Orleans where we have to bury people above ground, we have these Cities of the Dead which are obvious and famous throughout the city. Therefore, I would love to check out the Waruga area! Burying people kneeling facing north seems interesting to me!
    Would love to snorkel there too! Great find

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      December 20, 2016

      Haha, well I am glad that you found it so useful!! Ah of course, I didn’t really put the Waruga Stones with New Orleans but that does make perfect sense. They were one of my favourite thing to see as well. I would highly recommend going to Ma-Nado if you get the chance! 😀

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