NORTH SULAWESI -- WHAT TO DO
North Sulawesi's climate is much like the other parts of Indonesia with two seasons dry and rainy. The area includes both rugged, mountainous terrains and lowlands. The plains consist of rich soils that produce rice, coconut, clove, nutmeg, vanilla, corn and a variety of vegetables.
The climate is equatorial, and as a result, the moderate temperatures make exploring a year-round activity. North Sulawesi is fortunate to have many topside activities to pique your interest, whether you're into birds, unusual animals, magnificent flora, hiking, exploring, scuba diving or history you'll find something to suit every activity level.
This picturesque waterfall is reachable by public transportation or by car and is a short distance from Manado. There is a 30-45 minute hike via a well-worn path that passes through a village where you might be able to try a dish of fried bananas on your way back from the waterfall. There is a bridge where you can get some great shots of the waterfall and the pool below. Be sure to wear clothing that dries quickly, as the spray from the falls covers everything.
During WWII the area was occupied briefly by the Japanese. The caves they built were used mostly for storage and can be found alongside the road from Kiawa to Kawangkoan.
This is the highest mountain in North Sulawesi at about 6,500 feet. It's a 5- to 6-hour climb and offers spectacular views. Try the climb in the evening during a full moon for an overnight stay and awaken to an amazing sunrise. This is a busy site on weekends.
This is the site of a still-active volcano that streams ash and steam from time-to-time. The mountain's highest point is 5,900 feet and the trail up the mountain passes through plantations and fields of flowers. Overnighters can camp out at the Casuarina Forest prior to climbing to the summit.
Visit the site of ancient stone graves (sarcophagi) of the Minahasan people. The sarcophagi date from pre-Christian times, and the people believed humans were born in a sitting position, and therefore should pass on to eternity in the same position. The stone vessels contained the bodies of the deceased in a seated position, and the outside of the containers were often carved with scenes from the person's life and death.
Two volcanic mountains have scenic crater lakes that are worth the hike. Mt. Lokon and Mt. Mahawu both offer beautiful picture-perfect lakes, but be aware that the hike is for individuals in reasonably good health. Lake Lokon is considered to be the most beautiful and features a steaming, mirror-like surface that belies its depth of more than 196 feet.
Vihira Buddhayana Complex
In contrast to the many churches located throughout North Sulawesi, the Buddhist temple in Desa Kakaskasen attracts attention from many visitors, and the friendly guard will accompany you through the unusual buildings. Take a tour to the top of the eight-story pagoda for an amazing view of the town.
Tangkoko Batuangus Natural Reserve
This area is at the foot of Dua Saudara Mountain and is home to many unusual species such as the world's smallest primate (Tarsius Spectrum), black tailless monkeys, wild pigs and kuskus. The roads can be difficult and it's recommended that visitors hire a guide to get the most from the visit. Overnight stays are possible in simple guesthouses at the reserve.