Sulawesi is one of Indonesia's biggest and most fascinating islands. It is said to be the tropical heart of global biodiversity. The nature is so unique and rich with rare species, many yet undiscovered. The island is famous for having some of the best diving sites on Earth and KILROY recommends you to explore this amazing island before other backpackers.
Sulawesi is one of the four Indonesian Sunda islands. It is located between Maluku Islands and Borneo. Strangely shaped Sulawesi is world’s eleventh biggest island. There are four large peninsulas: the Semenanjung Minahassa, the East Peninsula, the South Peninsula, the South-East Peninsula. The central area of the island is mountainous. Rantecombola is the highest mountain ranging to 3,455 meters. Mangrove swamps; rainforest, amazing white sandy beaches and lots of palm trees as well as interesting culture can be found on this remarkable island.
The island of Sulawesi is home to about 15 000 people who are famous for their traditional dancing and artwork, silk weaving for example. Most of the population is Muslim except on the North side of the island where most people are Christian.
Biggest cities are Makassar and Manado (in the North), where you can find the basic services e.g. doctors, shopping malls and pizza places. Manado is surrounded by mountains. From Manado, you can visit the Ban Hin Kion Buddhist temple. Try the spicy Manadonese food. There’s variety of accommodations in Manado. There are some bungalows in Bunaken island and Bira beach.
Tomohon is the smallest town between the two active volcanos: Lokon and Mahawu. See the beautiful flower market of Tomoho. There are many rice growing villages to visit too. See also the Goa Mampu caves inhabited with lots of shrieking bats. Lean Leang caves with archaeological findings are interesting as well.
The flora and fauna of Sulawesi is really unique as many of the islands mammals and fish are not found anywhere else on earth. There’s at least 1450 different bird species living in the island making it a bird watchers paradise. Special plant species are found here too.
Sadly, problems of deforestation due to overexploitation of the land are seen. The lowland forests are now totally gone.
The waters of Sulawesi area without a doubt a magical mecca for divers!
The island has definitely one of the most beautiful coral environments in the world with incredible biodiversity. Here you can discover some rare species from the abundant marine life. Enjoy watching dolphins while on a boat ride.
You can take scuba diving courses and there’s excellent variety of dive sites (more than 100) for divers of all levels. Here are some examples:
Bunaken National Marine Park off the Northeast tip of the island is said to be among the world's top ten diving places. Variety of sea life is something incredible. You can see some colorful soft corals pinnacles and ascent reefs on the steep walls of this magical site. Heading to the east of Manado is the great diving site of Lembeh Strait. Then to the north there's the Bangka and the Sangihe islands. In south Sulawesi there’s the archipelago of the remote Wapato, which is one of the most spectacular destinations in the whole country! Try some underwater photography, this is the place to do it.
For those who snorkel, check out the underwater wonderland of Siladen Islands.
Sulawesi is the kind of place whish draws you back as a magnet. Diving here is such a special experience that you want to feel again after you’ve tried once.
Swimmers can head to Bira beach: crystal clear waters and white sand.
You can book adventure tours like overnight jungle treks e.g. in Tangkoko Nature Reserve from operators in Manado. Local rangers will show you the way. See some black monkeys and other wildlife. White water rafting is available too.
It is possible to dive Sulawesi all year round. However the conditions are best around August and June. Visibility is best in the Manado area from November until the end of January. Manado dive liveboards are available all year round.
From March to December the diving is very good in Wakatobi.
There’s an international airport in Manado and the connections between Sulawesi and other Indonesian main cities are good. The typical way to move around in Manado are the ojek moped taxis and cheap small minibuses. There are also taxis. You can rent a car from Manado. If you want some exercise, rent a bicycle and bike around the island.
The whole country has been suffering from various natural disasters in the past years. Aceh and some parts of Sumatra are still recovering from the 2004 tsunami. There are some very strong earthquakes in the island of Sumatra.
There have been tensions between Christians and Muslims during the past years, but not recently. Last riots occurred in 2006. However, please check what the recommendation are with the foreign ministry in your homecountry.
It is not recommended to go to Central Sulawesi.
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