Gunung Lokon (1580m) contains a simmering crater lake of varying hues, which takes about three hours to reach (and another hour to the peak) from Tomohon. Before climbing any volcano in the area, report to the vulcanology centre. The centre can provide advice about the hike. Volcano Resort in Tomohon can help arrange this and other hikes in the area, for guests.
Tangkoko-Batuangas Dua Saudara Nature Reserve
With 8800 hectares of forest bordered by a sandy coastline and offshore coral gardens, Tangkoko is one of the most impressive and accessible nature reserves in Indonesia. The park is home to black macaques, cuscuses and tarsiers, maleo birds and endemic red-knobbed hornbills, among other fauna, and rare types of rainforest flora.
Bitung is the chief regional port and home to many factories. Despite its spectacular setting, the town is unattractive, so most travellers make for Manado or beyond as soon as possible. Regardless of what time you arrive by boat in Bitung, there will be buses going to Manado, but if you need to leave Bitung by boat early in the morning, it may be prudent to stay overnight.
This tiny, coral-fringed isle is North Sulawesi’s top tourist destination but (so far) it’s managed to avoid becoming resort-land and maintains a rootsy island soul. Tourist accommodation is spread out along two beaches – other than that, the island belongs to the islanders; these friendly folk have a seemingly endless reserve of authentically warm smiles.
Tomohon is a pleasant, cool respite from Manado, with a stunning setting below Gunung Lokon volcano. It’s popular with city folk on weekends; for travellers, it’s a possible (though spread-out) alternative to Manado, and an ideal base from which to explore the many nearby attractions.
Pulau Lembeh & The Lembeh Strait
Lembeh is known almost exclusively for its diving and has emerged as the critter capital of Indonesia. There are dives available for all levels from searching the muddy shallows for the bizarre stuff, more classic coral dives, five wrecks, and fantastic night dives lit by phosphorescence.
Strewn across the sea between Indonesia and the southern Philippines are the volcanic island groups of Sangir and Talaud. There are 77 islands, of which 56 are inhabited. The capital of the group is Tahuna on Sangir Besar; the other major settlement is Lirung on Pulau Salibabu.