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.
Tomohon is the name for a number of small highland towns, surrounded by forests and volcanic peaks, that have merged together. A pleasant, cool respite from Manado, the area has a stunning setting. It’s popular with city folk on weekends; for travellers, it’s an excelllent base to explore the Minahasa region, and for hiking, biking and birdwatching.
Bitung is the chief regional port in North Sulawesi and home to many factories. Despite its spectacular setting, the town is unattractive, so most travellers make for Manado or nearby Pulau Lembeh as soon as possible. Regardless of what time you arrive by boat in Bitung, there will be buses going to Manado.
Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park
About 50km west of Kotamobagu, this very rarely visited national park (287,115 hectares) has the highest conservation value in North Sulawesi, but it’s pretty inaccessible. The park (formerly known as Dumoga-Bone) is at the headwaters of Sungai Dumoga (Dumoga River) and is a haven for rare flora and fauna.
This tiny, coral-fringed isle is North Sulawesi’s top tourist destination, yet it has managed to maintain 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. There are no hassles here, just laid-back beachy bliss.
Strewn across the sea between Indonesia and the southern Philippines are the volcanic island groups of Sangihe (also called Sangir) and Talaud. There are 77 islands, of which 56 are inhabited, with a total population of 224,000. Spice cultivation (vanilla, nutmeg and cloves) is a key industry. The two capitals are Tahuna, on Sangihe Besar, and Melonguane, in the Talaud group.
Pulau Lembeh & The Lembeh Strait
The Lembeh Strait between Bitung and the large island of Pulau Lembeh is world famous for its muck diving and now has around a dozen scuba centres. There are also some reef dives, five wrecks for exploring, and fantastic night dives lit by phosphorescence.