Having visited Northern Sulawesi last year, our resident marine biologist and dive expert, Emily, knows the appeal of the dreamy wall dives filled with turtles in Bunaken and the critter hub of Lembeh, and knows that a diver can happily be occupied for hours on end underwater here. But what to do on your dry days? Well, luckily there are plenty of options for everyone from nature lovers to active types and even those who like a bit of history and culture. With so much to see and do above ground, you won't find yourself missing the water too much on your dry days in Sulawesi…
Tangkoko Rainforest Tour
The island of Sulawesi, Indonesia's third largest island, is characterized by large tropical forests and dense jungle, home to many endemic species of insects, birds and plants, as well as beautiful waterfalls and wild rivers. So the Tangkoko Rainforest is a perfect option for a day tour if you are staying in the Bunaken or Lembeh areas.
Leave your resort at a reasonable hour of the morning, and head towards the national park by road. Once there, you will receive a delicious local lunch, and then continue into the national park where you will begin your light trek and hike in search of several natural delights. You will have the chance to see the Black Crested Macaque (Makaka Nigra, indigenous to North Sulawesi) and the Tarsius Spectrum (the world's smallest primate, aka the Tarsier). There are opportunities for bird lovers too, with sightings of Red Knobbed Hornbill (Rhyticeros Casidix), Minahasa Owl, Red-Bellied-Pitta and Ashy Woodpecker. There is also the elusive marsupial - the bear cuscus (Ailurops ursinus), which is found only in Indonesia on Sulawesi and some smaller nearby islands, so seeing them is really special.
This tour is suitable for people of all ages and abilities and the trekking is mostly along guided paths and the walls are easy.
Minahasan Highland Tour
For those looking for a bit of history and culture, opt to take the Minahasan Highlands Tour. This tour allows you to explore this incredible region and learn about the history and local culture of Sulawesi. The tour can be completely tailor made, but one of our recommended highlights is visiting the Waruga - ancient stone graves of the Minahasan people who died long ago. Their bodies remain in a sitting position, and you can listen to the local caretaker of the site tell you the history of this tradition.
Another highlight are the Japanese Caves. These are dotted along the roadside and you can see the caves the Japanese created during WWII - a sombre reminder of a turbulent time in history.
Mahawu Volcano is another must. This is a stratovolcano and the crater measures 590ft wide by 460ft deep with two pyroclastic cones on the northern flanks. Steps lead to the rim of the volcano and there is a purpose-built viewing area at the top. The terrain varies from well-maintained paths to uneven tracks, so walking shoes or boots are a must.
If sampling local food and drink is a priority for you, head to Tuur Maasering, where you can taste the fresh local cocktail called Saguer and Cap Tikus. Besides the cocktail, they are also happy to make you a traditional cake called Cucur, made with palm sugar as the main ingredient. Close by are the Tomohon Traditional Markets, where you can visit the food and flower markets and a variety of local specialities on sale. Expect vibrant colours and a hive of activity - this is the perfect place to practice your bartering skills!
Lakes & Waterfalls
If it's spectacular scenery you're after, then the Lakes of Linow and Tondano, along with the Pirnaras Waterfall, will satisfy your needs for a good view. Lake Tondano is the largest lake in the region and the second largest lake in Indonesia. Lake Linow is home to many wonderful bird species, and the water here changes colour due to its highly sulphurous nature - just watch out for the bubbling mud holes! Pirnaras Waterfall presents a beautiful photo opportunity and is a great place to finish at the end of this wonderful day.