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 we recommend you explore this amazing island before other backpackers.
The cities on Sulawesi
Even though Sulawesi is one of the largest islands, foes not have many inhabitants. The biggest cities are Makassar and Manado. This is 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. Don’t forget to try the spicy Manadonese food!
Tomohon is the smallest town between the two active volcanos: Lokon and Mahawu. See the beautiful flower market of Tomoho. You can also pay a visit to one of rice-growing villages to visit too.
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 as well, 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.
Diving in Sulawesi
The waters of Sulawesi area without a doubt a magical mecca for divers! The island has 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. You can take scuba diving courses and there’s excellent variety of dive sites (more than 100) for divers of all levels. 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 colourful 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.
About diving conditions
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.
What else to do on Sulawesi
- If you just feel like splashing around and swimming, head to Bira beach: crystal clear waters and white sand.
- Enjoy watching dolphins while on a boat ride.
- You can go on adventure tours like overnight jungle treks e.g. in Tangkoko Nature Reserve. Local rangers will show you the way. See some black monkeys and other wildlife. White water rafting is available too.
- Visit the Goa Mampu caves inhabited with lots of shrieking bats. The Lean Leang caves with archaeological findings are interesting as well.