While many flock to Bali, the northern reaches of Sulawesi silently boast a wealth of natural wonders, cultural richness, and a tapestry of experiences that often go unnoticed. From the crystalline waters of Bunaken National Marine Park to the exotic local cuisines, this region is a mosaic of undervalued gems, each radiating its unique charm. Let’s unveil the richness beneath the surface to embrace the allure of this often-overlooked destination!
Best Places to Visit
Paal Beach is a pristine stretch of paradise that will captivate your senses as you discover its beauty! The powdery white sands of the beach invite you to indulge in moments of serenity. The crystalline waters will gently lap at your feet as the sea breeze carries whispers of salt and adventure.
As a secluded escape, you can bask in the solitude of the undisturbed natural beauty that surrounds it. With its panoramic views of the horizon, Paal Beach offers an awe-inspiring sunset as you bid farewell to the day. Feel free to explore its thriving coral gardens and encounter an array of exotic fish as well!
Malalayang Beach’s coastal landscape reveals a unique composition of black stones, resembling the resilient nature of hard river stones strewn along the beach. The calm and steady waves create a perfect setting for leisurely hangouts with friends and family.
Accessing this seaside haven is a breeze 10-minute journey from downtown Manado, covering approximately 4 kilometers. Whether you opt for public transportation or enjoy a brisk stroll, Malalayang Beach stands out as the most affordable and reachable destination in town, making it an ideal spot for gatherings. Enjoy your time for relaxation in the soothing rhythm of the sea Malalayang offers!
Ban Hin Kiong Temple
Ban Hin Kiong Temple, located in the heart of Manado, stands as a cultural and spiritual gem that defines North Sulawesi. This temple resonates with centuries of Manado’s tradition amid the bustling cityscape. The intricate architectural details will catch your eyes as you approach the temple. Elaborate carvings, vibrant hues, and ornate decorations adorn the facade, reflecting a seamless blend of Chinese and Indonesian influences.
Whether you seek spiritual reflection, cultural exploration, or simply a moment of respite, Ban Hin Kiong Temple stands as a symbol of unity and diversity in the heart of Manado!
Tunan Waterfall, a hidden jewel tucked away in the lush landscapes of North Sulawesi, unveils a captivating spectacle of nature’s grandeur. As you approach Tunan Waterfall, rushing water sets the stage for the amazing sight ahead.
The journey to reach the waterfall involves a 30-minute trek through the jungles. Upon arrival, the waterfall emerges as a majestic masterpiece descending from towering heights. The cascading water creates a rejuvenating atmosphere that contrasts with the warmth of the tropical climate. Bob highly recommends you relax in the natural pool surrounded by moss-covered rocks and the soothing sounds of nature while you’re here!
Also Read: 5 Best Solo Hiking Tips for Beginners
Bunaken National Marine Park
Bunaken National Mark Park is situated just off the northern tip of Sulawesi. Renowned for its exceptional biodiversity and stunning underwater landscapes, this national park holds the vibrant beauty beneath the surface of the Celebes Sea.
As you venture into the crystal-clear waters surrounding Bunaken, mesmerizing marine life unfolds. The park boasts an array of coral reefs, ranging from rainbow-hued soft corals to staghorn varieties. These thriving coral gardens provide a breathtaking backdrop for the diverse and colorful marine species. Take a glimpse into these vibrant ecosystems that make it a cornerstone of Indonesia’s underwater legacy!
Cakalang fufu is Manado’s beloved dish that will tantalize your taste buds with its flavors. Rooted in the Minahasan heritage, cakalang fufu celebrates the ocean’s bounty, featuring skipjack tuna prepared uniquely.
The star of this dish, the skipjack tuna, is first salted and smoked to perfection. Once smoked, the tuna is shredded into fine, fluffy pieces, resulting in the characteristic “fufu” texture that gives the dish its name. The shredded tuna is often stir-fried with aromatic spices, including shallots, garlic, turmeric, and ginger. This culinary gem showcases the culinary ingenuity of the Minahasan people as a homage to the abundant marine resources surrounding the region.
Tinutuan, known as bubur Manado or Manado porridge, is celebrated for its rich blend of local ingredients and distinctive taste. At its core, tinutuan is a rice porridge, but what sets it apart is the colorful array of vegetables. The dish typically features a delightful medley of locally grown ingredients, including corn kernels, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, spinach, chayote, and lemongrass.
Using locally sourced, fresh ingredients, the dish reflects the region’s agricultural abundance. Often enjoyed during festive occasions, family gatherings, or as a comforting meal, tinutuan preserves Manado’s rich heritage through the art of gastronomy.
Sambal roa is a spicy delight that ignites your taste buds with its unique combination of smokiness and heat. This condiment, often called sambal dabu-dabu roa, embodies Manado cuisine’s bold and robust flavors.
The main ingredient of sambal roa is the roa fish, a small fish found abundantly in North Sulawesi’s waters. The fish is smoked, dried, and finely shredded, imparting a distinctive smoky essence to the condiment. This preparation process infuses sambal roa with a rich umami flavor and contributes to its unique texture. Sambal roa will leave a lasting impression on your palate, a must-dish worth trying for!
Sambal dabu-dabu is a culinary treasure that adds an explosion of flavor to any dish. This fresh and fiery condiment is celebrated for its simplicity, yet it captures the essence of the Manado’s bold and diverse flavors.
Made from fresh tomatoes diced finely to create a chunky and textured base, this condiment embraces the bountiful harvest of local produce. This tomato base adds generous shallots, green onions, and red chili peppers, creating a bowl of vibrant colors.
Sambal dabu-dabu is further elevated by the addition of key aromatic ingredients such as lime leaves, lemongrass, and kaffir lime juice, infusing a citrusy zing. This side dish can turn a simple meal into a flavorful and memorable experience for your palate!
Woku belanga is a traditional Minahasan recipe made of a union of fresh herbs and spices. It features a choice of protein, such as fish, chicken, or beef, marinated in a fragrant paste made from a blend of lemongrass, turmeric, ginger, galangal, and candlenut.
The marinated protein is slow-cooked in a traditional earthenware pot called a belanga. This slow-cooking process melts the ingredients together, resulting in a tender and succulent dish. Fresh ingredients such as basil leaves and lime leaves are added to enhance the dish, contributing a burst of freshness and a citrusy aroma. When you visit Manado, get a taste of woku belanga with its best companion: steamed rice!
Where to Stay in Manado
After a day of adventure, you deserve to rest at the best accommodation. Bobocabin Bunaken Hills redefines the concept of reasonable luxury living and elevates the entire stay on this enchanting Indonesian island.
Perched perfectly on the hills, Bobocabin Bunaken Hills offers panoramic vistas of crystal-clear waters, coral reefs, and the distant horizon. From smart cabin systems that allow personalized control of lighting and temperature to high-speed internet connectivity, Bobocabin Bunaken Hills seamlessly integrates technology, catering to the needs of modern travelers who seek both luxury and functionality!
To complete your journey through the natural wonders in Manado, there is no better place to stay than Bobocabin Bunaken Hills. Imagine waking up to panoramic ocean views from your cabin, where the horizon merges with the azure waters below!
For a hassle-free booking, download Bobobox app here and experience the moment of Manado’s serenity!
Writer: Ratna Asih Setyaningrum