Manado is the capital city of North Sulawesi. With a population of just over 400,000 people, Manado is just your typical busy Indonesian city with crazy traffic.
The reason to come to Manado is mainly to go scuba diving or snorkeling in the Bunaken National Marine Park or around the island of Pulau Lembeh off the east coast of North Sulawesi. The scuba diving around Manado is some of the best in the world with a very diverse marine life, with 70% of all known fish species of Indo-Western Pacific area.
There is good diving all year round, with the best diving in the dry season from April through to late October when there is little rain fall and the best visibility in the water.
Just to the south of Manado, around 10km away is the impressive Mount Lokon which is an active volcano which last erupted in 2011.
To the north of Manado is the island volcano of Manado Tua located in the Celebes Sea.
For golf enthusiasts there is the Wenang Golf Course just on the outskirts of Manado city, the only public golf course in Manado.
Buaken Island is around 18km off the coast of Manado and takes round 40 minutes by boat.
Trips from Manado
As well as trips over to Bunaken Island for scuba diving or snorkelling in the Bunaken National Marine Park you can also do trips inland from Manado to Lake Tondano. The climate around Tondano is alot cooler as is at a higher altitude than the coastal areas.
You can also go into the North Sulawesi highlands which has lots of mountains and volcanos for great hiking. In the highlands you see lots of monkeys as well as a chance to see the Marmosets, the smallest monkeys in the world.
Food in Manado North Sulawesi
The food in North Sulawesi is famous for being the most spicy food in Indonesia. I personally think the food in Sumatra is more spicy but Manado food is pretty damn spicy. If you are not a fan of chilli then stay clear, this is real burn your lips spicy food. Before visiting Manado my favourite Indonesian food was from Padang in West Sumatra but after visiting Manado the food here I think is the best in Indonesia. The Manado food is packed full of flavour, so fragrant with a mix of full flavoured herbs and spices like garlic, ginger, lemongrass. Even though it is very spicy, the spiceness is not over powering and all the other flavours shine through.
Also as the vast majority of people in Manado are Christian they also serve up some great pork dishes and you can get real bacon for breakfast (not this fake turkey bacon or beef bacon you get in the Muslim areas).
Good Restaurants in Manado
If you do need to stop over in Manado then there are a few good restaurants worth visiting. Probably the best restaurant in Manado is Raja Sate Restaurant which is located on Jalan Piere Tenean (The Boulevarad) close to the Mega Mall. The King of Sate restaurants serves up some great BBQ including a variety of chicken, beef or goat sate sticks.
From the airport
Sam Ratulangi International Airport is Manado's airport which is around 18km from the centre of Manado. It takes around 40 minutes by taxi from the airport to the city centre of Manado. Cost in a taxi is around 80,000Rp. There are many taxi drivers waiting at the exit of the airport. Most have a metered taxi so no need to bargain for the price.