15 Best Places to Visit in Sulawesi (Indonesia)

Sulawesi is one of the main islands in Indonesia and has a strong domestic tourism market, making it one of the top tourist destinations in the country. However, foreign tourists to Indonesia often leave it off the list, opting instead for Lombok or Bali, but anyone willing to travel will be rewarded with stunning sights and some truly stunning scenery.

Sulawesi is divided into North Sulawesi, South Sulawesi and Central Sulawesi and is surrounded by various islands. That means tours can take longer, but it also means there’s a lot to explore here, and each region has its own unique flavor. So you can fly from tropical islands to big cities and it’s also an opportunity to see how the Indonesian Christian community lives as most of the inhabitants here are Christians, which is significantly different from other islands like Java.

The island is also known for its strong and unique culture, as this is the homeland of the Toraja people, and you can visit numerous attractions here that will give you all the history of Sulawesi and its inhabitants. In addition to the chance to see a culture quite different from most of Indonesia, Sulawesi also has some of the best diving opportunities in the archipelago, and due to the visibility and amazing range of marine life found in these waters, diving enthusiasts for many years It’s been pouring in.

Let’s explore the best spots in Sulawesi:

1. Makassar

Makassar

Makassar, sometimes called Ujung Pandang, is the capital of the southern part of the island.

Most people use Makassar as a way to get in and out of Sulawesi, but if you’re in town, you can make the most of it by visiting some of its main attractions.

One of them is Fort Rotterdam, built during the Dutch colonial period, and Losari Beach with a beautiful and unexpected tropical feel.

From Makassar, you can also easily access nearby attractions such as Tana Toraja and Pulau Khayangan.

2. Wakatobi Islands

Bajo Tribe House in Katobi, Sulawesi

The Wakatobi Islands are named after the initials of the four islands in this archipelago, located in southern Sulawesi.

With Wangi-Wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia and Binongko, most people head to these islands to enjoy the abundance of diving opportunities here.

You can fly to the Wakatobi Islands from Bali, but you will have a completely different beach experience as this is one of the most remote areas in Indonesia.

When visiting here, you can expect clear blue seas and miles of clean sand that more than make up for the trip.

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3. Tana Toraha

tana toraja

Tana Toraja is probably Sulawesi’s top attraction, where you can learn all about the Torajan indigenous group that calls the island home.

At Tana Toraja, you can see how people have lived through the centuries, and there is a range of celebrations unique to Sulawesi, such as the elaborate funerals held here.

Be sure to keep an eye out for the cemetery featuring portraits of the deceased, and you’ll also find ornate homes, traditional buildings, and local communities.

4. Lindu National Park

Lindu National Park

Lindu National Park is located in Palu, and even just getting there is an experience in itself.

The park sits at the end of a series of mountain roads, and when you get there, you’ll find large expanses of lush rainforest.

Nature lovers will not be disappointed and can enjoy the colorful butterflies, majestic hornbills and cheeky monkeys that live in the forest.

There are also many native exotic plants growing in the forest, and its location is so secluded that you really feel like you are going off the grid.

5. Antenna

Tiana

Located in Central Sulawesi, Tentena is famous for Poso Lake, which exudes azure colors and is not to be missed if you are in the area.

This is especially true if you happen to be here in August, where you can enjoy the annual Pozo festival held by the lake.

Other attractions in the area include Saloupa Falls, and if you’re traveling from North to South Sulawesi, Tetena is a great place to stay for a few days.

6. Manado

manado

Manado is the capital of North Sulawesi and the second largest city in Sulawesi.

It is one of the most vibrant attractions on the island and is known for its mix of religious buildings such as Chinese temples and Christian churches.

It also has a rather unexpected attraction, the statue of Jesus Christ, which is the fourth tallest statue of its kind in the world.

Since Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country with more than 80% of the population professing Islam, this Christian architecture is unusual and definitely worth a visit if you’re in Manado.

7. Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park

Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park

Located in northwestern Sulawesi is the Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park, which can be easily visited from the neighboring city of Gorontalo.

The main attraction here is the acres of pristine rainforest that many tourists don’t travel here, meaning you’re less likely to be bothered by crowds and be able to explore in peace.

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There are a series of trails throughout the park that you can take with a guide or go on your own.

Whichever decision you make, you’ll find plenty of flora and fauna here, including monkeys, snakes and birds.

8. Tokin Islands

Poya Lisa, Togean Islands

The Togean Islands are one of Indonesia’s best kept secrets, especially if you love diving and want to see some of the amazing underwater life in this part of the world.

Getting to this small archipelago in the Tomini Sea north of Sulawesi takes some effort, but it’s well worth it for the pristine sandy beaches and sparkling turquoise sea.

Most people who travel here are for diving, but even if you don’t dive, you can still enjoy this seaside paradise rarely visited by Indonesian tourists.

9. Tomohon

tomohon

For the best views and natural highlights of Sulawesi, nature lovers should check out Tomohon.

The biggest attraction here is the Mahavu Volcano, the top spot if you like hiking, there are several different routes and walks up the mountain depending on your time and budget.

From the volcano, you can admire the lush, rural highlands that Tomohon is known for, and you can also enjoy the small handcrafted villages scattered throughout the area.

10. Tangkoko National Park

Don Coco National Park

Tangkoko National Park covers 9,000 hectares and is home to some of North Sulawesi’s most amazing indigenous animals.

As you trek through the park’s various trails, keep an eye out for the tarsier, claimed to be the world’s smallest primate, and the island’s native black-crowned macaque.

Like many attractions in Sulawesi, a trip to the park will make you feel like you’re in the wilderness, so if you’re looking for a vacation away from the crowds, this is the place to be.

11. Bunaken

Diving, Bunaken

Bunaken Island is one of the best places in the world for diving or snorkeling, but because it takes some time to get here, many people never get a chance to taste its underwater delights.

Bunaken is also part of the wider Marine National Park, with impressive marine life, including 70 different species of coral and 5 species of turtles.

On diving trips here, you can see hundreds of colorful fish, and if you’re lucky, you might also have the chance to spot whitetip and blacktip reef sharks.

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Other highlights include dugongs, pygmy seahorses and barracudas.

12. Lembeh Island

Lembeh Island

If you head to Biton, you can easily jump to Lembeh Island, another great diving spot in Sulawesi.

The island is known for its muck diving, a trip that should definitely not be missed by anyone who enjoys macro photography.

The natural sediments on the seafloor here are home to an abundance of underwater life such as harlequin and skeleton shrimp as well as nudibranchs, blue-ringed octopuses and orangutan crabs.

There are also a variety of amazing fish such as sea robins, manta rays, banded eels, and you can see banded sea snakes and other creatures.

13. Lorrindou National Park

lorellindu national park

Located in the highlands of Central Sulawesi, Lore Lindu National Park is one of the best of all the national parks in the region.

Due to the high altitude, you can enjoy sweeping views of the surrounding area, which is rich in flora and fauna, many of which are native to the Bessoa and Knapp Valleys.

You can hike throughout the area, although many of the trails here take days to complete and you’ll need to hire a guide.

It also means you’ll be camping overnight on the trek, an experience that many find to be the highlight of a trip to Sulawesi.

14. Gorontalo

Gorontalo

Most people see Gorontalo as the gateway to the Togean Islands, although the vibrant city should be a tourist hotspot in its own right.

The city is covered in beautiful Dutch colonial architecture and is known for its proximity to many attractions beyond the city limits.

These include majestic waterfalls, bubbling hot springs and colourful reefs, so whether you want to explore the city or check out the surrounding scenery, if you spend a day or two here on your way to Togean, you won’t Disappointing island.

15. Lake Tondano

Lake Tondano

Lake Tondano is about 15 kilometers from Tomohon and if you’re in the area, it’s worth a visit for its beautiful scenery and crystal clear waters.

You can rent a motorbike that will let you drive around the lake, and if you like hiking, there are a variety of trails.

The views from the lake are breathtaking and popular with families on weekends, so this is a top choice if you’re looking for an enjoyable day trip from Tomohon.

Where to Stay: The Best Hotels in Sulawesi, Indonesia
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