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Exploring the Minahasan Highlands of North Sulawesi

The Minahasan Highlands not only offer phenomenal natural beauty and an insight into the culture and people of North Sulawesi, they are also steeped in history from numerous eras.

Our full day (9 hours) tour of the Minahasan Highlands incorporates the most notable highlights of the region and you’ll be accompanied by our experienced tour guide (Rico) who speaks fluent English, Indonesian and Dutch – he’s also brings with him a wealth of local area knowledge to enhance your day out.

Minahasan Highland tours are a great activity for on your non-diving day before flying or for days when you would like to take a break from diving or snorkeling in the middle of your stay.


North Sulawesi tour

Our multi-lingual tour guide Rico explaining and introducing the culture of North Sulawesi

Minahasan Highland Tour Schedule and Highlights:

Your day will start out as usual with a buffet breakfast in resort; choose from eggs (any style), bacon, breads, fresh fruits and juices, cereals or enjoy Asian options including fried rice and noodles.

After breakfast we aim to leave the resort at around 8.30am, water is supplied in the car and we recommend that you wear long (lightweight) pants and long sleeved shirt / t-shirt. Walking or running shoes are ideal footwear for the tour.



The Tinoor highlands are rich and fertile

At around 9.15am we arrive at Tinoor Highlands for our first stop off on the trip to explore the area and meet with local farmers. The Tinoor highland area is a prolific growing region for many of the local fruits and spices found in North Sulawesi. Your guide will explain what is growing at the time you visit and you’ll take a walk around a village to see the local Minahasan tribal lifestyle.


Traditonal Market in Tomohon, North Sulawesi

Tomohon is a fertile region for growing numerous herbs, spices and vegetables.

Our second stop off point is Tomohon Village and on the way there we drive through a mountainous region of the highlands which incorporates four volcanoes, two of which are still active – Mount Lokon and Mount Mahawu.


Lokon Highland tour

Lokon is North Sulawesi’s tallest volcano

Once we arrive in Tomohon you’ll visit one of North Sulawesi’s most famous attractions – the Tomohon Traditional Market. The market it visited by both international and domestic tourists, especially on weekends when it is known as the “extreme” market. The market is divided across two main covered areas. The first area is where you will find an impressive range of local fruits, vegetables, spices and fresh produce. You’ll also find the the women baking local donuts, known as “Cucur”, which have a rich, sticky, treacle taste and consistency – they are very addictive!



Freshly prepared, local, sweet donuts, known as “Cucur” are sold at the market in Tomohon

The second building houses the meat and fish market – which is what can be more “extreme” at weekends. This area can be easily avoided by those who do not wish to enter. For guests who are curious about what goes on here you’ll find that the meats on sale include whole cats and dogs, large python snakes, rats, bats and occasionally monkeys and other “bush meats” in addition to regular chicken, pork and beef. The fish section is as equally varied and the main catch being sold is fresh water tilapia (mujair) and skipjack (cakalang). Yellow fin tuna, crayfish, fresh water shrimps and sword fish are also available from time to time. You’ll also find baskets of dried, salted bait fish.

The extreme market is not for the faint hearted but it is definitely an insight in to a different way of life for those who enter.


Tomohon Market

Dried fish, spices and extreme meats are on sale at the Tomohon market

Our final location before lunch is Mahawu Volcano. We park at a ranger station and from there it is just a 15 minute walk (steps) to the viewing point on the crater rim. From the viewing point you can see into the crater below and there are stunning panoramic views of the highlands and surroundings. For those who want to be more active, it’s possible to trek around the crater rim – the trek takes around 50 minutes.

After a busy morning we head to Lake (Danau) Tondano for a well deserved lunch at a waterfront restaurant. The specialty in this area is grilled lake fish with rice, vegetables and chilli sauce – menu’s are also available for those who prefer other options.


Mount Mahawu view

Incredible views from the top of Mount Mahawu

Lake Tondano is the largest lake in North Sulawesi and it sits at 600 meters above sea level surrounded by fertile mountains. This huge body of water covers 4,278 hectares and it is the life blood of the highlands – supporting rice and vegetable crops, fishing and tourism.

After lunch you’ll head to another of North Sulawesi’s most famous lakes – Danau (meaning “lake”) Linow. Danau Linow is also known as the “Three Color Lake” or the “Changing Color Lake” due to the high sulfur content in the water which comes from the surrounding rocks. The sulfurous water reflects different colors with the changing daylight. Many bird species make this area their home and this is a lovely spot to enjoy a cold drink and soak up the views.


Linow Danau

The changing colors of Lake Linow are due to the sulfurous composition of the water

As we start to wind out way back to Murex Manado we make one final stop at Woloan Village which is well known for it’s traditional “knock down” wooden houses. The terms knock down means exactly what it sounds like. The houses are fully constructed in Woloan Village and when one is purchased it is taken down, boxed up, and shipped to it’s buyer’s destination where it is reconstructed again – much like putting a puzzle back together. Traditional Minahasan houses are characterised by two staircases leading to the entry door. It is believed that if ghosts or evil spirits climb the stairs to the front door they will not enter the house as they will be diverted down the opposite set of stairs.



Knock-down houses in Woloan with tradition, double staircases

After looking around the houses and chatting with the local wood workers we arrive back at Murex Manado at around 4.30pm – in time for afternoon snacks, the sunset over the ocean and dinner. The perfect ending to a wonderful day of exploring.


Passport to Paradise

Explore three distinct diving regions and the North Sulawesi highlands

See More and Dive More with a Passport to Paradise

To maximize your underwater opportunities while you are here we recommend taking our Passport to Paradise program – you’ll dive in three distinct diving destinations in one incredible trip. Discover the staggering coral walls of the Bunaken Marine Park, explore Bangka Island’s kaleidoscopic reefs and see some of the world’s rarest and most unusual marine life in the Lembeh Strait. Bunaken -> Bangka -> Lembeh, why choose when you can do it all? Combine these options with a Minahasan highlands  tour and get set for the trip of a lifetime.

We look forward to welcoming you to North Sulawesi soon.


Dive, Snorkel and Explore More with us in beautiful North Sulawesi.

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