Things to do in Sulawesi, Indonesia

Sulawesi is the third largest island in the Indonesian archipelago. The island is also called Celebes. It is the eleventh largest island in the world with an area of ​​over 174,000 km². An estimated 15 million inhabitants live on the island. You will still find different cultures such as the Buginese and the Torajas. The island also has a great variety in nature. You will find mountain areas, volcanoes, rainforests and beautiful rice terraces, while you will not find a place on the island that is more than a hundred kilometers from the sea. Sulawesi is also good for diving because there are many coral reefs (the Bonaken) near the island. Reasons enough to visit Sulawesi. The predominantly Christian island shows a different face of Indonesia than you would expect and tourism has not yet taken over in the day-to-day business of society. Indonesia, for example, is once again delivering a beautiful island in the Emerald Belt.

Top 10 things to do in Sulawesi

#1. Lore Lindi National Park
According to, the beautiful Lore Lindu National Park covering more than 200,000 hectares is located in Central Sulawesi. This national park lends itself well to walking through this amazing nature reserve with a guide. Due to the difference in height of 2000 meters in this area you will encounter a change of landscapes and fauna. In the lower areas you walk through valleys and pieces of jungle. While in the higher areas you walk through the monsoon forests again. The park is also the habitat for a number of indigenous tribes. One of the highlights is the overwhelming fauna. Here you will find the well-known tarsier, but also many butterflies in all colors and sizes.

#2. Manado
The provincial capital Manado is a trading city where coffee, wood and spices are traded. It has half a million inhabitants, mostly Christian. The city is a melting pot of various population groups such as Javanese, Makassarese, Bugis, Arabs and Chinese. Many diving tourists come to Manado to visit the nearest dive sites such as the Bonaken from this place. Don’t be surprised if the older population addresses you with Dutch again. Many Protestant churches can still be found in the city. The provincial museum and the Taman Budaya Manado in the city are also worth a visit.

#3. Fort Rotterdam
Fort Rotterdam is a fort located in Makassar. It was built around 1545 during the time of the kingdom of Gowa. Fortified by the Dutch in 1673, the fortress consists of 5 bastions, four bastions on each corner and 1 bastion at the entrance. For the most part, the buildings in the fort were built by the Dutch. Only 2 buildings were built by the Japanese during the war. Over the centuries, Fort Rotterdam has evolved from a simple defense structure into a fortress with 7 meter high walls. It lost its military function in 1937 and was only used as a research center by the Japanese during the war. Before 1937 it was used as a prison, warehouse and shelter for the troops. In the years ‘ 70, a lot of effort was put into restoring the fort. The Dutch past can still be found here with characteristic colonial residential and warehouse buildings within the walls of the fort.

#4. Bunaken
Bunaken is a small island off the coast of the Indonesian city of Manado. The 2,500 islanders live the majority of fishing and copra cultivation. Bunaken is popular with many divers for its beautiful coral reefs, many dive spots and the lack of mass tourism. These reefs belong to the Bunaken National Park which consists of 5 islands off the coast of North Sulawesi.

#5. Tana Toraja
Tana Toraja is an area located in the south of Sulawesi. Also called the land of the holy kings. The interesting thing about this area is the beautiful nature and the ancient Toraja culture. This ethnic group living in the interior of central and south Sulawesi has a special way of worshiping their dead. Effigies are made of the deceased who in turn are placed on balconies overlooking the valley to watch over the souls. Also characteristic are the typical adat houses where the roofs resemble the shape of the horns of a buffalo.

#6. Makassar
Makassar is the capital of South Sulawesi. It is home to more than 1.5 million residents, a significant part of the community being Chinese Indonesians. This is reflected in the city by the many Chinese temples. In the old harbor “Paotere” of the city you can admire the Buginese wooden boats. The old fortress of Rotterdam can also be seen in the cityscape. In the vicinity of Makassar are the former royal palace of the princes of Gowa. This palace has been built in the typical style of the old Sulawesi culture.

#7. Saluopa Waterfall
The Saluopa Waterfall is located near Poso, Central Sulawesi. It is a waterfall that consists of 12 levels. With a stone staircase you can reach the lower level where you will find several refreshing pools. The environment consists of tropical rainforest with all the flora and fauna that entails. The sound of monkeys and birds fills the area. And the splashing water in combination with the sun brings rainbow colors in the area to life.

#8. Tangkoko National Park
Tangkoko National Park is known for the Tarsius (the smallest monkey in the world). However, this is a nocturnal animal that only shows itself at dusk. You will also find the black macaques and the hornbill in this park. Very worthwhile is the possibility to take a spicy morning or evening tour in this great park under the guidance of a guide.

#9. Sengkang
Sengkang is a village close to Lake Tempe. The place where the 2 rivers Walanae and Tampangan come together. You can make a wonderful trip on the lake by canoe where you will find a diversity of water birds on and around the lake. In the village of Senkang there are many silk weaving mills where there is also the possibility of purchase. Boat races are organized on the lake prior to Independence Day and you can witness multiple ceremonies being performed.

#10. Rantepao
This is the main town in Torajaland. You will find many examples of Toraja houses with their rich decorations. The most important sights are almost all related to the burial rituals of the Torajas. The landscape is very beautiful and consists of rugged mountain peaks with fertile soil in between. The area is excellent for walking to many sights.

Sulawesi, Indonesia