Manado isn’t a place that is widely known outside of scuba diving circles, but it is most certainly a place you should know about! Located in the North Sulawesi province of Indonesia that stretches almost all the way to the Philippines, Manado is a melting pot of cultures, languages, and religions. There are loads of reasons to visit the area, but here are 5 reasons you should know about Manado.
1. The diving is spectacular
North Sulawesi is one of those places where it is impossible to have a bad dive. The water is crystal clear and absolutely brimming with marine life. Corals reefs are healthy and there are seemingly never ending schools of fish, beautiful hard and soft corals, critters galore, and larger species like sharks, sea turtles, various rays, and even sometimes passing whales. There is diving for all levels in Manado, and you can even get PADI certified in the area.
2. It’s quiet
The region may be gorgeous, but it definitely isn’t packed with tourists. Most travelers come to dive and snorkel or visit the nearby beaches or nature reserve. From the airport driving north to the islands off the tip of Manado you will see villages, lush forests and not much else. And the islands themselves have small populations of local people and usually just one or two hotels, resorts, or guesthouses.
Gangga Island Resort & Spa for example is just one of two resorts on the island. It is incredibly peaceful and there is rarely any sound except for the waves rolling onto the beach in front of your bungalow. It is an incredible place if you are looking to relax and switch off from the modern world for a little while.
3. The scenery is breathtaking
Flying into Manado you will see the city grouped on the coastal area with tree-covered mountains dramatically rising up as its backdrop. Mount Klabat to the east of the city is almost 2000 metres high. From Manado you can also look out to Bunaken Marine Park and Manadotua, a volcanic island rising out of the sea off the coast. Further up north the islands dotted out from the coast features palm fringed beaches and the perfect tropical sunsets. It is a feast for the eyes and your camera if you are a keen photographer.
4. The interesting mix of people
Manado is a real melting pot as the result of the huge amount of trade that was undertaken there over the centuries. The Portugese, Spanish, Dutch and Chinese have all had a massive influence there and left behind religion, language, and administrative procedures. The most noticeable difference in North Sulawesi to other provinces in Indonesia is the religion. 63% of the people there are Christian and only 31% Muslim. There are hundreds of churches, some very simple and others brightly coloured and decorative. There have been troubles in the region in the past but generally the people are incredibly tolerant of religious and cultural differences.
5. The food
If you are a lover of seafood, you won’t want to leave Manado. Tuna, known as cakalang, is their speciality and is found in a million different forms. Whether you want it grilled, fried, smoked, or super spicy, there is a dish for you. Don’t miss panadas (much like latin America’s empanadas) with a spicy tuna floss inside and for dessert try the Dutch influenced Klappertaart, a sweet custard pie filled with soft egg white, flour, and slivers of young fresh coconut meat.
Of course there are more reasons than these 5 to visit Manado but if these don’t tempt you, we’re not sure what would! Which out of these would be your top reason to book a trip? Let us know in the comments box below.