Most travelers visit Gangga Island and North Sulawesi for the incredible diving, but there are many more reasons to spend time in the region. Day trips are a great way to see the area without having to move from your beautiful beach bungalow on Gangga Island. One of the best daytrips you can take is to explore the culture of the Minahasan people of North Sulawesi.
This tour leaves Gangga Island at 7:30am from the resort jetty. It’s only a short boat trip to the mainland so you are in your air-conditioned car by 8am. Your first stop on the tour is the traditional market at Airmadidi. You can have a look around the market and buy some snacks for the trip into the mountains. If you are into photography, it is also a great opportunity to take some photos of local life in this area.
The next stop on the tour is a peek into the unique history and culture of this area. You will visit the largest collection of ancient sarcophagi in North Sulawesi. The cemetery contains 144 stone graves, or waruga, and dates back to as early as the 9th century.
After visiting the waruga, there is a visit to the massive craterlake at Tondano. This is another opportunity to see the distinctive houses on stilts that the fishermen here have been building for centuries. The views around the lake are breathtaking and this is a wonderful place to enjoy the fresh air and scenery.
On the way to the village of Woloan you will stop at Lake Linow. This lake is famed for its unusual colouring caused by the sulfur buried in the lake. After a short stop here Woloan isn’t far. The speciality of this area is building Minahasa style houses that are made completely from wood and stand around 3 metres of the ground on strong stilts. These houses can be built and knocked down to send to other areas of Sulawesi and for orders worldwide.
Your tour is almost over after this stop but not before heading back down the mountains to Tomohon where there is a beautiful Buddhist temple. It will have been a full morning and you will need a good lunch. The restaurant we stop at is at the foot of Mount Lokon, an active volcano. It has beautiful gardens and lovely views.
You’ll have some time in Tomohon to do some souvenir shopping or go to a local mall where there are more modern shops before the drive back to Serei jetty. Your boat back to Gangga Island Resort & Spa will be waiting for you and will have you back at the resort in time for dinner.
Even if you go to Gangga Island for the diving, it’s so worth getting out and learning something about the Minahasa people and the uniqueness of the area while you are there. You might be surprised at how much you fall in love with the beauty of the highlands and the warm welcome of the local people.