This family-friendly week-long itinerary highlights Indonesia's North Sulawesi Island and combines cultural exploration with adventure. Accompanied by an English-speaking guide, you begin your trip in Manado, working your way through the region and on to Tangkoko National Park, before exploring Bunaken Island off the coast of Manado. You will hike still-active volcanoes, paddle down rapids to waterfalls, observe endemic Sulawesi wildlife, and snorkel thriving coral reefs.

Highlights

  • Trek up Mount Mahawu for stunning views over North Sulawesi
  • Explore the villages outside of Tomohon and discover local culture
  • Whitewater raft down the Nimanga River 
  • Observe the world's smallest primate in Tangkoko National Park
  • Snorkel in the Celebes Sea among some of the best-preserved coral reefs

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Manado; Trek Mount Mahawu  Tomohon
Day 2 Hike Mount Lokon - Whitewater raft the Nimanga River Tomohon
Day 3 Tour Wildlife Rescue Center and Tangkoko National Park Bitung
Day 4 Explore Tangkoko National Park; Boat to Bunaken Island Bunaken Island
Day 5-6 Explore Bunaken Bunaken Island
Day 7 Return to Manado - Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Manado - Trek Mount Mahawu

Mahawu Volcano
Mount Mahawu looms in the distance

Welcome to Indonesia! Meet your guide at the Manado airport and transfer to the town of Tomohon, about an hour away. Stop for a bite of lunch before venturing to explore a traditional local market, famous for its sale of exotic meats, including bats and snakes. After lunch, check into your hotel and change into your hiking gear for your trip to Mount Mahawu a short distance outside of Tomohon. Trek from the lip of the volcano's crater to a viewpoint for striking vistas of the North Sulawesi landscape as well as its immediate neighbor, the active Lokon volcano (about an hour walk).

Enjoy a much deserved local meal back in Tomohon's city center before retiring for the evening.

Day 2: Hike Mount Lokon - Whitewater raft the Nimanga River

Nimanga River Rafting
Raft down the Nimanga River, taking in the North Sulawesi scenery

Get up before the crack of dawn for an early-morning hike (2 hours) to the Mount Lokon summit. Enjoy the sunrise over Tomohon before switching gears and driving south to Woloan, a charming village known for its traditional Minahasa style wooden houses. From here, lunch at the volcanic Lake Linow, changing into your rafting gear for your white water adventure down the Nimanga River. At the halfway point, you will have the opportunity to explore a waterfall as well as go for a refreshing swim.

After a sporty afternoon, continue on your way to Pulutan, stopping to explore the village as well as pick up any pottery souvenirs. 

Day 3: Tour Wildlife Rescue Center and Tangkoko National Park

Indonesia - Tangkoko National Park - Tarsius tarsier
See if you can sight the spectral tarsier

After breakfast, you'll take to the road and head northeast to Bitung (1.5 hours) to visit an animal rehabilitation center. Here you will meet your guide and tour the center, learning about the local wildlife. Enjoy lunch before continuing north to Tangkoko National Park. Accompanied by a local guide, you'll experience a tour of the park, this time, to observe the animals in their natural habitat (2 hours). If luck is on your side, you may spot animals like the world's smallest primate, the tarsier, the cuscus (a type of bear), Celebes crested macaque, and even black tarantulas.

In the late afternoon, you will transfer to your accommodation within the park.

Day 4: Explore Tangkoko National Park - Boat to Bunaken Island

North Sulawesi, Indonesia - Coral reef in Bunaken national park
Discover the  protected coral just off of Bunaken Island

Rise bright and early to explore more of Tangkoko Park, keeping an eye out for black macaques and other endemic species. Enjoy lunch at your lodgings before leaving the park behind and heading to the west side of North Sulawesi and to Manado. Transfer to a boat and make your way to Bunaken Island, a small paradise in the heart of the Bunaken National Marine Park. Check into your accommodation, a traditional wooden cottage near the sea and spend the rest of the day at your own pace. 

Day 5-6: Explore Bunaken

Indonesia - Bunaken National Park - Snorkeler and green sea turtle
Explore the marine life right outside your door

The next two days are yours to spend as you choose. Relax on the beach, swim or snorkel directly outside of your lodgings. Rent a kayak for a half-day in the late afternoon and walk along the water's edge to nearby villages. There's also the option to go diving or hire a boat to spot dolphins as well as visit the neighboring islands. 

Day 7: Return to Manado - Depart

Beach, Bunaken
Take one last morning to relax on the beach

Depending on your flight details, take one final morning to lie out on the beach before making the 45-minute crossing back to Manado. From here you will meet your driver and transfer to the airport for your onward journey.

Map

Map of North Sulawesi: From Coral Reefs to Active Volcanoes - 7 Days
Map of North Sulawesi: From Coral Reefs to Active Volcanoes - 7 Days