Sulawesi sprawls between Borneo and Maluku like a lazy sea serpent lying casually in the sea with its four huge tentacles stretched out for maximum relaxation. Formed by these four tentacles, four peninsulas framed by dramatic mountains make Sulawesi a decadent sight to behold, provide a sheltered environment for abundant marine life, create endless varieties of stunning beaches, and offer the easier mode of intra-island travel.
It has long been heralded as one of the top scuba diving destinations in the world – and rightfully so. The dive sights around Manado and Bunaken offer a rare wealth of biodiverse marine life that treat scuba divers to over 3000 varieties of fish and more than 300 different kinds of coral.
If you are not a scuba diver, don’t be deterred from going to Sulawesi. You will find a treasure trove of traveling bliss aside from scuba diving in this huge tropical paradise that is larger than half of the countries in the world.
One thing you will love about Sulawesi is the friendly people. All of Indonesia is known for its friendly people, but the people of Sulawesi take friendliness to a whole new level with their genuine, seemingly permanent smiles etched upon their faces.
Makassar, the largest city on Sulawesi and its economic hub, is at the island’s southern tip. It is famous for delicious sea food and nightlife – offering a welcome respite for the weary jungle trekker. After you’ve had a good meal or two and a night out, head over to nearby Pantai Bira village where you can see a variety of traditional ships being built, as they have been for centuries, and relax on the white sand beach while you absorb a sense of a way of life that once was.
Then you may want to head north to Tana Toraga where it will seem as though you somehow slipped out of the 21st century into a medieval odyssey of ancient Torajan culture and tradition.
Further north, the Togean islands are dangerous indeed. They are the kind of place where you stop for a day that turns into a week which stretches into a month and an expired visa!
Whatever itinerary you choose, one thing is for sure. Somewhere between Sulawesi’s six provinces - Gorontalo, West Sulawesi, South Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi, Southeast Sulawesi, and North Sulawesi – multiple ethnic traditions – eight national parks – super friendly people – superb scuba diving - awe inspiring trekking – and kilometer after kilometer of white powdery beaches, you will both lose and find something in “mysterious“ Sulawesi.