Official Website of the North Sulawesi Tourism Promotion Board (NSTPB)
A Tour of Duty in North Sulawesiby Adam J. Fenton
The question was a simple one – though it seemed no one had ever thought to ask – what can you do in North Sulawesi besides diving?
It seems that there is still a bit of controversy over who opened the first dive resort in Manado. Some people will tell you one thing while others will say the opposite. Either way, subtle points of historical fact aside, from the mid 1980s onward Manado began to develop a reputation as being one of the most exciting and rewarding places to dive on the surface of our planet Earth. In due course, word got around and people came from far and wide as Manado cultivated its image as the world’s diving Mecca. So what was attracting all those people? As one local dive instructor put it, it all comes down to one simple word: "Biodiversity. Near Manado and Bunaken you can see around 3000 types of fish, and around 300 types of coral. It is very difficult to find anywhere else that has this amount of variety." It sounds simple to say – 3000 types of fish. But think about it, in one relatively small area surrounding the island of Bunaken, you stick your head underwater at any random point and you are instantly transported to a strange new Star Wars universe teeming with bizarre, colourful, unimaginable creatures and corals. For serious divers, an unusual breed who patiently like to catalogue and note down the different species that they have encountered on a dive, this was like striking the mother lode. Word spread fast.
In some ways though, it seems like we might have missed the point, a bit. As one resort manager explained "For many years we in North Sulawesi have always thought of ourselves as a marine tourism destination. The reality is, this is not true!! If one takes the time to travel beyond the dive resort or hotel that you’re staying in, you will find a wealth of culture and adventure right here on your doorstep."
So that was my mission – to discover the non-diving attractions of North Sulawesi. People looked at me with horror and distrust when I told them that I was going to write about tourism in Manado, and NOT go diving! Had I gone insane? Only time would tell.
Continue Reading: Minahasa
1. Gangga Island, © Gangga Island Resort
2. Juvenile Emperorfish, © William Tan
3. Mount Lokon, © Corine Frischknecht
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