Manado was established by the Dutch in the 17th century, and was once praised for its beauty. Unfortunately, the city was heavily bombed during World War II, and again during the Indonesia battle for independence, and the modern reconstruction has left the city less than picturesque.
While for many divers Manado is little more than a way-station on the way to the smaller islands such as Bunaken and Lembeh, there are some rather nice dive resorts along the coast of Sulawesi near Manado, as well as some nice city hotels where you can relax for a night or two after diving.
While diving is the big draw to North Sulawesi, there are other opportunities for adventure on the mainland as well. See the Asia For Visitors guide to Manado for more information and ideas.
Getting to Manado
From other parts of Indonesia, you can reach Manado by bus, boat or plane. Bus is of course only an option from other parts of Sulawesi, and isn't really recommended. To get to Manado from Makassar or Palu will take several days.
You can reach Manado by boat from other islands using the Pelni line. Most of their ships are rather modern, with first, second, third and economy-class cabins. The journey from other islands may easily take two or three days.
By far the easiest way to get to Manado is by plane, and that is about the only way to get there from other countries. There are [sometimes] direct flights to Manado from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Davao, as well as from other parts of Indonesia, such as Makassar. In fact, most flights from further destinations, such as Jakarta or Denpasar, are usually via Makassar. For more information about airlines, flight schedules, and other airport information, see our Manado airport guide at Asia-Airports.com
Lying just above the equator, Manado has a remarkably constant climate. Temperatures remain almost constant throughout the year, with only a couple of degrees variation in both high and low temperatures from month to month. In fact, the average low temperature is constant throughout the year.
Manado City Hotels
If you're diving in Lembeh, Bunaken or the other islands, you may find it necessary to spend at least one night in Manado to connect to an early flight. There are several options to chose from. At the top end is the Sintesa Peninsula, siting on a small hill close to the city's center. Additional recommended selections are listed below. Many of the hotels listed below may also be booked through Safari Tours, a full service travel agency based in Manado, that can also arrange tours of the area sights.