Bitung, Indonesia cruises
Your guide to Bitung.
From bustling cities to awe-inspiring landscapes, the Indonesian port of Bitung is the gateway to northern Sulawesi’s abundant wonders, including its provincial capital Manado. Fringed by fauna cloaked mountains, Manado is a gastronomic paradise with dining spots turning out aromatic delicacies and beach bars coupling cocktails with salty ocean views. Pick up a souvenir from the seafront arcade, try island-fished tuna (with eye-wateringly hot sambal) and admire the architectural contrasts of colonial Dutch buildings and ancient Buddhist temples. Further afield you’ll encounter the black and white sands of Lembeh Island, the waruga stone graves of Airmadidi Village and the mangrove forests of Tangkoko Nature Reserve.
Wider Bitung is home to a plethora of natural wonders, from bubbling sulfur lakes to volcanoes. Climbing the mouth of Mahawu Crater rewards you with stunning vistas, while a visit to Lake Linow offers the opportunity to observe the color-changing waters shift from red to green to blue before your eyes. In Manado, you’ll find a diverse and intriguing city rich in temples and churches. Ban Hin Kiong Temple, built in the 19th century, and Sentrum Church (a symbol of Manado's colonial past) are among the most impressive. Also of interest to visitors is Museum Pinawetengan, which counts the world’s largest working trumpet among its exhibits.
Eating and drinking.
Indonesian cuisine favors seafood, heat and spice. Rice is a staple and coconuts also feature in many forms; from sweet desserts to savory curries. In both Bitung and Manado, you’ll find specialty cafés serving local coffee and a variety of snacks, while Manado additionally boasts sophisticated oceanfront bars. In Bitung, several restaurants can be found on Jalan Samratulangi while Manado’s culinary offer is far-reaching with countless eateries dotted along the coast. Popular native dishes include ayam bakar rica (grilled chicken with hot peppers), cakalang fufu (cured and smoked tuna) and nasi goreng (stir-fried rice topped with a fried egg).
From Karawang embroidery to earthenware pottery, Manado and Bitung are ideal for finding a keepsake from your travels. In Manado, you’ll encounter traditional markets as well as the shopping centers of Manado Town Square and Megamall. The Grand Merciful Building, open 24 hours, also stocks a large selection of souvenirs. In Bitung, several vendors can usually be found in the Harbour Terminal Building. Prices in shops are often flexible unless marked ‘harga pas’ (fixed price) so don’t be afraid to offer less than the quoted price. The morning market, selling fresh fish and produce from the Tomohon highlands, is a spectacle of colors and sounds, and is not to be missed.
A local ferry from Bitung takes you across the Lembeh Strait to the black and white sand beaches of Lembeh Island, with some very good hikes. Airmadidi Village, in the Minahasa region, is famous for the waruga stone graves dating from the pre-Christian era - many featuring fascinating engravings. The village is also the starting point to reach the peak of Mount Klabat. About 13 miles from Bitung, Tangkoko Nature Reserve offers some of Sulawesi’s loveliest scenery. A number of native birds and mammals can be found here, including Tarsius Tarsier (the world’s second-smallest primate) and the critically endangered Black Crested Macaque monkey.