Northern Maluku: Island hopping off the beaten track
|Riding in a bento (motorbike tricycle) in Tobelo|
As a kid, I was fascinated by geography and history. I still remember the attraction that strangely shaped islands like Sulawesi and Halmahera used to have on me. My geographical attraction is today much more focused on finding ways to get to places with beautiful landscapes. And that brought us to Halmahera.
|Deserted terminal in Sidangoli|
As the journey took longer than expected (Fabian read somewhere that the distance was 120km, but the car reached Tobelo only at km 175), we were happy to arrive in the midday heat in Tobelo. As we hadn't heard about any nice hotels and not found any information online, we checked out two hotels before settling in the guesthouse Meraksi Flower (or actually in the newer part, the Meraksi Flower II). It's a typical Indonesian guesthouse, but with a caring owner and thus seemed to be the best offer in town.
The beach in Kupa-Kupa is small but lovely. White and very fine sand, covered by the shades of large trees that offer some protection from the fierce tropical sun. Snorkeling is definitely an option, as you can see the small but coral-dotted reef already from the beach. But the best surprise lay on firm ground. We approached the restaurant directly on the beach and ordered lunch. The friendly local lady took our order and told us to have a look at her garden and the beautiful cottages in it. Walking to the other side of her house, she introduced us to her husband, a retired German Mister. We spent most of our afternoon talking with Lutz and Ona, co-owners of Kupa-Kupa Beach Cottages, about life on Halmahera, things to do and see, while sipping a cold Bintang on the beach. If any of you ever makes it to Northern Halmahera, we definitely recommend you to stay there. Friendly hosts always up for a chat, good food and beach accommodation between 200'000 IDR/13 EUR (small cottages with fan directly on the beach) and 450'000 IDR/30 EUR (spacious cottages with fan, your own bathroom and porch). Definitely worth it.
|Kupa-Kupa beach cottages in a beautiful palm garden|
In summary, we enjoyed our week in the Northern Maluku and can definitely recommend off the beaten track travelers to go there. If you expect amenities like Western food, swimming pools or shopping malls, you should probably reconsider. We think spending too much time in Ternate is not worth it. We rather recommend to explore the islands offshore from Tobelo (ask Lutz and Ona from Kupa-Kupa for information and contacts) or the islands to the south of Tidore (most with at least daily connections to Ternate or Tidore) as the beauty of Northern Maluku lies it's remoteness and not yet spoiled nature and not in Ternate city.