island was nice, but staying a full week in one place was not our
intention. Thanks to its good flight connections, Ternate functions
as base to explore Northern Maluku. And Northern Maluku means a lot
of islands. The biggest island is just about 40 minutes by speedboat
from Ternate: Halmahera.
|Riding in a bento (motorbike tricycle) in Tobelo|
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.
the best connections and travel options in Indonesia are usually
early in the day, we woke up at 6am and by 7am we already sat at the
jetty in Ternate. A short wait later we reached the minimum amount of
passengers (twelve) for the crossing and our journey started. We
arrived in Sidangoli, as this is supposed to be the best place to get
somewhere in Northern Halmahera by car. Sidangoli is a nice little
waterfront village with many houses on stilts but little other
attractions. A short walk brought us from the pier to the completely
deserted terminal. We asked some guys hanging around with their
motorbikes and yes, there would be cars from here to Tobelo, our
destination for the day.
|Deserted terminal in Sidangoli|
first drivers arrived and tried to talk us into chartering a full
Kijang (big car with five to six passenger seats) for 400-500'000
IDR/27-33 EUR. As we insisted on “biasa” (normal) they desisted
and settled for the steep but regular 100'000 IDR/6.5 EUR. Once the
car was full two hours later, we set off for a three hour journey
through the beautiful forests, villages and coconut plantations of
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.
itself, we learned fast, is not a very attractive town. It's a port
and administrative centre for Northern Halmahera. The attraction lies
in the beaches north and south of the city, in the many offshore
islands and in the rainforest covered mountains nearby. As we didn't
have enough time for a longer trip to the outer islands, we settled
for a day-trip to one of the nice beaches the locals told us about.
After asking around, where we could find white sand, we took a
minibus to Kupa-Kupa. Thanks to the friendly ladies in the microlet
(5'000 IDR/0.3 EUR), the driver brought us directly to the beach from
the village, quite a detour for no extra charge!
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.
order to avoid the risk of getting stuck on Halmahera and miss our
flight (boats don't go if the sea is too rough), we had the
opportunity for another day-trip from Ternate. We went to Tidore,
another volcanic island, just ten minutes south of Ternate by
speedboat (going constantly as soon as full, 10'000 IDR/0.7 EUR).
During centuries, Ternate and Tidore were fighting each other for
power and influence. There isn't much left of that. As administrative
center of Northern Maluku with a university and a large army base,
Ternate is definitely more important today. Tidore, on the other
hand, is much more relaxed and laid back. But relaxed and laid back
also means that there is not much to do. There are some hot springs
you can visit and you could climb the (inactive) volcano, but that's
about it. Some beaches at the southern end of the island offer some
snorkeling possibilities and beautiful views on the islands to the
|Kupa-Kupa beach cottages in a beautiful palm garden|
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.
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