Family itinerary in Sulawesi

Are you looking for an itinerary for Sulawesi? Look no further, this guide explores Sulawesi through 3 family-friendly itineraries in Sulawesi, ranging from 1 to 3 weeks, to help you plan your perfect Indonesian adventure.

Indonesia, a large island nation in Southeast Asia, is a popular destination for families seeking adventure. With its many islands, each offering something unique. Sulawesi, one of Indonesia’s larger islands, is known for its fascinating culture, volcanic mountains, and beautiful underwater world.

Keep in mind that car journeys in Sulawesi can be quite long, similar to other parts of Indonesia. This makes Sulawesi a more suitable destination for older children. For younger ones, it’s recommended to stick to the one-week itinerary in the north.

Itinerary Options:

  • 1 Week in North Sulawesi: Volcanoes and Snorkeling in the North
  • 2-3 Weeks in South Sulawesi and the Togean Islands
  • 4 Weeks to Discover All of Sulawesi

Complete Itinerary: Discover Sulawesi in 4 Weeks

This itinerary provides a detailed plan for exploring all of Sulawesi in four weeks. It includes suggestions for transportation, accommodation, activities, and places to visit.

Day 1: Land in Makassar

Days 2: Rammang-Rammang.

  • Gua Kunang-Kunang: Explore a natural cave.
  • Taman Batu: Visit a park with beautiful Karst rock formations.
  • Kampong Karst: See a picturesque landscape with traditional houses on stilts nestled amidst lush green rice fields.

Day 3: Lake Tempe
Take a boat ride on Lake Tempe, the second-largest lake in Sulawesi. See the local way of life of the riverside community and the floating homes of the fishermen. Consider spending a night in a fisherman’s village for an unforgettable experience learning about a different way of life (not suitable for toddlers due to safety concerns).

Days 4-9: Toraja culture.
To understand the culture and participate in a ceremony we recommend taking a local guide.

  • The beautiful Lemo site
  • The surprising old cemetery of Tampang Allo,
  • A traditional village like Palawa, to admire more Tongkonans (traditional houses).
  • If your family enjoys hiking, spend a day or two exploring the beautiful Mount Batutumonga and the surrounding rice fields.
  • Attend a traditional Toraja funeral ceremony, a unique and immersive experience that will give you a deeper appreciation for the customs and traditions of this remarkable community.

Days 10-11: Travel to Lake Poso. While the 12-hour drive can be long, consider breaking it into two days to make it more manageable. Enjoy the scenery along the way, noticing colorful houses, vibrant mosques, and tiny shops.

Day 11-12: Lake Poso

  • Visit the majestic Sluopa waterfall,
  • Discover how Tempeh tofu is made,
  • Take a refreshing swim in the lake.
  • You can also visit the orphanage supported by the Dolidi Ndano Towale Resort.

Days 13-18: Togean Islands
Take the boat from Ampana (schedule).
Togean Islands are a little paradise where you can stay for three days or more! Snorkel in the jellyfish lake and other beautiful snorkeling spots. If you enjoy diving, there are many opportunities, we recommend the old bomber.

Day 19: Gorontalo

The easiest way to get to North Sulawesi is to take the overnight ferry from Wakai to Gorontalo. However, please note that ferries from the Togean Islands to the north only run twice a week and not all year round, so be sure to check before you go. The alternative is a speedboat, but this is much more expensive, takes 3-4 hours (from Una Una) + 3 hours of driving, and the crossing is not pleasant in bad weather.

You can spend a night in Gorontalo and visit the old Portuguese fort. Gorontalo is known for its whale sharks. Majestic, it is a priori magnificent spectacle to see but they are fed and this poses problems for the whole ecosystem.

Day 20: Road to Tomohon

The road to Tomohon is long (minimum 9:30 hours). To avoid wasting a full day, you can take an overnight bus from Gorontalo to Manado, then it will only take you 45 minutes to reach Tomohon by road.

Day 21-22: Volcanoes in Tomohon

  • Hike (at sunrise if you can) on Mount Lokon (3 hours round trip).
  • Hike on Mount Mahawu (2 hours)
  • Vihara Buddhayana Buddhist Temple
  • Walk in the rice fields and to the different waterfalls.

You can do it in one day but if you want to take your time and rest from the drive, don’t hesitate to stay two days “cool” in the mountains.
Another option, if you don’t like hiking too much, is to go to the Tangkoko nature reserve.

Day 23-28: Bunaken Marine National Park

Bunaken Marine National Park is renowned for its beautiful coral reefs and rich marine life. Spend a few days snorkeling, diving with turtles and relaxing on beautiful beaches.

Return flight from Manado.

3 Weeks itinerary in South Sulawesi and the Togean Islands

Follow the full itinerary but make a stop at the Togian Islands: return to Ampana and take a flight back to Luwuk (5-6 hours drive) or Palu (8-9 hours drive).

2 Weeks in South Sulawesi and Togean Islands

South Sulawesi and the Togean Islands can be done in 2 weeks. However, this itinerary involves long days of travel, making the trip more tiring.

Day 1: Arrive in Makassar and take an overnight bus directly to Toraja country.
Days 2-5: Explore Toraja culture.
Days 6-8: Travel to Ampana with a short break at Lake Poso.
Days 9-12: Explore the Togean Islands
Days 13-14: Return to Ampana and flight back from Luwuk or Palu.
(see details in the full itinerary)

1 Week itinerary in North Sulawesi: Volcanoes and Snorkeling in the North

Easily accessible from Singapore with direct flights to Manado, North Sulawesi offers a fantastic adventure for families who only have a week’s vacation or want to avoid long hours of driving. Get ready to explore majestic volcanoes and dive into a wonderful underwater world!

Day 1-2: Volcanoes in Tomohon
Non-hiking option: Tangkoko Nature Reserve
Day 3-7: Bunaken Marine National Park