Capital of Sulawesi Utara, Manado is mainly used by travellers as a stopping-off point for spectacular diving and snorkelling in the Bunaken Marine Reserve. You can either base yourself in Manado and do day-trips to the reefs, or stay on the island itself, where you’ll find plenty of accommodation and dive operators to choose from.
Manado is busy, noisy, hot and in a permanent state of near-gridlock, but it also exudes a bustling energy, which can be refreshing if you’re feeling deprived of civilization after a trip to the Togians. The town’s hub lies in the north, where you’ll find the harbour and its neighbouring fresh-produce market, Pasar Bersehati. The main Jalan Sam Ratulangi runs south from here, parallel to the endless malls on Jalan Pierre Tendean. Microlets swarm along both roads, with many turning into mobile discos at night, complete with flashing lights and thumping bass.
Manado was flattened in 1844 by a devastating earthquake, and tremors measuring up to 5.0 on the Richter scale continue to rattle the town for a few seconds every three months or so.