Danau Tondano Travel Guide

Danau is the Indonesian word for ‘lake’ and this stunning lake located in central Indonesia, on the northernmost tip of Celebes Island, is a must for anyone looking to get off the beaten track.

It is nestled in a valley in the Lambean mountain range and is surrounded by paddy fields. There is limited accommodation here as the area does not see much tourism, but if you don’t mind roughing it a bit, you will get to experience true rural Indonesia without bus loads of tourists arriving every other day.

If you simply want to visit the lake for the day, there is plenty of accommodation in the nearby capital city of Manado or the smaller town of Tondano, and transport is available to take visitors to the lake and back on the same day. Activities at the lake include a small selection of water sports such as swimming, boating and fishing, but most people come here to hike in the mountains and explore the underground caves.

The area has seen much change in recent years. During the Dutch colonial period (up until 1949), it was a coffee-growing region and during WWII, it was occupied by the Japanese who used it to dig caves to store food, water and other essential supplies. Today, the caves are a major tourist attraction. Coffee is still grown here, as are cloves and coconuts.

Getting There & Away

The closest international airport to Danau Tondano is Ninoy Aquino International Airport, in Manila. From here, you can catch a domestic flight to Sam Ratulangi airport in Manado. Alternatively you can fly direct to Manado from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Davao in the Philippines. From Manado’s airport, the lake is a short bus ride away.