Ternate: A Tapestry of History, Culture, and Natural Wonders

Nestled in the heart of North Maluku Province, Indonesia, Ternate is a city steeped in rich history, vibrant culture, and breathtaking natural beauty.

Once the center of the lucrative spice trade in the Maluku Islands, Ternate attracted European powers to colonize and compete for its control. This legacy is reflected in the city’s many historical sites, such as Fort Oranje, Fort Tolukko, Sultan Ternate Mosque, and Ternate Sultanate Museum. These iconic landmarks showcase the architecture, artifacts, and stories of the different rulers and influences that shaped Ternate’s tapestry.

Beyond its historical treasures, Ternate is also a nature lover’s paradise. From the pristine beaches of Sulamadaha to the towering heights of Mount Gamalama, the city’s diverse natural attractions offer visitors a chance to immerse themselves in its unspoiled beauty.

Whether you’re seeking an adrenaline rush or a serene escape, Ternate has something to offer everyone. Swim, snorkel, or dive in the crystal-clear waters of its beaches and lakes. Embark on a hiking or camping adventure in its lush rainforests and majestic mountains. Or simply relax and soak up the breathtaking scenery from the vantage point of a floating eatery on Ngade Lake.

Ternate’s unique culture is a blend of its Islamic heritage and its interaction with other cultures. Experience the city’s vibrant culture by visiting its traditional markets, festivals, and ceremonies. Indulge in its delectable cuisine, influenced by its rich history and diverse influences. And interact with its friendly and hospitable locals, eager to share their customs, beliefs, and languages.

If you want to visit Ternate, you can take a flight from Jakarta or Makassar to Babullah Airport in Ternate City.

What to See in Ternate Indonesia?

Sulamadaha Beach: A Black Sand Paradise

Sulamadaha Beach, a black sand paradise nestled in the heart of Ternate, Indonesia, enchants visitors with its pristine waters, vibrant coral reefs, and diverse marine life. This idyllic oasis invites you to embark on an unforgettable adventure, from swimming and snorkeling to boating and picnicking.

As you submerge yourself in the crystal-clear waters, a kaleidoscope of marine life unfolds before your eyes. Colorful fish dart through the coral reefs, graceful sea turtles glide by, and intriguing starfishes rest on the seabed. Explore the underwater world at your own pace, marveling at the myriad of rare and exotic creatures that call this place home.

For a thrilling experience, embark on a boating or banana boating excursion around the beach and the two neighboring islands: Hiri Island and Saomadaha Gulf. Hiri Island, once a refuge for Sultan Muhammad Djabir Syah, offers a glimpse into the region’s rich history. Saomadaha Gulf, a white sand bay with breathtaking underwater scenery, is a perfect spot to snorkel and dive.

After a day of exploration, relax and unwind on the black sand beach, savoring the breathtaking views of the sea and the mountains. Indulge in some local delicacies such as grilled fish, fried banana, and dabu-dabu sauce while basking in the warm tropical sun. Sulamadaha Beach, a black sand paradise that awaits with its enchanting beauty and endless possibilities.

As the sun dips below the horizon, Sulamadaha Beach transforms into a magical canvas painted with hues of orange, red, and purple. The sea shimmers like a molten mirror, reflecting the fiery sky above. The silhouettes of Ternate City’s lights twinkle in the distance, creating a breathtaking spectacle.

After the sun has set, the beach takes on a more romantic and peaceful aura. The gentle waves lap against the shore, and the cool breeze whispers through the palm trees. It’s the perfect time to relax and unwind, savoring the beauty of the night sky and the twinkling lights of the city.

If you’re planning a trip to Sulamadaha Beach, there are a variety of accommodation options to choose from, including hotels, homestays, and vacation rentals.

Getting to Sulamadaha Beach from Ternate City is easy and convenient. You can take any local transportation service to Sulamadaha village, the beach is just a short walk away. The distance between Ternate and the beach is only 15.1 km, so the trip takes approximately 36 minutes.

The best route to take is Batu Angus Street, which is faster and more scenic. Once you arrive at the village, you can follow the signs to the beach.

Lake Tolire Besar

A breathtaking oasis nestled at the foot of Mount Gamalama, casts a spell on visitors with its enchanting beauty and mysterious legends. This gem of North Maluku, shaped like a giant pan and boasting a mesmerizing green Tosca hue, is surrounded by lush forests and bushes, its depth shrouded in mystery.

As the sun rises and sets, Lake Tolire Besar is transformed into a canvas ablaze with color, reflecting the fiery hues of the sky and the lush greenery of the surrounding forest. Visitors are drawn to the lake’s top tip to admire the panoramic views, spotting birds and monkeys in the forest below.

Beyond its natural splendor, Lake Tolire Besar offers a glimpse into the region’s rich history and culture. Local guides and villagers share stories of the lake’s formation, its green hue, and the white crocodile that haunts its waters at night. Revered as the lake’s guardian, this mythical creature adds to the lake’s mystique.

Visitors can also see relics from the past, such as a cannon and a stone inscription, providing a glimpse into the lake’s fascinating history. After exploring the lake’s many wonders, visitors can indulge in local snacks and drinks from nearby stalls, savoring the flavors of North Maluku.

Lake Tolire Besar, a hidden gem in North Maluku, beckons visitors to embark on an unforgettable journey of discovery, where enchanting beauty, mysterious legends, and rich culture await.

While the lake itself is located in a remote area, there are a few accommodation options available within a short drive.

After checking into your chosen accommodation, embark on a journey to Lake Tolire Besar, located just a short drive away. Local transportation services are readily available in Ternate City, making it easy to get to the lake. The journey itself is a scenic one, as you wind your way through lush forests and picturesque villages. the trip takes approximately 36 minutes only.

Fort Tolukko: A Phallic Fortress with a Rich History

On the east coast of Ternate, facing the island of Halmahera, stands Fort Tolukko, a small fortification with an unusual phallic layout. Built in the 17th century to control the lucrative trade in clove spices, Fort Tolukko has been occupied by various colonial powers, including the Portuguese, the Dutch, the British, and the Spanish.

This historic fort, now a popular tourist attraction, was abandoned as a military outpost in 1864 and renovated in 1996. Its primary function was to protect a rare coral reef-free landing point directly in front of the fort.

Visitors to Fort Tolukko can explore its well-preserved ramparts, bastions, and dungeons, and learn about the fort’s rich history and cultural significance. The fort also offers stunning views of the sea and Halmahera Island.

Here are some interesting facts about Fort Tolukko:

  • The fort was built in 1611 by the Spanish, who named it San Juan de Toloco.
  • It was abandoned by the Spanish in 1613 and later taken over by the Dutch, who named it Fort Hollandia.
  • The fort was later handed to Ternate’s Sultan for use as a fortified royal residence.
  • It was also occupied by the British and the Japanese during their invasion periods.
  • The fort was abandoned as a fort in 1864 and renovated in 1996.
  • It is now a tourist attraction that offers a scenic view of the sea and Halmahera Island.

The entrance fee to Fort Tolukko is 10,000 rupiah per person, equivalent to about $0.70 USD or $0.60 EUR. The fort is open from 8 am to 5 pm every day.

To get to Fort Tolukko from Ternate City, you can take a taxi or a local bus. The journey takes approximately 17 minutes.

Fort Tolukko is a place where history and culture come alive. It is a must-visit for anyone interested in learning more about the rich heritage of Ternate and the Maluku Islands.

Dodola Island: A Hidden Gem in North Maluku

Dodola Island, a pristine oasis nestled in the heart of Morotai District, North Maluku Province, offers visitors a unique and unforgettable experience. This enchanting island, comprised of two distinct parts, Dodola Besar and Dodola Kecil, appears to magically transform from a separated duo to a connected entity, linked by a long stretch of white sand, as the tides ebb and flow.

Boasting crystal-clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, and diverse marine life, Dodola Island is a paradise for snorkelers, divers, and fish enthusiasts alike. Rare and colorful clownfish, angelfish, butterflyfish, and lionfish dance among the reefs, while sea turtles and starfishes gracefully glide through the waters.

Visitors can also explore the island’s rich history and culture. Zum-Zum Island, a nearby islet, served as a base for Allied forces during World War II, and remnants of the war, such as bunkers, cannons, and aircraft wrecks, remain visible. The annual Wangongira Festival, held every June, celebrates the harvest season with unique rituals, dances, music, and cuisine.

Activities on Dodola Island

  1. Dodola Island offers a variety of activities to suit all interests. Whether you’re seeking a relaxing day on the beach, an adventurous snorkeling or diving excursion, or a glimpse into the island’s rich history and culture, Dodola Island has something to offer everyone.
  2. Beaches: Dodola Island’s two pristine beaches, with their soft, white sand and crystal-clear waters, are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking.
  3. Snorkeling and diving: Dodola Island’s coral reefs and diverse marine life offer snorkelers and divers an unforgettable experience. Visitors can rent snorkeling or diving equipment from the locals or bring their own.
  4. Fishing: Dodola Island is a popular fishing destination, with a variety of fish species to challenge anglers of all skill levels. Visitors can hire a local fishing guide or fish independently from the shore or a boat.
  5. Boating: Visitors can rent a boat or banana boat from the locals and have a fun ride on the water.

Historical and cultural attractions: Visitors can explore Dodola Island’s rich history and culture by visiting Zum-Zum Island and attending the annual Wangongira Festival.

Tips for visiting Dodola Island

  • The best time to visit Dodola Island is during the dry season, from April to October.
  • The island is relatively small, so it’s easy to get around on foot or by bicycle.
  • Be sure to pack sunscreen, insect repellent, and other essentials for a day at the beach.
  • If you’re planning on snorkeling or diving, be sure to bring your own equipment or rent it from the locals.
  • Be respectful of the island’s environment and leave no trace.

Getting to Dodola Island

To reach this hidden gem, travelers must embark on a captivating journey that begins in the bustling city of Ternate.

Steps Duration Price
1. Flight from Ternate to Tobelo About 1 hour Super Air Jet: 6,092,301 IDR (round trip)
BatikAir Indonesia: 6,161,112 IDR (round trip)
2. Ferry or speedboat from Tobelo to Morotai Ferry: 10 hours Ferry: 35,000 IDR per person
Speedboat: 3 hours Speedboat: 50,000 IDR per person
3. Katinting boat or speedboat from Morotai to Dodola Island Katinting boat: 30 minutes to 1 hour Katinting boat: 250,000 – 300,000 IDR (charter)
Speedboat: 1 hour Speedboat: 800,000 IDR per person (day trip)
  1. Take a flight from Ternate to Tobelo, which is the gateway to Morotai Islands by sea. The flight duration is about one hour. You can book your flight online or through a travel agent
  2. Go to Port Tobelo and take a ferry or a speedboat to Port MS Lastori in Daruba town, Morotai. The ferry takes about 10 hours, while the speedboat takes about 3 hours. You can buy your ticket at the port or online
  3. Rent a katinting boat or a speedboat from Port MS Lastori to Dodola Island. The boat ride takes about 30 minutes to one hour, depending on the weather and the boat speed. You can negotiate the price with the boat owner or join a group tour
  • The prices for each option to get to Dodola Island from Ternate city are as follows:
  • Flight from Ternate to Tobelo: The cheapest flight is operated by Super Air Jet, which costs 6,092,301 IDR for a round trip. The fastest flight is operated by BatikAir Indonesia, which costs 6,161,112 IDR for a round trip
  • Ferry or speedboat from Tobelo to Morotai: The ferry costs 35,000 IDR per person and takes about 10 hours. The speedboat costs 50,000 IDR per person and takes about 3 hours
  • Katinting boat or speedboat from Morotai to Dodola Island: The katinting boat costs 250,000 IDR to 300,000 IDR for a charter and takes about 30 minutes. The speedboat costs 800,000 IDR per person for a day trip and takes about one hour

Batu Angus Ternate: A Volcanic Marvel

Nestled on the roadside, about 10 kilometers from Ternate City, lies a geological marvel: Batu Angus Ternate. A pile of lava rocks, remnants of the devastating eruption of Mount Gamalama in 1673, this enigmatic landscape mesmerizes visitors with its stark beauty and rich cultural significance.

A feast for the senses

As you approach Batu Angus Ternate, the jagged lava formations, blackened by volcanic ash, emerge in the distance, creating a striking contrast against the lush green backdrop. Upon closer inspection, you’ll marvel at the intricate textures and unique shapes of the rocks, each one a testament to the power of nature.

From the top of the hill, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, including the majestic peak of Mount Gamalama and the azure waters of Ternate Sea. As the sun dips below the horizon, the lava rocks are bathed in a golden glow, creating a truly magical scene.

Learning about the history and legend of the lava rocks from the local guides or villagers. You can hear some stories about how the lava rocks were formed, why they have a black color, and what is their significance for the local culture. You can also see some relics from the past, such as a cannon and a stone inscription.

A taste of local culture

No visit to Batu Angus Ternate is complete without sampling some of the delicious local snacks and drinks. From grilled corns and fried bananas to coconut water and dabu-dabu sauce, there’s something to tantalize every taste bud. You can also buy souvenirs, such as clove cigarettes, key chains, and t-shirts, to commemorate your visit.

Ternate Sultanete Museum: A Window into the Past

Nestled in the heart of Soa-sio Village, North Ternate, stands the Ternate Sultanete Museum, a treasure trove of relics that narrate the rich history and culture of the Sultanate of Ternate.

This octagonal edifice, built in 1813 by Sultan Muhammad Ali as a royal palace, is a testament to the sultanate’s architectural prowess. The Chinese architect’s ingenious design evokes the image of a majestic lion seated with its front legs facing the sea, with Mount Gamalama as its backdrop.

Within the museum’s walls, visitors embark on a journey through time, exploring the sultanate’s diverse collections of geology, ethnography, archaeology, history, numismatics, philology, technology, art, and ceramics.

Some of the notable items include the sultanate’s crown, throne, weapons, ceremonial tools, and handwritten Quran. These exquisite artifacts offer a glimpse into the sultanate’s opulent lifestyle and its deep-rooted Islamic faith.

The museum’s entrance fee is a nominal 20,000 rupiah per person, equivalent to approximately 1.4 US dollars or 1.2 euros. The museum is open from 8 am to 2 pm every day, except on Mondays and national holidays.

Oranje Fort: A Sentinel of History

Towering over the bustling city of Gorontalo, Oranje Fort stands as a testament to the region’s rich and tumultuous past. Built by the Portuguese in 1630 in Gorontalo Utara District, Gorontalo Province. The fort has a trapezoidal shape with four bastions on each side. Inside the fort, there are several buildings, such as the Governor General’s and Governor’s houses, barracks, and weapons warehouse.

The fort was named Oranye after Snouck Orange who ruled it later. The fort was also used by Dutch, Spanish, British, and Japanese during their occupation periods. The fort is now a cultural heritage site that can be visited by tourists.

Some of the information that you might want to know about Oranye fort are:

The fort was built to protect the trade and political interests of the Portuguese in Gorontalo, which was a strategic region for the spice trade. The Portuguese had a good relationship with the local sultanate of Gorontalo, which granted them permission to build the fort. However, the Portuguese presence also attracted the attention of other European powers, such as the Dutch and the Spanish, who wanted to take over the spice trade.

Inside the fort, visitors can explore a variety of buildings with different styles and purposes, from colonial and traditional to military. A well that provides fresh water for the inhabitants is also located within the fort’s grounds.

Oranje Fort is a cultural heritage site that offers visitors a unique glimpse into Gorontalo’s fascinating past. With its rich history, stunning architecture, and breathtaking views, the fort is a must-visit destination for any traveler seeking an unforgettable experience.

you can get to Oranye fort from Ternate city by following these steps:

  1. Take a flight from Ternate to Gorontalo, which is the nearest city to Oranye fort. The flight duration is about one hour and 15 minutes. You can book your flight online or through a travel agent.
  2. Go to Port Gorontalo and take a ferry or a speedboat to Port Kwandang, which is the closest port to Oranye fort. The ferry takes about four hours, while the speedboat takes about one hour and 30 minutes. You can buy your ticket at the port or online.
  3. Rent a car or a motorcycle from Port Kwandang to Oranye fort. The distance is about 40 km, so the trip takes about one hour. You can negotiate the price with the driver or join a group tour.

Ngade Lake: A Serene Oasis with Stunning Panoramas

Nestled in the heart of Ngade Village, 18 kilometers south of Ternate City, lies a hidden gem: Ngade Lake. This enchanting lagoon, with its crystal-clear waters and breathtaking backdrop of Maitara and Tidore Islands, offers visitors a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Locals cultivate various fish species, such as carps and tilapias, in the lake’s fresh waters, which also serve as a source of irrigation for the surrounding fields. The lake’s serene atmosphere and stunning panoramas make it a popular destination for swimming, snorkeling, boating, fishing, relaxing, and picnicking.

Swimming and snorkeling: Immerse yourself in the crystal-clear waters of Ngade Lake and explore its underwater world. Admire the diverse aquatic life, including unique fish and plant species. Snorkeling equipment can be rented from locals or brought with you.

Boating and fishing: Embark on a boating or fishing adventure on the lake and soak in the enchanting views of the sea and islands. Rent a boat or fishing rod from locals and have a fun-filled day on the water. You can also visit Maitara and Tidore Islands to explore their historical and natural attractions.

Relaxing and picnicking: Find a cozy spot on the lakeside or on a floating eatery to relax and enjoy the scenic beauty. Gazebos and huts offer respite from the sun, while food and drinks can be purchased at nearby stalls. Local delicacies such as grilled fish, fried banana, and dabu-dabu sauce are a must-try.

If you’re seeking a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of Ternate City, Ngade Lake is a hidden gem worth exploring. This enchanting lagoon, nestled just 30 minutes away by car or motorcycle. with only 5,000 rupiah per person for the entrance, offers visitors a chance to immerse themselves in nature’s beauty and serenity.


If you seek a more comfortable stay, consider these options in Gorontalo City, located about 40 kilometers from Oranje Fort:

Gaia Hotel Ternate

Gaia Hotel Ternate offers guests a convenient and comfortable oasis. Located within a mall with a supermarket and within walking distance to a large outdoor market and Fort Oranje, this 3-star hotel provides easy access to all that the city has to offer.

With its 40 modern, cozy, and comfortable rooms, Gaia Hotel Ternate caters to a variety of travelers, from solo explorers to families. All rooms feature a private bathroom with shower and slippers, a flat-screen TV, air conditioning, and a kettle. Some rooms also have a seating area.

Guests can start their day with a delicious Asian breakfast served at the hotel’s cafe and lounge. Throughout the day, the cafe and lounge offers snacks, drinks, and entertainment. For those seeking a taste of local cuisine, the hotel serves a variety of local delicacies, such as grilled fish, fried banana, and dabu-dabu sauce.

Gaia Hotel Ternate also offers a meeting room that can accommodate up to 50 people. The meeting room is equipped with a projector, a screen, a sound system, and a whiteboard. The hotel also provides catering service for meeting participants.

Hotel Grand Q Gorontalo

Hotel Grand Q Gorontalo, a three-star hotel in the heart of the city, offers modern rooms with air conditioning, TV, and free Wi-Fi. Booking.com users rate it 7.9 out of 10, with one top comment praising the friendly and helpful staff, clean and comfortable rooms, and delicious and varied breakfast.

Hotel Wisata

Hotel Wisata, a two-star hotel near the main street, offers simple rooms with fan, TV, and private bathroom. Tripadvisor users rate it 6 out of 10, with one top comment commending the cheap and decent price, convenient location, and nice and helpful staff.

Hotel Yulia

Hotel Yulia, a one-star hotel in a quiet area, offers basic rooms with fan, TV, and shared bathroom. Tripadvisor users rate it 5 out of 10, with one top comment noting that the hotel is old and rundown but cheap, clean, and has friendly and accommodating staff. The location is far from the city center but peaceful and relaxing.

Muara Hotel Ternate

This 3-star hotel is conveniently located in a mall with a supermarket, within walking distance to a large outdoor market and Fort Oranje.

Aini Homestay Ternate

This homestay is located in the best residential area of Ternate and offers a fully furnished room with a private bathroom and a shared mountain view terrace.

Sulamadaha Beach Vacation Rentals & Homes

This website offers a variety of vacation rentals in Sulamadaha Beach, from rooms to houses. You can rent directly from local hosts and enjoy the amenities and the stunning views of the sea and the mountains.

Villa Ma’rasai

This stunning villa is located in the upscale residential area of Ternate, providing guests with a tranquil and luxurious retreat. Each villa features fully furnished rooms with private bathrooms and shared mountain view terraces, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

Which hotel best suits your needs and budget?


A mesmerizing metropolis, Ternate enchants visitors with its captivating blend of history, culture, and natural wonders. Immerse yourself in its vibrant tapestry of experiences, from exploring iconic landmarks like Fort Oranje to steeping yourself in traditional markets and festivals. Discover solace in pristine beaches and towering mountains, where adventure beckons at every turn. Ternate’s alluring charm captivates travelers of all interests, whether seeking historical enlightenment, cultural immersion, or simply a unique getaway.

Have a great trip folks!

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