A Brilliantly Blue Volcanic Lake, Tolire Lake

A brilliantly blue volcanic lake, Tolire Lake is set in a crater at the foot of Mount Gamalama, on the island of TernateNorth Maluku Province. The Lake is comprised of two lakes, roughly 200 meters apart: Tolire Lamo, The Greater Tolire Lake, and Tolire Ici, the Small Tolire. The Great Lake is almost perfectly round, somewhat resembling a giant pan. Its mystical waters change colors with the seasons, from a bright blue during the summer, to a dark green or brown throughout the rainy season. 50 meters below the lip of the crater where in it lies, Tolire Lake spans about 5 hectares, yet its depth remains unknown. Some believe that it leads directly to the Ternate Sea.

As with many a volcanic lake, Tolire is surrounded by many legends. One such legend tells of a man who impregnated his own daughter. In their fury for such a deed, the gods cursed them, transforming the father into the Great Tolire Lake, and his daughter into the lesser one.

Tolire Lake, Ternate
Tolire Lake, Ternate (Source : infobudayaindonesia.com)

Local folklore tells that the bottom of the lake is covered in treasure belonging to the bygone Ternate Kingdom, which was thrown into this lake to prevent it from falling into the hands of the then invading Portuguese.

Others believe that the lake is inhabited and guarded by invisible crocodiles, measuring a dozen meters in length, as well as an even larger, white crocodile, which only occasionally makes an appearance. According to local belief, you can try to throw a stone into the lake, but no matter how hard your try: it will never touch the surface of the water.


Gohu Ternate is made of raw fish, and is said to be the sashimi of Ternate. Gohu is made from tuna fish when in season, and when it is not, it is substituted with cakalang, or tuna, fish. This dish usually costs about 30,000 rupiah.

Gatang Kanari is one of the most sought after dishes of Ternate, and is only available in a few specialized restaurants. Gatang Kanari is made from an especially large crab, found only in Maluku, and is flavored with chopped walnuts, one of Maluku’s chief resources. This dish is quite expensive and can cost from 350,000 to over 1,000,000 rupiah.

Amara Bela International Hotel is situated on a hill overlooking Ternate City and Harbor, and is the only starred hotel on the island. Facilities include a swimming pool, fitness center, restaurants, ballroom and wedding chapel. Address: Jl Jati Raya No. 500, Ternate.

Bukit Pelangi Hotel has rooms in both an older building and newer building on one property. In the newer building you’ll find fresh tiles, wooden furnishings, TVs and new air-con units. Those facing the seaside open onto a common terrace with gorgeous harbor and Tidore views. Facilities include air-conditioning and WiFi service. Address: Jl Jati Selatan 338, Bastiong, Ternate Selatan.

Wisma Mega Ternate offers creamy-coloured, air-con rooms with good beds and satellite TV in a sub-urban house with a lovely view. Address: Jl Raya Bastiong, Dusun Bastiong, Kota Ternate.

The lakes are freshwater, and home to many species of birds and fish. Due to the belief in invisible crocodile inhabitants, however, it is used for neither hunting nor fishing. Nevertheless, a relaxing stroll from atop the crater to enjoy the beautiful panoramic view is a lovely way to spend your time in Tolire.

The Tolire Lake, Ternate
The Tolire Lake, Ternate (Source : bali-travelnews.com)

Stones are sold around the area, at about 5 stones for 1,000 rupiah. That way, visitors to the area can try their luck at throwing stones into the river and see if any can reach the surface before being devoured by the lake’s invisible guardians.


The Babullah Airport on Ternate has available flights from JakartaManado and Makassar. From Ternate, simply rent a car or motorcycle, or venture out with public transport, as Tolire Lake is just 10 km from the city.

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