The town of Manokwari is located right on the top of the Bird’s Head Peninsula in Papua, otherwise known as West New Guinea or West Irian. During World War II, Manokwari was the stronghold of the Japanese army against the Allied Forces and the US under the command of General Mac Arthur, who was headquartered at Hollandia — today called Jayapura — on the north coast of Papua. But by 1944, Manokwari and the entire north coast yielded to the Allied Forces.
Manokwari stretches around Doreri Bay, and is attractively set among low hills dominated by the Arfak mountains to the south. Manokwari is the town from where Christianity spread in Papua, started by two German missionaries C.W Ottow and G.G. Geissler who landed here on 5 February 1855.
The remains of these pioneer missionaries now lie at the Koawi Church under a monument just outside of town on the way towards Pasir Putih. Further down at Pasir Putih or the White Sand Beach, there is a shallow coral bank where one can go snorkeling and see a variety of reef fishes.
There are a number of hotels in the town of Manokwari including the Mutiara Hotel and the 3-star Swiss-Belhotel.
A hike up the hill is the Japanese War Memorial by the Gunung Meja forest Park commemorating the first landing of the Japanese 221 and 222 divisions. From here there is a panaromic view on the town, the Doreri Bay and the Arfak mountains.
Facing Manokwari are Leman Island and Mansenam Island. A longboat from the harbor takes you to Mansenam island where there is a large white cross commemorating the pioneering work of the two German missionaries who first landed here and set up the first mission outpost in Irian. Nearby is an old church and a well. Further inland there is a cave full of flying foxes.
On the west side of the island one can see a large Japanese ship sunk during World War II, lying on its side in clear water. The craft is now home to fish and coral formations.
Manokwari is ideal for trekking to the Arfak mountains, see the bower bird, traditional houses built on hundred stilts, and the Magase traditional dance. Butterfly lovers will find unique butterfly species here. Ransiki is a transmigration town. A beautiful panaroma awaits trekkers between Manokwari and Ransiki. Further up the Arfak mountains are the Giji and the Gita lakes, where live the Hatam and Manikom communities with their own unique traditions.