The City Of Gorontalo

Gorontalo expresses itself as a “Culture City”, as seen from the variety of traditional dances, music, and legends that it has. From colonial heritage buildings and fortresses to beach resorts with modern facilities, Gorontalo city is a veritable treasure chest of sights and experiences to be had.

The city of Gorontalo, capital of the province of Gorontalo, is nestled in the calm waters of the northern shoreline of the Tomini Bay, on the southern fringe of Sulawesi’s protective northern arm. Here the weather is balmy and equatorial, the landscape punctuated by chains of mountains.

Being the main gateway to the diving mecca of the Togean Islands and only a 1 hour flight from Manado, Gorontalo is easily reached and often passed through. However, stop to have a look around and you may be surprised by what Gorontalo has to offer, along with its unique diving environment.

The city of Gorontalo
The city of Gorontalo (Source :

Life here is quiet and simple, like a clean and friendly, rural country town. Tourists are virtually unknown within the town, so you can experience the cultural, daily workings of a Sulawesi town.

There are many small islands around the north and the south of the province, 67 of which have been identified and named. In 1525, with Portuguese assistance, three small rock fortresses were built overlooking the waters of Lake Limboto. Still in place today, the Fort Otanaha complex has commanding views.

The people of Gorontalo achieved independence from Dutch rule in 1942. The fight was against colonialism was led by guerrilla, freedom fighter and nationall hero Nani Wartabone, who forced out the occupying Japanese during World War II. Since the city escaped Allied bombings during the war, a number of Dutch-colonial era buildings are still intact. Although many are in poor condition, Gorontalo City still has that distinctive colonial appearance.

The tower of Pride, Gorontalo city
The tower of Pride, Gorontalo city (Source :

After Indonesia proclaimed its independence in 1945, Gorontalo became part of the province of North Sulawesi, but in the year 2000 Gorontalo a separate province.

The province is divided into five districts and one city. These are Boalemo, Bone Bolango, Gorontalo, Pohuwato, and North Gorontalo, and Gorontalo City, which is also the province’s capital city.


Listed are several popular accommodation options.

  • Hotel Melati, Visitors will find the Hotel Melati comfortable enough and with more English spoken than in most other hotels in Gorontalo. Address: Jl. Gajah Mada No. 33.
  • Hotel Yulia, Newly renovated Hotel Yulia has air-conditioning, cable TV and hot water. Rates are a good value. Address:  Jl. Ahmad Yani No. 26.
  • Quality Hotel Gorontalo, Next door is a much more luxurious option, Quality Hotel Gorontalo, where some staff speak English. It is located  just 45 minutes from the Jallaludin Airport and within walking distance to all city’s shops, malls, restaurant, night life district, public facilities, banking center and government center. There is also a great view of Gorontalo from this hotel. Address: Jl. A. Yani No. 25.
  • The Oasis Hotel, Although nestled in the heart of Gorontalo City, Gorontalo Oasis Hotel is a world away. At its center is a grove of giant sago palms surrounding a pool of natural spring water. Light breezes from the mountains rustle the bamboo. Fragrant flowers perfume the night air. Rooms come with a single queen or two twin beds, air conditioning, hot water shower, international cable television, mini bar, and underwater photo print. The fastest Internet connection in Gorontalo is available throughout the Oasis. Miguel’s Diving also has its office here. Address: Jl. Agus Salim No 29.

Gorontalo is a variety-filled city, from fortresses to beaches, there will never be a dull moment here. Listed below are several spots of interest for tourists to this city.

Sumalata Waters Nature Reserve for Turtles

The islands of Pepaya, Mas and Raja are located in the Sumalata Waters in North Gorontalo and have been named a nature reserve since Dutch colonial time in 1936. There are only 7 turtles species in the world and 4 of them are found among these islands as the world’s best turtle habitat. These are Penyu Hijau (Chelonia midas), Penyu Sisik (Eretmochelys imbricata), Penyu Tempayan (Caretta caretta) and Penyu Belimbing (Dermochelys coriacea). Unfortunately, since 2011 the habitat has been threatened by human activities such as illegal poaching and fish bombings, reducing the food source for the turtles.

Pentadio Resort

Located on the edge of the lovely Limboto Lake, this is a cozy and well facilitated resort. Having many of the modern comforts such as hot and cold pools, steam baths, and water cycling to name a few, there are also hot springs located nearby.

Keagungan Tower

This tower was built in 2001, it is located at Limboto, in the capital of Gorontalo. Called the Keagungan Tower or The Great Tower, it is one of the prides of Gorontalo people. You can meet friendly local people here and enjoy the perfect blend of the unique experience and relaxation. The Keagungan Tower has 5 (five) floors. You can reach the top by lift to enjoy the Limboto Lake scenery, as well as views of Gorontalo. A modern and comfortable auditorium is available on the first floor, for meetings and show purpose.

Olele Beach

This beach is the gateway to an underwater paradise. The amazing beauty of the marine life in this area has been recognized by many divers in the world, proven by their returning visits.

Otanaha Fortress

In the past, the Sultans of Gorontalo used the Otanaha fortress for protection and defense. One of the factors that makes this castle unique is shown in the material that was used in its construction, which was a mixture of sand, plaster and the white of the Maleo (Macrocephalon maleo) bird eggs. The panorama of Danau Limboto can also be seen clearly from the Otanaha fort, because it stands on top of the high hill. The fort is located in Dembe I, Kota Barat, Otanaha is approximately 8 km to the west of the center of Gorontalo city. Beside Otanaha, there are two other forts also located in the same area, they are the Otahiya and  the Ulupahu. Visitors must climb a flight of 345 steps to reach the three fortresses because of their high location.

Nani Wartabone monument

This is a historical monument of the national Gorontalo hero, named Nani Wartabone. He played an important role in obtaining the independence of Gorontalo. This monument is located in the center of Taruna Remaja Gorontalo Park.

Lake Limboto

A village named Iluta, which is 10 km from the town center, marks the entrance to this Lake. The unique characteristic of Lake Limboto lies in the variety of freshwater fish species, many of which can be seen only in this lake. At this lake there was a landing field for the airplane name Catalina, which carried The First President of The Republic of Indonesia, Bung Karno.

Deep-sea Diving

Scuba diving has also been available for several years in Gorontalo with the prime dive season being between November to April. Miguel’s Diving has its office at the new Gorontalo Oasis Hotel. With its new custom-built speedboats, seven dive sites are within only a ten-minute boat ride from town. With over 20 dive sites from which to choose, certified divers can enjoy dramatic coral walls, multiple pinnacles, caverns, shallow coral gardens and two wrecks to explore. One important feature of diving in this area is the continental wall of Sulawesi, which comes within a few meters of the coastline, bringing deep blue water right to shore. Having some of the most dense and diverse hard coral growth in the Indo-Pacific region, Gorontalo also has a growing list of new, undescribed or endemic species. The huge, surreal Salvador Dali sponge can only be found in Gorontalo. The provincial government has just published a top quality book of underwater photos taken there by three of Asia’s best marine photojournalists. Information on the book, Gorontalo: Hidden Paradise, is available through the Miguel’s Diving web site.


Visitors to Gorontalo no longer need to travel overland. Regular flights now connect Gorontalo with the outside world. Daily flights are available from Jakarta via Makassar to Gorontalo with Lion Air and Sriwijaya Airlines. Recently Garuda Indonesia has also opened daily flights to Gorontalo from Jakarta, Denpasar (Bali)Surabaya and Makassar. Jallaludin Airport is the primary airport of Gorontalo City and is located about 20 minutes from downtown Gorontalo.

From Manado, Wings Air now has daily flights to Gorontalo, leaving every evening. Tickets can be bought online at this website:

If you prefer to travel overland, that option is also available and private transport can be arranged in Manado with a driving time of about 9 hours by private transport. Alternatively, you could go by bus, and there are several bus lines available. The bus trip from Manado to Gorontalo takes about 10 hours. Fajar Indah is a recommended company. Roads are mostly in good condition, with a few small dirt and rock sections under repair.

By sea there are passenger ships such as the KM. Tilongkabila and a ferry ship directly from the Gorontalo port.

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