Halmahera Island

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The remote Halmahera island, also called Gilolo or Jailolo, is the largest island in Maluku (the Moluccas), K-shaped almost like a miniature Sulawesi.  With white sandy beaches, unspoiled forests and the spectacular Mt Mamuya in the distance, this island offers stunning scenery. This is a rugged and mountainous landscape and much of the island is still covered in forest.

While the island covers an enormous area of over 17,000 square kilometers, it is sparsely populated. This island is the core of a larger region, called Moro that includes the island and the coastline of Halmahera, and is closest to Morotai to the north.

During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Halmahera was largely under the dominion of the powerful sultanate of Ternate. In the mid-sixteenth century, the island was the site of a Portuguese Jesuit mission, most noted of whom was St. Francis Xavier (known here as St. Franciscus Xaverius). The Muslim states on Ternate and Halmahera rejected Christianity, and managed to drive the mission away from the island in 1571. However its influence remains evident as today half the population is Muslim and half are Christian.

In the seventeenth century, Ternate further exerted its power over Morotai by repeatedly forcing major parts of the population to migrate from the island.

Halmahera had an important role during World War II. It was here that the Americans started their allied invasions against the occupied Philippines and South Pacific Islands. General McArthur resided on a small island close to Daruba where he planned and coordinated countless air strikes, sea invasions and counter-attacks against the Japanese. The American Daruba Airlfield has seven runways and can still be sighted today. Due to the enormous amount of explosives, ammunition and guns still found in the shallow waters, the island remains out of bounds for divers. Only designated surveyors dive here.


To Eat, To Buy, To Stay, To Do

There are several good and affordable hotels in Gilolo, Tobelo, Galela, Kao, Sidangoli, Buli, Saketa, and Weda. Away from these places, you might need to stay with local people in village. The facilities are very basic, although the hospitality can be very good.

HOTEL PRESIDENJl. Kemakmuran, Phone: +62 924 21312, Tobelo HOTEL REGINAJl. Kemakmuran, Phone: +62 924 21149, Tobelo WISMA PELANGI AGUNGJl. Karianga, Phone: +62 924 21510, Tobelo WISMA MULIA Wosia, Phone: +62 924 21511, Tobelo LOSMEN KITAJl. A. R. Nada, Phone: +62  924 21398, Tobelo PENGINAPAN NUSANTARAJl. Hubota, Tobelo PENGINAPAN MERAKSI FLOWERJl. Bhayangkara, Phone: +62 924 21129, Tobelo PENGINAPAN KARUNIAJl. Kemakmuran, Phone: +62 924 21202, Tobelo PENGINAPAN VILAHERMOSAJl. Parahiangan-Wosia, Phone: +62 924 21312, Fax. +62 924 21203, Tobelo PENGINAPAN ALFA MASJl. Alhaerat, Phone: +62 924 21543, Tobelo PENGINAPAN MEGARIAJl. Bhayangkara, Phone: +62 924 21232, Tobelo PENGINAPAN SENGKANAUNGJl. Puskesmas, Phone: +62 924 21865, Tobelo PENGINAPAN ASEAN JAYAJl. Pelabuhan, Phone: +62 924 21051, Tobelo PENGINAPAN TONDANO INDAHJl. Kemakmuran, Phone: +62 924 21836, Tobelo PENGINAPAN GOLDEN STARLorong Salak-Wosia, Phone: +62 924 21776, Tobelo PENGINAPAN MELATI MASJl. Kemakmuran, Phone: +62 924 21165, Tobelo WISMA SALSABILAJl. H. Simange, Phone: +62 924 22389, Tobelo PENGINAPAN MUSLIMPhone: +62 923 21137, Fax. +62 923 21137 Daruba PENGINAPAN DUA PUTRISoakonora, Phone: +62 923 21137, Galela PENGINAPAN DALOHASoasio, Galela

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  • North Halmahera Tourism Information Center (TIC)

          Jl. Bhayangkara, Tobelo.

  • Diving Center is in Pulau Kakara
  • If you plan to dive, the best time to visit is during the dry season, which is usually from May to October. For surfing, the best time is November and December, when the waves are at their highest points.
  • If you decide to stay in with the locals, be sure to bring in a guide or a friend who speaks in fluent Indonesian as only few people here can speak English well.
  • Bring mosquito repellent.
  • Airlines representatives:

Jl. Kemakmuran, Phone: +62 924 21167, Fax: +62 924 22322, Tobelo

Jl. Kemakmuran, Phone: +62 924 21713, Tobelo

North Halmahera Police Station
Jl. Rumah Sakit Umum, Telp. 0924 21024, Tobelo

Internet Café
Jl. Elim 9 Gura, Tobelo

  • Banks available are:

Jl. Kemakmuran, Phone: +62 924 21008, 21037, Tobelo
Jl. Kemakmuran, Phone: +62 924 21240, Tobelo
Jl. Kemakmuran, Phone: +62 924 21225, Tobelo

Getting There and Around

Get Around

Bemo (a motorized becak / rickshaw), mikrolet (blue minibuses), bentor (motorbike driven vehicle), ojek, and becak are all common land transportation on Halmahera Island.

Get There

There are a number of ways to reach Halmahera Island.

a. Departing from Jakarta;

  • By air : Batavia Air and Merpati Nusantara Airlines serve a direct flight from Jakarta – Makassar (transit city) – Ternate. Halmahera does not have any sizeable airports. Most air traffic comes through the provincial capital airport of Sultan Babullah Airport on Ternate Island. You can take a short hop from here to Galela Airport on Halmahera Island near Tobelo.  
  • By boat: there are cruise liners that visit Halmahera. PELNI serves several alternatives: KM Lambelu, KM Sinabung, KM Dorolanda and KM Ngapulu, cruise to Ternate twice a month. These liners will transit in several towns such as Semarang (Central Java), Surabaya (East Java), Makassar (South Sulawesi) and Bitung (North Sulawesi). Then, you can continue your trip by speedboat to Kota Baru for about 45 minutes, or you can get on a ferry from Bastiong Ferry Harbor, which will take two hours. Both of them will lead you to Sofifi (Halmahera).

b. Departing from Surabaya

  • Merpati Nusantara Airlines or Express Air serves direct flights from Surabaya – Makassar (transit city) – Ternate, which will take about 4 hours. Then, you can take a short hop to Galela Airport on Halmahera Island.
  • As the PELNI liners will transit in several towns, you can get on the liners from Surabaya (East Java) for a four-day cruise, shorter than Jakarta route. Afterwards, you can get on a ferry from Bastiong Ferry Harbor, which will lead you to Sofifi (Halmahera).

c. Departing from Makassar

  • Merpati Nusantara Airlines or Express Air and Trigana Air will lead you to Ternate by its direct flight, which will take only 2 hours. Take a short hop to Galela Airport on Halmahera Island.
  • From Makassar to Ternate, it will take three days by PELNI liners.

d. Departing from Manado

  • Wings Air has direct flights from Manado to Kao twice a week on Monday and Friday. Disembarking in Kao means that you have already arrived in North Halmahera. To reach Kao – Tobelo (the capital city); it takes one hour by car.
  • For cruise liners, KM Elizabeth III departs every Monday. The cruise will take about 15 hours.