Tolire Lake, the Beautiful Panoramic Lake Surrounded with Legends


A brilliantly blue volcanic lake, Tolire Lake is set in a crater at the foot of Mt Gamalama, on the island of Ternate, North Maluku Province. The Lake is comprised of two lakes, roughly 200 meters apart: Tolire Lamo, The Greater Tolire Lake, and TolireIci, 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.

About 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. 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.

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. Local folklore tells that the bottom of the lake is covered in treasure belonging to the bygone Ternate Kingdom.

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. Stones are sold around the area, at about 5 stones for Rp 1,000. 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.


Get There

The Babullah Airport on Ternate has available flights from Jakarta, Manado 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.