The island of Halmahera is the largest island in the province of North Maluku, Indonesia. It is one of the most popular tourism destinations in Indonesia as the island has complex features of attraction. The area holds a brief history of Dutch colonialism, Japanese colonialism, World War II, and Portuguese Christian missionaries.

Above all of that, the island is also rich in nature’s beauty. From the active volcano, peaceful lakes, and astonishing marine life, it wouldn’t be boring to explore the island of Halmahera. Besides that, this island also has unique culture for tourists to enjoy.

Island of Halmahera (Source: Flickr. Credit: eustaquio)
Island of Halmahera
(Source: Flickr. Credit: eustaquio)

Getting There

Halmahera Island has a small airport called Galela Airport, but the flights are limited. It serves only short-route flights. Direct flights are available from Manado and Makassar. The easier way to reach the island is by getting a transit flight via Makassar – Ternate on Babullah Airport. This kind of transit flight is available from Jakarta City and Surabaya.

You can also reach Halmahera Island via water by using cruise liners with the route of Ternate. This cruise includes the route through Semarang, Surabaya, Makassar, and Bitung. Cruise liners are also available from Jakarta and Manado.


Going Around

There are several choices of in-land transportation on Halmahera Island so you wouldn’t get many difficulties in going on from one place to another. The most common in-land transportations are becak (pedicab), bemo (motorized rickshaw), mikrolet (public minibus), bentor (motorbike driven vehicle), ojek (motor taxi).


Staying There

There are a lot of good hotels available at several cities around the island. The rates and facilities are ranging to accommodate tourists’ needs and budgets. Most hotels are available in the town of Tobelo. Here are some of the hotels in Halmahera:

    • Location : the area of Kupa-kupa Beach, Tobelo
    • Phone : +62 812 4477 6773
    • Rates : From $19
    • Location : Jalan Bhayangkara, Tobelo
    • Phone : +62 924 2621365, +62 924 2621327
    • Rates : From $6
    • Location : Jalan A. R. Nada, Tobelo
    • Phone : +62  924 21398
    • Rates : From $6.5
    • Location : Jalan Pantai Carlen Pitu, Tobelo
    • Phone : +62  924 2621607
    • Rates : From $49
    • Location : Jalan Bhayangkara, Tobelo
    • Phone : +62  2622449
    • Rates : From $13


Remains of World War II

World War II happened around the end of Dutch colonialism, Japanese colonialism, and the struggle to reach Independence of Indonesia. During that war, the island of Halmahera was the location of battle between USA and Japan.

Halmahera, along with several other islands surrounding it, was a strategic location for the war. Thus, those two countries were fighting to take over this land and use it as their base. Massive war happened there between those two countries. This left many remains on land and sea.

By default, Halmahera Island has dynamic form of nature. The beauty of it is applied on the entire island. This beauty didn’t fade away even if a massive war ever happened there. In fact, the remains of wars were united with the exoticism of the scenic nature. This combination offers spectacular tourism experience for anyone who visits the island.

If you dive around Mayu Island, Tobelo Bay, or Bobale Island, you will see several wrecks of vehicles and weapons that were sunk during the war. The wrecks are now covered with corals and became home for several kinds of fishes, which form a scenic panorama underwater. The location is now a popular diving spot favored by both international and local tourists. You could also get this similar experience on Morotai Island.

Ship Wreck under Mayu Island (Source: Flickr. Credit: David Cropp)
Ship Wreck under Mayu Island
(Source: Flickr. Credit: David Cropp)

Other site underwater where there are many war remains is around Daruba Island. On the island, you could see the remains of seven airfield runways built by American troops. Under the water around the island, there were still high amount of guns, ammunitions, and explosives. Due to its danger, this area is restricted for diving.

The remains of war crafts are also scattered around the village of Kao and Galela where you can find cannons, airstrips, bunkers, and ships. Still at the Galela, there is a tunnel which was built and used as a hiding shelter by Japanese troops while the Americans were attacking them. The tunnel is about 20 meters long and goes through under the main road of the city. Passing the tunnel, you could even hear the sounds of vehicles running at the roads.

On Sosol Beach, you could find an old ship abandoned named Tosimaru. The ship was used by the Japanese during the war. It was bombed by the Allied Force and got badly damaged. Thus, it needed to be abandoned immediately. The wreck of it is still floating above the water after all these years.

The Broken Tosimaru Ship (Source: Credit: Leonardo)
The Broken Tosimaru Ship
(Source: Credit: Leonardo)


Going around the island, you will find many sites with wonderful scenery. If you wish for a simple environment where you can just sit back and relax, then you can try visiting several lakes on the island.

The most famous one is Telaga Biru which literally means Blue Lake. Located on Mamuya Village, 15 kilometers north from Tobelo, the lake has crystal clear water. The unique thing about this lake is that every leaves that fall into the lake will naturally be swept away by the water to the side. This way, the lake will constantly look clean.

According to the myth, angels used to came down from heaven to have a bath at this lake. This makes the lake became as beautiful. Not very far from the lake, there is a hot spring called Air Panas Mamuya (Mamuya Hot Spring). Local people like to bath on this lake every once in a while as they believe that the water could magically heals many kinds of disease.

Other lakes around Tobelo are Telaga Lina and Telaga Paca. Telaga Lina is home for primitive community of Halmahera. Meanwhile, Telaga Paca is very beautiful with the scenery of mountain on the background. It is also surrounded with breezy forest and cliff wall. The best thing to do on this lake is to climb up the cliff and enjoy the big picture of the nature from above. Or, you could simply do some fishing and enjoy the nature in quietness and peace.

Peaceful Lake of Telaga Paca (Source: Flickr. Credit: Narcissbandit)
Peaceful Lake of Telaga Paca
(Source: Flickr. Credit: Narcissbandit)

On the town of Gelale, there are three other beautiful lakes; Telaga Duma, Telaga Makete, and Telaga Ngidiho. The most popular one is Telaga Duma. This lake is the widest lake in Halmahera. It also holds a brief history of Christianity in Halmahera. According to people’s story, this is the place in Halmahera where the bible was first introduced.


Besides the historical remains to explore and beautiful lakes to enjoy, Halmahera still has other attractive things to enrich you travelling experience. The island has an active volcano to conquer, several tiny islands surrounding it to visit, unique culture to observe, beaches to play at, and the most important is, stunning marine life to witness. Please continue reading our article to gain more information regarding the tourism of Halmahera.