How We Travelled from Gorontalo to Manado and then to Bunaken Island


We stayed one night in Gorontalo and after snorkelling with whale sharks, we travelled to Manado on the same day.

Manado is on the way to Bunaken Island, which is only about an hour’s boat ride away. We stayed on Bunaken Island in February this year. Top spot!

This article is about the transfer from Gorontalo to Bunaken Island via Manado.

Getting from Gorontalo to Manado

From the car window to Manado

Manado is situated in northern Sulawesi and is the second largest city in this island after Makassar.

We flew to Manado the last time. This time, we travelled across the island of Sulawesi from south to north, and the northern tip of this island is Manado.

It is about 400 km from Gorontalo to Manado. The only transport between here and Manado is by bus or a shared-ride taxi called a kijiang.

We haven’t done much research on buses because kijangs seem to be the best option. According to some older information, it takes 12-13 hours from Gorontalo to Manado by bus, possibly longer.

Kijang fares vary depending on the seats you take. For a seven-seater car, including the driver, the passenger seat costs Rp 350 000, the front seat (row behind the driver and passenger) costs Rp 300 000 and the rearmost row costs Rp 250 000 per person for a three-seater.

Notes on the kijang rates we enquired about

The price for chartering a car to Manado seems to be between Rp 1,500,000 and Rp 1,700,000 per car. We decided to share a chartered car with a British-Finnish couple who had been travelling together for a while.

Charter car from Gorontalo to Manado

The chartered cars to Manado were arranged by the hotel where we were staying. The car cost Rp 1,500,000.

We went to Gorontalo in the morning to see whale sharks and then left for Manado.

The car picked us up at our hotel and we were able to leave just after 11:00 am. We didn’t really leave the city until midday because there was a very long wait to buy petrol.

From Gorontalo, we headed east and drove along the southern coast of the peninsula, then through the mountain roads to the northern coast and then further east.

Meal break

Lunch break

As this was a chartered vehicle, we could ask the driver to stop whenever we wanted to stop.

We took a little late lunch break around 1.30pm. It was a self-service restaurant, where you served what you wanted to eat on a plate. We went to the nearby Indomaret to use the toilet and then returned to the car.

Arrival in Manado

Chartered car

On the way, we stopped several times for lunch, toilet breaks and refuelling, and arrived in Manado at around 9pm.

We were dropped off at the hotel where we were going to stay and paid the charter fee. We stayed overnight in Manado that day and took a boat to Bunaken Island the next day.

From Manado to Bunaken Island

Chartered boat

How to get to Bunaken Island from Manado is described in our another post.

How to get to Bunaken Island from Manado: Public Boat and Charter Boat
We travelled by boat from Manado, Sulawesi to Bunaken Island on two different occasions. Once in Feb 2023 and once in Ma...

We have been with an English and Finnish couple since Unauna Island and the four of us decided to charter a boat to go to Bunaken.

In fact, when we arrived at the boat pier, there was a larger boat to share with others for 100,000 rupiah each, but we missed it unfortunately.

We negotiated with another boat and ended up chartering the boat in the image above for Rp 500,000.

Arrival at Bunaken Island

Liang Beach, Bunaken Island

The direct distance from Manado to Bunaken Island is about 14 km. Compared to the previous trip, the boat was slower this time and it took almost one and a half hours from Manado to Bunaken.

We disembarked the boat in front of Panorama Backpackers on Liang Beach, Bunaken Island. Disembarking at the beach meant a short walk in shallow water. It’s better to wear footwear that you don’t mind getting wet!