Several times larger than Bali, Halmahera only briefly had a starring role on the world stage, as a base for the Japanese and then the Americans in WWII. It’s a gloriously off-the-beaten track location to end them all – there are almost no resorts or places to stay and the half a million inhabitants are strung out throughout the sparsely populated island. The most incredible unblemished coral lies just off shore and around much of the island where you’ll also find glorious diving spots. Inland birds of paradise and other avian life repay the efforts of birdwatching enthusiasts as well as the more casual bird spotters.
Villages are strung large around the coasts and the island has both Christian and Islamic communities, as well as internal migrants from Java. Occupations are largely fishing and mining. In the north, indigenous people go about their traditional lives in the forest. The subsistence fishing villages of the coast are generally colourful and the colourful wooden houses characteristic of the Maluku islands are still very much in evidence.
Halmahera is as off the beaten track as it is possible to get, but the persistence pays off for the curious and adventurous travellers.