From hectic city life, breathtaking mountain landscapes, empty beaches and colourful coral reefs, South Sulawesi is a diverse land that has a lot to offer. Makassar is a busy city and strong trading post that has witnessed the passing of Indian and Chinese merchants, Bugis sailors and bears the signs of its colonial past. Visit Fort Rotterdam, the floating mosque and ancient sultan residence, explore the colourful fish market and indulge in a spot of shopping as Makassar is the place to buy sengkangsilk, Sulawesi gold, Ambon pearls, Toraja artefacts, antiques and Chinese ceramics as well as local spices. Taste the multicultural cuisine in the city before venturing off to explore the rest of the region. Although very crowded on weekends, you can enjoy snorkeling off the Samalona and Kayangan islands’ popular white-sanded beaches and appreciate the sunset before tucking in to a seafood feast. You can join local families visiting Bantimurung, famous for its picture-perfect, lush green landscape, go to Gua Lean Leang, popular caves featuring graffiti dating back more than 10,000 years, or visit the beautiful Air Terjun Takapala waterfalls near Malino, a tourist hill town popular among locals.
At the southern tip of Sulawesi is Cape Bira, a fascinating and relaxing destination not commonly found on the main tourist itineraries, and the heart of Indonesia’s maritime culture. Here you can observe traditional boat-building and admire modern phinisi schooners amongst the remnants of piracy in this small town full of history. Although trash is a problem in some of the creeks, you will mostly find beautiful, empty white-sanded beaches. Go diving and snorkeling just off shore to discover hidden caves and to meet manta rays, hammerhead sharks, white and black tip sharks and mola-mola! Facing Bira are the Selayar Islands, an archipelago of over 20 islands featuring pristine beaches, unspoiled rainforest and the Taka Bone Rate National Park, home to colourful reefs teeming with biodiversity.