Maluku Travel Information - Tidore

Tidore: Ternate's Ancient Rival Sultanate

The beautiful island of Tidore is just a few minutes across the sea from Ternate by speedboat. Like Ternate, it is also an ancient spice-trading sultanate dominated by a towering volcano, Gunung Kiematubu. Its attractions are also similar: historic forts, beaches, and good hiking possibilities.

But unlike Ternate, which has retained its commercial and political importance as the main administrative and trading centre of North Maluku, Tidore has slipped into relative obscurity. For visitors, this is a blessing in disguise though: it means that while facilities are more limited, the traditional architecture, customs and historical sights have been spared from modern influences and over-restoration. Even the capital Soasio has the feeling of a sleepy village, and like most villages themselves, it has neat streets full of flowers and white-washed houses.

Although it is easily visited as a day-trip from Ternate, Tidore rewards those prepared to spend a longer time exploring its attractions and soaking up its historic atmosphere thoroughly.

Attractions Off the Track Activities Shopping Local Culture Getting There Accommodation Food

Main Attractions

Tourist Office

Tidore's small but well-staffed tourist office is on the main road through Soasio. It has little in the way of brochures, especially English-language ones, but has lots of friendly staff who hold the keys to the local museum, so is worth calling at.

Tohula Fort

This 17th century Spanish fort is standing on a hill overlooking Soasio from the south.
The fact that it has not been restored makes it all the more appealing and atmospheric.
However a flight of stairs leading up to it and a concrete path around most of the structures have now been constructed to make access easier.

The New Palace

While the original palace of the Tidore Sultanate has long since disappeared, recent rivalry with Ternate has prompted the construction of a new one in the original location.
It looks like a copycat version of the Ternatese palace, except that it sports a blue roof.
The Museum

This small museum which holds the relics of the Tidorese sultanate.
Currently, it is located inside the palace, and can only be viewed if you get someone from the tourist office to open it up for you. Inside you find models of traditional Tidorese architecture, various tools, crafts and some royal regalia, though the prize exhibit, the royal crown, is now kept locked away and can only be seen with the Sultan's special permission.
The Sultan's Port

The palace is fronted by the (supposedly original) jetty used by the sultanate.
These days it is very quiet, with only some local boys fishing off it.

The Royal Mosque

The heavily-restored Royal Mosque also stands nearby.

The Royal Tombs

Just to the north of the palace grounds are the tombs of the Tidorese royal family.
They are certainly worth a quick look - at least they are original! ;-)

Tore Fort

The decidedly crumbling, 100% unrestored ruins (rare in Maluku!) of this small Spanish fort can be reached by scrambling uphill through the weeds beyond the royal tombs. Unless the way's been cleared by the time you get there, you will probably need someone to show you where to find it!

Hot Springs Beach

If you take the quieter northeastern road from Soasio back to Rum, you can stop at Pantai Akesahu, the island's most popular beach. The beach itself is quite ordinary, though when quiet (during the week), its shelters offer a good place to sit around enjoying the breeze and gaze across to Halmahera. Another attraction here is the hot spring, more suitable for bathing than most in Maluku.

Magellan Monument

Hidden at the foot of the cliffs at the southern edge of Rum, this monument commemorates the arrival of Magellan's voyage to Tidore. Not much to look at as such, but a rare reminder of the important role these tiny islands once played in the World's history!

Pulau Maitara

When viewed from Ternate, the small, bushy volcanic cone of Maitara rises out of the sea just in front of Tidore. The island has some of the most accessible white sand beaches and snorkelling spots (often LOTS of inquisitive reef sharks!) around Ternate and Tidore, and makes for a great outing. Although it belongs to Tidore and is closest to the Tidorese port of Rum, Maitara is just as easily accessible by public boats from Bastiong harbour on Ternate.
Off the Beaten Track

Telaga is Tidore's remotest and most inaccessible village.
It is located in an ancient crater in the bulbous south of the island, along with a swampy lake after which it is named.
It has all the atmosphere of a remote interior village in deepest-darkest Halmahera or Seram.
Reaching it has traditionally involved a steep hike up then down into the crater, affording some great views along the way. This hike is one of the finest to be done on either Tidore or Ternate! Unfortunately in 2010 roadworkers were doing their best to connect Telaga to the coast, so the village's isolation may be over by the time you get there.
Climbing Kiematubu

Climbing the gorgeously symmetrical cone of Tidire's towering Gunung Kiematubu is one of the highlights of a visit to this island.
The climb is in somewhat shorter than that up Gamalama in neighbouring Ternate, as the village of Gurabunga where you start is already quite high up.
You can get to Gurabunga by road, and once there, you should reprt to the local "Pak Lurah".
Unless you are quite confident about your route-finding abilities, you should also consider hiring a guide - this trail is less clear than the one up Gamalama, and it's easy to get lost.
The hike starts through Gurabunga's gardens, with several trails branching off the main one.
If you keep to the right track, you'll eventually enter the forest, where you come to this small hut. At this point you've missed the turn-off to the peak: walk back ca. 50 metres and look for the less distinct trail branching off to your right, heading down initially!
Views Back Down

The trail will snake through forest for maybe 2 hours. Unlike most volcano trails, this one doesn't keep going straight up, so you must be careful not to miss it!
Eventually you will reach the tree-line, and come to the ricky-grassy slopes of the peak area, hopefully in clear enough weather to reward you with some gorgeous views back down to Gurabunga and Soasio.
The Crater

A shortish scramble further up you reach the crater rim.
It's quite overgrown with high grass, but at several points you can have a glimpse inside.
As Kiematubu is an extinct volcano, its crater is now overgrown with impressive tree-ferns and other tropical vegetation.
The Very Top

The highest point of the crater rim is marked by this graffiti-rich concrete post.

Like many other volcanoes in Indonesia, Kiematubu is also considered a sacred place by the locals. They often come to meditate up there, and you will see offerings placed next to the post marking the peak.
Island Views

From the very top, you should have some great views of Maitara and Ternate to the north, or Mare, Moti and Makian to the south.
Clouds allowing, that is...
Camping Out

Should you want to be sure of catching great views, you could camp up at the peak like these climbers from Ternate did.

On market days, you can find some traditional Tidorese crafts at Soasio's market.
These include those tubular rattan back-baskets, and of course the more portable and cheaper pottery from Pulau Mare.
All of these are sold for local use, not as souvenirs!
Local Culture
Clove Harvest

If you go hiking around the mountains of Tidore (or Ternate) during the northern summer months, you should be able to observe the harvesting of those cloves that once made this tiny isaand rich and famous.
You will see the locals high up in the clove trees, cheerfully calling down to you and maybe posing for a photo.
Drying Cloves

During the same months you should also see cloves drying on the roads through most villages of Tidore. The scent is something to remember!
A Tidorese Wedding

In 2007 I was lucky enough to attend a Tidorese wedding.
It was a somewhat more sober affair than most Malukan weddings, with no music and dancing, traditional or otherwise, allowed by the strict Muslim society of Tidore!
Nevertheless, the costumes were impressive enough, as was all the food laid out for guests. ;-)
Getting There and Around
By Sea

The only way to reach Tidore is by sea.
Almost all visitors come from Ternate, where there are frequent speedboats from Bastiong harbour to Rum on Tidore - and occasionally even to Soasio around the coast. Speedboats also cross from Soasio to Sofifi on Halmahera.
You can also find the occasional boat to the nearby small islands of Mare and Maitara, or even to Halmahera (especially the southern peninsula)-  you may end up having to charter though.
By Road

Although a road encircles the entire island of Tidore, the stretch along the northern coast is neglected and public transport there is scarce. Bemos run on the road connecting Rum with Soasio via the south coast quite frequently though. Of course you can also hire ojeks for more flexibility and to reach remoter villages.
Limited, but OK selection

There are just three simple losmen in Tidore's capital Soasio and another one in Rum.
They are perfect if you want peace and quiet, but if you want more facilities or action, you had better stay in Ternate.
The nicest one is Penginapan Sejorah, near the Museum and the fort a few kms south of the town centre. The others can be hard to find - ask the tourist office if you fail!
Eating Out

As with accommodation, eating options are limited but adequate on Tidore.
There are several simple warungs near the harbour of Rum, and more in Soasio, especially around the market there.
On market days you have a chance to buy take-aways of authentically traditional Tidorese food at the market.
A Tidorese Feast

If you get invited to a local wedding or other ceremony, you should be able to sample a much greater variety and better quality food than you will find at any of the island's restaurants.
However, don't automatically expect to be able to sample traditional Tidorese dishes! :-(