Everything you Need to Know about Manokwari

Manokwari is located on the top of the Bird's Head Peninsula in Papua Province (Papua Barat), also known as the West Irian or West New Guinea. The city, which is situated in Cenderawasih Bay close to the north-eastern corner of Vogelkop, extends around Doreri Bay; it is placed among low hills with the Afrak Mountains to the south. Manokwari is the largest city in West Papua, and has been its capital since 2003.

Manokwari is of religious and historical significance. C.W. Ottow and G.G. Geisler, two German missionaries, arrived in the city in1855 and subsequently the town became the place from which Christianity spread in Papua. The remains of the two missionaries lie at Koawi Church, under a monument found outside of the city on the way to Pasir Putih. Manokwari is currently one of the seats of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manokwari-Sarong. Meanwhile, the city was also a fortress of Japanese troops during WWII. However, the city and the rest of the north coast surrendered to the Allied Forces in 1944.

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Manokwari Attractions

Those who love natural parks, beaches and history will appreciate the attractions that Manokwari has to offer.

One of them is the scenic Taman Gunung Meja, or the Table Mountain Park. This attraction is actually a protected forest which is home to many butterflies and birds, making it ideal for bird watching. The park is also great for hiking, thanks to the well-marked trails. However, the start of the trail is not marked; it is recommended for tourists to take a public taksi heading to Amban and asking the driver to drop them off at the right place. Before the trail ends, trekkers will see the Tugu Jepang (or Japanese Monument), which affords stunning views.

Pantai Pasir Putih is a popular beach in Manokwari, a crescent-shaped beach of white sand and clear waters. Found about five km south-east of the centre, it is a quiet haven six days a week, but the beach becomes packed on Sundays. Another notable beach is the Pantai Amban, an attraction with black sand found seven km north of the city.

Meanwhile, history-loving travellers can head off to Doreri Bay, where wrecks of World War II planes and ships can still be found.

Manokwari Restaurants & Dining

Hawai Billy Bakery & Coffee Shop serves espresso, as well as a variety of house-baked cakes and pastries; chocolate muffins are one of the place's specialities. Surprisingly, this bakery and coffee shop also offers pizza and Indonesia soups. It is open until 01:00.

The other Billy in Manokwari is Billy Café. While its menu features Western favourites like hamburgers, the Indonesian and Chinese food selections are more recommended. This is not only because of the taste, but also because of the generous servings. Diners can take advantage of the air-conditioned main dining room as well as the live music offered in the evenings. Another nice dining spot is Abressio Café. The sizeable restaurant has a menu that boasts many well-made dishes. One of the place's must-try items is the ikan rica-rica, which is fish in spicy sauce. The dish is prepared with lime, shallots and ginger.

Manokwari Nightlife

When it comes to nightlife in Manokwari, the city's premier hotels are the visitor's best bet. A good suggestion would be the Swiss-Belhotel Manokwari in the city centre and only a 10-minute drive from Rendani Airport. This is the first International Hotel in the city, and it features a trendy and sophisticated bar/lounge and restaurant. Breeze Lounge & Bar allows guests to enjoy the best cocktails in town in a bar that overlooks the swimming pool. Those who want dishes to complement their drinks can choose from the wide selection of international and Asian fare served by the lounge and bar. Meanwhile, those who prefer to spend the night dining with friends can come to Swiss Café, which specializes in buffet dining. The Swiss-Belhotel Manokwari also has eight comfortable rooms of Anggi Karaoke where guests can cap the night off belting out a couple of songs.

The Swiss-Belhotel Manokwari is just an example. Tourists should check out what other hotels have to offer in terms of night-time activities.

Manokwari Shopping

The shopping scene in Manokwari is mostly characterized by souvenir shops. While there are malls and other commercial areas which can be visited while in the city (such as the Manokwari Shopping Centre, which is 20 minutes away from the Aston Niu Manokwari Hotel and Conference Centre), tourists will have a better shopping experience in Manokwari if they seek out the souvenir shops instead.

There are souvenir shops in Manokwari managed by individuals who get their merchandise from towns both inside and outside of the Papua province. Then, there are those shops which are run by the very people who make the souvenirs. Tourists are recommended to buy directly from the artisans and craftsmen.

Those who want paintings as souvenirs should visit Xavier Bookstore and/or Mr. Lucky Kaikatui, both of which can be found in Brawijaya Street. Those who prefer hand-woven cloth and handicrafts can visit Mrs. Marice Fatie Fonataba in the aforementioned street. Meanwhile, those who like wooden carvings can find Mr. Awom in Merdeka Street (beside Suri Bakery Shop) and/or Mr. Nico Asaribab in Anggrem.

Manokwari Activities

With so many things to do in Manokwari, a tourist would have a hard time being bored during his or her stay. The two main activities in this destination are trekking and bird watching. These activities can be done in the Table Mountain Park (Taman Gunung Meja) alone. This protected area has a trail perfect for trekkers, as well as plenty of birds for those who love animals. In addition, people can also go mountain biking in the area, as the rest of the natural reserve is best explored by bike. There are mountain bike tours in Table Mountain Park that tourists can sign up for if they are interested.

Diving is also an activity tourists should try in Manokwari. Doreri Bay is home to World War II wreckage as well as impressive coral and marine life, which is best appreciated through diving. Since Manokwari has beautiful beaches, swimming and snorkelling are also ideal activities.

Manokwari Information

Manokwari can be reached by both plane and ferry. The likes of Merpati and Batavia Air have flights to places such as Jakarta, Jayapura and Makassar several times a week. Expressair also has flights that allow tourists to get to and away from the city. Those who wish to travel by ferry can take advantage of the sailings of Pelni every two weeks to Jayapura and Sorong. The Teluk Cenderawasih II (of ASDP Indonesia Ferry) also travels to Biak through Pulau Numfor every Thursday at 18:00. When it comes to getting around Manokwari, the taksi or ojek (motorcycle taxi) are the main means of transportation.

Manokwari residents are used to a lot of rain. Almost every month, this Indonesian city experiences 18-19 days of rain. The wettest month in Manokwari is April, while its driest month is October. The best months to visit the city are March, June and December.

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