Halmahera, Sofifi



For most travellers this market village is just a connection point on the Tobelo–Ternate journey. However, Sofifi is now officially the capital of North Maluku (Malut) province. Numerous government departments have relocated to Sofifi – a rather grand and hilly perch over the pristine mangroves (no plastic in sight) and placid bay, with Ternate views. The new governor’s office is, well, unmissable. There’s a Bank Mandiri ATM here.

North Maluku’s main visitor centre for the remote Aketajawe and Lolobata National Parks had recently opened when researching this book. Don’t expect miracles, there’s very little in the way of information – just some Indonesian language brochures and one basic English speaker on staff when we visited. However, some of the park staff are English-speaking. If you’re an ornithologist seeking the exceedingly rare burung bidadari (Wallace’s standard-wing bird of paradise), you should ask the park staff for a lift to the park, and a letter granting entrance to the conservation area. The North Maluku Tourist Office is located on the 4th floor of the Kantor Bupati Halmahera, but staff often leave criminally early. Thankfully, the Kantor Pariwisata Halmahera Utara (North Halmahera Tourist Office), on the 2nd floor, is fabulous, with drums and handicrafts on display. Here you can expect warm, engaging English-speaking staff who can arrange guides for overland tours to deserted white-sand beaches and spectacular waterfalls (per person 300,000Rp to 350,000Rp), as well as plenty of literature highlighting the best of Halmahera.

There are two hotels in Sofifi, though unless you are organising a tour deep into the interior, there’s no reason to sleep here. Simpang Raya is the only legitimate restaurant in Sofifi – a clean and decent pick-and-mix warung, with Padang food. It’s across the road from the sea.

Sofifi–Bastiong speedboats (40 minutes) cost 50,000Rp for fast-filling 12-seaters, and 30,000Rp for bigger versions that might take an hour to fill up. Kijangs bound for Tobelo (100,000Rp, 3½ hours) and Weda (150,000Rp) wait by the dock till early afternoon.


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