Here's a list of some places to check out while you're in Makassar. Click the icon in the top left of the map and select the "Places of interest" layer. Click here to open map in a new window. Click on an image below to enlarge.
Pantai Losari (Losari Beach) Paintai Losari is the beating heart of Makassar. This is where Makassans come to hang out, particularly around sunset, which is brief and spectacular. In the evenings you can stroll the promenade or watch the local kids honing their driving skills in the little electric cars. There are countless food carts selling Makassar's specialty, pisang epe– grilled, pressed banana with toppings. No experience could be more typically Makassan than joining the locals for a pisang epe and a coffee or sarabba (a hot drink made from ginger, egg, coconut milk and brown sugar) at a little plastic table. Every Sunday morning from around 6.30 a.m. the promenade is given over to the biggest public aerobics session you've ever seen. The pantai is also the venue for major events, from rock concerts to running festivals and traditional boat races. So come and shake your booty, grab a grilled banana or take an evening stroll. Warning: Be prepared to be treated like a celebrity and be asked to pose for photos every 50 metres. It's all part of Makassar's unsophisticated charm.
Jalan Somba Opu This street is unique in Makassar for a couple of reasons. The most obvious one is the huge number of toko emas (gold shops) with names like Harapan Baru (New Hope). Then there are the toko oleh-oleh– gift shops. These can be good places to stock up on Torajan coffee and traditional woven fabric. Another nice thing about a walk down Jalan Somba Opu is that it's one of very few streets in Makassar with functional footpaths. (Roads paved by gold?) If you're on a tight budget, there are a couple of night-time mie (noodle) stalls on this street where you can dine extremely el cheapo.
Jalan Dr Sutomo This isn't particularly a 'place of interest', it's just a nice, leafy street for a walk. Also the home of some pop-up stalls selling leather goods and second-hand mobile phones.
Benteng Fort Rotterdam The remains of the fort and the museums inside the grounds are hardly riveting stuff, but a wander around the old fort ramparts is pleasant and a good place to see Makassar's youth just hanging out. On Sundays, informal English classes meet here, so be prepared to join in the conversation practice. Concerts and other events are also held here. Afterwards you can have a fresh coconut juice (kelapa muda) from one of the stalls outside.
Lapangan Karebosi (Karebosi Sports Ground) The place for early morning joggers/walkers and also the venue for large-scale civic events.
Pelabuhan Paotere (Port Paotere) Paotere (pronounced POW-teray) is Makassar's port for traditional fishing boats and sailing ships (phinisi). It's the best place to see the phinisi in action, as sailors load and offload cargo via gangplanks. Back across the canal a few streets to the west is the wholesale fish market, which is worth a visit to see where your dinner comes from. Go in the morning to see it in action, either by taxi or becak.
Rumata' Artspace Rumata' Artspace (out of the downtown area, at Jl. Bontonompo 12A Gunung Sari) is an independent gallery established by film-maker Riri Riza. It has some interesting events (see the venue's Facebook page and Twitter for details). On Friday nights there is often a free outdoor film and discussion presented by Cinema Appreciator Makassar. Everyone is welcome and there's always someone who speaks English. You can get here by pete-pete Kode A or Kode J (click to see the route maps). At night you can get a taxi home from Jalan Sultan Alauddin.
Islands off Makassar There are several small islands close to Makassar that make a good day or half-day trip with the chance to swim and snorkel in clean tropical water with coral reefs. It's reassuring to see that steps are being taken to reseed the coral in places, and stop the fishing that was previously destroying it. The closest island, Lae Lae, is a settlement of mainly fishing families that is usually bypassed. Further north but still close to shore is Kayangan. It's popular with locals on the weekend for swimming and relaxing, and there are eating and accommodation options. Further out (about 7 km) is Samalona, another popular spot to relax and swim, also with accommodation available. You can hire snorkelling gear here, but if you have time to go a bit further, the tiny island of Kodengareng Keke (see photo) offers better snorkelling around its coral reefs. Apart from some public barbecues, there are no resources on Keke, nor any sign of a small resort that once operated there, except for a few trees.
To get to the islands you will need to take a motor boat from the small jetty beside the Hotel Pantai Gapura. You can bargain with the boatmen and your price will depend on how far you go and for how long, but Rp 450,000 for a 3- or 4-hour trip to Samalona and back is a reasonable benchmark. You can hire snorkelling gear either at the jetty or on Samalona, though the range is not great. Leave early in the morning (7 a.m. is good) and take hats, sunscreen a long-sleeved shirt, food and water.
Swimming pools If your hotel/homestay doesn't have a pool, you can visit one that does and pay to swim. A favourite is the large outdoor pool at Hotel Pantai Gapura, located between the northern end of Pantai Losari and Fort Rotterdam, where you can swim for Rp. 40,000. The bar here, built out over the sea, is also worth a visit.
Trans Studio Theme Park Yes, Makassar's very own indoor theme park opened in 2009. It was built by a consortium including the Kalla Group, owned by Jusuf Kalla who was elected Vice-President of Indonesia in 2014 and was born in South Sulawesi. Attractions include rides and experiences based around TransTV programs and characters. See http://www.tsm-makassar.com for more details.
A bit further
Akkarena Beach Recreation Centre Akkarena Beach is a pleasant day-resort located in Tanjung Bunga, about 5 km from Pantai Losari. It has palm trees along a grey sand beach, food and drink outlets and a function centre. The water is not crystal clear but people do swim there and it is a nice respite from the streets of the city. You can get here on the Kode B pete-pete that goes to Tanjung Bunga. See pete-pete route maps on the Travel page.
Benteng Somba Opu Here you will find the remains of a 16th century fort built by several of the kings of Gowa. The fort was largely destroyed but has now been restored and rebuilt in places. In the surrounding area there are examples of traditional houses from different regions in South Sulawesi. You can get here by taking pete-pete Kode B to Jalan Abdul Kadir, then getting a bentor (motorised becak) across the river to the fort entry. You should be able to get back the same way. See pete-pete route maps on the Travel page.
Gowa Discovery Park Right next to Benteng Somba Opu is Gowa Discovery Park, which has 3 sections: a bird park, a treetop walk and a water fun park. The bird park is pleasant and shady and you can see many of the amazing birds of Sulawesi, such as hornbills and brahminy kites. There is one very large aviary you can walk through and some of the birds are free to roam. Having the macaws perch on your arms is really cool, too. Unfortunately, some of the larger birds are housed in very small enclosures. It all depends how you feel about caged birds. The water park looks like fun, and a good way to stay cool. See the transport instructions for Benteng Somba Opu above, and the pete-pete route maps on the Travel page.
Museum Balla Lompoa Balla Lompoa Museum is a reconstruction of the palace of the kings of Gowa. It's worth a visit to learn more about the Gowa Kingdom, especially for Australians. There's a map showing that the northern coast of Australia was once considered part of the Kingdom of Gowa, reflecting the history of contact between Buginese sailors and north coast Australian Aborigines, long before the British or Dutch entered the picture. That's something you don't learn in school. To get here, take a red pete-pete marked "S'Minasa" (short for Sungguminasa) from Makassar Mall (in Sentral) or anywhere along Jalan Jendral Sudirman.
Tombs of the Tallo Kings (Kompleks Makam Raja-Raja Tallo) Here lie many of the former kings of Tallo, a kingdom that existed alongside (literally) the Gowa kingdom to the south of Makassar. There are more than 70 graves, some in substantial stone tombs, dating back to the 17th century. To get here you'll need take a car or taxi. You may need to guide the taxi driver, as they don't all know about this place.