Lake Maninjau is a large crater lake in West Sumatra, Indonesia with several villages bordering it. It is a great place to relax, experience local rural lifestyle and watch the sunsets. The lake also supports swimming, canning and fishing. The villages themselves are small and great for escaping the hectic pace of Indonesia. Unfortunately, as tourist numbers decreased drastically during the last decade, many locals turned to fish farming. The still growing number of fish farms is apparently more then the lake can handle, with the water quality decreasing from year to year. More tourists are turned away, hence more fish farms pop up and so on...a vicious circle. Still, if you don't come for swimming, there are still many reasons to come here and support the local tourist infrastructure - while, if you care, at the same time contributing to the rising awareness about the ecological fiasco the lake is undergoing.
You can rent a motorbike in Bukittinggi. Alternatively, hop onto an angkot to Terminal Aur Kuning, a bus terminal within Bukittinggi itself. From there, take a yellow minivan called Harmoni to the Lake. This trip costs Rp.25,000 and takes about an hour. However, the van will only leave when it is quite full. It may take upwards of two hours to fill up the van. Trips start from about 7am and leave every two hours. The last van from Lake Maninjau back to Bukittinggi is at about 5-6pm.
If you took the bus then there is not much to see when you arrive in front of the lake. If you have a motorbike, then you can go around the lake and enjoy the landscapes, it takes 2-3 hours. There are also some bicycles available for rent for 35.000 IDR. There are some possibilities for trekking. Lake Maninjau is deceptively cool. Bring sunblock.
You can see the view of Lake Maninjau from height from Puncak Lawang, a pine hill park around the lake. You can also do paragliding here with the beauty of Lake Maninjau as the background scenery.
You can also see the view of Lake Maninjau as you go down to the lake and town through Kelok 44, the 44 road bends with forest and rice field surrounding.
See the lake on the lakeside and watch the blood red sunset.
Visit the traditional farmer and fisherman villages.
Visit the Birth House of Buya Hamka. He is an Indonesian famous historical ulema and litterateur. His house is a beautiful rumah gadang at the lakeside. The house has the collection of Hamka and Hamka's family items.
Rent a bike or motorbike and go around the lake or clim up and down the Kelok 44.
Walk down to the lake through the forest.
Do paragliding from Puncak Lawang with Lake Maninjau as the scenery background
There's a nice waterfall by the mosque to the north of town Maninjau, but be careful, the steep way up can be slippery and small leeches can find their way to you. The way takes about 30 minutes.
Similarly, for more experienced trekkers, one can trek from Bayur (a 45 minute walk north of Maninjau along the main road or hitch a lift) to Puncak Lawang, which has very impressive views over the entire lake. From the main road, there is a reasonably steep paved road which heads in the opposite direction of the lake. Ask the locals for the road to Puncak Lawang and they can hopefully direct you to this paved road. From there, continue for approximately 30 minutes (taking the right fork in the road) until you reach the mosque. Continue along the path to the right of the mosque through some crops and you will reach a path which leads into the jungle, this the start of the trek. Near the start of the trek, there will be two forks in the path, make sure to take the right direction on both occasions. From here, you will encounter more paths which lead off the main path, though if you continue along the larger path and use your common sense, you will reach Puncak Lawang. As previously stated, this activity is recommended for those who have at least a little experience in treks. There are minimal arrows along the way, at times the path can be tricky to find and there are leeches, especially after rain. From the trailhead at the mosque, it is approximately 2-2.5 hours to Puncak Lawang. From the town of Maninjau, give 6-8 hours.
Swimming used to be great but by now (2015) it is virtually impossible to find a spot on the lake with decent water quality.
Bagoes Cafe, Near the lake intersection, to the north, ☎ +62752-861799. Serves quality western and Indonesian food. Friendly owners. Has computers and wifi for Rp. 7000 per hour. Can arrange treks around Maninjau and Bukittinggi, and tickets for bus and plane. The owners purchased Beach Guest House in 2013 and are now in the same location.mains 10000-30000. edit
Cafe 44, By the lake, north of town Maninjau. Serves OK basic western and Indonesian food. Also has rooms for Rp. 40000edit
BOBO Coffee Shop, Jalan Moaro Pisanz, go from the main crossroad towards north, then after approx. 150 m left (after the ATM), ☎ +6285215010212. 7:30am-9:00pm. If you are tired of the odd luke-warm chicken and fish aside the road, try the fresh food Linda and Zep are goomg to serve you at this very cosy and friendly place! They do offer all kinds of Western, Chinese and Indonesian food (great vegetarian choices!), and a lot of information! BUT, as the sign at the entrance sais: "No WiFi, just good food!" Still, if you want to go for the more exotic choices (meat, less common fruit,...) you should doublecheck the availability or order a day or so in advance. Mains from Rp. 15.000. edit
There are many budget alternatives, most with very basic facilities.
Beach Guest House, (North of the main crossroad and take a left at the sign advertising Bagoes Café.). checkout: 12 pm. A clean and new guest house on the edge of the lake, with nice views. Newly renovated and opened in 2014. Bagoes Café is in the same location and run by the same family, which serves quality Western and Indonesian food. This is a popular place for backpackers, couples and families, especially for those who want to have a bit of a yarn with the friendly owners.45k dorm, 75k double room with shared bathroom, 100k standard room, 150k superior room. edit
Cafe 44, (Turn right at the T junction, 500 metres down the road on the slight down hill.). checkout: 12 pm. Family run beach front rooms offering great views and swimming on your doorstep. 5 rooms basic and clean, all had an outdoor covered area for sitting and admiring views. Rooms have lights, no power outlets (outlet was available in restaurant on request). Shared squat bathroom with cold water shower. Bed linen provided. The restaurant offers a good selection of delicious and reasonably priced food.60k double room. edit
Muaro Beach Bungalows, (about 5 mins walk from Maninjau town through a kampung (village) path, just follow the signs). In a lush rustic setting near the lake. In a very peaceful and tranquil location with fantastic views over the lake. Has own restaurant by the edge of the lake. The bungalows are basic but ok, with private outside toilet and cold water showers. Friendly staff. There are ducklings to amuse kids as well as cats, dogs and wild monkeys. Rents out motorbikes (semi Rp. 60000, auto 75000 per day). Canoe hire are free for guests, and the beach is good for swimming.Bungalows from Rp. 70.000 (June 10), the biggest was Rp. 180.000 (three beds; Aug 2012). edit
Riak Danau, a bit further than Muaro, access is via a narrow path through a paddy field.. No bungalows, only rooms(50,000 Rp, Feb 09) but these are a spitting distance from the lake.edit
Arlen's Beach Paradise (Nova Paradise), Sungei Rangeh Bayur, Lake Maninjau 26471 (Follow the footpath through the rice paddy for about 300m from the sign on the road just north of the village of Bayur), ☎ +6281535204714, . Five simple bungalows on a small lakeside plot surrounded by rice fields. The location is far enough from the village fishing platforms make the appealing enough to swim in. Mosquito nets and attached toilet and shower in each bungalow. Small restaurant with good and healthy food. Very friendly and welcoming staff. The only drawback is that it's a very long walk to the nearest town at Bayur.Rp. 150,000 (Aug. 09). edit
Maninjau Indah Hotel, (Only a 3-min walk from town). .One of the few upmarket hotelsEconomy rooms start at 200,000 Rp (Feb 09). edit
Tan Dirih Hotel, (a 15 minutes walk from the town centre). Another upmarket hotel a bit further away than the Indah, yet it situated by the lake and maintains clean environment. Next door is the newish and stylish Water Front Restaurant. Pride of place is their sitting area which juts into the lake - lovely place for a meal or beer.Has a large playground and a small swimming pool for kids.The owner is voluble, and is proud to be known as Mr Porcupine (ask him why).Economy rooms are 175,000 Rp (Feb 09). edit