Togean Islands are protected by the Gulf of Tomini, which provides calm, shallow waters, and although to reach the archipelago takes certain efforts it truly is worth it. The remoteness of the archipelago helps the Bajau sea nomads to preserve their traditional lifestyle and the islands to remain untouched.
This is a path less trodden – a trail that leads to the Central Sulawesi, mostly visited by the adventurous travellers who are not afraid of getting out of their comfort zone.
PRISTINE ENVIRONMENT AND AUTHENTIC LIFESTYLE
Formed by volcanic activity, the Togean archipelago is covered with rainforest and surrounded by coral reef formations. This package provides ideal conditions for wildlife, birdlife and marine life.
Whereas the inland jungles teem with wildlife, the underwater world hides stunning treasures, especially in the Kepulauan Togean Marine Park. This is a place where the Bajau Laut people live in harmony with the sea, as this is their “land”.
There are a few guesthouses and dive centres on the islands, where snorkelling, eco-tours, relaxed ambience and rainforest walks are on the travellers’ everyday menu.
Along with Tana Toraja, the Togean Archipelago is becoming an increasingly popular eco-tourism destination.
The three largest islands – Batukada, Togean, and Una Una – have good facilities, but where you really want to go are Malenge, Kadidi, Bolelanga Islands.
The scenery of fine sandy beaches, crystal-clear shallows, coral gardens and overwater huts makes one feel like finding the ‘Last Eden’. In fact, the local sea gypsy communities live in these stilt ‘eco-resorts’; they have built simple, wooden overwater-trails to move around the islets and sea villages.
The area somehow resembles Bora Bora, except it is totally authentic and genuine. Perhaps, it was right here – in the Celebes, where the Europeans got inspired during the colonial era, and later on, came up with the idea of building luxurious overwater bungalows in French Polynesia 🙂
Wakai is a small fishing port in Batukada – the largest of all Togean Islands, and the main entry point. It is a great place to get to know the local culture straight at arrival; naïve stilt cottages fringe the coast and smell of fish is ever-present. This is the gateway to the big Togean venture.
Bomba is the first spot you will want to search around: situated in the south of the island, it is known for a gorgeous collection of wooden bungalows, a stunning stretch of snow-white beaches, coral fringe, bat caves, friendly locals and fantastic diving at the Island Retreat.
TOGEAN ISLAND & KADIDIRI
The second largest Togean Island is easily accessible from Wakai, and its major resort is the private Sunset Beach. However, most of the visitors would probably like to see one of its offshore isles, particularly the Kadidiri Island.
This is a place for you if keen to meet the indigenous sea gypsies but also other travellers – as this is the only place in the Togean Islands with some “social life”.
There are several resorts on the island as it is becoming increasingly popular eco-tourism and divers` hub. Black Marlin, Kadidiri Paradise and recently built Harmony Bay resort have beautiful accommodation and can arrange diving, kayaking, snorkelling expeditions and eco-tours to the sea–nomadic villages (which, sadly, rely on tourist cash, so if visiting one of them be aware that they will expect you to pay).
UNA UNA ISLAND
Una Una is a lovely volcano island with black sand, coconut palms bending over emerald waters, huge and healthy coral reef, transparent waters filled with colourful fish, turtles, rays and sharks.
To get here, you will need to organise a private charter boat to take you to Una Una Sanctum – a lovely dive resort with nice, clean and cheap rooms on the seafront and there is jetty just off the beach.
Although there is no dive centre on this tiny island, snorkelers and beach lovers will absolutely adore this place. Malenge Island is famous for idyllic white beaches, peaceful surrounds and the indigenous Bajo people.
You can hire a canoe and visit one of the nearby sea-nomad villages. Kadoda Village is the most visited for its wooden bridge connecting the village with the main island. Malenge Island comprises of two islands – Papan and Kakoda Islands, both linked to the 1800 m long, wooden, overwater trail.
Stay at the secluded Sandy Bay Resort, and you won`t regret!
This super-quiet island is perfect for relaxing, sunbaking, swimming, reading books and sweet ‘doing nothing’. There are white powdery beaches, turquoise shallows, extensive coral reefs (right off the beach), numerous snorkelling sites and charming bungalows at Bolilanga Island Resort.
ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES ON THE TOGEAN ISLANDS
KADADIRI – visit the Bajo community and learn more about the sea gypsies, stay at Kadidiri Paradise, Lestari or Black Marlin and meet other fellow travellers to have a beer with on a quiet island night, snorkel or dive at The Gap, Dominik Rock, The Crack, Batugilla or Little Lembeh (night diving)
BOMBA – best for snorkelling and diving (Taupan Island, Bomba Atoll – the biggest atoll reef on the islands). Visit the nearby bat caves and Bajo villages, have a stroll through the rainforest in the back of the resort and look for the Coconut Crabs!
MALENGE – rent a canoe and paddle to the nearby Bajo villages, Kadoda Village is the most visited for its wooden bridge connecting the village with the main island. Don`t forget to see the Papan and Kakoda Islands, both linked to the 1800 m long, wooden, overwater trail. Stay at the secluded Sandy Bay Resort, and you won`t regret!
BOLILANGA ISLAND – enjoy the ultimate peace and white powdery beaches, turquoise shallows, extensive coral reefs just off the beach, numerous snorkelling sites and charming bungalows at Bolilanga Island Resort
UNA UNA – spend a couple of days on the active volcano island and snorkel for colourful fish, turtles, rays and sharks, arrange a diving expedition via Una Una Sanctum
DID YOU KNOW?
Togean Islands are home to Coconut Crab – the largest land-living arthropod in the world. It is probably at the upper size limit for terrestrial animals with exoskeletons in recent times, with a weight of up to 4 kg and a size up to 1 meter in length from leg to leg.
Togean Archipelago is an outlying destination, and you won`t find any ATMs on the islands. Hence make sure you have enough cash with you. (You can withdraw some money in Ampana or Gorontalo at a specific ATM for VISA debit cards)
Bring with you some books and a good repellent! 😉
Recommended Dive Operators with their own accommodation are Black Marlin, Kadidiri Paradise and Island Retreat
WHEN TO TRAVEL
The best time to visit the Togean Islands is the dry season (June-September).
The peak months of July and August can get quite busy, and it is recommended to book your accommodation ahead.
HOW TO GET THERE
Fly to Makassar (Sulawesi) first. The airport is well-connected to Jakarta (Java) and Denpasar (Bali).
To the Togean Islands:
1.From Gorontalo (northern access) – Fly from Makassar to Gorontalo, take an overnight slow boat to Wakai (Tuna Tomini operates twice a week, 12 hr trip) NOTE that the timetables can change any time in Indonesia)
2.From Ampana (southern access) – fly from Makassar to Ampana, take a daily public ferry to Wakai (5 hrs) or Bomba (2.5 hrs)
NOTE There is no airport on the Togean Islands and the only way to get there is by boat. If you wish to use other then public transport the islands can also be reached by a private charter boat from Wakai or by your resort (bookings must be arranged online in advance)
For all domestic flights check out Lion Air, Garuda Indonesia or Sriwijaya Air
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