Central sulawesi Togian Islands Transport
Spread over a 90 km stretch in the middle of Tomini Bay, the winding, hilly coastlines and equatorial waters of the Togean Islands cast a magical spell of green, yellow and blue, in all the shades imaginable.
Travellers endure the long journey in search of the mythical beach paradise – many stay longer than they expected. Lazy days sunbathing, beachcombing, diving and snorkelling, exploring the dense jungle interiors – the simple lifestyle can be so alluring.
Lying in the deep water basin and protected on all sides by the spidery arms of Sulawesi, and miles from anywhere, the calm and clear waters are full of marine life, and the beaches are clean and undisturbed.
Rumour has it that the Togean Islands are on the verge of being the next big hit on the travelling market, so enjoy it while you can. Let’s hope they can remain an unspoilt and unexploited for many years to come.
How to Get There
Standing in splendid isolation in Tomini Bay, central Sulawesi, it is quite time consuming to get to the Togean Islands. But you will be thankful you went to the effort to get there as that’s the price you pay for a remote piece of tropical paradise. After all, if it was easy to get to, there’d be more tourists and litter here, spoiling it for you!
For budget-conscious travellers, the best way to the Togians is via the overnight ferry from Gorontalo, which is included in our resort package prices.The departures from Gorontalo are at 22:00 hrs every Wednesday and Saturday (arriving in the Togeans at 11:00 hrs), or at 20:00 hrs every Thursday (arriving 07:00 hrs).The return times from the Togians are at 16:00 hrs every Monday, Thursday and Saturday (arriving in Gorontalo at 06:00 hrs).
For our more well-heeled customers, there is a daily speed boat transfer service available (please contact us for details), but we think a more luxurious and convenient way to see the Togeans is via liveaboard from Manado.
You can fly to Gorontalo from Jakarta with Lion Air and Sriwijaya Air, who both have daily flights. Alternatively, you can fly into Manado from Singapore with Silk Air, and then on to Gorontalo. There are regular flights (but with changeable schedules) from Manado to Gorontalo with both Trigana Air and Merpati Air.
You should be able to book direct online with Indonesia’s domestic airlines and pay with your debit/credit card. However, if you experience problems, then it can be easier to book domestic flights through a local ticketing agent. We recommend:
Manado Safari Tours
Manado Safari Tours make the reservations, have the tickets issued and delivered as e-tickets (by email) or upon arrival in Jakarta or Manado. They may also courier them to you, if this is your wish (extra charge applies). Dive The World has no involvement whatsoever with the booking arrangements, we simply recommend this ticketing agent due to their professionalism and reliability.
You can either dive a few days in Gorontalo or proceed straight to the ferry (departs 8 pm arrives 8 am), on which you can sleep in air-conditioned cabins.
The Togeans’ Climate
Lying 2° south of the equator, you’ll find the temperature here in the Togeans is a constant 30°C all year round.
Rainy season runs from December to March, but being in the tropics, the rain is only intermittent rather than torrential. Likewise dry season isn’t absolutely dry either! August is the windiest month. High Season revolves around European summer holidays in July and August.
We recommend you visit from May to December and, if you do plan on being here in July and August, just remember that accommodation is very limited so book as soon as you can.
Sightseeing and Adventure
Most visitors consider the main attraction of the Togean Islands to be doing just nothing but lazing on the many golden beaches here at Kadidiri. More than likely, you can have the whole beach to yourself. After all, its a very long journey from the office!
If you do tire of that particular activity then you can explore Kadidiri. Trekking round the back of the island you can find tarsiers, wild boar and deer, babirusa, fruit bats and coconut crabs – the largest of all land-living crabs, can weigh up to 5 kilogrammes and span almost 1 metre, now clinging precariously to existence on only a handful of islands in Asia and the Pacific. Borrow one the the sea canoes and head to the west side of the island to find a Bajau village. Alternatively, you could try your hand at cliff climbing.
With more time you can visit the pearl farms on Batudaka Island and take in the waterfall in Wakai, the main village, or enjoy an afternoon stroll along the boardwalk through the mangrove swamps at Katupat on nearby Togean Island.
Further afield you can hike the active volcano on Una Una. The volcano last erupted in 1983 and the island is now almost deserted. You can spend the whole day making the hike up to 472 metres and exploring the deserted beaches here. Listen carefully and you can still hear the odd rumblings of Gunung Colo, as if she hasn’t quite completely settled after her last performance.
The Togian Islands have long been out of sight and out of mind for most, including the Indonesian government, and so remain very much undeveloped. Life continues for the majority of those that live here in a similar way to that which they have known for many years.
The islands have been in the forefront of several conservation groups minds for quite some time now. Several attempts were made to grant the Togeans national park status. However, due the slow-moving machinations of the bureaucratic wheels within Jakarta, and the fact that any such revenues gained would go straight back to line the coffers of central government, national park status has never been achieved.
Moves are now afoot to grant local marine reserve protection rights instead. It is hoped that this will speed up the process, empower and motivate the locals to properly police the area, and bring much needed revenues to the residents of this part of Sulawesi.
The People of Togian Islands
There are only about 25,000 people in total in the Togians. Pollution is not a major problem out here (yet) and, as evidence of that, remarkably even the piers are clear of floating rubbish.
The people are mainly Muslim Minahasans from Gorontalo, but also the eruption on Una Una in 1983 brought refugees from that island. An interesting ethnic group indigenous to Tomini Bay are the Bajau, or Sea Gypsies. The Bajau number some 2,000 people and adopt a rather secretive, nomadic existence entirely at sea.
They live in wooden shacks built on stilts on top of the coral reefs. They move from home to home by dugout canoe and exist by subsistence fishing and selling sea cucumbers to the chinese markets. The Bajau practice breath hold diving and use only goggles and spears for hunting.
Most of the population live on the main island settlements in small fishing communities on Dolong, Togean and Batudaka.
The only means of transportation between the Togean Islands is by boat. Public boats run between the main islands every day. Aside from public transport, the only option is to charter one of the inexpensive local boats. There are no roads of any meaning on any of the islands, so to get around on land, it’s the old fashioned mode of transport – walking.