Pulau Papan Togean

The Togean (or Togian) Islands are one of the less-traveled islands in Indonesia. Isolated in the middle of Tomini Gulf, Central Sulawesi, Togean Islands are the best-kept secret islands, far from the frenetic crowd, which I love so.

One can argue – there’s nothing much to do here – that’s acceptable. However, some people, including me are fond to a lone quiet place to rejuvenate ourselves.  Therefore, this island is unsuitable for everyone, it depends on what you’re looking for.

If you’re looking for an ideal tropical island to rest..maybe with a bit of adventure, then Togean Islands are the perfect bliss – a destination that will never disappoint you.

With impeccable lines of seabed, sprawling gardens of coral, and a rare opportunity to swim with sting-less jellyfish, Togean Islands will perhaps become one of the best travel experience you will never forget!

How to Get to Togean Islands

Togean Islands are located in the middle of Tomini Gulf. Two common routes to get to the islands are via Ampana and Gorontalo.

From Ampana

The easiest way to get to Ampana is by flying from Palu City. From Jakarta, Surabaya, Bali, or Makassar, catch a flight to Palu then another flight to Ampana.

Expected to stay a night in Palu because the flight schedule from Palu to Ampana, operated by Wings Air is currently operated only once in a day at 11.35 a.m.

Once you’re in Ampana, you still have to get a boat to Wakai. The boat leaves everyday at 9 a.m. and you will arrive around 2 p.m. (5 hours). The price of the boat is Rp 150.000/person. Recommended hotel for an overnight stay in Ampana is Oasis Hotel.

Boat Schedule Togean Islands

Boat schedule Togean Islands

From Gorontalo

Take a flight from Jakarta or Surabaya to Gorontalo. Next, head to the ferry terminal which is about an hour. Ferry to Wakai leaves from Gorontalo every Tuesday and Friday at 6 p.m.

The ferry ride takes around 12 hours and you will arrive in Wakai on the next morning. The price for the ferry ride is Rp 64.000 for economy class (no AC), Rp 89.000 for business class (with AC), or Rp 500.000 for a cabin, fits for 4 people. Recommended hotel for an overnight stay in Gorontalo is Melati Hotel.

Once you’re in Wakai, it is easier to get to the islands around. Some resorts can pick you up so it’s better if you arrange your accommodation and your arrival ahead.

If you have plenty of time, I strongly encourage you to do the whole Sulawesi Island, or overland from south to north or vice versa instead just flying to Togean Islands.

It’s because Togean Islands is located in the middle of Sulawesi and there are so many things to see in Sulawesi. In my opinion, it’s a waste of time if you just do only Togean Islands unless you don’t really have much time.

If you’re planning to do overland. I suggest you to spare 1-2 months, even longer for the whole Sulawesi. If you start from the south, you can fly to Makassar and then do everything by car or bus to Tana Toraja – Tentena – Poso – Ampana – Togean Islands – Gorontalo – Tomohon – Manado – Bunaken, or you can do from the north starting from Manado down to Makassar.

Where to Stay in Togean Islands

A range of typical beach resort with wooden bungalows under the shades of coconut trees and hammock in front of your room spreads in the islands of Togean.

Most of the accommodations offer full board package so it is included 3x meals. Electricity is limited in the islands available only from 6 p.m. till midnight.

Map of Togean Islands

The Map of Togean Islands (source)

Fadhila Cottages

I spent couple of nights in Fadhila Cottages. It is located in a small island across Katupat Island. I really like the warm ambience of the whole island, that feeling of staying in a quiet, natural, how do I explain this, it feels very down to earth for me.

The food here was fantastic with a generous portion, more than enough for everyone. The huts are basic with mosquito net and hammock and expect to see bees, lizards, and spiders in your room. The only thing that can be improved is the cleanliness of the room, overall it was satisfying. (Rp 200.000 – Rp 350.000/person/night)

Hammock in Katupat Islands

Hammock in Katupat Island Togean

Kadidiri Paradise

I also had a chance to stay in Kadidiri Paradise which is located in Kadidiri Island, not far from the jellyfish lake. The resort is fancier with facilities such as canoe, volleyball net, and a hut on the pier for relaxing area.

The beach is not that impressive, and the food was okay at that time. I would give an A for the cleanliness of the room. (Rp 200.000 – Rp 450.000/person/night)

Kadidiri Paradise Resort

Bahia Tomini Eco Resort

Located in Malenge Island, Bahia Tomini Eco Resort is my favorite place so far! I didn’t stay here but soon when I saw this place, I fell in love and would love to come back and stay in this resort.

There are only 4 bungalows here and all of them are facing straight to the sea. Perfect white sand beach and attractive design of the bungalows, I wouldn’t mind spending time in this super laid-back island. (Rp 350.000 – Rp 500.000/person/night)

Bahia Tomini Eco

Room at Bahia Tomini Eco Resort

Other recommended accommodations in Togean Islands

For budget option you can go to Sunset Beach, 20 minutes by boat from Wakai. Price per person per night is Rp 175.000 including three-times meal in low season and Rp 200.000 on high season.For a unique experience staying in bamboo bungalows then Lia Beach in Waleakodi Island offer secluded and quiet stay with only two bungalows available.

Price per person per night is Rp 350.000.If your main objective to come to Togean Islands is scuba dive, then you can choose to stay either in Sanctum Dive Resort in Una Una Island or Black Marlin Dive Resort in Kadidiri Island.

Both dive resorts emphasize on diving experience, you go check their website for accommodation and diving packages offered. Another option is Araya Dive Resort which is the nearest dive center if you wish to dive in Pasir Tengah and Goa Goa.

10 Things to DO in Togean Islands

Now, check out these 10 things to do in Togean Islands, trust me it’d be an amazing experience!

Plunge into the crystal-clear water of Togean Islands

The Togean Islands consist of small islands and islets. No matter which island you go or stay. you will most-likely find this dreamlike paradise – a calm crystal clear water right in front of your eyes.

It was hard for me to resist the temptation to jump into the water, refreshing myself under the warm heat of the sun and start making that tanning line. I’m sure you’ll feel the same way as I do. Snorkeling around the island is also a good idea to discover what lies below the surface.

Enjoy your time with no rush.

It is almost impossible to get coverage in Togean Islands. Electricity is also limited from 6-11 p.m. Forget your phone and forget about all the complicated things out there. You are basically an outcast in this small island. I would use this chance to relax and do things that I like.

Most of the resorts provide hammock outside of each room. I would lay down and swing while reading books. I would grab a pen and a paper, writing whatever I feel like. I would play with the dogs, play volleyball, do yoga, or even chit chat with friends.

I would paddle a kayak, sing my favorite songs, or stare at the stars. I wouldn’t mind spending time here! Five days were not long enough for me to stay in this paradise.

 Togean Islands

Dive, dive, and dive.

Diving in Togean Islands are strongly encouraged, as the underwater offers impressive reef formations. It’s one of the ultimate dive sites in Sulawesi. Togean Islands are the epicenter of the world renowned “Coral Triangle”. Dive sites are mostly concentrated in Kadidiri and Una-una Island.

I’ve heard good reviews from my friends who did scuba trip around the islands. Some exquisite dive sites are including the Second World War fighter plane, the B24 Bomber, the atoll, and Una-una.

Expect to see black-tail barracuda, nudibranches, turtles, sharks, etc. Not a diver? Neither do I. Snorkeling around Togean is enjoyable. Favorite snorkeling sites are Hotel California and Reef 1. The reef was okay, though the fishes are not that diverse.

Paddle a boat in the middle of the night, see the glowing plankton.

I haven’t done it myself but I saw a group of people with snorkeling mask, leaving Fadhila Cottage –  the resort where I stayed, and paddled the boat towards the sea in the middle of the dark.

When they came back, they told me they were swimming with the glowing plankton. I have no idea how a glowing plankton looks like. “It’s like swimming with the stars”, one of the girl told me.

togean islands Malenge Beach

Crossing from one island to another over a long wooden bridge.

A long wooden bridge stretches about one kilometer between Malenge and Papan Island. The bridge was built to connect both islands, make it easier for students from Papan Island to walk and attend the class at Malenge Island.

A local told me, before the bridge was built, the kids would swim back home after the class. It was dangerous for them so the government finally built the bridge.

Walking across the iconic bridge is assuredly noteworthy as you can clearly see the corals beneath. I spotted my favorite sea fan corals in the shallow water and before I left the island, I climbed a small hill named Batu Karang to get a wider view of the village and the bridge from the top.

Togean islands Pulau Papan  

Meet the curious indigenous local.

The Bajo, often called as Sea Gypsies are the indigenous tribe that have settled in various areas of Indonesian water, such as Wakatobi Islands, including Togean Islands.

They live in stilt houses above the sea. It is said that The Bajo can dive 15-20 meters without using scuba gear. They own no car but boat. The kids don’t play in the garden, instead they jump straight into the sea.

Papan Island is home to Bajo Families. I also visited another Bajo village in Kabalutan Island. In a glance, the population here looks bigger than Papan Island. The kids were thrilled to see visitors coming to the village.

I was surrounded by all these kids, a four and a six-year old girl were holding my hand. The older kids around teenager age in their school uniform started  a conversation with me. I also had the opportunity to see a group of men involved in the process of building a stilt house.

Bajo People Togean islands

Sit back at the edge of the pier, wait till dusk and enjoy the golden time.

After a long tiring day hopping from one to another island, the best thing to do, except for dinner, of course, was sitting at the the edge of the pier and waiting for the sun to set down.

Every single moment made me realize, how lucky I was to be in this place. It’d be great if I had a float tube with me, maybe a sunset dip sounds cool.

Watch Sunset Togean islands

Play with sting-less jellyfish in Mariona Lake.

Can you imagine how fun is it to swim with jellyfish? Wait, they are poisonous, aren’t they? 

Some species of jellyfish can be really dangerous and deadly. I always get annoyed by the invisible jellyfish that sting when I snorkel. However, in particular places in the world, we can swim the jellyfish because they’re sting-less.

In Indonesia, there are three places where you can swim with them. Kakaban Lake in Derawan, Misool, and Mariona Lake in Togean.

They have lost their sting due to the geological event, since they’re trapped in a lagoon with no predators. I doubt they completely lost their sting, because a friend of mine got stung on his lips and he could feel it.

Swimming with this adorable creature is definitely the highlight of this trip!

Jellyfish Mariona Lake Togean
Stingless Jellyfish Togean

Introduce your taste bud to local delicacy.

Almost every resort in the island offers full board package, means that the food or meals are inclusive with the price you paid along with your accommodation. There are no restaurants or bars outside the resort.

Unquestionably they will serve seafood for you, freshly harvested from the sea. The portion given tends to be generous, don’t worry, they won’t starve you.

One thing that caught my attention  was sago. Sago is a major staple food in eastern part of Indonesia. It is a starch extracted from the spongy centre of various tropical palm stems.

There are many variations in processing sago. It can be toasted, boiled to make a soup, or rolled into balls. My favorite is the rolled balls, mixed with brown sugars and garnished with coconut flakes on top. It has a bit of chewy texture and not overly sweet.

sagu makanan khas sulawesi tengah

Learn from local communities on how they recycle plastics to handicrafts.

In order to sustain the local’s living through tourism and to keep the environment clean, a non-profit called Everto encouraged the locals to use and recycle plastic, and turn them into beautiful handicrafts.

Stands for Everyone for Togean, the organization aims to raise awareness and educate the people of the importance of the ocean, home for them. In Katupat Island, you can see the process of making this handicraft.

The souvenirs such as keychain, hat, or purse are sold ranging from $2-$10. The money they collected are distributed as the wages for the waste collector in the island.

Handicraft Everto

Boat excursions for snorkeling trip in Togean Islands (from Fadhila Cottage)

  1. Reef Satu – Hotel California – Karina Beach – Jellyfish Lake – Mangrove Trail: Rp 425.000 (6-8 ppl)
  2. Taipi Island – Karina Beach – Jellyfish Lake – Mangrove Trail: Rp 425.000 (6-8 ppl)
  3. Hotel California – Reef Dua – Atoll – Malenge Beach: Rp 475.000 (6 ppl)
  4. Reef Satu – Reef Dua – Atoll – Malenge’s Jetty: Rp 525.000 (6 ppl)
  5. Kabalutan Village – Talawenga Island: Rp 525.000 (6-8 ppl)
  6. Mas, snorkel, and fin rental: Rp 50.000/day

Velysia

Recommended dive sites around Togean Islands

  1. The Pinaccle-Una Una: Large rock pinnacle with wall dropping off to 60 meters with variations of sponge corals.
  2. Apollo-Una Una:  High possibility to see a school of Blackfin Barracuda.
  3. Pasir Tengah: a three kilometer wide coral atoll adorned with colorful corals and nudibranchs.
  4. B24 Bomber Wreck: 17m long by 22m wide wreck lies under the sea still in a good shape.
  5. Batu Gila: Where you can see reef sharks, manta rays, and barracuda.
  6. Goa Goa:Dive through tunnels for amazing corals with good visibility.

I’ve some up ten things to do in the Togean Islands, which one you’d like to do the most? I assure you that this undiscovered paradise are worth to visit. I’ve met returning travelers from French, Australia, that could spend a month in this island!

Lastly, I would thank Ministry of Tourism for inviting me in this six day trips around Togean. I had so much fun! They have ticked-off my bucket-list to travel in Togean.

Read more stories about Togean Islands from my travel mates; Hellomister.net, Wira Nurmansyah, Virus Traveling, Ridho Mukti and Winny Marlina.

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Traveled in 29 April – 4 May 2017

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