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! Here are the list of top ten things to do in Togean Islands:
1. Plunge into the crystal-clear water.
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.
2. 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.
3. Dive, dive, and dive.
Diving in Togean Islands are strongly encouraged, as the underwater offers impressive reef formations. 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
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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, 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.
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.
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, 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!
9. 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.
10. 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.
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.
Traveled in 29 April – 4 May 2017