I originally heard about these islands from a friend who had already been and described them as ‘remote, stunning and having some excellent diving opportunities’. That was all the information I needed to put them on my travel list! After some initial research on the travel options the realisation dawned on how remote the Togeans really are and what kind of time/money investment would be needed to get there.
The Togean Islands are an archipelago of 56 islands in the Gulf of Tomini in Sulawesi, Indonesia. The islands can be approached from the North or South, although they are much nearer to the Southern coast of the gulf. With less than a week for the trip I decided that this route was the best, so 2 flights from Bali to Makassar and then to Luwuk were duly booked.
Black Marlin Dive Resort on Kadidiri were quite helpful with travel arrangements and put me in contact with a local ‘fixer’ who organised a car from Luwuk and a private boat charter from Ampana to Kadidiri. I would stress at this point that you could do the journey for a lot less money if you’re willing to take the public ferries but with time constraints in mind we took the hit to maximise time on the islands and minimise travel time.
The journey to Kadidiri was not fun!! All in all we arrived 24 hours after leaving Bali and had been shaken, vibrated and jostled to within an inch of our patience. That included almost 6 hours in a cramped car and 6 hours on a particularly slow boat! As most of the journey was at night we didn’t even get to see much of Sulawesi. Although this seems very negative so far, I can safely say it was worth it.
The islands around Kadidiri are all rocky outcrops with small beaches and you can see myriad small coral reefs clustered in the shallow waters around them. Kadidiri itself has the largest beach area with room for 3 resorts along a couple of hundred metres. Black Marlin is the main dive resort of the 3 and has a selection of rooms for most budgets. Bear in mind that on small islands like this it is normal to not have running water or electricity for the whole of the day. The food at Black Marlin was excellent, although if you don’t like fish or are vegetarian there is not much selection, and you get all 3 meals included in the price of your room. Within the first day most of the other guests moved on so we were left with an almost deserted island.
The diving around Kadidiri was really good with some deep reefs in very good condition and a lot of aquatic life to look at. The first day I went out we went to some more shallow reefs that weren’t in the best condition although they were still well populated including a particularly bold crocodile fish. Unfortunately as there weren’t too many guests around I didn’t get the chance to do the B24 wreck dive or the volcano dive at Una Una as they require larger groups. Snorkelling was also excellent and as the dive boat wasn’t busy they were happy to take snorkelers out to the reefs at the same time. We also spent a day on an independent snorkelling trip, of which the highlight was swimming in a small lagoon with hundreds of jellyfish!
Kadidiri itself exudes an aura of relaxation and unhurriedness that you just can’t help getting infected by. Before you know it the days fly by and it’s time to leave. In summary, the travel was worth it and the way back was much less painful than the journey there.