After my memorable stay on Bunaken, it took a very long journey to make it to the Togean Islands in Sulawesi. On the way down, this trip seemed like a legit option which literally everyone here does. The islands also promised some nice diving and easy chilling on nice beaches. But first I had to take an 8 hour car ride from Manado to Gorontalo and straight after that another 10 hour ferry ride. I finally arrived in Wakai, the main city of the Togeans, at about 7 in the morning and was greeted by grey skies, rain and comparably low temperatures. Pretty unusual for this time of the year and not what I really expected but I was too tired to really worry about it. What I did expect though was a rather uncrowded place with less tourists but that didn’t go as planned either.
Kadidiri Island – more crowded than expected
I arrived on the island of Kadidiri and inquired about rooms. To my surprise everything but the deluxe rooms were fully booked and on top of that, they wanted to charge double since I was single. Robert, a seasoned traveler from Australia, had the same problem and we both decided to look for other options. A cheapie close by was fully booked leaving the dive resort “Black Marlin” as the only option. They only had one bungalow available so me and Rob decided to team up and share for that night. The islands being that busy was pretty surprising but I guess the main tourist season even affects these remote islands. Besides July and August the region is probably a lot more quiet.
My plan was to stay three days on Kadidiri. Relaxing, snorkeling and diving. Unfortunately on the way there I caught a cold which kept me from going underwater. That left snorkeling and relaxation. Kadidiri was a paradise for the latter. With a nice beach in front of the bungalow, bean bags and pillows to chill out in, my recovery should proceed fast. But I felt pretty bored fairly quickly. I felt a little restless and the urge to do something. And for that, Kadidiri was not the perfect place. You were basically confined to that beach without the possibility to explore villages or the surrounding area. Not really what I like but I still wanted to make the best of it.
Surrounded by Jellyfish
I signed up for a day trip to the so called “Jellyfish Lake” close by, situated on one of the other islands. I figured, after my extreme encounter with the jellyfish on Bunaken, snorkeling with hundreds of that species would be sort of a therapy. It was six of us taking of for the lake in a small boat at about 10 o’ clock. Weather was nice and we arrived at the lake excited to descend into the world of jellyfish. Good thing these specimens were not poisonous. We jumped in with our snorkeling gear on and were surprised not to be totally surrounded by the slimy creatures. In the end, that was the picture I had in my mind. But there were still enough of them around and it was actually a bit more pleasant to swim and move around. We had fun picking some of the jellyfish up and playing with them. It was a cool experience, especially taken the fact that there is only one more lake similar to this on this planet. I think that one is in Palau.
The second stop was at a secluded beach where we snorkeled for a bit. The beach was very nice with very clear water but the snorkeling was rather mediocre compared to the underwater paradise of Bunaken. And that, to be honest, has to go for the whole of Kadidiri Island. Nevertheless we really enjoyed the stop at the beach taking in some sun after that first grey and rainy day.
Meet the Baju People
The highlight of the trip was still to come though. We finished our day-trip at a small village of the Baju People. The Baju are so called sea gypsies who were used to live on boats and travel along the coasts of Indonesia and the Philippines. Some still do so but the people here had settled down a while ago. The village was a congregation of houses on stilts and slowly chugging by, we were joyfully greeted by the village’s children. Once we left the boat, we were surrounded by the little brats and accompanied to tour the village. It was so nice and the locals, even all of the adults, were super friendly. Taking pictures was no problem and most of them even asked for having their picture taken. We had a great time but after a while it was time to say goodbye and head back to Kadidiri. It was definitely the best part of our tour that day.
The rest of my stay on the Togeans was spent relaxing, taking to the other guests, who by that time got less than at the beginning and trying to recover from my still persistent cold. It was alright but after the three days, I was ready to go, regain my freedom to do whatever I want and go exploring again.
Overall the Togeans couldn’t live up to my expectations. The snorkeling was rather mediocre and definitely not as good as on Bunaken. The beach itself was very nice and was just inviting to relax and chill out. But I felt a little caged in. There was nowhere to go by yourself, no village to explore no hikes to take. However, I have to say that I only explored this one island of a few there. And as far as I know, there are islands with a different character and more activities on offer. So maybe it was just a bad choice of mine. Generally I was ready to get going and exploring again. I was looking forward to make it to Cenral Sulawesi where motorbike trips, hiking and some cultural highlights were waiting.