The Togean Islands, Sulawesi

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The Togean Islands form a fragmented, 120-kilometre-long crescent across the shallow blue waters of Tomini Bay, their steep grey sides weathered into sharp ridges capped by coconut palms and hardwoods. The exceptional snorkelling and diving around the islands features turtles, sharks, octopus, garden eels, and a mixed bag of reef and pelagic fish species. On the down side, there are also nine depots in the Togeans dealing in the live export of seafood to restaurants in Asia; many of these operations employ cyanide sprays, which stun large fish but kill everything else – including coral.

From west to east, Batu Daka, Togean and Talata Koh are the Togeans’ three main islands, with Walea Kodi and Walea Bahi further east. The main settlements are Bomba and Wakai on Batu Daka, and Katupat on Togean. Wakai is something of a regional hub, with transport out to smaller islands. There are no vehicle roads or widespread electricity in the Togeans and you’ll find it pays not to be on too tight a schedule; most accommodation places offer day-trips and shared transfers. Tourism in the islands is budget-oriented but good, and prices usually include meals. July through to September are the coolest months, when winds can interrupt ferries. Diving is usually good all year round, though visibility in December can be variable.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIsland-hop from one forested golden-beach beauty to the next, where hammocks are plentiful, the fish is fresh and the welcome is homey. Most islands have only one or two family-run guesthouses that can accommodate just a few people, while popular Kadidiri has a small but lively beach scene with night-time bonfires and cold beers all around. The surrounding sea of Teluk Tomini is still recovering from its past brushes with cyanide and dynamite fishing, but the corals are coming back and most divers and snorkellers are thrilled with the rich diversity of marine life they find.

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When you decide to pull yourself out of the water, there’s a surprising variety of wildlife to look for in the undisturbed and wild jungles, as well as other remote beaches to find and even an active volcano to climb on Una Una (by day trip). Seven or so ethnic groups share this region, but all are happy see visitors and are exceptionally hospitable.

Most of the rooms are in wooden cottages and right on the beach. Most have a mosquito net but no fan because the sea breezes keep everything cool. Bathroom facilities range from communal and rustic to private and porcelain. Prices are usually per person and rates include three local meals. It is a good idea to bring along some snacks and treats. Beer, soft drinks and mineral water are available from shops and homestays. Bring plenty of cash as there are no banks in the islands.

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Location:

These islets situated North East from Sulawesi shores in the gulf of Tominco. Daily flights are available from from Denpasar to Palu.

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