Takabonerate (sometimes called Taka Bonerate) is a marine park located in the Flores Sea, south of Sulawesi. It’s a collection of islands which comprise the world’s third-largest coral atoll. The islands are home to a wide variety of sea life and bird species, and remain largely free of tourists. There is no phone signal or internet and limited electricity, making Takebonerate a great place to switch off and get away from it all.
In fact, Takabonerate is so far off the beaten track that you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere to stay. The majority of visitors are divers staying on liveabord boats. The only place in the atoll developed for tourists is Tinabo Island. Here, there is a dive resort with basic but comfortable accommodation. More information about Tinabo Dive Resort can be found below. On Tinabo, and on other islands in the atoll, it’s possible to stay in homestays. However, you will probably have to arrange this yourself when you get there, and will not be able to book this kind of accommodation in advance.
Getting to Takabonerate National Park
Takabonerate National Park is remote, and it takes a long time to get there no matter how you travel. Of course, that is all part of its charm, and it means that you’ll have more of the park to yourself. The nearest city is Makassar – Sulawesi’s capital on the south coast of the island – about 300 kilometres away.
Most visitors to Takabonerate will visit as part of a diving trip on a liveabord package. To get there independently, you’ll need to catch a boat from Selayar, an island in between Takabonerate and the mainland. From Makassar, it’s possible to catch a bus to Pantai Bira, on Sulawesi’s southeast coast. This takes around five hours. From there you can catch a ferry to Selayar – there is one every day and it takes around two hours. There are also a couple of flights per week from Makassar to Selayar’s small airport. This removes the need for the long bus journey to Pantai Bira.
From Selayar you will be able to catch a boat to Takabonerate, although public boats are irregular. By far the easiest thing is to arrange a pickup with Tinabo Dive Resort. They can also arrange each leg of the trip from Makassar. Of course, it is also possible to privately charter a boat when you get there, but be prepared to pay a lot for this. The boat from Selayar to Tinabo Island takes around four hours.
Where to stay in Takabonerate National Park
Tinabo Dive Resort
As mentioned above, Tinabo Island is the only place in Takabonerate developed for tourists. Tinabo Dive Resort is a beautiful place to relax on unspoilt beaches and enjoy word-class diving and snorkelling. The accommodation is not luxurious, but it’s the closest thing to a hotel in Takabonerate. There are four rooms which share a bathroom. The rooms are fan-cooled and have bamboo walls. Two of the rooms are twin and tow of them are triple. As with all of Takabonerate, there is no phone signal here. Electricity is also limited to a few hours per day. Food is basic too, but it’s fine and you don’t have a lot of choice. Of course, you can look forward to lots of fresh seafood here.
What to do in Takabonerate National Park
Diving is far and away the most popular activity here. Given how long it takes to get here, and how little else there is to do, there’s not much point coming here if you’re not a diver. If you are, though, you’ll love it. The area is unspoilt and not polluted, meaning there is good visibility of around 30-50 metres. The waters here comprise one of the most biodiverse marine ecosystems in the world. Creatures you can spot here include colourful flatworms and even more colourful nudibranches, and crocodile fish, also known as crazy fish for their habit of swimming upside down. There are also lots of rays, including eagle rays and huge manta rays, and their relatives the sharks. Other strange creatures which are often spotted here include batfish and pipefish, which are related to seahorses and seadragons. Lobsters, cuttlefish and turtles are also common.
Learning to dive
Most visitors to Takabonerate are seasoned divers. However, it is also a great place to learn to dive. Tinabo Dive Resort offers a range of courses, and the surrounding area has dive sites for all experience levels.
Where there is great diving, there is normally great snorkelling, and Takabonerate is no exception. Snorkelling is a good alternative if you fancy a break from diving, and lots of sea creatures can be seen easily. However, as it takes such a long time to get here, it’s probably not worth the trip just to snorkel.
Takabonerate National Park is a remote, unspoilt collection of islands south of Sulawesi. It is a fantastic place to dive and snorkel, but it takes a long time to get there. There is only one developed resort on the islands, Tinabo Dive Resort, but it’s possible to stay in homestays in small villages.
Have you ever been to Takabonerate National Park? Have any suggestions other than those mentioned above? Let us know in the comments below.