Everyone is dreaming about visiting Maldives – the white sand beaches and turquoise warm ocean water, but just don’t have the budget for it. Me too. And I have found an amazing alternative – the Togean Islands Indonesia.

If you’re in Sulawesi also read:

Top Things to do in Tana Toraja

How to Get to Wakatobi

The Togean Islands are hardly ever mentioned by any guide books and is definitely off the most tourists’ routes. Shame! Yes, it takes much time and effort to get there, but are you ready to take a long-long ride to have a view like this every morning for just around 15-20$ a day including?

Karina Beach Togean islands
Togean islands - Ampana to Wakai

Getting there:

The closest big land is the Sulawesi Island. You can hope on the next flight from Jakarta or Denpasar (Bali) to either

  • Makassar
  • Gorontalo

From Makassar:  it will take almost 24 hours by bus to get to Ampana – a coastal city from where a ferry leaves each day (except Friday) to Wakai – the capital city of the Togeans. The ride will take 4-5 hours max.

From Rantepao: the main city of Tana Toraja region the drive to Ampana will take around 12-16 hours. However, the road goes through the jungles and hills. When it rains heavily, it turns into a mess with all the mud going down from the hills and blocking the way. We nearly got late to the ferry as our bus got stuck in the middle of the jungles at night.

From Goronatalo: the ferry leaves 2 times a week Wed and Fri in the evening and the journey time’s around 15 hours. You can comfortably sleep in 1-2nd class lounges or just on the deck watching the starts above your head.  Detailed schedules available here.

things to do in Togean islands

Amazing places to explore around The Togean Islands:

– Visit Mariona Lake with non-stunning jellyfish
The lake’s situated in the middle of the islet (one of many with no specific name) and inhabited by dozens of jelly fish – pink, blue and ghostly white. All of them are not poisonous and won’t sting you!
One of the funniest places to snorkel and take fantastic photos if you have underwater photo gear.

– Check out an amazing waterfall in Wakai
It’s not far from the town and you can easily walk there by foot. I’ve stayed at Kadidiri islet where there’s no Wi-fi, so it was nice to finally check my email too.

Bajau Village around togean islands

– Pay a visit to the Bajau people village
These people have been often called the Sea Gypsies as it’s been less than a decade since they’ve settled on land and started a village.

With the main income coming from selling sea cucumbers, shark fins and a few other exotic fish to the Chinese who use them in traditional medicine, the bajaus lived on house-boats and migrated along with the sea life they’ve been hunting for.

Kids here learn to swim probably earlier than they start to walk and can easily dive up to 12 meters without and special gear.

The locals are very friendly and the kids will follow you all around the village giggling and posing for pictures.

–  Hike up the Una Una volcano
Based on a separate islet the volcano is still active and the last eruption happened just twenty years ago in 1983.  The nearby villages have been evacuated and just a few people have returned back by now.

The hike up to the crater will take 2+ hours and there are two routes up and I’d recommend taking a guide who could lead you up safely as the path are twisted and slippery after the rain.

–  Enjoy a lazy afternoon at Karina beach
A huge white sand beach, absolutely deserted as there’s no lodging around. There are a lot of coral reefs to explore and palm treats to try getting coconuts from.

Kadidiri island

– Dive! Dive! Dive!
The Togean Islands is the 2nd best diving place after Raja Ampat in Indonesia (in my humble opinion). You can easily get your diving certificate in a day from Black Merlin Diving Resort at Kadidiri and explore numerous breath taking reefs scattered all around the archipelago.

– Spend a night a deserted island
There are plenty of them around! Just choose a lovely one and ask someone with a boat to get you there (and don’t forget to return for you on the next day).  Probably one of the best experiences I had in life was swimming at night in warm ocean waves with shimmering plankton glowing around me with each move I make.

And the tropical night sky can’t be compared to anything else.

For more information about the Togean Islands read this guide.

So, who wants to add The Togean Islands to the travel bucket list?

elena travelgramAbout the author:
Elena is a twenty-something girl getting lost in different corners around the world and the writer behind Elena’s Travelgram. Originally from Kyiv, Ukraine she’s now settling as an expat in France and continues to explore new countries around Europe and Asia. Check out her photos on Instagram and connect with her via Twitter, Feedly or Google+.