The Togean Islands are hardly ever mentioned in any guide books (yet we did write a guide). They are definitely off the most tourists’ routes. It’s a shame. Yes, it takes much time and effort to get there, but it’s worth it. Surrounded by coral reefs, with beautiful white sandy beaches, turquoise waters and palm trees the Togean Island are a little slice of paradise (and it’s cheap). To help you make the most of your stay I created a list of the best things to do in the Togean Islands.
1: Swim at Mariona Lake with the Non-Stinging Jellyfish
The Mariona Lake is one of the highlights of the Togean Islands. Thousands of years ago the lake was sealed off from the sea by a sudden geological change. The highlight are the non-stinging jelly fish – pink, blue and ghostly white. It’s one of the funniest places to snorkel and a fantastic place to take photos if you have underwater photo gear.
2: Visit the Villages of the Bajau People
The Togean Islands has a population of around 25,000 people. Most live in villages on the three largest islands of Batudaka, Togian, and Talatakoh. The Bajau people, often called the Sea Gypsies, traditionally live in villages built on stilts over the coral reefs. They are traditionally fishermen. They earn money from selling sea cucumbers, shark fins and a few other exotic fish to the Chinese who use them in traditional medicine.
Some of the villages built on stilts are picturesque and it’s well worth visiting if you are looking for things to do in the Togean Islands. The highlight for me were the children. Bajau kids learn to swim at a young age. They can easily dive up to 12 meters without any special gear. Everyone was very friendly and the kids will follow you all around the village giggling and posing for pictures.
3: Dive! Dive! Dive!
You need to add diving to your ‘to do’ list. The Togean Islands are in the heart of the coral triangle (an area with some of the highest marine biodiversity in the world). There are numerous breathtaking reefs, old WW2 wrecks and more scattered all around the archipelago where you can go diving or snorkelling. If you are looking for a trusted dive operator I recommend using Black Merlin Diving Resort on Kadidiri.
4: Spend a Night On a Deserted Island
If you are looking for things to do in the Togean Islands then I highly recommend spending a night on a deserted island. I did this and it was amazing! One of the best experiences I’ve had in my life was swimming at night in the warm ocean surrounded by shimmering plankton that glowed around me when I moved. It’s easy to arrange. Just and ask someone with a boat to take you to an island (there are plenty of them around) and ask them to bring you back the next day.
5: Hike up Una Una Volcano
Hiking Una Una Volcano is a fun way to spend a day in the Togean Islands. The volcano is short, rising 500 meters above sea level with a 2 km wide caldera. The hike up to the crater will take 2+ hours and there are two routes up, but it’s worth the climb. The view from the top is a treat. I’d recommend taking a guide who could lead you up safely. Word of warning, the path gets very slippery after the rain.
6: Enjoy a Lazy Afternoon at Karina Beach
Karina Beach is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon. The beach is huge, with perfect white sand Pals it’s deserted, meaning there’s a good chance you’ll have the whole thing to yourself. You can spend your day lazily sitting on the sand and reading a book, snorkelling around the coral reefs or attempting to climb a palm tree for a coconut. Definitely include a visit to Karina Beach on your list of things to do in the Togean Islands.
7: Check out The Waterfall in Wakai
The largest settlement in the Togean Islands is the small fishing port of Wakai. Ferries depart from here to the island of Kadidiri. A few kilometre inland from the town is a small waterfall. It’s a nice place for a hike if you’re looking for things to do in the afternoon. Don’t worry about getting lost, locals will be happy to direct you to the falls.
So, who wants to add The Togean Islands to the travel bucket list?
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+.