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. 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 or Google+.
Hi elena , never stop to exploring indonesia !!!
Hi Februar Alfian,
I am sure that Elena wanted to get back to Indonesia and explore more 😉
Planning a trip around Sulawesi, and my friends need Wifi on two important dates so trying to work that round a trip to the Togeans. Just wondering if Wakai had any Wifi :)? Noticed you mentioned checking your email :p
Thanks for your help : )
Yes, there’s a cafe in Wakai where you can get wi-fi. It’s not that good, but ok for emailing and bit of Skyping. Just can’t remember the name :/ But you can ask anyone at your homestay – they definitely know it!
+ mobile Internet is cheap. So you can buy a prepaid card and just catch the signal somewhere.
Where exactly are you heading? 🙂
I envy both of you. I am Indonesian, but I never been there… Shame on me. I hope I can visit Togean soon! 😀
is there any ATM or a money changer anywhere on the Islands? What are the costs, how much cash one should have per day (excluding diving)?
Nope, no ATMs on the islands, but you may find one in Wakai. I can’t guarantee it would be functioning ok, so better have enough cash with you in IDR.
You can stay at Kadidiri for 15-30$ a day with 3 daily meals included. Day trips/boat trips/snorkeling trips are rather affordable too – from 5$ to 30$ for a day hike to Una-Una volcano.
Bear – around 1-2$ I think…
If you choose the simplest homestay Pondok Lestari Kadidiri and take a few trips around the places I’ve mentioned a week would roughly cost 100-150$.
This is a fantastic post. Info is hard to find on the Togean Islands and you have a great guide here. One of my favorites was to dive the B-52 airplane wreck. It crashed in the ocean and sank to the bottom almost fully-intact with 3 propellers still on the engines. Also, if you talk to Ali at the Black Marlin, he can bring you to live with his sea gypsy relatives who still freedive the traditional way. It is a completely unreal experience!
Brad, yes! I’ve read your post about living with the sea gypsies – unique experience and really interesting insights indeed!
Oh, and diving near shipwrecks is a must-do for sure!
subhanallah indah banget. kapan saya bisa kesitu 😀
Insya Allah bisa, mbak. Selama ada niat. 😀
Hi Elena! In 2 weeks’ time I’m heading to Togean, unfortunately only for a couple of days, so I would like to pick up one island to stay at. Which one would you reccomend? Thanks in advance!
Hi Kamie. The answer really depends on your budget and your interests. if you can provide me with more information I might be able to offer more help.
Hi Elena, we are planning a trip in july. Do you know if it is a good time regarding the weather? Kind regards
There’s a newly built houseboat which me and my friends went on for a week in August. It’s great. We could go pretty much where we wanted to go every day and didn’t have to worry about rooms being full at the resorts because we took our room with us ! Loads of snorkelling spots and beaches that most people wouldn’t get close to.
To go snorkelling, just jump off the houseboat, 2 metres from the front door and at night we could watch the sunset with a beer while fishing and cook the fish straight away in the small kitchen at the back. Very unique experience. The houseboat was called Bule Boleh Bajo
Thanks for sharing the info. I had a look at Bule Boleh Bajo, it looks like a nice option for budget travellers.
Togean Island is one of the last untouched places in the world for relaxing and holiday.
Togean Islands is one of the best places for a relaxing holiday indeed.
Hi guys! I wanted to know if I stayed at one of the resorts, is it still possible to go hike the volcano? None of the tourist agent trip operators offer the volcano trip.
Yes I think you should be able to hike the volcano if you are staying on Una-Una island. I’m not update about the volcano condition at the moment, maybe get in touch to one of the resorts and ask them.
Hope you have a great time in Indonesia.