Lost in The Heart of Sulawesi

Togean Islands National Park

The heart of Sulawesi has given me the best solo backpacker experience that i ever had in my life. Togean Islands National Park located in Tomini Bay – Central Sulawesi is a small archipelago that offered me the beauty of nature, the friendly locals, luxury resorts, and the colorful underwater of Togean. Let’s read the completed story of my journey in Togean Islands National Park – Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.

As an exemplary of Engineering Student i put my college things as my first priority, exactly in early May I finished my final presentation of my final project in one of multinational companies in Jakarta and then continued 3 days of my practicum in Gresik and before finally to face the nightmare of every student is the holy Final Exam. But The things about me i always plan and manage my time pretty damn detail to find the days that I could used to make my trip. A week before the schedule of my Final Exam there was a short holiday that i could make into 1 week 3 days and then i said well it will not get any better than this! You Go Togean !!

A day after i finish my Practicum in Gresik and make sure there is no more things that matters at campus before I left. Previously I’ve already pack my stuff and booked ticket. I took flight from Surabaya to Palu in early morning.

Lost in the Heart of Sulawesi Togean Islands National Park by Gema Drakel
Sleep Just for the weak.

On that day I was expected to be arrived in Palu at 10:00 AM and then continued my trip to the travel-agent at 1:00 PM and continue my trip to Ampana City but some Sh * t Happened, there were some flights departure schedule changes from Makassar – Palu without any prior notification to passenger, so I ended up waiting. Around 1:00 PM I leave Makassar.

The airport of Makassar
The airport of Makassar

Around 1:50 PM I landed in Palu Mutiara Airport and Aby friend of mine already picked me up so it would be great to look around the city before finally heading to the travel-agent. And lucky me the last schedule of travel departure was at 05:00 PM.

I finished my payment for the ride (Mitra Touna) 150K , at that time I met foreign tourist who got little trouble to communicate with employee of the travel-agent. So I helped to communicate between her and employee of the travel-agent. Actually me and the Foreign  have the same destination, Togean Islands National Park but she just wanted to stay longer in the island of Una – Una. Her name was JULIA TAIVALMAKI she’s Finnish (Finland). Well from stranger became a new friend ! we started talking a lot of things at that time about her experiences travel around the world you know the typical basic conversation when we met the kind of travelers like this. At 5:05 pm we were already on the way to Ampana. The trip takes about 10 hours road trip from Palu – Parigi – Poso – Ampana.


Oh ! Ampana City.

The next day in early morning At 3:00 AM we finally reached Ampana, it was still dark at that time. Julia told me that we could wait until morning in one of the hotels that was usually used as a stopover for the traveler same as we were the name was “Hotel OASIS”.

After fell asleep on the sofa in the lobby we finally woken up by the sunlight, the sounds of vehicles, and local children activities. This is the typical of Indonesian activities in general every morning.

I was planning to look for a passenger boats with the destination of Wakai Island and the harbour of the passenger boats (not Ferry) actually located right next to the hotel oasis just took 10-minute walk and the price was around IDR 45K. While Julia was looking for a direct boat destination to Una – Una Island (it was Somewhat quite difficult) because of that I helped Julia to look for the boat with the direct destination to Una – Una Island.

After we asked some locals around and finally They told us there were Belanda Harbour (Named “Belanda (Dutchmen)” because it was used by the dutchman in colonial era) so we were rented a motorcycle (ojek) and drove us to the harbour. When we arrived, we asked again and finally we met with the owner of the boat and agreed that Julia could went with them directly to Una – Una on next day so julia have to stayed one more night in Ampana.

Before I leave Ampana Julia asked me to accompany her to bought some groceries in traditional markets, later brought by her to Una -Una. While I also bought some snacks. At 10:00 PM I went to Wakai Island and she returned to the Hotel Oasis. #HereWeGoTogean

On the boat all the way to Wakai Island I met the italian guy Norbert (Norbie). We talked a lot of things, especially about Indonesia i told him some places in Indonesia Also he asked some places and how to get there and he is a stones collector. Yeah stones like most of citizens of Indonesia nowadays but idk exactly what kind of stone he Showed me his collections (see on the pic bellows), he said every stone has a positive energy that impact on him. After 4 hours, we finally reached Wakai Island. From Wakai Island I decided to continue to my first stop was Kadidiri Island. There was a speed boat from one of the resorts on the Kadidiri Island, Black Marlin Dive Resort was ready to took us directly to Kadidiri Island.

Kadidiri Island day 1

(03.45 PM) Arrived in the kadidiri island, I decided to stay at the Black Marlin Resort. after some check-in requirements at receptionist immediately I entered my room I put my carrier bag, change up my clothes, prepared my snorkel gear and check up my camera.

(05.55 PM) While the sunlight was fading away and i was immediately dry up my self so i could enjoy the sunset of togean on that day. The long road to reach up this island, sleep less for several days before, and all the kind of stresses in my head finally paid off. I have to say that this resort has the best sunset-spot all over the islands.

(07.15 PM) For me travelling without tasting any good delicious foods is the dumbest way to traveling. Because on that time i was traveling solo, so I could decided to sit wherever I want it too in restaurant to have my meals. I mean it dont need to be just with our friends, we could get involved with others, sharing, meet new strangers, make a friend, and many more. I think that is the perks of being solo traveler.

On that night i met some of new friends, most of them european and also some of local tourist same as like me they were from Toli – Toli and Bugil (Mbak Hani, Mas Restu) . Mbak Hani, she bought 5 lobsters for only IDR 100K. I mean it guys, that was a huge lobster. I was offered by them to enjoyed the lobsters together with some of european hahaha such a good news for me :D. We were spent the rest of the day for a late night chit-chat right before we slept.

Togean Lobster
Hello Cholesterol :p

Kadidiri Island day 2

I decided to stay a day more in kadidiri island. There are a lot of things that we can do in Kadidiri Island. Kadidiri Island had 3 resorts, you can also chose trekking around the island, Snorkeling is a must during your stay in the island, Relaxing in your hammock on a sunny day while listening to your favorite music and reading some books are the things that shouldn’t be forgotten.

(05.30) YES. Wake Up Early. Wake Up in Early morning is a must during my trip. If we wake up in early morning, a lot of things we can do and the best part of it is the best time to take a golden hour and to capture the moment it’s in early morning. In Early morning on that time i was walking up around the shore of the island and played with some dogs from the island.

(09.30 AM) After i had breakfast, me together with an italian guy norbie we went for snorkeling.

(12.30PM) Done with my snorkeling things, i was hanging on my hammock admiring the vibes of the island while listening to my favorite playlist on my iPod.

You don’t have your summer unless you got your hammock.

(04.00 PM) Enough with my resting, on that time the sun wasn’t so blazing I think canoeing was the best to enjoy another part of the island I rent a canoe from Black Marlin’s reception for a half day was 50K rupiah. Spent the rest of the day with just canoeing and admiring the sunset on my second days in Kadidiri Island.

Bring your snorkel gear, your dry shack and jump whenever and wherever you wanted to around the island. You know the best corals probably placed beside or near the island or you can also go wherever you want it too to find your place even to cross to another small island if you want it too.

Enjoying Sunset when the sun was setting down.

That was the last day for me in Kadidiri Island, some of my new indonesian friends decided to went back and norbie the italian guy he decided to go to Una – Una to find some stones in Una – Una’s Volcano. 

Papan Island

Do you want to know about local people of Togean Islands ? if you want it to socialize and play with some kids well…. Papan Island should be on your first destination list. The real hospitality of indonesian in this island that made them warmly welcome to every tourist that were visiting the island. If you guys reading this story and have a plan to visit Togean and especially this Papan Island find these two kids (Irfan Kusani & Ramsi Beru) they’ll happy to have you !!

I was playing with these kids all day long, they showed me their playground. This joy of their childhood taught me that life is a priceless.

Use your time wisely, moments we had passed will not never be repeated.

“Enjoy your youth. You’ll never be younger than you are at this time.” Chad Sugg

Met these kids made me become more appreciative, motivated and a lot to be thankful for. I bought them some chocolates and some instant noodles and they were like the happiest kids on earth on that time.

See the point…?


For you a big fans of loneliness, quietness, calmness and without any distraction from other tourists ? Bolilanga Island is the kind of island for you. On that time it was only me and one foreign in the island. Yes that’s it, the island belongs to you !!!

Stingless Jellyfish Lagoon !

A LOT OF STINGLESS JELLYFISH ! This salt water lagoon keep the one and only gem of Togean Island National Park. It should be on your must things to do list during your trip in Togean ! I was hesitant to go swiming in the lagoon with only just by myself, quite creepy.

Ubur-ubur Mastigias Papua, this one was at the surface of the lagoon, unfortunately i came to togean not at the right time 🙁 there were only around hundred jellyfish but this one was pretty damn huge (35cm). FYI: The best time to come is around july-august to see the millions of this kind of jellyfish. and also there were 2 places that i knew have a Jellyfish stingless lagoon like this in indonesia. Misool (Raja Ampat) and Kakaban Island (Derawan). What are you waiting for ? Choose your destination, pack your stuffs and do not waste your Summer.

All The Way to Bomba Island !

Before i ended up my trip in Togean island National Park, i decided to stay a night in Bomba Island. I took fisherman boat passed by several spots such as Karina Beach, Kaputona Cave and passed by some of Bajones village.

But most of bajones in Togean they had been change their lifestyle. Most of them now live their life on a ground, but they were still depend on ocean as their livelihood and therefore their houses environment still near by the sea. In front of their houses there were Tambak / Bagan (usually used to keep their fishes) no need to explain about the fish the fishes were so fresh ! Yesterday i bought 4 fishes for anly 60K rupiah.

I continued my trip to Bomba Island, and on my way to Bomba Island i was shown by This National Park the most beautiful sunset in 2015.


I was arrived in Bomba Island at night and i choose Poyalisa Resort to stay a night. On that night i was disappointed by the service from the resort, the resort was too dark (less lights), and the employees they were have no idea what they were doing ! Fortunately dinner served by them were so delicious seriously the best dishes all over National Park. I ate my dinner together with a couple from dutch (well anyway there were a lot of dutchman that i met during my trip in Togean). It was exhausted day, so after i finished my dinner immediately went back to my bungalow and slept.

I woke up in the morning, and i knew i was completely wrong about this resort. My bungalow placed on the top of the cliff the back yard of my bungalow was the ocean. Anyway their breakfast were the best !!! 

The Best view from any other resort in Togean.

Well……..I think Poyalisa was the best place to ended-up my trip in Taman Nasional Kepulauan Togean. I’ll write it down all the review about 4 resorts I’ve been stayed. On that day i went back to ampana to take my flight to Surabaya. Anyway I’m happy i did this trip it was totally worth it to had my solo trip to this beautiful place in the hearth of Sulawesi ! Maybe ill paid another visit for dive experiences in Una Una… 


#FYI There are several ways to reach up Togean, The best flight  are depart to Gorontalo and or Luwuk Banggai. It will make you easier to reach up Togean. But why did i choose Palu ? Because it was the cheapest one :p.

#FYI If you choose palu, around 5 PM from palu you have to take (mini bus) to Ampana. Arrived in ampana you probably could stay for free at Lobby of Hotel Oasis while waiting for the schedule of the boat.

#FYI Always check the schedule of the boat ! noted that the boat is not always depart everyday.  I do recommend you to take this kind of boat than ferry !

#FYI Wakai Island is a transit Island, then from here you could decided where to go or where to stay in Togean Islands National Park. Wakai Island is the only one island that have a proper connections for signal or services.

#FYI PAK ZAINAL (0823-9422-5647) Local fisherman that you could rent his boat to take you around Togean Island National Park. Cheaper than you have to contact your receptionist in resort ! BELIEVE ME ! 😀

Thank you for reading, see yaw on my next post 😀

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