Multicolored exuberance at the site Between Sea 1. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, July 2017)
Multicolored exuberance at the site Between Sea 1. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, July 2017)

Diving away from the crowds

#Tompotika #Sulawesi #Indonesia

  Indonesia: Sulawesi + Raja Ampat - July 2017

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text: 

Craving exuberant coral and wriggling fish? From a little corner of authentic Indonesia? I'll take you diving off Kampanar, in Central Sulawesi!

New adventures in Indonesia

Kampanar is a very small Muslim village of fishermen, located at the very end of the peninsula Central Sulawesi. Opposite, to the east, is the Moluccan Sea. I give you the Google Map below to locate:

How to get there ? The easiest way is to arrive by plane at the airport of Luwuk, (serviced by Indonesian companies Garuda, Sriwijaya, Wings / Lion Air) via Manado, Makassar or Palu in Sulawesi. Attention, as always when traveling in Indonesia, the journey can be more or less chaotic

I'd been tracking Kampanar for a while, because of a diving resort, the Tompotika Dive Lodgewhich opened there in 2015. Attracted by the enthusiastic opinions of other divers on the internet, I finally let myself be tempted in this month of July 2017 ...

And since I also wanted to go back to diving Lembeh, a macro-photography paradise in North Sulawesi, I thought it would be a good idea to combine these two Sulawesi spots (There are flights Luwuk-Manado to go from one to the other), before taking off again from Manado to finish the stay in Raja Ampat

Profusion of life at the site Between Sea 1. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Profusion of life at the site Between Sea 1. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)

The splendor of coral

Big advantage of Kampanar, in my eyes: as it is not on the usual tourist routes, there is no crowd either on land or under water. No "bubble factory" here!

Most tourists who undertake the journey to Kampanar and enjoy spending several days there are quite motivated divers - who often already know other dive spots in Indonesia - and that a long journey does not discard, if there is at the end the reward of new splendid underwater landscapes, where the life is dense, abundant, colorful ...

When to go? Good to know : we can dive all year in Kampanar. But beware, between May and September, the visibility underwater is not always at the top in this area that borders the sea of the Moluccas.

Low season: from the beginning of May to the end of September. For my part, I was warned, I knew what to expect in July and I confirm: lots of particles and plankton in suspension (The days without sun, it is a little mission impossible for the pictures with the wide angle with this "fog" underwater, but there is fortunately enough to have fun in macro). On the other hand, in this season, the sea is calm and there are no big waves crashing on the beach. And then the rates are also softer.

High season: from the beginning of October to the end of April. Visibility improves squarely from October, explained me my Opo guide, which was confirmed by other divers who have been there recently. It even seems that the month of October is the ideal period, because at that time there are not too many waves (at other times, it can be a little acrobatic, to embark and disembark the boat from the beach, I was told).

Some pictures are better than a long speech ... I put below a small selection of underwater photos that I made on the sites of Kampanar, to give you an idea of the beautiful atmosphere who reigns under the water. Poiscaille and coral in a mess...just the way I like it ! ! ! 😍 👌 🐠

Profusion of coral at the site Ali Baba 2. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, July 2017)
Profusion of coral at the site Ali Baba 2. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, July 2017)
Multicolored exuberance at the site Between Sea 1. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, July 2017)
Multicolored exuberance at the site Between Sea 1. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, July 2017)
On the reef of Batu Tekek, colorful soft corals abound. (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
On the reef of Batu Tekek, colorful soft corals abound. (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
At the site of Ali Baba 2, a huge gorgon, around which dance the glass fish. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
At the site of Ali Baba 2, a huge gorgon, around which dance the glass fish. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
At the Batu Gong site, one of my favorites, swarms of fish-chariots wriggle through the current. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
At the Batu Gong site, one of my favorites, swarms of fish-chariots wriggle through the current. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
A giant holy water font at the Batu Tekek site. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
A giant holy water font at the Batu Tekek site. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
At the top of the Batu Tekek Reef. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
At the top of the Batu Tekek Reef. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Detail of the delicate coral polyps at Colina Slope 2. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Detail of the delicate coral polyps at Colina Slope 2. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Coral polyps. Site: Ali Baba, Kampanar. (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Coral polyps. Site: Ali Baba, Kampanar. (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
A shy clown fish tries to hide in its anemone. Site: Ali Baba, Kampanar. (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
A shy clown fish tries to hide in its anemone. Site: Ali Baba, Kampanar. (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Nudibranch. Site: Colina Slope 2, Kampanar. (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Nudibranch. Site: Colina Slope 2, Kampanar. (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Nudibranch. Site: Ali Baba, Kampanar. (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Nudibranch. Site: Ali Baba, Kampanar. (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
When two nudibranchs decide to reproduce, that gives that ... Sea slugs, hermaphrodites, put in contact their genital organ to transmit each other male gametes, in order to fertilize their female gametes preserved in a pocket. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
When two nudibranchs decide to reproduce, that gives that ... Sea slugs, hermaphrodites, put in contact their genital organ to transmit each other male gametes, in order to fertilize their female gametes preserved in a pocket. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
The Colina Slope 2 site is full of delicate sea slugs. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
The Colina Slope 2 site is full of delicate sea slugs. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Snake "striped knit". Site: Colina Slope 2, Kampanar. (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
"Striped knit" snake. Site: Colina Slope 2, Kampanar. (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
There are many tiny octopuses on the house reef of Tompotika. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
There are many tiny octopuses on the house reef of Tompotika. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
A tiny crab stashed in a crinoid, found on the house reef of Tompotika. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
A tiny crab stashed in a crinoid, found on the house reef of Tompotika. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Flat worm. Site: Colina Slope 2, Kampanar. (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Flat worm. Site: Colina Slope 2, Kampanar. (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
The bright colors of soft corals (sometimes called alcyonaries) at the site Between Sea 2. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
The bright colors of soft corals (sometimes called alcyonaries) at the site Between Sea 2. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
The crinoids cling in the current on this imposing yellow sponge. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
The crinoids cling in the current on this imposing yellow sponge. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Anthias and damsels wriggle. (Batu Tekek, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Anthias and damsels wriggle. (Batu Tekek, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)

The beach not touristy

On the side of earthly pleasures, better to be a natural contemplative day and not need an intense social life at night. Kampanar, despite its privileged location in a beautiful cove, is not a seaside resort ...

Here, fishing boats with rockers line up on the long gray-black sand beach. Chickens and goats trot in freedom under the coconut trees. Hilarious kids spinning at full speed into the sea ...

No ugly rows of umbrellas or insistent street vendors. No banana boats nor of beach bars connected. No restaurants or souvenir shops. I love it! ! !

Facing the sea of the Moluccas. On the horizon, the island of Pulau Dua. (Kampanar, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Facing the sea of the Moluccas. On the horizon, the island of Pulau Dua. (Kampanar, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Child games. (Kampanar, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Child games. (Kampanar, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
The morning sun gilds the gray sand. (Kampanar, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
The morning sun gilds the gray sand. (Kampanar, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
The fishing boats on the gray-black sand beach of Kampanar village. (Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
The fishing boats on the gray-black sand beach of Kampanar village. (Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
The beach of Kampanar seen from the sea. (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
The beach of Kampanar seen from the sea. (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)

Pulau Dua

However, rare Indonesian and foreign non-divers sometimes come here to visit Pulau Dua, the island just in front of Kampanar. A path was laid out by the local authorities along the ridge. From above, the view of the bay must be superb.

As I was always underwater, photographing coral and fish, I did not find the time to organize a small trip to Pulau Dua. It is kind of a shame. Next time (because I'm planning to come back), I'll stay a little longer and make sure I have one or two "off" days to go around the area.

I only admired the island from a distance, from Kampanar beach or the diving boat ...

The sun rises on Kampanar and Pulau Dua, which is cut out in Chinese shadow on the horizon. (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
The sun rises on Kampanar and Pulau Dua, which is cut out in Chinese shadow on the horizon. (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Pulau Dua seen from the sea. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Pulau Dua seen from the sea. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Near Pulau Dua, an impressive rocky peak above the water. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Near Pulau Dua, an impressive rocky peak arises from the water. (Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)

The tiny village

Accros of shopping, run away! In the village of Kampanar, there are only tiny stalls selling pell-mell cigarettes, shampoo and instant noodles. Of course, if you can only gossip a few words of Bahasa IndonesiaConversations with shopkeepers will soon be limited.

The visit of the village consists of strolling along the few streets parallel and perpendicular to the beach, where the grey of the wooden shacks or cinder blocks alternates with touches of bright colours, on a facade, on a fence where the clothes are dried... Pointing towards the sky, the top of the mosque and the inevitable TV parabolas. The atmosphere is peaceful, the people are very nice.

The stall at the corner of the street. (Kampanar, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
The stall at the corner of the street. (Kampanar, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Bright colors in gray sand street. (Kampanar, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Bright colors in gray sand street. (Kampanar, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Dryer made in Kampanar. (Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Dryer made in Kampanar. (Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)

The Tompotika, the diving center

The Tompotika Dive Lodge is for now the only tourist structure from the corner, located in the heart of the village, facing the sea. It is a very small diving resort, at Human scale, which suits me perfectly. When I visited, in early July 2017, there were only three bungalows, two others were under construction (there are now five in all, if I rely on their website).

The Tompotika is managed by Wallacea, company specializing in cruises for divers in Indonesia, created in 2002 by a Frenchman (who has since become Indonesian), Jérôme Doucet, and his Indonesian wife Yani (Suryani Mile). I don't know them personally [update: I met them three years after the publication of this article, at the Salon de laiving 2020 in Paris] and I have no particular connection with them, but I appreciated that Jérôme, having learned my trip a bit chaotic, took the time to call me, just after my landing at Luwuk Airport, to welcome me and make sure that I had been welcomed as planned by his staff on landing from the plane.

I put you below their nice video presentation, which allows to see the resort, the village and the beach from above, thanks to a drone:

I really liked the dive sites I discovered and for the rest, I'm very happy with my stay there. Opo, who supervises everything concerning diving on site and who constantly makes sure that everything goes well at the resort too, has a lot to do with it (read here → My Underwater Guide Opo, A Hero). In summary: Indonesian staff adorable, simple rooms, clean and comfortable, varied meals, hearty and tasty, electricity 24/24 ...

Only flats:

  • We are in the heart of an Indonesian village, with what it implies in terms of the soundscape (songs of roosters, barking dogs, petarades of motorcycles, very early call mosques, etc.). I do not mind at all (when I sleep, I sleep), but those who need absolute silence in the evening or in the morning may have trouble ...
  • No hot water (this must be part of the future improvements and I think it has been installed in the new bungalows). The days when it's sunny, it's fine. But for the chilly I am, it's a little limited on days when it is gray. After spending several hours in the water, we finally find the bottom of the air, even tropical, a little cool ...
  • No wifi or phone signal... 😱 (And here's the drama 😂) EDIT: Johanne, a reader of the blog, who was at Tompotika this October 2017, tell me via Facebook that there is now a wifi connection! ! ! I quote it: "There is now wifi (random for sure, but that allows to communicate a little with the rest of the world) ..."

For addicts who have trouble disconnecting like me, the only solution to taste the joys of the internet is to go on a scooter ride to a nearby village about ten minutes from Kampanar. In this village whose name I have forgotten (but the Tompotika people know where it is), there is a 3G network, which we manage to capture near a hut on the beach under the coconut trees.

The hotspot is here! The only place where there is network ... (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
The hotspot is here! The only place where there is network ... (Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)

This hotspot is easy to find. This is where there are teens absorbed by their smartphones, between fishermen who repair their boats and goats frolicking ... ???? High-speed connection facing the sea! The luxury ... I posted at the time live on Snapchat a "story" video, which I had saved then on Facebook. You can go see her here, it gives a good idea of the atmosphere!

Finally, the Tompotika is involved in conservation projects in the region, in particular by participating in the protection of the maleoe birds and the marine environment. Green initiative to salute: the resort finances the cleaning of the Kampanar beach by the inhabitants of the village. A dozen people pick up the various garbage and plant debris that has accumulated each week.

Thanks to their efforts, the beach is always crisp and clean. Top ! ????

The inhabitants of the village regularly clean the beach. (Kampanar, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
The inhabitants of the village regularly clean the beach. And, yes, the guy on the top left is indeed photographing me too with his smartphone... 😂 (Kampanar, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
My house for the week in Tompotika. (Kampanar, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
My house for the week in Tompotika. (Kampanar, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
The atmosphere is always very nice, when in the evening, divers find themselves around the same table for dinner. (Tompotika, Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
The atmosphere is always very nice, when in the evening, divers find themselves around the same table for dinner. (Tompotika, Kampanar, Center-Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
New bungalows were under construction on the other side of the restaurant during my stay. (Tompotika, Kampanar, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
New bungalows were being built on the other side of the restaurant during my stay. (Tompotika, Kampanar, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Play of shadows and light on the Tompotika at sunrise. (Kampanar, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)
Play of shadows and light on the Tompotika at sunrise. (Kampanar, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)

  Indonesia: Sulawesi + Raja Ampat - July 2017

263 Shares
Share231
Tweet14
Pine6
Share12