Island Retreat: white sand and azure water ... (Togian Islands, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.)
Island Retreat: white sand and azure water ... (Togian Islands, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.)

The Togian Islands, a small paradise

  Indonesia: Sulawesi - July 2007

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: 

The continuation of my trip to Sulawesi (Indonesia) during summer 2007... On the program: the Togian Islands. A small corner of paradise at the end of the world!

Island Retreat

Monday, July 16, 2007: here I am in the Togian Islands. On the south-western tip of Batudaka island, precisely, at the well named resort Island Retreat, near the village of Bomba.

Calm and voluptuous under the coconut trees. I'll stay a week at Island Retreat!

We disembark by a huge wooden pontoon which overhangs a transparent water. When we arrive, I can hardly believe my eyes: a cute beach fringed with coconut trees is the setting for a dozen wooden bungalows.

Azure water and white sand. The beauty of the place immediately captivates me.

We arrive at the resort Island Retreat by an immense wooden pontoon, which overhangs a transparent water, ideal for the snorkeling (fins-mask-snorkel).
We arrive at the resort Island Retreat by an immense wooden pontoon, which overhangs a transparent water, ideal for the snorkeling (fins-mask-snorkel).
Island Retreat: The wooden bungalows line up in the shade of the coconut trees in front of the beach. (Togian Islands, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.)
Island Retreat: the wooden bungalows are lined up in the shade of coconut trees in front of the beach (Togian Islands, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.)

Sylvie Manley, the American who manages the resort, and who made the trip with us by boat from Ampana, smiles to see us so amazed.

My Dutch friends, Johan and Suzanna, are assigned with their three children the huge bungalow called "family" or "honey moon" facing the small beach of the pontoon. I have the neighboring bungalow, smaller, but very cute. The night + the three meals included are 150 000 Rp (10€).

The comfort is simple (no running water, the staff will draw large tubs from the well for you), but each bungalow is large, tastefully decorated and has a terrace. I sigh with ease and hang my hammock directly.

Then, a week of pure idleness will follow, where I will alternate walks, swimming and diving. Here, no cell phone network, we are cut off from the rest of the world. And of course, no internet. Finally a real vacation 😀

Island Retreat: white sand and azure water ... (Togian Islands, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.)
Island Retreat: white sand and azure water... (Togian Islands, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.).

→ See all photos here

Poso-Ampana-Togian: a long day's journey

But you have to earn heaven! We arrive exhausted, after a long day's journey from Lake Poso.

Yunus, our driver, drives us to Ampana, where we have the chance to arrive right on the day when Sylvie is there, with the boat that she uses to do the shopping. We will thus enjoy the crossing, without having to spend the night in Ampana, without struggling to find a boat...

These are Olivier and Ariane, met three weeks earlier in Bunakenwho warn me when we arrive in Ampana. French people, traveling with their families, too, with their three daughters. I kept in touch with them by SMS during my journey.

They have just left Island Retreat and are heading south to visit the Toraja country. They are delighted with their stay in the Togian Islands and tell me in their message to hurry to the Marina Cottages in Ampana, where Sylvie's boat is moored.

After a waking up at dawn Siuri Beach to accomplish six-seven hours of road, so we take two hours of boat in the same day. Few waves, the crossing is pleasant. And the reward at the arrival is worth it.

Yum, yum!

What's more, cooking here at Island Retreat, is the best of all we have tested for many weeks. We are a little tired of nasi goreng and mie goreng basic (rice and fried noodles), often greasy and tasteless in guesthouses, restaurants and cheap boui-bouis where we stop. It feeds, but it lacks refinement.

At Sylvie's, who trained her own staff, it's the opposite. Every day the menu changes, and the evening meal, taken together by all the customers at the large table of the restaurant, is inspired, tasty, subtle.

Island Retreat: chipping fish from dinner on the beach. (Togian Islands, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.)
Island Retreat: chipping fish from dinner on the beach. (Togian Islands, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.)

There are fresh grilled fish, mixed salads rich with a thousand flavors of herbs and an incredible soup, made of pumpkin and coconut milk, delicious.

And then there is bread, real French bread, prepared and baked on the spot!!! And even potatoes and homemade pizzas, with real cheese on it, which make the children (and the adults) happy. Because the rice, by dint of eating it every day for weeks, we get tired...

Island Retreat: probably the best table of the Togian Islands ... (Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.)
Island Retreat: probably the best table in the Togian Islands... (Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.)

In short. Sylvie succeeds in offering the best table despite the isolation of the island... Hats off!

Bomba Village

This stay in Togian will be for me a bubble of happiness, of absolute relaxation. I will make small excursions between two dives: to the nearby village of Bomba, through the jungle, with a visit to the stinking bat cave, or to the nearby islet of Poyalisa.

In Bomba, where I am going with my blond Dutch friends, we will be the attraction of the day.

The children of Bomba. (Togian Islands, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.)
The children of Bomba. (Togian Islands, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.)
The children of Bomba jostle on the pontoon of the village to say goodbye. (Togian Islands, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.)
The children of Bomba jostle on the pontoon of the village to say goodbye. (Togian Islands, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2007.)

I'll be back soon to tell you, in a future article, my dives in the corner ...

Video: Togian Islands walk

In the meantime, you can do a little stroll on the azure waves of the Togian Islands with the small video below.

→ See all articles about this trip : Indonesia : Sulawesi - July 2007

→ All my articles on the Togian Islands

→ All my articles about Sulawesi

  Indonesia: Sulawesi - July 2007

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  1. Oulalala, but that looks pretty cool too... Sulawesi is definitely a treasure trove!

    It's funny, reading the article you'd think you felt the same kind of wonder as you did for Siquijor. Am I wrong?

  2. @Thib:

    Yes, the Togians aren't easy to get to, but they're well worth the detour.

    I really liked the Togians (or at least the little I saw of them), but not in the same way as Siquijor, in fact. Admittedly, when I first arrived on both beaches, my sense of wonder was similar: at last, the place I'd been dreaming of!

    But this little corner of paradise near Bomba is very isolated: in Togian, no matter how splendid the setting, you're still a bit "stuck" on the spot. Whereas in Siquijor, which is vast, you can get around on a motorcycle, enjoy a bit of "civilization" (what I wouldn't do, sometimes, for an Internet café), change atmosphere easily... In short, the pleasures aren't quite the same.

    Nonetheless, yes, the wonder is there, every time I come across a place that's a little exceptional. That's one of the things I love about traveling. It's one of the things I like to do when I'm traveling, to find places that stand out from the crowd and with which I feel an affinity. A bit like Bintan, which you mention in your blog, and which really appeals to me...

  3. WOW. The color of that water! It's decided, I'm adding the Togian Islands to the list of must-see-before-I-die places... I love these kinds of places isolated from the world... and being "forced" to take a real vacation! 😉

  4. By the way, your topos are really cool. What camera do you use? And what software do you use to edit? I'm trying to learn how to edit, and I'm still a long way from where I want to be!

  5. Hello Marie-Julie!

    Yes, it's true that the color of the water there is... wow!!! 😀
    Isolation suits me too, but only for a limited time, I must admit.

    With regard to technical considerations:

    - Material: I shoot my videos with a modest camera, the Canon Powershot A95 (see the menu, the section Equipment.

    - Video format: 640×480 and in 30s. sequences only (my camera is limited, which is ultimately an advantage, as it forces me to multiply shots, which in turn makes editing more dynamic and less... planplan). Quite sufficient for web sequences (the device provides .AVI video files).

    - Editing software: I'm on a Mac, and for the moment I'm using iMovie HD 6 (I don't like the new version of the iLife8 suite). Very simple software that gives good results for amateur and web use. The recovered .AVI files are transformed by iMovie for editing into DV format, then I export the single file, choosing a high quality (opting for .MOV or .DV).

    - Encoding for uploading: with the Flash8 software, I make a .FLV file that can be read by any machine, Mac or PC, regardless of the browser, because Flashplayer is now installed by default on all systems. I choose a high quality again, for a beautiful rendering, and I reduce the dimensions to 400 × 300.

    - For the reader: I use pb-embed-flash, which is easy to integrate, as there's an adaptation in the form of a plug-in (extension) for WordPress blogs.


  6. Thanks for this comparison Togian / Siquijor. Not that I'm addicted to comparing everything, but it allows me to get an idea of what I know.

    Long live Siquijor 8)

    PS: Bintan, as far as the non-tourist area (so the South) is concerned, I think you'd like 😛.

  7. Thanks for the info! I have an old Mac and iMovie has been systematically crashing for some time. I'm impressed by the quality of your topos in any case, I thought you were using pro equipment!

  8. @Thib:

    Yes, the comparison between Bomba/Togian and Siquijor is not necessarily relevant, the two places are very different. And I haven't really been to Togian, there are other places to visit besides Bomba and its surroundings... Maybe next time?

    As for Bintan, thanks to you, it's on my long list of places "to see one day".

    @ Marie-Julie:

    Thank you for your flattering comment... For webcasting, you don't need any real pro equipment. Besides, I'd be really annoyed, as someone who likes to travel light and carefree, if I had to lug around a super high-tech and expensive camera. Besides, difficulty makes you inventive and resourceful. I like to show that with a minimum of means, you can already do cool things.

    In fact, to achieve quality, and a slightly professional result, you need to take care of the editing on the one hand, and the encoding on the other. It's a question of sensitivity for the former, and technique for the latter.

    I've developed a taste for these little video sequences. And compared with my first attempts, I've got a better handle on things. I now know what works and what doesn't, the basic mistakes to avoid and so on. Now, when I travel, between two photos, I also take the time to shoot a lot of sequences, imagining in advance the little film I want to make.

    In the cockfighting arena in Siquijor, for example, I had to fight to get to the front rows and fit my lens between the wooden bars so I could get a clean shot of the roosters killing each other... I constantly changed locations and viewpoints to get a good selection of usable footage to edit later.

  9. Hello Corinne,
    I just wanted to tell you that I really appreciate your site. Among other things, I watched your video from Sulawesi, where I went a few years ago, and I really appreciated the fact that your only comments on the images were to let the sounds around you speak for themselves... the sound of boat engines, the sound of the wind and nature, and for those who can hear them, your heartbeat in the face of such a beautiful sight...
    Magnificent !!!

  10. Hello Patrice,

    After our exchange on, I answer you here, on my blog, to thank you, again, for this little very nice message!

    The Togian Islands are indeed a magnificent part of Sulawesi. For this video, I preferred to leave the sounds that best matched the rhythm of this stroll in the background...

  11. Hello Corinne,

    I am very happy to come across a blog as well done! Thank you for sharing your experiences, this allows you to get an idea before leaving yourself!

    I have the opportunity to go to Indonesia for 25 days 🙄 in February 2010 (I know it's not the best time, but I can't do otherwise, as it's part of a larger tour...).

    I would have liked some advice:
    - is it possible to dive as a beginner? is it already possible to admire the underwater world with a simple mask and snorkel in Togian as in the northern islands? 😯
    - you say we're a bit "stuck" on the togian islands: is it possible to go from island to island or is it complicated?
    - and finally 🙂 apart from the seabed, is the island itself worth a visit for its scenery? or would you recommend another Indonesian island?

    Thank you very much for all your precious information, and especially to share with us your passion for the sea!

  12. @Agathe: Welcome to Petites Bulles d'Ailleurs 😉
    To answer your questions:
    ➡ Diving and snorkeling: yes, of course, there are plenty of great snorkeling spots in Togian and Bunaken. You can see wonders without having to go snorkeling.
    ➡ Togians: yes, you can go from island to island, but each time you have to hire a boat... it's not cheap (it's better to group several people together to divide the costs), especially as sea conditions, which are very changeable, can sometimes force you to postpone departure until the next day. Otherwise, it's easy (and recommended!) to organize day trips from one islet to the next.
    ➡ Landscapes: yes, it's beautiful! I was actually more thrilled by the "land" setting than by the underwater depths at Togian. The other island to visit, which I absolutely recommend... well... you're bound to see it, if you go to Togian: it's Sulawesi!

  13. Hi, I'm Alix, I'm 12, and I've already been to Indonesia. It's really nice, the sea is always beautiful for me, but when I went to Thailand, the sea was full of garbage... 😥
    But it's too good 🙄 😉 8) 😀 🙂 😛 ❗

  14. On the net , we often mention " be adviced That Malaria is a big problem In most part of The Togean Islands" what do you recommend Corinne? Anti malaria pills or some deet creme? Serait il possible de m'aider a ce sujet? Thanks

    1. @Salah: I'm not a doctor, and it's not my place to answer or advise you on this. Whether or not to take anti-malarial drugs is a personal choice. You have to weigh up the inconvenience caused by these meds (they make me sick) against the risk involved (length of stay in a malaria zone, whether or not you're exposed to mosquitoes, depending on whether you're in the jungle or by the sea, whether or not it's the rainy season, etc.).

      Personally, I don't take any anti-mosquito medication. I protect myself as carefully as possible from mosquito bites, with an effective repellent, long sleeves, etc. In addition to DEET-based repellents, there are now Icaridine-based repellents (molecule name KBR3023), which are just as effective, but don't smell as bad and don't attack the skin as much.

    2. Good evening No problem in Togian if you respect the minimum (water and drinks in closed bottles) The tea or coffee are good because hot!
      For the rest it is great but above all respect these wonderful sites and inhabitants Do not pollute them

  15. Hello
    I'm going to Togian to work during the rainy season, can you give me some info on diving (marine life, Island Retreat dive club, boat and equipment, staff, etc.) your personal opinion will also help me.
    Thank you for your help

    1. @Philippe: My post above on the Togian and Island Retreat dates from 2007 ... I do not know how things have changed there since.

      When I was there, more than five years ago, there was only one boat with a motor (a wooden fishing boat), which was used for everything from shopping in Ampana to diving trips...

      You should know that Bomba and Retreat Island are very isolated, far away from everything. And the owner, Sylvie Manley (I don't know if it's still her out there) is a woman of character, with whom you have to get along when you're working there on a daily basis, I suppose...

      At the time, I found the marine life a little damaged, but things may have changed for the better. As for the equipment, to this day I don't know anything about it... Island Retreat wasn't a diving center at the time, just a resort offering diving facilities (compressor, some equipment). When I was there, there was a German instructor on site for the season, who seemed to find time a little long on this island at the end of the world...

      In short, I'm sorry I can't really help you. My advice: you should go and see for yourself what it's like there, before making any commitments. Things change very quickly in Indonesia...

    2. I advise you Bomba, Sylvie always has the baractère but good and especially Malenge (avoid Kadidiri)
      and if you have enough free time also goes to UNA UNA
      To finish your trip, try diving at Bunaken

  16. I've just come back from a month in Sulawesi. I had immersed myself in your story before my departure and am now reading it again with pleasure. I also spent a week in Bomba, but at Poya Lisa (just opposite the island retreat).

    It's funny: the little guy in blue and white that you took a photo of (near the upturned boat), I've seen him too! He's 16 and works at Poya Lisa now (photo if you like) 🙂 He's the one who takes the tourists to the snorkeling spots.

    You'll tell me that given Bomba's size, this isn't very surprising.

    Congratulations for your blog and continue to make us dream!

    1. @Marie: thank you for this little note, it's very nice!!!!

      It's great to hear from you again, several years after these photos were taken (after all, this stay dates back to July 2007). I'm delighted to hear that the "little" guy has grown up and that we can once again stay at Poya Lisa...

      Send me the picture, yes!!!! 🙄