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 the summer of 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 the island of Batudaka, 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 overlooking a clear water. When we arrive, I can hardly believe my eyes: a small beach fringed with coconut palms serves as a showcase 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 line up in the shade of the 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 allotted with their three children the huge bungalow called "family" or "honey moon" facing the small beach of the pontoon. I have the next bungalow, smaller, but cute. The night + the three meals included are 150 000 Rp (10 €).

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

A week of pure idleness will follow, where I will alternate walks, swimming and diving. Here, there is no mobile phone network, we are cut off from the rest of the world. And of course, no internet. Finally, a real holiday! 😀

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 are lucky enough to arrive on a day when Sylvie is there, with the boat that she uses for shopping. We will take advantage of the crossing, without the need 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 headed south to visit the Toraja country. They are delighted with their stay in the Togian Islands and tell me in their message to quickly go to Marina Cottages Ampana, where is docked Sylvie's boat.

After a waking up at dawn Siuri Beach to accomplish six-seven hours of driving, we are therefore investigating two hours of boat in the same day. Few waves, the crossing is pleasant. And the reward on 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, who has trained her own staff, it's the other way around. Every day the menu changes, and the evening meal, shared by all guests at the restaurant's main table, is inspired, tasty and 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 in a thousand scents of herbs and an incredible soup, made from pumpkin and coconut milk, delicious.

And then there's bread, real French bread, prepared and baked on the spot. And even potatoes and homemade pizzas, with real cheese on top, which children (and adults) love. Because rice, by dint of eating it every day for weeks, we get bored...

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.)

Anyway, anyway. Sylvie manages to offer the best table there is 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 Poyalisa islet.

In Bomba, where I go 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 also seems pretty nice ... definitely, the Celebes recellent treasures!

    It's funny, to read the article you might think you felt the same kind of wonder as for Siquijor. I am wrong ?

  2. @Thib:

    Yes, the Togians are not easy to access, but they are worth seeing.

    I really liked the Togians (or at least the little that I saw), but not in the same way as Siquijor, actually. Certainly, in the beginning, when I arrived on the one as the other beach, my wonder was similar: finally, the place of which I dreamed !!!

    But this little paradisiac corner near Bomba is very isolated: in the Togian, so splendid is the frame, one is still a little "stuck" on the spot. While in Siquijor, which is vast, you can ride a motorbike, enjoy a bit of "civilization" (what would I not do, sometimes for an internet café), change atmosphere easily ... In short, the pleasures are not quite the same.

    Still, yes, the wonder is there, every time I come across a place a little exceptional. It's one of the things I love on my travels. Finding out corners, with which I feel in affinity. A bit like Bintan that you talk about in your blog, and that makes me want ...

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

  4. In passing, your topos are really nice. With which camera are you shooting? And with which software do you go? I'm trying to learn to edit and I'm still far from the desired result!

  5. Hello Marie-Julie!

    Yes, it's true that the color of the water there is... wow!!!! 😀
    The isolation is fine too, but provided it is for a limited time, all the same, 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 sequences of 30s. only (my device is limited, which is ultimately an advantage, because it requires to multiply the plans, as a result of which, it makes the editing more dynamic and less ... planplan). Good enough for web sequences (the device provides video files in .AVI).

    - Editing software: I'm on Mac, I use for now iMovie HD 6 (I do not like the new version of the suite iLife8). Very simple software that gives good results for amateur and web use. The recovered .AVI files are transformed by iMovie for editing in DV format, then I export the single file by 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, easy to integrate, because there is an adaptation in the form of 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. Thank you for the info! I have an old Mac and iMovie has been crashing for some time now. I am impressed by the quality of your topos anyway, 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 have not really traveled the Togians, there are other corners that Bomba and its surroundings to visit ... A next time, maybe?

    As for Bintan, thanks to you, it is noted in my long list of corners "to see a day".

    @ Marie-Julie:

    Thank you for this flattering comment ... For a broadcast on the web, no need for real gear pro. Of ailers, I would be very annoyed, me who likes to travel light and without worries, if I had to lug around a super high-tech camera and expensive. And then the difficulty is inventive and resourceful. I like to show that with a minimum of means, we can already do nice things.

    In fact, to have quality, and a result a bit pro, it is necessary to cure editing on the one hand, and encoding on the other hand. Question of sensitivity for the first, of technique for the second.

    I took a liking to these small video sequences. And compared to my early attempts, I master better. I now know what works or does not work, basic mistakes to avoid, and so on. Now, when I travel, between two photos, I also take the time to film many sequences, imagining in advance the little film that I want to do.

    In the cock-fighting arena in Siquijor, for example, I fought to get to the front row and put my goal between the bars of the woods so I could properly film the roosters killing each other ... I constantly changed places and viewpoints to have a good choice of exploitable sequences to mount next.

  9. Hello Corinne,
    I just wanted to tell you that I really appreciate your site. I watched among other things, your video in Sulawesi or I went a few years ago, and I particularly appreciated the fact that for only comments on the images, you just let the noise around you ... the sound of boat engines, the sound of wind and nature, and for those who can hear them, your heartbeat against such a beautiful show ...
    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 beautiful corner of Sulawesi. For this video, I preferred to leave in the background sound noises that best match the pace of this ride ...

  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 possibility to go 25 days in Indonesia 🙄 in February 2010 (I know it's not the best period, but I can't do otherwise, because it's part of a larger circuit...).

    I would have liked to have 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 that one is a little "stuck" on the Togian islands: is it possible to go from island to island or is it complicated?
    - and finally 🙂 , apart from the underwater world, is the island itself worth the detour for its landscapes? or would you advise me to go to another island in Indonesia?

    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 corners for snorkeling in Togian and Bunaken. We see wonders without having to scuba dive.
    ➡ Togians: yes, we can go from island to island, but every time we have to rent a boat ... it's not cheap (it's better to group together to split the costs), especially as the conditions of the sea, very changeable, can force to postpone the departure to the next day, sometimes. Otherwise, it is easy everywhere (and recommended!) To organize walks, island island nearby, by day.
    ➡ Landscapes: yes, it's beautiful! I was more excited about the "terrestrial" setting than about the submarine bottoms in Togian. The other island to visit, that I advise absolutely ... well ... you'll see it necessarily, if you go to the Togian: it's Sulawesi!

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

  14. On the net, we often mention "be adviced That Malaria is a big problem In most parts of the Togean Islands" what do you recommend Corinne? Anti malaria pills or some deet cream? Would it be possible to help me on this? Thanks

    1. @Salah: I'm not a doctor, and it's not for me to answer or advise you on that. Taking or not anti-palu is a personal choice. We must distinguish between the inconvenience caused by these drugs (me, they make me sick) and the risk involved (length of stay malarious area, significant exposure or not to mosquitoes depending on whether one is in the jungle or more by the sea, rainy season or not, etc.).

      For my part, I do not take anti-malaria medicines. I protect myself as thoroughly as possible from mosquito bites, with an effective repellent, long sleeves, etc. In addition to DEET-based repellents, there are now Icaridin-based repellents (the name of the molecule KBR3023), equally effective, but which do not smell bad and do not 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 will go to the Togian to work during the rainy season, can you give me some information on diving (marine life, Island Retreat diving club, boat and equipment, staff, etc) your opinion perso will help me too
    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 (wooden fishing boat), which served a bit of everything, to go shopping in Ampana, as for diving trips ...

      You must know that Bomba and Retreat Island are very isolated, far from everything. And the owner, Sylvie Manley (I do not know if she's still there) is a woman of character, with whom we must be able to get along when we work there every day, I guess ...

      At the time I found the marine life a little damaged, but things could change better. As for the equipment, today, I do not know anything ... Island Retreat was not at the time a diving center, just a resort offering the possibility to dive (compressor, some equipment) . When I was there, there was a German instructor on the spot who was doing the season, and who seemed to find the weather a bit long, on this island at the end of the world ...

      In short, sorry for not being able to really help you. My advice: you should instead go see what is happening right now before making a commitment. Everything changes 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 to go diving in Bunaken

  16. I just got back from a month in Sulawesi. I was immersed in your story before my departure and I read it today with pleasure. I also spent a week in Bomba but at Poya Lisa (just across the island retreat).

    It's funny: the little guy in blue and white that you took a picture of (near the overturned boat), I saw him too! He's 16 years old and works at Poya Lisa now (photo to back it up if you want) 🙂 He's the one who takes the tourists to the snorkeling spots.

    You will tell me that the size of Bomba is not very surprising.

    Congratulations for your blog and continue to make us dream!

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

      It's crazy to have news, several years after these photos (this stay dates back to July 2007). Delighted to learn that the "little" guy has grown up and can be lodged on Poya Lisa again ...

      Send me the picture, yes!!!! 🙄