The Togean Islands are a remote group of islands part of Sulawesi, Indonesia. It takes days to get here, and a variety of overnight buses, ferries, and boats, depending on which direction you are coming from. This was part of the appeal for me. I love seeking out extremely remote places that are cut off from the rest of the world. There's no signal in the Togeans, and only generator power in the evenings.
The journey began with a 14-hour bus ride from Torajaland to Tentena. Luckily, I'm one of the few people who actually enjoys super long bus rides. After spending a night here, it was another 5 hour ride to Ampana. I spent a considerable amount of time in both these towns freaking out because none of the few ATMs were giving me cash (and I was trying all three of my cards). There are no ATMs in the Togean Islands so you must bring all the cash you'll need with you. Eventually, one of them worked.
The following morning was another all day ferry ride to the island of Katupat, my first stop in the Togean Islands. It had been a long journey. I'll tell you the rest with photos...
This is the jetty leading to Fadhilla Cottages, a private island where I spent the first four nights. Most nights it was only me and one other girl staying there (also named Jessica, oddly enough!) A bungalow on the beach and three meals a day was the equivalent to about $20 USD/night. What a bargain!
The island was full of these giant shells.
There were beautiful sunsets.
Across the island was Katupat Island, where locals reside. Here are some pics of the floating village.
Locals were all very smiley and friendly.
Here is Fadhilla Cottages island from afar.
It was surrounded by coral reef. There was ok snorkeling all around the island. To be honest, all the reefs I saw in the Togeans weren't nearly as impressive as in Bunaken Island. We were told a lot of coral in this area was dead due to dynamite fishing. 🙁
One day we took a boat trip.
This secluded beach was one of the stops.
And we swam with stingless jellyfish! This was actually one of the main reasons I wanted to come here in the first place. It's been at the top of my bucket list for years. Click that link for more photos and video of the experience!
After a few days it was time for somewhere new. I hopped on the ferry a few hours onward to Malenge Island. The islands are all very far apart and the only economic way of getting around is by the public ferry, which runs once a day. This was my new home: Sera Beach Cottages.
And this was my bungalow, up in the hill, away from everyone else. There were a few more people here than the last place, about six of us now!
My balcony overlooking the ocean. Same price as the last place. Bungalow was better, food was way worse. One morning they served us fried dough for breakfast.
Beach was nicer too.
Soft white sand and a nice house reef out front.
We took a boat trip to Pulau Papan, a small island where the Bajau people or 'sea gypsies' live.
Here is the lookout point on the island. About 1000 people live here. The sea is the way of life here.
Most of the houses are on water.
This bridge was built to connect the Papan island to Malenge island so that kids could go to school. I heard that before it was built, they'd have to swim!
Coral and shallow clear waters all around!
On the other side of the bridge was another small village. The locals here were very friendly.
Indonesia is a country where locals LOVE taking photos with foreigners. Not so much on the islands, as there is no wifi, but on the mainland, if you pass a group of young kids they'll shout, "Selflie!" repeatedly, wanting to take a photo with you. Although this little kid looks quite angry here, he was actually yelling and screaming because he wanted a photo taken of himself. Normally I have a thing against taking photos of young kids in foreign countries (other tourists seem to love it... is that something you'd do at home?), but in this case I did... more to relieve his poor mom!
Back at Sera Beach. This photo was actually taken in the middle of the night! Notice the stars in the sky. The moonlight combined with a 2.0 aperture makes it seem like day.
Possibly the only selfie I will ever post on here. Ever.
After spending 4 nights on the new island it was time to go back to society.
Here is a picture of the cargo area/third class area of the overnight ferry to Gorontalo. It was very interesting to see how the locals travel. Second class was an open space with bunk beds. I shared a private room in "first class" with another traveler and felt super privileged. Normally I'm quite a thrifty traveler, but I wanted a safe place to store my belongings while roaming the boat. Besides, the cost was only about $20 USD per person.
Overall, my time in the Togeans gave me lots of alone time and thinking time, which I really enjoyed and learned a lot from. Without technology or others to keep you entertained, you can really go deep into your mind. I think if more people took the time to just sit and think for long periods of time without distraction, we just might have less stress and mental health issues in the Western world.
I'm also glad that the remoteness of these islands keeps most tourists away. With so much of South East Asia completely overrun by tourism, it's nice to see that places like this still exists. I'm aware that the irony of this statement is that this very blog post may draw more attention to the islands. But I think, as long as it takes days to come and leave this place, then it is somewhat protected. Hopefully that doesn't change!