So many islands so little time
Sulawesi’s Togean Islands offer just 10 main non-package orientated places to stay, ranging from firmly backpacker-orientated bungalow operations through to midrange options. The bulk of the accommodation is to the east of Wakai, the main port in the archipelago, and it’s also in this area that you’ll find the most options for daytrips, such as to Jellyfish Lake or the trails and piers at Malenge.
Another fine backpacker option is Sifa Cottage, which has a good house reef and a very warm welcome, and will appeal to those looking to get away from it all — as it is well away from, well, everything. Accommodation is simple but clean and the food gets great reports. We’d make it a lineball call between Poya Lisa and Sifa Cottage for budget travellers looking for isolated beauty in the Togeans on a budget.
Closer to the “action”, Fadhila Cottages is our flashpacker choice. It’s very well regarded for its food in particular, but has weak snorkelling (though three lionfish were in residence when we passed through). Nearby Bolilannga Cottages would be great value if it dropped its prices ever so slightly.
We were less enthusiastic about Lestari on Kadidiri — Mama is friendly and all, but the cheap rooms here are very ordinary. They’re easily outdone by the rustic rooms at Sunset (hole in the bathroom roof and all), which are better value, and Sunset has a far better stretch of beach — note though that it’s facilities are very basic and simple indeed, and won’t appeal to all.
Back on Kadidiri, the inaptly named Kadidiri Paradise, despite a couple of staff being exceedingly friendly, helpful and knowledgable, is getting very long in the tooth. It needs to either refurbish completely (and offshore their rats) or drop their prices. That said, this is one of the largest resorts on the Togeans and is a good high season safe bet if you’re showing up with no reservations and everything is full. Ask if you can sleep above the restaurant if they say they have no space.
Lestari on Malenge gets good reports, but we (and others we talked to) found management here to be particularly unwelcoming, though they were quite amiable with their paying guests when we stopped by. Sifa is a far better choice, is similarly priced and has a better house reef.
Divers, at least those not booked into Walea (see below), should go for Black Marlin — which we don’t recommend for non-divers. You’ll also find dive schools at Fadhila Cottages, Island Retreat and Kadidiri Paradise. We learned to dive with British Jez at Island Retreat and can’t recommend him highly enough, but if you want a more central location, head to Black Marlin.
When it comes to making reservations, it can be tricky. Most places have no internet nor phone connection, so management is checking messages or emails irregularly. If you’re planning a high season stay at one of the places that does have a website, firm up dates and reserve as soon as possible — they’ll be the first to fill up as they will be the easiest to book in advance.
Please note that we did not visit the high-end Walea Dive Resort at the southern tip of Pulau Walea Bahi, but you can visit their website here. Nor did we visit Pondok Indah on Pulau Malenge.
By Stuart McDonald
Last updated on 22nd April, 2015.