So many islands so little time
Sulawesi’s Togean Islands offer just over a dozen places to stay, ranging from firmly backpacker-orientated bungalow operations through to midrange resorts—all scattered right across the archipelago—leaving the question, where are the best places to stay?
Luckily the accommodation is in a series of clusters. To the east there are options on the islands of Walea Kodi and Malenge, in the centre are choices around Katupat and Kadidiri and to the west is another cluster around Bomba.
Another option lies on the more far-flung island of Una Una, which lies to the north of the main Togean Island chain. A final option are village homestays, which are available at least in Dolong (to the east), Pulau Papan, Katupat and Wakai (centre). We didn’t look at Una Una, nor the homestays on our research trip.
Each of the three main clusters (east, west and centre) have options for both budget and midrange travellers and each is close to its own series of attractions and distractions. The east is convenient for the outer barrier reefs and the wildlife and nature trails of Malenge; the centre is good for the Jellyfish Lake and Karina Beach; and the west is handy for the hornbill sightings and the offshore atolls. Snorkelling and diving can be arranged in the vicinity of all three clusters.
Note that prices listed below are PER PERSON and include accommodation and full board.
If you are travelling along, do watch out for the sometimes hefty single supplements some resorts levy.
Good budget accommodation on the Togean Islands
If you want to spend as little as possible, stay in one of the village homestays, where you should be able to get a simple room with three meals for around the 120-150,000 rupiah mark. However, bear in mind that if you actually want to spend your time out snorkelling and doing stuff, this may end up as being a bit of a false economy as you’ll be a boat ride away from any of the resorts offering such activities; if it is arranged through your homestay, you may have fewer people to pool costs with.
What we mean is if you’re staying in a homestay for the whole homestay experience, then by all means do so, but if it is in order to have a cheaper bed while doing activities, you are probably better off staying in one of the more budget-focused resorts.
Long-running Poya Lisa, in the western cluster of resorts, remains one of our favourite affordable picks. They offer simple but clean wooden beachside bungalows with shared facilities starting at 150,000 rupiah per person. We’d go for the 200,000 ones on the cliff for the private bathroom and outstanding views.
In the central selection, Pondok Lestari is the cheapest (starting at 175,000 rupiah for a basic shack with a share bathroom), but the economy rooms at Black Marlin, which cost 200,000 rupiah, struck us as better value. Bolilanga and Fadhila also have budget options starting at 200,000 rupiah.
In the east, your two primary budget options are Lestari Cottages and Malenge Indah—both are on Malenge and both start at 200,000 rupiah—of the two we preferred Malenge Indah. Also in this area, on a blip of an island to the immediate west of Malange, is Ale Beach Angkaio which starts at 250,000 rupiah. We didn't see here (we didn’t find out about it till after we had left!)
Good midrange accommodation on the Togean Islands
We were very impressed with the look and feel of Poki Poki, which sits on a long beach not far from Bomba, though their sometimes 100% single supplement is a bit steep. Nevertheless it is very popular and bookings are essential. From 250,000 rupiah.
In the central cluster, Harmony Bay offers oversized bungalows on a great beach. Stay here if you need proximity to Wakai. From 250,000 rupiah, with the best bungalows, 400,000 rupiah.
For something further flung, Sandy Bay is an excellent hideaway, with a friendly social vibe and two beaches to choose from. Rates start at 350,000 rupiah.
Something a little more special
In the eastern cluster you'll find two stand-out and relatively new places, Bahia Tomini (on Malenge) and Lia Beach (on Wakea Koda). Both start at 450,000 rupiah and are really special hideaways. The former has three rooms, the latter, just two—in either case, reservations are essential.
Family-friendly bungalows on the Togean Islands
In the west, Island Retreat (from 440,000 rupiah) is the business, with broad specious lawns, an excellent beach and a terrific pier for leaping off.
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
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Our top 10 places to stay in and around Togean Islands