Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by indohoyindohoy on 19 October 2010 • Itinerary
It’s a bit confusing how to start this part of the story. There isn’t much to say but so much to tell at the same time. Does that make sense? Reno, Vira and I had a great time on the islands and would love to share it with you, yet we are speechless because what we enjoyed was simply for anyone to experience themselves to understand. Togian Islands is a place to relax, enjoy time flying too fast and halting all at once. We happen to be staying at the Kadidiri island. It’s a place where you enjoy what you have in front of you and there is less you can do to change anything that is not enjoyable. You’re basically stuck on an island. But what is there not to enjoy?
What did we do? Hmm… let me see… we swam, snorkeled, napped, enjoyed the sunset, woke up late, swam, dive, chatted with fellow travelers, laughed, giggled, snorkeled, patted dogs, ate (wow, that’s important and I almost forgot it), lazed on the hammocks, played games, read,… now that doesn’t sound too interesting does it? Hahahahahaha….
But this is what we did for the 4 days we were there. This is probably what most people did while they were also there, especially since we were trapped on the mini beach of Kadidiri Island. Any beach loving person would easily love this place. It is a mini paradise where you really can throw away your worries, except for financial ones since you would be a bit of a trouble if you ran out of cash. There aren’t any ATMs 🙂 And most importantly, there is impossible cell phone signal.
It would be endless if we told you about each and every snorkeling activity we spent those 5D/4N because our activity was either that or diving or have simple meaningless conversation with whomever. Oh, don’t forget naps and coffee breaks. So we’ll save you the bandwith and share you the locations where you could have fun.
Taipi Island is the island you see just in the distance to the north from Kadidiri island. It would take you about 20 minutes by boat to get to this island. Many pictures of the past have shown there is a port here, but it’s now ‘was a port here’. The port is long gone. What’s left is a trail for boats (and people) to come in without damaging the dense reef.
This island is extraordinary when it comes to snorkeling experience. I advise those that have never gone snorkeling to avoid their first experience here. Cruel? Maybe. But Taipi Island is so beautiful for snorkeling you probably would find some difficulty to find some other spot to compete with it, at least around this archipelago. It’s crystal clear down to about 20 m, dense with corals, and rich with fish and marine life. It has a drop off in some areas and a vast spread of corals with a more friendly depth in other parts.
To mention a few, I saw a green mantis, lobsters, nudibranches, bumpheads, and a LOT of fish. Countless if you may say. It’s not swarming of thousands of fish, but it surely makes hundreds. I also saw countless soft corals and fan corals decorating the scene. They say, if you’re lucky you might even see a Napoleon fish swimming around or other bigger creatures to stare at. Baraccuda apparently is also quite popular. Sadly, I didn’t see this long silver fish and we also saw the ‘crown of thorn starfish’ 🙁
And need I talk about the water? So clear! It was surprisingly warm. You know the feeling where you’re hot and you wish you could jump in the cold sea? Well… similar, but this time you jump in a slightly warmer sea. I thought my skin was playing tricks on me, but several jumps in the water really did prove it was warmer. Mind you this is a seasonal condition and July to August was the time of warm swims.
Just a little heads up, the corals at Taipi Island is really shallow. At times, you would have to suck in your tummy from touching the corals, that is if you have a belly.
We do have to give a thanks to owner of Paradise resort who kindly let us tag along to Taipi Island when he had to go there. It was our first snorkel and a great time too. He was there to fix his bungalows, which were rentable.
In front of all the accommodation is the house reef. The house reef was pretty nice to snorkel in. You probably have to swim out a little more to see fishes and other creatures. It would take about a 20-30 m swim passing the turtle grass before seeing corals. The snorkel in the grass is no loss. You could see several kinds of fishes swimming around the green setting, so it’s no rush to reach the corals.
The snorkeling area stretches both a bit more to the north and south of the main beach. To the south, you can snorkel around the rocky walls or pass it a little bit to see more. Compared to the front part of Paradise Resort (read under Sleep tab), a better part to snorkel I would have to say is at the end of the beach near Pondok Lestari. It’s a bit sandy on the base and that’s why I saw my FIRST BLUE SPOTTED STING RAY HERE HURAAA!!! There are other numerous creatures I saw, which really suck on remembering. But give me a pictured encyclopedia, and I would point away.
The house reef is also offered as a diving spot. I’m sure there is a lot to see in the deep compared to what is on the surface, but sorry I didn’t do the dive in my limited amount of time of relaxing 😛
See… I‘m too impressed by Taipi that I have favored it from the house reef.
A bit to the north…
You could also choose to snorkel to the north of the island. The best way to do so, as I heard, was by jumping in from the port on the bay behind Paradise Resort. The port is accessible to anyone even you are from neighboring accommodation. Trust me, it’s true! This bay use to house some sea horses, but last information we got was it’s getting harder to see them.
From this port you can snorkel around the area, trying your luck finding the sea horses, and work your way through the opening. From here, you can head a little more to the north. It wasn’t disappointing as they say. The water was a great blue, so to the least, it was a nice swim I guess. We didn’t try this but many did after we talked to the others. Can you believe we didn’t have time to explore the area??? Vira blames the hammock 🙂
This beach is located about an hour boat ride from the resorts. We arranged a trip with Pak Lani, a local that helps organize boats for travelers of the area. We were planning to do an island hopping thing, but seeing distance and what to see was quite an issue, we decided to take the majority recommendation. Karina beach. Most of the employees recommended this beach. I couldn’t quite imagine how they would recommend something worth traveling another hour that could beat what we had at Kadidiri Island? So we took the trip out of curiosity.
Pak Lani organized a fishermen’s boat for us and a really nice (which I will prove in the end of this entry) fisherman with it of course. It’s clearly a boat for fish. The salty fishy smell was the first thing I noticed coming on to the boat. The lack of space was the second thing. We weren’t cramped up, but it was smaller than what I usually am used to. Another thing that proved this was a fishing boat was, it had no ladder. It was a struggle to climb up, an adventure itself. It also kinda turned me off to often jump in the water. Vira and Reno admitted to have difficulty to jump in too. The boatman (forgive for I have sinned, I have forgotten his name) did say that he and Pak Lani was planning to make a ladder soon. Good decision!
Along the way, you will enjoy sight seeing of a tropical setting and some coastal villagers that take life simple. It was eye candy to anyone that lives in the city. We enjoyed the trip to where ever the boatman took us. We stopped at a bay that was a bit wavy that day and started snorkeling.
Too impressed by Taipi Island, I considered it to be alright. Come to think of it, it was actually quite nice. The water was a bit murky and corals had less variation in color. The current was a bit tiring so I didn’t snorkel as much.
So I though the Karina Beach wasn’t a bomb! But … apparently we weren’t there yet. The boatman finally took us to Karina beach. And yes, I again was wrong. Karina beach was a bomb! It was different to the beaches at Kadidiri Island. It was also in a small bay. It had the one of the whitest sand I’ve ever seen and goes extremely well with the clear water. I think I’m exaggerating here because it was a really breath of fresh air seeing the same beach for a few days. Karina had a slightly slope making the bay a pool. It had little impact from the waves since the corals are about 50 m to stop them. The high walls protecting the beach secluded us, making us think Karina was ours for a moment. Don’t you just love the feeling of wondering where the hell you are while enjoying the non-existing world beyond what you are experiencing? And since it was a shallow beach, climbing on the boat was no problemo!
One of my favorite parts of visiting Togian beach actually was when we were coming home from Karina beach. For no reason known, the boatman took us home through another route. He took us through the islands. We went through mini straits that made me feel like we were going through rivers. For Vira, it was like a warm up before going through the Amazon… with me tagging along of course. The waters was so calm being protected by the islands, and the boat had just the right speed so we could enjoy everything in a dozy half dream mode. Because the sun was half way down, the islands protected us from the glare to enjoy the green setting with tall trees and birds flying in and out. Darn, I wish I had my binoculars with me and more batteries for our cameras 🙁 ! The boat also passed a few villages. One of them was heavily bombed by the US knowing Japanese were hiding in it. Or was it the other way around? Well, it’s living peacefully now. We also went past another coastal village, so close that we could see the traditional houses up close and wave to the children jumping up and down, cheerful meeting strangers. Ah life is good! It also gets better once I dipped in to the ocean… but we’ll save that for the next entry 😉
We could have tried all three accommodations if Lestari had an opening. Unfortunately we only tried 2 out of the 3 facilities. But since the 3 are oh so close together you could say that a quiet night is still luxury. You might get a few nights of silence but parties happen and dogs are horny outside. Nonetheless the sounds are of those enjoying themselves J It’s not like some couple is fighting throwing plates at each other.
Pondok Lestari is the cheapest place to stay on the island being IDR 75,000/person with 3 meals a day and free coffee and tea. It has a nice wooden based open dining area and basic bungalows and rooms. The new bungalows would cost more being IDR 100,000/person. The bungalows, like most of the bungalows on this island, face the sea. Lestari has a simple shared bathroom and shared toilet. The shower and toilet is separated and is a good idea being so limited. I’m not sure how much they have in total, but I only saw one that was pretty obvious.
Since it’s the backpackers’ favorite place to crash, it’s usually where the parties mostly happen at night. From observation, young travelers occupy this spot and live the moment. Carpe diem it is!
Yes! We finally experienced the Black Marlin for one night. After asking almost every day for an opening in their packed services, we finally got our last day at this resort. We did get a slightly higher priced room. Vira was quite persistent to stay in this resort even though we only had a night left on the island, for the sake of trying another accommodation to report to you guys (man, the things we do for you??? LOL) or probably for the well designed resort which she loves. Reno was with her. And I’m glad I was out numbered, because it was a different ambience compared to Paradise. Black Marlin no doubt was more professional when it comes to services.
A lot of divers would probably recognize this facility compared to the others. Black Marlin focuses more on traveling divers rather than just normal travelers. Rates start from IDR 165,000/person/night with 3 meals a day and free coffee and tea also. If you’re visiting in the high season such as we did, be prepared to get a more expensive room considering the cheapest is the favorite of all. But the extra rupiah would probably be worth it seeing some rooms are more secluded than the others, thus more relaxing. And yes I say this out of experience. I don’t blame them. It’s all about business, and I get it. Nonetheless, Crispin the owner and manager is a very nice person when he’s not rejecting people :).
The rooms were really nice. A lot more than just basics most being concrete walls with spring beds, nice mosquito nets, decorated, and clean private bathrooms. The best part is each room has its own hammock on the mini veranda plus 2 beach chairs to laze on. That, my friend, really is the best part! No wait, the best part is to steel time from each other to sit in the limited amount of hammock hihihihi…
There are also lazing chairs to tan in front of a few rooms and gazebo spitting out to the sea with chairs only accessible for those staying at the this facility. The dining area, located in front of the receptions desk, is an open dining area with the choice of wooden seats or short tables where you can eat the eastern style, on the floor.
The water was scarce, only allowed to run a few hours in the afternoon. You’re not expected to take morning showers. Yay! Although limited, the water had better quality than Paradise Resort. It was clear probably since it was let to settle during the day. There is a small bucket in the bathrooms to save water for late night activities.
And about Ali, he’s the boat man that usually serves the Black Marlin diving trips. And yes, what they say about him is true *muahahahaha*
However, I have to say Paradise had better and a lot more food. Black Marlin seemed to have limited amount of food, a number that is pretty dangerous considering they accommodate divers that build their appetite coming in and out of the water on a daily basis. You’ll see that they advise you to remember that you’re not the only guest. A cut back to reduce the amount of food wasted maybe?
The Kadidiri Paradise Resort is set up to be more posh than the Black Marlin being set up on a vaster amount of land with bungalows spread neatly. Rooms start at 175,000/person. The first night we spent at the Hawaii room way in the back of the resort costing us IDR 250,000/person. A good thing considering we met the owner that first day from the back port, heading to Taipi island.
The Hawaii room was made of wood with a stone decorated shower inside. It had a king size bed, nicely covered by a mosquito net. The sheets were clean. We did have an extra matress for Reno, which was placed on the floor. It also had a veranda with a set of chairs and tables to have coffee or tea.
The water supply at Paradise was not limited. You can use it whenever you can obtain it. This made the waters a bit murky with soft sand particles, which could settle if it was given time.
If you would like a more quiet arrangement, you can speak to the management and stay on Taipi island. They will provide you with a slightly less service on the island while you stay in one of their bungalows there. The price I think is fairly similar, just the ambience is more private. It really is like owning your own island with the price of a labor class traveler 😛
Service struggled a bit, the girl in the front desk doesn’t understand much English thus makes every transaction slowly. Be prepared to fight to pay your bill or for your beer or local chocolates at their own mini market. If you’re lucky, you would meet… the daughter of the owner who does things a tad better than the others.
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