Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 23 June 2013 • Itinerary
Traveled Tomia Island in May 2012
Wakatobi or Tukang Besi Islands, South East Sulawesi, has been on my visit list since it is said to be a great dive site, but I didn’t have the dough to go. However, I did have a chance to finally visit Tomia Island in May 2012. Enough dough? Hold your thoughts! Tomia is the third island of the Wakatobi mini archipelago. It represents the ‘To’ in the abbreviation of the four major islands, which are Wangi-wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia and Binongko. These islands are also known as the Tukang Besi (smiths) Islands as they are famous for the smiths work, especially on Binongko. How did I get there? Without a penny! FREE! Woot! I know, right? All expense paid, except for the diving. Just because I won a photo contest… *pause*
Me? Winning a photo contest? Somebody must have bumped their heads?! I hardly own an amateur DSLR, let alone a professional camera, how could I possibly win a photo contest? I guess that’s where lady fortune steps in and said ‘Imma step in!’. I submitted some of my, apparently, pretty good pictures of Indonesia to the Wego Indonesia Photo Contest. Some pictures made their short list, which was then randomly picked in their Singapore HQ. What’s even more wicked, I was the random backup since a few of the real winners didn’t reply their notice. That fortune chic is awesome!
If you’re a certified diver, can you resist not to dive Wakatobi? I don’t think so. Tomia is said to be the best site for diving then the rest of the Wakatobi Islands. I haven’t dived its sister islands, so I wouldn’t know. But doing the dives that I did, I can say that diving Tomia Island is beautiful. The Tomia area alone has about 80-ish published sites and more unpublished ones to come. I’m not sure how anyone could do them all unless they’re certified fishes 😛
More of my notes on diving Tomia and Ndaa Island here.
Prices are IDR 350,000 / dive excluding equipment and boat trips.
Contact: Anto +62 856 9698 7445
Where there’s an Island, there’s got to be beaches. Tomia is blessed with white sand beaches aside to its jagged cliffs that rise here and there on the coast line. We visited the Kolosoha Beach one early morning to catch a supposedly secluded beach filled with red starfishes. Although we couldn’t make it due to high tide, we still enjoyed the smooth sands of the beach that early morning. I might not enjoy an early rise to climb a mountain, but I’d enjoy it for beaches.
We also crossed to Ndaa Island initially to dive its wall, but then eventually spent a little too much time because… we couldn’t help it. It’s a sand stretch amongst crystal clear waters! The sand was nearly 200m when we were visiting it and, by the looks of the shallow slop of sand, we figured it could go a lot longer. On submerged parts, it was as if we were walking on water. We just had to swim and soak up the sun like there was tomorrow. Ndaa Island can also accommodate snorkeling as it has a fair bit of coral reef around it.
Did I mention we met a huge pod of pilot whales while getting there?
Apparently, Indonesia has some great savannas and little did I know, one of them was on Tomia Island. The savanna was not only beautiful, it had giant clam fossils embedded and scattered around the ground. Imagine, this part of the world used to be the ocean!
My notes on the savanna are here.
I’ve underestimated the Wakatobi Islands and the Buton kingdom. I was pretty shocked knowing the vastest fort in the world was located on Buton Island, at the city of Baubau. I have to add more to that shock after seeing there is yet another fort on remote Tomia Island called the ‘BentengPatuha.’ The structure is very similar to that ‘BentengKeraton’ in Baubau but smaller in size. It’s located on top of a hill and overlooking the north coast. You can tell that it’s a fort once you meet the remaining cannons that sit aiming to the sea. A cemetery is also present within the walls that is said to be the resting place of the island’s prominent people during the days.
By just sitting at the fort edge and looking at the vast panoramic view, it’s easy to see how this spot is appropriate for a fort. You can easily aim the cannons to the enemy approaching the coast. Well, the north coast, to be exact. I didn’t see the main land’s resource, but I figured that invaders might want the rich marine life the island possessed. Whatever it was, the remains of this fort say it was pretty valuable.
Intermezzo: Each island is said to have its characteristic. Tomia Island is said to have the most intellectuals amongst the 4 islands.
I’ve come to suspect that places with a lot of lime stone has a huge possibility of having an underwater cave filled with water. As the lands in Kupang, where it has the ‘Crystal Cave’, so does Tomia with its Te’ Wali cave. The pool is relatively smaller, with sizes around 10 m x 5 m. But no matter how small the pool is, it’s still a great swim in the hot humid air.
Ask the locals for more information of directions to this cave.
Abi Jaya Hostel
Rumor has it that the only commercial place to crash on Tomia was the Wakatobi Resort. I thought that we had to crash in the local’s house and that was part of the journey. A little disappointed and not at the same time, turns out on the Waha side of the island, there’s Abi Jaya hostel ready for those that are looking for a more private accommodation.
Abi Jaya has 2 types of rooms: AC and Non AC. As my vague memory recalls, both types have en-suite bathrooms although they were relatively small. I happened to enjoy the AC room, which was very knew upon my arrival. The rooms were very clean, spacious, and had a TV. YAY! However, during my stay, the central power was unstable having to enjoy electricity at certain times. I hope that things are better at the moment. Oh, and the bathroom was fairly small making movements limited.
Waha Village – Tomia Island
Contact: Sanu +62 857 9666 6741
I didn’t have the privilege to chase up the local food on Tomia Island. But I had a few taste of what the people ate at the hostel. One thing that was local to the people was the ‘kasuami’, made of cassava and cooked into a clump. It is the carbohydrate source considering rice can’t grow too well here and they had to import from outside of the island. The taste of cassava was distinct with a mild sour salty taste. The ‘kasuami’ alone tasted like cassava gone partially bad, which was my mistake of eating it without anything aside. It should be eaten with the fried fish or something with a broth. My friend Vindhya mentioned that it’s heaps better when eaten with something else aside. Oh well… till next time.
Another interesting thing that might be important is that you’d have to adapt to fish and seafood. I’ve heard some of my travel mates complain because the food was nothing but fish. I didn’t really understand the matter considering we were on an island, of course the food would mostly come from the sea. Other meat would be more of a luxury. As my parents were true Bugisethnicity that ate fish all the time, I had no problems myself. Can’t get enough of it,to tell you the truth. But if you’re not a big fish fan, you might wanna prepare yourself or mention to wherever you’re staying that you’d prefer something different.
Because its an island, first thing is you must get a plane ticket to the nearest public air port, which are located on Wangi-wangi and Baubau. Flights to both cities are connected through Makassar, Sulawesi.
From From Wangi-wangi it’s about 4 hours on a wooden boat. You can also access it through Baubau and catch the 12-hour boat. Tomia is less visited compared to Wangi-wangi and Hoga. I figure it’s the challenging distance that has made it less popular. But it truly is worth it, don’t you think? Now, what’s the challenge? You can read more here.
KM Wisata Indah
Ticket: IDR 135,000 / pax. Tickets can be purchased at the port.
To visit the interesting parts on the island, you can rent a motorcycle for about IDR 100,000 / bike per day. It’s better to have the local driver since he would know the roads around the island. The google map for this island isn’t really that complete just yet.
To visit the villages, there are public transports that connect both villages. These public cars operate mostly during day time.