Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by indohoyindohoy on 26 October 2010 • Itinerary
Togian islands is known for one of the great dive sites in Indonesia, and an adventure package as a whole. From our trip, and from many other blogs that have been writing about it, it was a trip to remember whether it’s good for the good times, or bad because of the chaos this country loves. For me, as you can read from previous posts, it was a blast. As for diving, it is a memory I will heart well. I did my first wall dive there, and you can’t really forget an experience like that. For Vira and Reno they surely enjoyed they’re time snorkeling or getting a taste for diving. Here is our special, last, yet not least segment of our trip to the Togian Islands, a place surely to be visited again.
I did force myself to get certified before this trip. I thought there would be a lot of opportunities to dive during this adventure. One of the best decisions I made! I got certified in Jakarta. And lucky for me, Togians was my first dive after my classes. Man, was I excited and nervous! It’s my first time without my instructor, his assistants, and my buddies. Oh well!
The Togian water is relatively similar during the year. There is less impact of season since it’s located in a gulf surrounded by land. The only sea the Togian faces is on the east making most of the diving spots sheltered by the islands. Both the Black Marlin and Kadidiri Paradise charge about IDR 350,000 per dive, boat fee already included except for further trips such as to the Una-una island, famous for its swirling school of Barracuda, and the Bomber, a plane wreck located at the south of the archipelago. You need an extra IDR 600,000 – 800,000 for it. I did neither, I didn’t want to push my baby steps.
Mini Canyon and Kota Wall was the spots I did with Black Marlin and I did the Taipi Wall with Paradise Resort.
The Mini Canyon really describes itself well. There is a mini canyon that you can dive through, decorated with fan corals so you have to be careful not to touch it. It was challenging and much fun considering this was my first drop and I still had buoyancy issues. Hey! I’m a rookie and I’m allowed to have this problem.
After playing around a bit at the canyon and the rock that creates this shape, we headed south to explore the slope of the area. It’s a steep slope, but not a wall. Donna (my DM at that time) would prefer heading south and the absence of currents permitted so. Donna was fun on land, and very very environmentally aware in the waters. She was a teacher turned in to instructor after combining her love for the ocean and her love for teaching. Now, that’s one smart lady! Another DM the world needs. The dive was a relaxing dive, just floating and seeing so many creatures. A lot that I haven’t seen yet… but then again it’s my first dive in remote waters.
It’s hardly a wall, in my humble rookie opinion, more to a slope. Maybe I have a different definition of a wall. Aren’t walls supposed to be vertically straight? Well to my memory, I think it wasn’t a wall. Anyways, it doesn’t matter, it was still enjoyable. Crispin took us out this time being our DM. Crispin might look quiet and preserved, but he’s just British :D. He could be funny but you might not see it in his face. But overall, he was nice.
I did the Taipi island trip with the Paradise Resort dive center, after I finally knew that they existed. Abo, the local girl that really looks like a local teenage boy, was my DM and it was a personal dive since no one else wanted to dive with us that morning. I consider myself lucky since a personal guide is the best you can get!
I thought we would be heading to the Taipi island to see a wall there, but I was wrong. Taipi wall is located a bit further to the north west of Taipi island. It takes about 20 minutes by speed boat to get to the location. And yes, this is finally a wall. It was a great standing wall with few sheltering holes where there are so many fishes swimming upside down. Pretty funky, huh?
This is where I saw my first sweetlips fish, lion fish, scorpion fish, transparent shrimps, moray, ohh and the many fishes I saw, all different shapes and colors, I loved it! OK, I’m supposed to identify them, but can I please savor this first wall experience by just enjoying the fishies 😀 The bomb of it all was Abo being able to locate a really cute and unique nudibranch, hanging upside down on a little rock that was emerging from the wall, amongst soft corals that it was mimicking. Oh come on! You need superman eyes to do that hahahahaha… she was great!
Black Marlin vs Kadidiri Paradise
Since I didn’t know that the Paradise resort had a dive center, I easily stepped in Black Marlin, having specialized in diving trips, to do a few. I wasn’t the first to do this, and I don’t think I’ll be the last. And I’m sure, it’s vice versa.
The difference of the two was basically the Black Marlin was more organized than Kadidiri Paradise. And although you might think this is a good thing, it’s quite relative.
Black Marlin has a large collection of gear, a nice organized store room, a well informed schedule, discipline DMs, environmentally friendly dives, and a front desk where you can discuss your options. May I add, they have custom short sleeves and shorts wetsuits with their logo printed on them. SO to the PHIS to the CATED! Once you have a few people wearing this uniform in the same boat as you do, you’re convinced that you’re on a secret mission to retreat something under water.
Meanwhile, Kadidiri Paradise dive center is located in the back of the resort and has a less gear compared to the Black Marlin. Kadidiri Paradise also requires approaching the dive staff to book a dive, which isn’t quite clear who they are if you don’t know them, but does laid back and ‘flexible’ dives, a better choice for those that are experts or has countless logs to date and want something relaxing. Flexible meaning that it’s not all about ‘the book of diving’, it’s all about having fun and enjoying the most of the moment. My term for them was ‘they were cowboy divers’ and I liked their diving style better 😛
Vira also had a taste of diving. She had been curious about this experience for sometime. And so, her carpe diem spirit got the best of her.
Vira butting in on Diving:
I wasn’t a certified diver (and still am not) when we were there in July, but certainly I wouldn’t wanna miss a chance of diving the waters. Thank God for introductory dives! (also known as discovery dive or a try dive).
You can read about my try dive here, how it was a sort of surreal experience for me. So here I’m only adding a few notes.
– I signed up for an introductory dive at the Black Marlin Dive Centre on Saturday evening, our first day. Since they could only arrange a couple of dive trips in a day and certainly the certified ones outnumbered me, I had to wait until the third day.
– The experience cost me 40 euros, which was IDR 480,000 with that day’s rate. Thank god Reno and Mumun had extra cash that I could borrow ‘cos their credit card system went kaput.
About my snorkeling:
I went snorkeling mostly with Mumun and Reno. But there was one time when Mumun was diving at the Kota Wall, it was her second dive I think, that Reno and I was taken by the boatman to snorkel at a spot nearby. The marine life was similar to almost any spot in which we snorkeled around the Togians.
We were there about 40 minutes. After about 20 minutes I felt my right hand tremble a little, I had no idea why. So I went up the boat ahead of Reno, and spent some time just relaxing in the midst of calm waters. From the boat, we could see Una-Una Island from afar, one of the most famous diving spots at the archipelago. And then relaxing time was up, the boatman decided it was time to pick up the divers.
By day 4, just laying on the hammock of the Black Marlin Resort, staring at a perfect sunset of orange between the dark sea and sky and silhouette of the famous rock of the Togian island, I realized… I spent 4 days tucked up somewhere on earth as if I was placed randomly on a tropical island and dropped from the sky. No one could have reached me nor can I reach my family and friends, living on brackish water, seafood, snorkeling and diving, also having random conversations with strangers. Man, I should do this again!
There is less to say about eating. There is no other choice than to eat what they serve you. Don’t worry, it isn’t bad, it’s actually pretty good. Both on Paradise Resort and Black Marlin, the food tasted great with its own style. You probably guessed what the food is all about? Sea food, of course, which were basically fish, and once if lady fortune is on your side, you might just get some squid and meat. I lurve fish! That’s why I had a ball eating. Dinner was at 7 pm!
The food was also on time. Here are some pictures of the food from Kadidiri Paradise Resort.
Oh and by the way, clams taste delicious! You might not be able to try them in Togians and they’re protected I think. I’ve tasted it once on Wetar, but since I knew it was protected, it had to be my only experiece :), which is a good thing.
The Kadidiri Paradise has a mini market which sold things about 3 times its usual price. It is hard to get anything on this part of the islands. They also sell cold drinks ready serve.