Togian: a plane/car/boat ride too far


It is a very long trip from Jakarta to Togian to dive. We left Jakarta at 5.30am and reached Togian only about 1am – more than 18 hours on the road. The diving was so so, the food was mediocre, the lodgings did not have AC but the people were friendly.


All in all, its not a trip for all but the most ardent travellers/divers. Here’s our story for the beneift of divers intending to dive the Togians:

There were six of us who caught the Lion Air flight to Gorontalo, via Makassar four hour flight counting stopover. There we were whisked on another 3 hour journey by minibus to Marissa, about 3.5 hours away, where our diving gear and us were bundled into a 15 meter boat that chugged its way to Kadidiri Island in the Togians – 8 hours away. The boat was nothing luxurious, we had a roughly a 3 meter square space to sleep/sit and stew.

b-24-21.jpgIt would all have been OK if the diving was great but the truth, tourist brochures and hyped accounts notwithstanding, was that the diving was only so-so. The dive sites around Kadiriri such as Taipi Wall and the House Reef of Black Marlin Dive Center was pleasant enough but there were neither interesting pelagic nor macro stuff to see, unlike Derawan, Lembeh or Komodo.

We also dived the B24 Point where a World War II plane crashed.

The visibility at the wreck was about 8 meters and the plane was impressive in size but there was not much life there apart from some scorpion fish. The Catalina wreck in Biak was much more interesting and the visibility there much better.


Our second day’s dives were better: we went to Pulau Una Una about an hour’s boat ride away and at the Apollo site we saw a school of barracuda. We saw the school only on the second dive though, the first dive we had a rather bleak ridge jutting down to about 40 meters amid sloping sand banks. The visibility (about 30 meters) and blueness of the water was impressive though.

On the third day we dived Batu Pancing, The Gap and Mini Canyon, all near Kadidiri Island. The visibility was superb and the coral beautiful. There was also ver little current and it all made up for a relaxing dive, likke a pleasant stroll aroubnd the garden. A 70 cm Crocodile Fish, a couple of squid was about all we saw worth noting.

Diving is one thing, but the whole trip is also colored by the lodgings and the food. A plus point was that all the rooms were next to and facing the sea and they had hammocks slung out on each room’s terrace. But inside there was no AC nor electrical points to charge your electronic equipment (you had to charge it in the office). Another plus point was the very friendly staff.

The negative points about the diving resport, however, are that the rooms have no AC and they get very hot in them; The lighting is very dim, which is fine for 24/7 romantics but some of us want to read without losing our eyesight; the friendly staff have their own i-n-t-e-r-p-r-e-t-a-t-i-o-n o-f u-r-g-e-n-c-y; and the food was mediocre.

The highlight of our trip was when we stopped at Marissa on our way back to Gorontalo. The boat crew had bought a few basketful of crabs from the Togians for reselling to Makassar. They were huge – each weighing close to 2kg – and mouthwatering. We persuaded one of the crew to cook up some for us in his house and we had a great meal. It almost made up for the long journey but not quite – The Togians are not worth all that traveling to get to for diving. You’d be better off going to Ambon, Derawan, Komodo, Lembeh/Bunaken or other dive sites.

Note: all underwater photos courtesy of the talented Iman Brotoseno; all terrestrial photos from yours truly

2 thoughts on “Togian: a plane/car/boat ride too far

  1. Hi Pak, just giving you suggestion to remove this story first because I think it makes your blog display – right and left columns – unbalance.

    I can only read your profile in the bottom right of your page, while usually it shows side by side with the news/stories.

    Btw, it is my first time to see such a big crab. I think it is bigger than a chicken.


  2. Hmmm. It looks OK on my computer but that’s probably because I use a Mac. Thanks for pointing it out tho. I’ll check how it looks on a Windows PC tomorrow and make appropriate adjustments.

    Yes, the crabs there are indeed huge. They are the largest I’ve ever seen and certainly very delicious indeed.


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