Few tourists find the arduous route to the remote Indonesian island of Kadidiri. But once you have arrived on the island in the inland sea of Sulawesi, you will find pure relaxation. And if, contrary to expectations, doing nothing is boring, you can make a number of terrific excursions.
“Which is the most beautiful beach you have seen?”, I am asked again and again – most recently at the blog parade on the most beautiful beaches in Southeast Asia, which Stefan of fascination Southeast Asia is currently hosting. The question is not easy for me. I am not a passionate water sportsman. I do not dive, but snorkel occasionally.
I do not surf, although I like to do a sailing trip from time to time. Also, I do not feel like roasting brown on the beach or running full-moon at parties. I feel most comfortable in small, remote villages, like surrounded by mountains.
Still, the beach where I felt most comfortable belonged to the island of Kadidiri. Most readers will never have heard the name. Not without reason: The island is difficult to reach and far from the horizon of most travelers.
It is wonderfully enclosed between two arms of the Indonesian Sulawesis (formerly Celebes) and is even difficult to reach even if you are already on Sulawesi. For the journey from Europe one would expect at least three full days. No wonder that only about two to three new visitors arrive every day.
For many more guests, there is no room anyway. Because at perhaps 200 to 300 meters long sandy beach are hidden between the palms of three resorts, each having about ten to 15 guest rooms.
Anyone who makes it to the island, usually stays longer – anyway, only a second day a ship goes to the mainland. There was a Finn in my resort who stayed at Kadidiri for a full month, lying in the hammock all day, devouring one book after another.
I stayed only one week myself. The nice thing is that the few visitors always stay long is: After a few days you really know everyone on the island. So that you too can benefit from my experience, I now want to give you a number of practical tips.
The choice of accommodation
On Kadidiri itself, there are three resorts, all of which are quite different. Since there is not much to do on Kadiri anyway, I visited all three resorts extensively. Electricity is available in all accommodation only in the evenings when the generator is running.
A good flashlight and above all a multi-plug (for charging all electrical equipment) should therefore be in any case in the luggage. All three resorts offer full board and the rates below are per person – even if you share a room.Here are my experiences:
- The cheapest accommodation offers the Lestari Kadidiri with rather lousy bungalows for 100,000 rupees, or for 125,000 rupees right on the beach. The cheaper rooms do not have a toilet. The newer bungalows have a squat toilet. There are no showers in both categories. However, you get every day a bucket of fresh water (to wash yourself) and a saltwater (to rinse). I initially opted for this option for price reasons, but after a while found that the Lestari also brings a number of genuine benefits: The resort is a kind of homestay with a relatively close contact with the domestic operator family. Very nice, I found that guests occasionally go fishing and may even fire the harpoon. And the food (almost always fish) was just divine.
- The next accommodation is the Black Marlin, which is the most expensive option with 200,000 rupees. The rooms are nice, it has a proper shower, but only spits out cold water. Due to its location you have here on the balconies in front of the room an acceptable mobile phone reception, while the Lestari is in a radio hole. Those who join at least one diving tour get a discount of 50,000 rupees per night, which makes the Marlin very attractively priced.
- At the other end of the beach is the Kadidiri Paradise, which I would probably choose if I went back to the island. The resort is beautiful and the bungalows, which are not right on the beach, offer a good value for money with 150,000 rupees. Those who want to be lifted can also stay in a honeymoon suite, which I have not seen myself. Kadidiri Paradise also has its own exchange school, which at the time of my visit was considered more reliable than the one in Black Marlin.
- In addition, a fourth resort is located on the offshore island of Taipih, which can be reached with a ten-minute boat ride. When I visited Taipih, the resort was closed, which is why I do not know the name. It was said that the resort over our winter months (read: now) should rise again. Overall, the resort made a pretty dull impression. Its strength (or weakness) is that it is completely isolated. If you stay here, you can easily have an island all to yourself.
What you can do on Kadidiri
First of all, Kadidiri is the perfect place to switch off: there is no bar, there is no shop and there is no internet. Even the mobile network only works in a few places on the beach. So you are almost completely cut off from the world. This is not so ideal for a blogger like me, but the mails and readers can wait a few days.
- Swimming and snorkeling: It is hardly surprising that you will spend most of your time on or in the water. The waters around Kadidiri are incredibly quiet. You need only a few meters to swim and you are traveling over a coral reef with numerous colorful fish. However, the corals are no longer in a very good condition. In the past, much dynamite was used in the region.
- Diving excursions: The Togian Islands are considered a true diving paradise because of the rich underwater world. Just before Kadidiri there is a very special highlight: An American B24 bomber sank at the end of the Second World War after a ditching in about 20 meters deep waters and is still in an amazingly good condition.
- Visiting the Lake of the Jellyfish: An impressive excursion leads into the Lake of the Jellyfish, which is about 30 minutes away. The schlabberigen, fist-sized water creatures have no natural enemies in the murky waters of the lake and can multiply undisturbed therein. Every two meters you come across a jellyfish while bathing. Although they are not poisonous (and therefore easy to touch), I felt a bit like being put into a horror movie.
- Palm thieves search: The Togian Islands contain a number of bizarre animals, of which the palm thief probably surpasses all others. It is the largest on-land cancer. The shellfish have a wingspan of one meter and are very strong. You can even open coconuts. Since the animals are nocturnal, they are not so easy to find. I have not seen any myself.
- Playing the campfire on the campfire: As there is hardly any electricity on the island, almost every night takes place what the local people call “party”. There are usually five to ten tourists around a campfire and sing to the guitar sounds of the locals.
- Eating delicious: The real highlight on Kadidiri, however, was the delicious food for me. Every day there was delicious fish, which was always something different prepared, and vegetables.
Why the journey is cumbersome
I mentioned earlier that the island is a bit hard to reach. This is related to the fact that there is no airport nearby and therefore you have to connect in any case a longer boat trip with a longer bus trip. Here I would like to briefly describe how I did it:
- Via Gorontalo: Probably the easiest way to reach the Togian Islands is to fly to Gorontalo. I made it that way on arrival and found the “bush airport” of the small town in North Sulawesi just awesome (I even described Gorontalo as my favorite airport here in an interview). I booked the flight via Skyscanner * and paid about 40 Euro. If you’re flying, you should definitely allow enough time to reach the connecting ferry. My flight was about six hours late. From Gorontalo there is no public bus into town; So you have to take a taxi for the one-hour ride. From Gorontalo a night ferry departs twice a week in about 12 to 13 hours to Wakai, from where you can take a small boat in 30 minutes to Kadidiri. The ferry (see picture below) was in a reasonably good condition and the sea was very quiet.
- Via Ampana: On the way back, I took another ferry from Wakai to Ampana. This was a day trip that only took about half as long. This route has four connections per week, so plan well here! The wooden ship is in a significantly worse condition than the Gorontalo ferry and especially under deck very uncomfortable. From Ampana, in the evening, a regular bus to Poso (incidentally, I could interview a bomber turned radio host here) or Tentana should be used, but if you get together with other tourists, the much faster taxi is barely more expensive. From Poso and Tentana there are regular buses to the very interesting Tana Toraja, about whose bizarre death ritual I have written more here.
- Alternative: In principle, it should also be possible to drive from Bomba (a settlement in the very south of the Togian Islands) in a nutshell to Ampana. I did not do that myself, but as far as I’ve heard, the passage in the really very small boat with maybe ten seats should be decidedly uncomfortable. If anyone knows more, please write a comment.
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