Central Sulawesi : Togian Islands
Bomba is about 2.5 hours from the mainland of Ampana. It may be reached by public boats from the small harbor near Marina Cottages. The boats depart on Tuesday,Friday, and Sunday. The price is about Rp25,000 per person. Kadidiri is reached by boats from Wakai, provided free by the three resorts on the island. Melange can be reached by public ferry from mainland Ampana. Note that all the hotels charge per person (not per room!!), and there are no ATMs, so bring enough cash.
There are ATMs for Mastercard and Cirrus available at the mainland of Ampana but they cannot be used for VISA.
Flora and fauna
The Togians Islands are very close to the equator, due to that are all islands covered with tropical rain forest. Special for the Togian Islands is the Coconut Crab which can grow up to 4kg. The reefs surrounding all islands are full of tropical fish. It is also possible to see big Eagle rays, Napoleons, Bumphead Parrotfish and rarely sharks.
The climate is all year around warm, due to the close position to the equator (40km). The driest months are the summer months.
Getting in and out
The Togean Islands are difficult to reach as bus travel takes long on Sulawesi. As there are no airports on the islands you will either have to reach the towns of Ampana or Gorontalo first, which is a challenge itself.
From Ampana: The public ferries that run between Ampana to Wakai on the Togian Islands leaves every morning at 10:00, except Fridays. However, bear in mind that schedules often change due to breakdowns and weather. Also note that at least one day a week the Wakai boat leaves from the other port; 15 minutes east of town (NOT the port in Ampana; as of Oct 2014). Under normal conditions it takes about 4hrs to Wakai, where resorts offer free connecting speedboats to Pulau Kadidiri. The fare for the main ferry is 60,000Rp as of Oct 2014). Some of the boats stop in Melange which is another 1.5hrs from Wakai.
The resorts are waiting with their boats at the ferry terminal but it's nice to call them ahead to warn them. For Pulau Kadidiri: Black Marlin Dive Resort, Kadidiri Paradise and Pondak Lestari are charging nothing if you stay with them - if you change to one of the other ones, you have to pay a small fee of 25.000 Rupiah (all 3 resorts are in walking distance to each else).
From/To Gorontalo: The ferry "Tuna Tomini" runs twice a week from Gorontalo to Wakai (travel time 13hrs) and continues on to Ampana. It leaves Gorontalo every Tuesday and Friday at 20:00 o'clock, arriving in Wakai the next morning. The price (Oct 2014) is 63,000 Rp for Ekonomi class (seat in an open cabin with café), 72,000 Rp. for Bisnes1 class (berth in an open cabin) and 89,000 for Bisnes2 class (reclinable seat in A/C cabin).
The same ferry makes the return trip to Gorontalo twice a week, on Thursdays and Sundays, leaving Ampana at 10:00 in the morning, reaching Wakai about 15:00 o'clock. After taking Gorontalo-bound passengers and freight the ferry then leaves Wakai at 16:00 o'clock arriving in Gorontalo the next morning about 06:00 o'clock.
Make sure if it's busy and you're going overnight, you reserve a mattress when you buy your ticket. This is called "tatami", you'll get a number assigned, and costs Rp10,000. Otherwise you'll be sleeping on the deck!
The fastest way of getting to the Togian Islands is by flying to Luwuk, chartering a car/taxi from Luwuk to Ampana and then taking the ferry to Wakai. Another fast, albeit slower option is to fly to Gorontalo and to jump on the Tuna Tomini ferry (Tuesday or Friday) to Wakai.
Private boats of varying types can be chartered at anytime to and from the islands and usually cost 1-2 million rupiah upwards.
Kadadiri is home to an indigenous population known as the Bajo colloquially called "Sea Gypsys". The Bajo are semi nomadic and rely on fishing for their income. Tours from Kadidiri Paradise will take you to visit them. Selling fresh lobsters to tourists at a fraction of what you would pay in the US, Australia or Europe is an important part of their income, so if you visit them make sure you bring cash to buy some fresh lobsters. The young people love foreign visitors and will show off their humble village and school rooms.
There is a long jetty outside of the Paradise Resort that has good snorkeling right off of it. It might be possible to swim to the island directly across from Kadidiri, but it's not a good idea. There are strong currents that can sweep a swimmer off course and out to sea.
There are sea kayaks for rent from Black Marlin and it takes about 30 minutes to paddle to a nearby island that has good snorkeling; 10 minutes to the 'lagoon' to the east of Paradise also beautiful for snorkeling; or ~4 hours to circumnavigate the island (make sure you don't mistake the narrow channel on the south-east side for a bay!). There are many trails around the island, but some are easy to get lost on. The walks are through dense growths and are not particularly picturesque. Fishing is not allowed in the no take zone so fishing trips must be outside this area. naturally there is diving at Black Marlin (more boats and equipment) and Paradise, check equipment carefully.
For diving Pulau Una Una (The Pinnacle!) is the highlight in the area - big groups of Barracudas, Jackfish and Napoleons can be seen. Other good dive sites are The Gap, Dominik Rock, The Crack, Batugilla and for Nightdives especially Little Lembeh. The dive boats take normally also snorkelers for free with them, if the dive site is shallow enough.
There are no shops on Pulau Kadidiri. Wakai is the nearest place with shops and a market. An internet cafe is also found on Wakai, it opens only after 18:00 o'clock running throughout the night.
All resorts include three meals per day in their prices. Paradise and Black Marlin have a small shops selling snacks and cigarettes. All resorts can take you for free for a short trip to Wakai (when they pick up new travellers), if you want to buy specific things.
It costs about IDR 40,000-50.000 for a large Bintang beer at the resorts. Other option for alcohol is the local Arak, a kind of stronger palm wine - all resorts can get it for you in Wakai for around IDR 10.000. A large bottle of water costs IDR 10,000 in most resorts. Boiled water, tea and coffee are provided free by all resorts.
Bomba is about 2,5 hours from Ampana where you can find 2 places to stay .
Wakai is the main ferry port in the area and has a single resort located on an island across from it.
Katupat Island is about 1 hour from Kadidiri Island where you can find 2 beautiful resort just 10 minute with a small boat from Katupat Village Togian Island.
Do not walk through the reefs bare feet. Bring enough mosquito repellent containing DEET (others will be useless), as mosquitoes that bite day and night are a serious annoyance.
The Black Marlin Dive Resort (www.blackmarlindiving.com) has a good website with informations how to get out and in. Also try to find the latest information about togian Island at www.togianisland.net.