Kadidiri Island on Togean: Living with Bajau Sea Gypsys
March 4, 2016
Kadidiri Island, Togean Archipelago, Sulawesi.
This journey is within my 110 days around southeast Asia and I shared this experience in Indonesia with my girlfriend Romina, nature lover and with my same passion for photography. Located at the top of the Gulf of Tomini in Central Sulawesi, Kadidiri is one of the islands in the Togean National Park that preserves the wealth of the Coral Triangle. On Kadidiri Island there are three resorts all sharing the same slice of pristine beach. One of the resorts, called Pondok Lestari is run by a Bajau family. The bungalows are beach front, quite rustic and made up with bamboo. We spent 4 fantastic days with this family, they had a great reputation for entertaining their guests and providing a little more than a beach to spend the day on. After having been in this place we must confirm that each day something was on offer: activities like going fishing for dinner, snorkelling trip on the nearby reef, island hopping, dolphin watching. All these activities were free or we paid just few $.
In this post I would like to focus more on the Bajau people, who are they? Nomadic Bajau Sea Gypsys still dive for “trepang”, pearls and other commercial marine productions, as they have done for hundreds of years. The Bajau are hunter-gatherers who spend much of their lives on boats, travelling with their family wherever they go. Some of the sea gypsies only come to land to buy rice and exchange of other supplies, some have no fix address, no country of residence.
Fishing activity varies with the tides, monsoonal and local winds, currents, migrations of pelagic fish and the monthly lunar cycle. During moonless nights, fishing is often done with lanterns, using spears and hand lines. Today, fishing is primarily for market sale.
We had a great chance to snorkel and fish with them, it was an amazing experience. Just think that when they have children, fathers dive with their 3 day-old babies to introduce them to the life into the sea. When they are still kids they learn how to swim, probably earlier than they start to walk, and can easily dive up to 12 meters without any special gear. Something unique for the humans.
There are several permanent Bajau settlements around the Togean Islands, and even some stilt villages on offshore reefs, but the itinerant character of Bajau culture still survives.
The uniqueness of the Bajo tribes has encouraged many people to learn more about their origin, lifestyle, customs, art and traditional culture. Indonesia’s young filmmaker, Kamila Andini, has even produced a movie elevating the lives of the Bajo tribe in the natural Wakatobi setting. ”The Mirror Never Lies” is the title of the film.
How to get there, best time and cost
Supposing that you are already on Sulawesi Island, there are 2 different ways to get there. Kadidiri Island on Togean Archipelago is hard to reach. You have to travel a long way by bus, as there are no airports on the archipelago. It’s possible to reach either the town of Ampana (if you are arriving from the south) or Gorontalo (if you are on the north), which is a real challenge. Anyway this is one of my favourite top destination and in one case or another, try to get there.
- From Ampana public ferries that run between Ampana to Wakai on the Togean Islands leave every morning at 10:00, except on Friday (4 hrs, 6$AUD).
From Gorontalo (I followed this route because I went to Bunaken Island before getting here) the ferry “Tuna Tomini” runs twice a week from Gorontalo to Wakai. (Tuesday and Friday at 8PM). It costs about 7$AUD for economic class and it took 13 hrs to arrive to Wakai.
Once you arrive to Wakai your journey to Kadidiri Island is not finished. The best thing is to have pre booked (by phone) your resort and someone from there will come to pick you up at the harbour. We paid 15$AUD each per day to stay there, accommodation and 3 tasty meals included per day. The best time is from mid April to mid October. We booked and stayed for 4 days on Lestari Homestay.
- There is no internet at Kadidir Island on Togean and mobile phone reception is patchy at best.
- There are treks around Pulau Una Una (Not so expensive), excursions to “Jellyfish lake” and visits to other nearby islands for snorkelling.
- At the time of the visit I haven’t got my PADI CERTIFICATE. I can tell you guys that if you are looking for some best diving spot, Kadidiri Island is your ultimate destination for sure.
- My last tip: Don’t get stuck with the thing that ruins your day, life is too short to be wasted in your crap. Smile and be positive because there are so many beautiful reasons to be happy, one of those is travelling.
Author of this post: Davide
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Wauu looks beautiful. Thanks for all tips 😉
Sounds like fun!
Beautuful. One of my favorite places on earth.
I wish to go back there one day….:-D
I’ve never travelled to Indonesia, this post has placed it on my radar now, Great pictures!
Thank you so much for your comment! Keep in mind this place for you next adventure…:-D
Great insightful post with beautiful images thank you David, you have inspired us so this is now on the bucket list 😉 We’ve been to Indonesia once but not to these islands so Indonesia here we come again! Next year after South America of course lol… 🙂
Yesss of course… well enjoy your South American journey and let us know some tips about your experience!! 😀
110 days around Asia sounds like a dream! Would love to be “stranded” on this island with my adventure buddy and stay disconnected from the outside world.
Well Shane, in this beautiful island you will disconnect from the world! No internet, no shower, no phone…. and it’s an amazing and unique experience meet the local people and share you experience with them! Anyway, 80% of the Bajau people don’t speak English but just the local language!
Fantastic read, I really enjoyed reading your post.
Thank you so much buddy, if you have time just go there…..