Paradise islands of sun, sand and sea, as well as corals and fishes, and pretty much nothing else.
What can I say about the Togian Islands? One of the islands is a volcano – still surrounded by reefs – but most others look the be raised coral only, densely packed with tropical forest. All the stereotypes apply: pristine, picturesque, paradisiac. Fringed with white sandy beaches. Surrounded by turquoise blue water, where darker spots give away the location of the reefs. Which are made up by a fabulous collection of corals, in multiple shapes and colours. Which, in turn, are loaded with a splendid selection of fish, in equally many colours and shapes.
Activity level is pretty low. We are staying on one of the islands, called Kadidiri, together with probably 20-30 others in total, distributed across three lodges. Lots of people go diving, but we are content with snorkeling only. For hours we float on our stomachs, head in the water, watching fishes that one normally only sees on exotic post stamps chase each other, or feed off coral, or just hang around doing nothing, looking at us, equally curious. We take a boat to another snorkeling place, same fish, same reefs. We take a kayak to another island, same beach, abandoned lodge.
A boat trip provides some alternative scenery, like nearby villages, inhabited by what is called the Sea Gypsies, a semi-nomadic indigenous people officially known as the Bajo, who – surprise, surprise – live from fishing. Houses on stilts, build over the water. Small canoes with or without outrigger. And laundry, of course.
There is really not much to do but sit back and relax. With only two boats per week to Gorontalo, there is also not much discussion about how long we stay, two days is too little, so it becomes six. For 50% of our team that is perfectly OK. The rest reluctantly conforms. It is quite a while ago that I didn’t wear socks for six days in a row. And that I got sun-burned on my ankles.
next: our hotel here, the Black Marlin Resort.