South Sulawesi is a mostly mountainous region best well known for the two unique cultures which inhabit it: the seafaring Bugis on the southern tip of the island and the Torajas who live in the rugged country further north and are known for their unusual customs. Bugis make up two thirds of he region’s population. The Makarese, another seafaring people, make up about a quarter of the population. South Sulawesi Province covers 46,717.48 square kilometers. Its population rose from 8,034,776 in 2010 to 8,395,747 in 2014. Its population density is 179.7 people per square kilometer.

South Sulawesi is regarded as the rice bowl of eastern Indonesia. The highlands in southern Sulawesi range in elevation from 300 meters to 2,884 meters. The rainy season in southern Sulawesi is from November until April.

Makassarese and Bugis are religious people, most are Muslims and are regarded as very strong minded. Bugis people are known for being among the best sailors in the world and have a tradition of piracy. Seafarers from Sulawesi — the Bugis, Bajau, Butonese and Makassarese — have traded with neighboring countries, most notably with the Australian Aborigines, for hundreds of years.

South Sulawesi food includes fresh seafood, Chinese food and coto makassar — soup made from cow innards. Sop saudara is similar to coto but it's more bland compared to coto. Konro or beef ribs soup is tasty and filling. For snacks you might want to try jalangkote, a kind of pastry with a tasty filling, eaten with a spicy sauce. For dessert, try pisang epe — flattened banana with palm sugar sauce, usually mixed with jackfruit or durian. Es pallu butung, made of sliced banana, ice chips, coconut milk and red sauce is also filling and refreshing. Pisang hijau is banana coated with flour and pandan leaves, thus causing the outer layer to turn green. It's sliced and then coated with cocopandan syrup.

There are many flights and daily service from Jakarta, Bali, Surabaya and Manado to Makassar, the main city in South Sulawesi. There are some good asphalt roads in many places but the roads wind up and down slopes in mountainous areas and traveling can take a while. Tourism Office: JL. Jend. Sudirman No.23, Makassar 90231, Tel. (62-411) 878912, 443355, 872336, fax: (62-411) 872314, E mail:, Website:


Sulawesi is a huge crab-, orchid- or K- shaped island east of Borneo and Kalimantan, south of the Philippines, west of the Moluccas and north of Flores. Formerly known as Celebes, it is about the size of Nebraska and consists of four large peninsulas fringed by coral reefs and covered by large wildernesses areas with marshy coastal plains and jungle covered mountains in the interior. There are also smoking volcanos and large agricultural areas. Off the coast in some places are distinctive Sulawesi fishing platforms.

Sulawesi covers 202,000 square kilometers. It accounts for 10 percent of Indonesia's area and 7 percent of its population. Sulawesi has lost 90 percent of its rich lowland forests to logging and agriculture. Many of the highland forests are still in good condition. Most people tend to live on or near the coast. The interior is generally sparsely habited. The major ethnic grous in the south are the Bugis and the Makassarese. The Toradja occupy the southern highlands. A mosaic of other groups are scattered acr

The ancient Chinese made it do Sulawesi. Some people today make their living today by digging up the graves of Chinese mariners and unearthing porcelain from the 11th century Song and Ming dynasties worth thousands of dollars. The mariners were often interned together and grave robbers have found 11th century vases using steel rods to probe the soft mud where they were buried.

Two of the most famous products from Celebes were Makassar poison, which, according to 17th century diarist Samuel Pepys, was given by Englishmen to dogs in their gentlemen's clubs to watch them die, and Makassar oil, which men used to grease back their hair. It was once described as the greasiest of the "greasy kids stuff." ♢[Source: "Ring of Fire" by Lawrence and Lorne Blair, Bantam Books, New York]

Indonesian independence brought name changes: Celebes became Sulawesi and the capital Makassare became Ujung Pandang. There was a Sulawesi independence movement that has since died out. In the chaos after independence, Islamic fundamentalist groups on Celebes held a foreign medical team hostage for 18 months. There were only two survivors. People in Sulawesi have demanded the return of land taken away by a Suharto family company.

Provinces of Sulawesi: Area in square kilometers, Population in 2010, Population in 2014, Density per square kilometers:
South Sulawesi: 46,717.48, 8,034,776, 8,395,747, 179.7
West Sulawesi: 16,787.18, 1,158,651, 1,284,620, 76.5
Central Sulawesi: 61,841.29, 2,635,009, 2,839,290, 45.9
Southeast Sulawesi: 38,067.70, 2,232,586, 2,417,962, 63.5
Gorontalo, 11,257.07, 1,040,164, 1,134,498, 92.9
North Sulawesi: 13,851.64, 2,270,596, 2,382,941, 172.0
Total Sulawesi: 188,522.36, 17,371,782, 18,455,058, 97.4

History of South Sulawesi

From as early as the 14th century, South Sulawesi was occupied by kingdoms such as Luwu, Gowa, Soppeng, Tallo and Bone. The first mention of the Makassar is around 1400. At that time there were a number of Makassar principalities, each of which was said to have been founded by a princess or prince who descended from heavenly beings. Islam arrived in 1605. [Source: Encyclopedia of World Cultures, East and Southeast Asia edited by Paul Hockings (G.K. Hall & Company, 1993) ~]

The Makassar state of Gowa became the most powerful state in Indonesia, outmuscling its rivals the Bugis of southeastern Sulawesi and exerting control over much of what is now eastern Indonesia in the 16th and 17th century. Bone and Gowa kingdoms had a major war in 1562, but later on managed to resolve their differences. The Bugis were a recognized and respected power all across the Indonesian seas even to the Straits of Malacca.

European influence started in the 16th century, when in 1538 Portuguese arrived in Makassar and sought audience with Gowa king. Spanish and Portuguese galleons, followed by British and Dutch traders, sailed these seas in search of the spice trade, escorted by their Men of War to protect them from the raids of the Bugis and Makassar pirates.

Early European explorers to the region encountered Makassar fleets trading as far east as New Guinea and as far south as Australia. The Makassar were among the first outsiders to have contact with Australian Aborigines, introducing metal tools, pottery and tobacco to them. Gowa endured until it was defeated by Dutch and Bugi forces in 1669. ~

The Dutch East India Company viewed Gowa as a threat to its spice monopoly. It allied itself with a Bugi prince to fight them. After a year of fighting the sultan of Gowa was forced to sign the Treaty of Bungaya in 1668 that greatly reduced Gowa’s power and gave the Dutch control of sea lanes and the sources of spices that it wanted. After that the Makassar periodically rebelled and were not brought under Dutch control until 1906 when Dutch forces conquered the interior of their homeland and killed the king of Gowa. Colonialism was only made possible by the incorporation of Makassarese nobles into the colonial system. Even today Makassar nobles occupy many positions of authority in the Indonesian government. After Dutch and Japan were driven away, South Sulawesi became a part of Indonesia and was made into a separate province in 1964.

Bantimurung National Park

Bantimurung National Park (50 kilometers north of Makassar and 20 kilometers from the Sultan Hasanuddin international airport) is famous for its stunning waterfalls, interesting caves and plethora swarms of butterflies. In 1857, the famed British naturalist, Alfred Russell Wallace visited this area and was amazed by butterflies he saw here in terms of numbers, sizes, colors and variety. Fascinated by what he saw he dubbed the area “the Kingdom of Butterflies” and helped identify some of the 150 species of butterflies found in South Sulawesi and nowhere else in the world. The official website for the park — — is in Bahasa Indonesian.

The Bantimurung National Park has a total area of 43,750 hectares and is divided into three major types of ecosystems: the karst ecosystems, a lowland forest ecosystem, and a lower montane forest ecosystem. The valleys have limestone hills and steep karst walls with tropical vegetation. The word Bantimurung itself is derived from two Bugis words: Benti meaning water, and Merrung meaning roaring, perhaps a reference to the waterfalls found here. Bantimurung Waterfall described above is situated not too far from the park entrance.

Although there are not as many butterflies today as there were during Wallace’s expedition, visitors can still observe the wide variety of butterflies within the Butterfly Conservation Captivity managed by the Center for Butterfly Breeding. Among various species of butterflies found here are: the Troides halipron, Papiliio Pofites, Papiliio Satapses, Papiliio blumei and Graphium androcles. One of the rarest and biggest butterflies of the world, the papillo androcoles are also found in this National Park. This unique species has the tail similar to swallows. Within the national park, visitors can also find a butterfly museum which houses thousands of unique and rare butterflies that have and still inhabit the area. Among other fauna found in the area are: the Kuskus (Phalanger celebencis), Tarsiers (Tarsius sp.), Monkeys (Macaca Maura), hornbills (Ryticeros cassidix, Peneloppides exahartus), and Weasels (Macrogofidia mussenbraecki).

The hills of Bantimurung-Bulusaurung National Park are the home of karst formations and caves. The most notable of these caves are the Goa Mimpi (Dream Caves) and Goa Batu (the Stone Cave). The inside these caves filled with fascinating stalactites and stalagmites. The dreamlike crystal clear stalactites and stalagmites found in Goa Mimpi earned that cave its popular name. Among these caves are found prehistoric “hand stencils”, dated to 37,000 years ago and regarded as the some of the world’s oldest art, older than the famous cave art in France Hiking up 10 meters of stairs, visitors can discover another amazing cave, the Stone Cave, or Gua Batu, with a small waterfall and a 30-meter-long intriguing cave.

Accommodation: If you plan to stay a little longer, there are several bungalows and modest inns near the entrance of the Bantimurung Bulusaraung, with price ranging from IDR 50.000 to IDR 80.000. With only less than two hours drive from Makassar, it is more comforting if you stay in a hotel in Makassar. Find a Hotel in Makassar

Getting There: Located only 20 kilometers from Hasanuddin Airport, the national park can be reached from the airport by local public transportation called pete-pete for about 30 minutes. The pete-pete will charge about IDR 5.000. If you travel from Makassar, you can catch a public bus or DAMRI, from the Makassar Mall in the direction of Maros for about one hour and costs IDR8.500. From Maros, take the same pete-pete that also goes to the airport.

Prehistoric Cave Sites in Maros-Pangkep

Prehistoric Cave Sites in Maros-Pangkep (Bantimurung National Park) was nominated to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “In general, the karst landscape is hilly and has mountainous terrains. The mountainous area is situated in the north east or located in the Bulusaraung Mountains. The highest peak of the mountain is 1,565 m above sea level in the northern side of Bulusaraung Mountain. This side of the mountain has a steep slope with rough texture. The climate in the Maros Pangkep area is tropical with the dry season between the months of November to April meanwhile the rainy season runs from May to October. The temperature ranges from 210 C - 310 C or on average 26.40 C, with fluctuating humidity. The area of the Pangkep conservation forest covers around ± 21.631 hectares from the total forest area of 32.503 hectares. Most of the conservation forest is within the karst area that is part of the National Park of Bantimurung and Bulusaraung (Babul). [Source: Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Indonesia]

“In the Karst Maros-Pangkep Area there are various types of flora among others: Bintangur (Calophyllum sp.), Beringin (Ficus sp.), Enau (Arenga pinnata), Nyato (Pala quium obtusifolium), and several from the familiy of Homalanthus, Lagerstroemia, Pterospermum, Kleinho via, Villebrunea and numerous endemic flora among others the Sulawesi black wood (Diospyros celebica) and Sepang wood or Sappang (Caesalpina sappan) which is used by the local people as a drink mixture. The typical wild fauna that are endemic found by researchers and biologists from the Indonesian Institute of Science and from France are among others the Black Monkey (Macaca maura), the Sulawesi possum kuskus (Phectarelanger celebencis), the Sulawesi civet weasel (Macrogolidia mussenbraecki), deers (Cervus timorensis), the black Enggang bird (Hectarelsion cloris), Swiftlet swallows (Aeroramus fluaphectaregus), Bats (Megachiroptera), butterflies (Papilio blumei, Papilio satapses, Troides hectarelipton), various types of amphibia and reptiles such as the python snake (Phyton), Leaf snake, Large Lizards (Paranus sp.), cave bees (Eustra Saripaensis), Troides helena reticulates Cave crabs (Cancroecea Xenomorpha Ng.), Cave scorpions (Chaerilus Sabinae Lourenco) and several aquatic fauna such the Isopoda Aquatic and Cirolana Marosina.

In this region there are hundreds of caves with stalagtites and stalagmites, of which 89 of them are prehistoric caves that contain prehistoric Rock Art Painting, prehistoric stone tools, kitchen waste consisting of shells from an ancient Mollusca. The Karst Maros-Pangkep Area covers an area of 43,750 hectares that comprises of a mining area of 20,000 hectares and the remaining 23,750 hectares are part of the conservation area of the National Park of Bantimurung Bulusaraung.

Traditions of the People Living in Maros-Pangkep

One the lifestyle and customs of the people living in the Marcos-Pankep area, UNESCO reported: “The people already have skills to make woven mats, woven containers for cooked rice, head covers (saraung), rice covers, hats baskets, to produce brown sugar and other products. The main ingredients and tools to make these products are derived from surrounding environment, such as the leaves of a certain palm tree (enau), rumbia leaves (for sago), palm leaves to be woven into mats, meanwhile the brown sugar is made from the flower sap of a special type of palm tree (lontar and enau).

“b. The tradition to go down to the paddy fields: Similar to the agrarian people of South Sulawesi, the people of the Maros-pangkep also have a tradition to go down to the paddy fields. The ritual starts from the tudang sipulung, choosing the seedlings, planting the seedlings, weeding the paddy fields, maddongi, and the tradition of mappadendang. The tradition of Mappadendang follows several steps and the most interesting part is at harvest time when the young start mating and finally marry.

“c. In addition to these traditions, there are also cultural arts from the region namely the traditional dances. From the Maros Regency tehre are traditions and dances such as the Ma'raga dance, Mappadendang dance, Ma'kampiri dance, Salonreg dance, Pepe-pepe dance, mamuri-muri dance, Tubaranina dance, Marusu dance, and the celebration the Muharram month, and the birth of the prophet Muhammad, Appalilli, Katto Bokko, Decorated boat competition, Mallangiri, Kalubampa Dance, and Kesong-kesong dance.”

Leang Timpuseng Cave: Home of Some of World’s Oldest Art

Leang Timpuseng Cave(in the Maros-Pangkep karst area) is the home of the world's oldest hand stencils, regarded as some of the world’s oldest art. Dated to 37,900 B.C., site also includes some of the most ancient animal paintings,.Deborah Netburn wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “Archaeologists working in Indonesia say prehistoric hand stencils and intricately rendered images of primitive animals were created nearly 40,000 years ago. These images, discovered in limestone caves on the island of Sulawesi...are about the same age as the earliest known art found in the caves of northern Spain and southern France. The findings were published in the journal Nature. "We now have 40,000-year-old rock art in Spain and Sulawesi," said Adam Brumm, a research fellow at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, and one of the lead authors of the study. "We anticipate future rock art dating will join these two widely separated dots with similarly aged, if not earlier, art." [Source: Deborah Netburn, Los Angeles Times, October 8, 2014 ~\~]

“The ancient Indonesian art was first reported by Dutch archaeologists in the 1950s but had never been dated until now. For decades researchers thought that the cave art was made during the pre-Neolithic period, about 10,000 years ago. "I can say that it was a great — and very nice — surprise to read their findings," said Wil Roebroeks, an archaeologist at Leiden University in the Netherlands, who was not involved in the study. "'Wow!' was my initial reaction to the paper." ~\~

The researchers said they had no preconceived ideas of how old the rock art was when they started on this project about three years ago. They just wanted to know the date for sure. To do that, the team relied on a relatively new technique called U-series dating, which was also used to establish minimum dates of rock art in Western Europe. We have seen a lot of surprises in paleoanthropology over the last 10 years, but this one is among my favorites. - Wil Roebroeks, Leiden University archaeologist

First they scoured the caves for images that had small cauliflower-like growths covering them — eventually finding 14 suitable works, including 12 hand stencils and two figurative drawings. The small white growths they were looking for are known as cave popcorn, and they are made of mineral deposits that get left in the wake of thin streams of calcium-carbonate-saturated water that run down the walls of a cave. These deposits also have small traces of uranium in them, which decays over time to a daughter product called thorium at a known rate. "The ratio between the two elements acts as a kind of geological clock to date the formation of the calcium carbonate deposits," explained Maxime Aubert of the University of Wollongong in Australia's New South Wales state, the team's dating expert. ~\~

“Using a rotary tool with a diamond blade, Aubert cut into the cave popcorn and extracted small samples that included some of the pigment of the art. The pigment layer of the sample would be at least as old as the first layer of mineral deposit that grew on top of it. Using this method, the researchers determined that one of the hand stencils they sampled was made at least 39,900 years ago and that a painting of an animal known as a pig deer was at least 35,400 years old. In Europe, the oldest known cave painting was of a red disk found in a cave in El Castillo, Spain, that has a minimum age of 40,800 years. The earliest figurative painting, of a rhinoceros, was found in the Chauvet Cave in France; it goes back 38,827 years. ~\~

“The unexpected age of the Indonesian paintings suggests two potential narratives of how humans came to be making art at roughly the same time in these disparate parts of the world, the authors write. It is possible that the urge to make art arose simultaneously but independently among the people who colonized these two regions. Perhaps more intriguing, however, is the possibility that art was already part of an even earlier prehistoric human culture that these two groups brought with them as they migrated to new lands. One narrative the study clearly contradicts: That tens of thousands of years ago prehistoric humans were making art in Europe and nowhere else "The old 'Europe, the birthplace of art' story was a naive one, anyway," said Roebroeks. "We have seen a lot of surprises in paleoanthropology over the last 10 years, but this one is among my favorites." ~\~

Bugi Area in Southeast Sulawesi

Bira (150 kilometers southeast of Makassar) is one of the best places for seeing Bugis and their wooden ships, and is perhaps the world’s last great place where wooden ships are made. At Marumasa and Tanah Beru near Biri you can see traditional boats of various sizes in various stages of construction. The stilted houses are painted in bright colors and decorated with pictures of dragons and flying creatures with propellers. Marumasa Bira is also famous for its pythons. There are some nice beached nearby.

According to the ancient I La Galigo manuscript, phinisi schooners have been built since the 14th century. These schooners are mostly crafted in the area called Tanah Beru, located about 23 kilometers from the capital of Bulukumba, or 176 kilometers from Makassar. Along the shores of Tanah Beru, you will see tens of dry-docks where phinisi schooners are in various stages of construction. Here the skillful hands of the Bugis with amazing precision, carefully craft the Phinisi that has become the icon of Indonesian seafaring. The Phinisi is built using traditional equipment following exact prescribed traditional techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation. Its construction does not only involve strength and technique but also — as the locals believe — supernatural powers, for which every stage requires strictly adhered rituals and ceremonies.

Further south, at the most southern tip of the district, about 200 kilometers from Makassar, the secluded white sandy beach and crystal clear calm waters at Tanjung Bira Beach. Its location alone has made it a special place, where the sun rises and sets magnificently along a straight line. Here you can find the luxurious Amatoa Resort, located on a vast spreading white sand beach, ideal for sunbathing, snorkeling and diving. There are also so me islands offshore that have nice reefs for diving.

There are also some places important in Bugi history. The word “Bulukumba” is believed to be derived from the Bugis phrase “Bulu’ku Mupa”, which loosely translated means “still my mountain”. The name appeared in the 17th century, when a war broke out between two kingdoms of South Sulawesi, namely the kingdoms of Gowa and Bone. At the time, the ridge of Mount Lompobattang, known as “Bengkeng Buki”, - which means “foot of the hill”, - was claimed by The Gowa Kingdom. The Bone Kingdom, however, refuted the claim and defended the area with all they had. From this battle came the passionate outcry: ”bulu’ku mupa!” or “still my mountain”. Gradually its pronunciation shifted to cover the entire area of Bulukumba.

Bulukumba is also the home of a special ethnic group called the Kajang. For centuries they inhabited the interior area of the Kajang regency in an area called Tana Toa, which they regard as having been bestowed to them by their ancestors. Until this day, the Kajang still practice age -old traditions and ways of life that teach men to maintain perfect harmony with nature. Living in simplicity, none of the houses have any furniture, electricity, and other modern convenience.The Kajang also wear black as their daily attire. For to the people of Kajang, modernity deviates from customary rules and ancestral teachings.

Bouton Island (south of eastern Sulawesi) is famous for its golden-robed sultan, his lovely daughters in sarongs made with silver thread, and five miles of fortified ramparts from a Portuguese fort. Visitors are sometimes welcomed to the sultans court with a banquet in the main hall of the palace and music from gongs and drums. The beautiful women have a reputation for possessing magic which can make men never want to leave the island.

Accommodation and Getting to Bira and Bulukumba

The selection of available accommodation in the district of Bulukumba varies from star-rated hotels and resort to modest inns and backpacker’s lodge. Here are among some of the accommodation you can find in Bulukumba: 1) Salassa Guesthouse, Internet, cafe, restaurant, tourist information, motorbike and car rental; 2) Tanjung Bira Inn, AC, breakfast. 085824635570 24hours; 3) Pasir Putih Bira Inn, 0811 420 1028; 4) Kalubimbi Cottage. Bira. 085656 456 853; 5) Ala Din Homestay. 085 299 7021 68|0815 4328 8159; 7) Riswan Bungalows, , Banana boat, 085 341 664 955; 8) Nusa Bira Indah Cottage, Jl. Kapongkolang; 9) Bukit Sawerigading Inn, 081342242318;

10) Bira Beach Hotel and Restaurant, Jl. Kapongkolang No. 2, +62 413 270 2034; 11) Hotel Sapolohe, Right at the coast of pasir pUtih Beach; 12) Anda Beach Hotel and Restaurant, +62 413 258 9065|+62 81 355 963 628; 13) Bahagia Pondok Wisata Hotel, Jalan Bira, Bulukumba 92571, South Sulawesin Indonesia, Tel. (0413) 83599; 15) Awal Fajar Inn, Jl Pisang 19,, nBulukumba 92511, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Tel: 0413-81267; 16) Anda Bunglows, Jl. Kapongkolang No. 6 Bira, Tel. (0413) 82125; 17) Bira View Inn, Tel. (0413) 82043 - 81763 Representative in Makassar: Tel. (0411) 867336; 18) Wisma Andita Beach, Jl. Yos Sudarso No. 4C, +62 413 81915, Very homey, comfortable, AC, cable TV, shower, breakfast. Room: Rp 200,00.

Getting There: From Malengkeri terminal in Makassar visitors can choose to take a bus or other public transportation to Bulukumba. By public transport, the trip to Bulukumba will take about 2 -3 hours and costs around IDR 35.000. Once you reach downtown Bulukumba, you can get to Bira Beach by taking the pete-pete minibuses for about IDR 8.000 to IDR 10.000. The Tanah Beru phinisi dock yards are along this road.In Tanjung Bira Beach, public transport operates only till the afternoon. If you wish to return to Makassar, there are also cars for hire to take you back to Makasar for about IDR 500.000

Taka Bonerate National Park

The Bonerate National Park (8 hours by bus plus, 8 hours by boat from Makassar) is home to the third biggest atoll in the world after Kwajifein in the Marshall Isles and Suvadiva in the Maldives. The park was nominated to become a UNESCO World Heritage in 2005. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “The total area of the atoll is about 220,000 hectares with coral reefs spreading over 500square kilometers. The national park includes an area of 530,765 ha. Taka Bonerate is a Bugis’s name that somewhat has a meaning ‘Coral Piled Up On Sand’. There are 15 islands in taka Bonerate National Park where visitors can enjoy diving, snorkelling and marine tours. Stretching south of the main island of Sulawesi into the Flores Sea, the Taka Bonerate National Park in the Selayar Regency is a dominantly rich marine park, but it is also habitat to a number of bird species from land birds to coastal and sea birds that frolic on the many sand dunes. [Source: Ministry of Environment, Indonesia]

The Island of Selayar is the gateway to Taka Bonerate National Park. Taka Bonerate, together with Wakatobi , Ambon , Banda and Raja Ampat , together with Bunaken as well as the Derawan islands in Kalimantan, are at the heart of the Coral Triangle which stretches from the Solomon Islands in the east, to the Philippines in the north, to Bali , Lombok , Komodo , Flores and the Savu Sea in the south, these latter form the base of the huge Coral Triangle. Besides atolls, this national park comprises 21 islands.

The island of Tinabo, which is at the heart of Taka Bonerate is also headquarters of the management of this marine park. Measuring 1.5 km by 400 meters, Tinabo is far away from the hustle and bustle of city life, where it feels like you are on your own private island in the middle of nowhere. Here you can enjoy snorkeling, scuba diving, take a leisurely walk on the white sand beach, canoe, go fishing, or just watch in awe the sun rise in the morning, or in the evening set slowly behind the horizon in fantastic hues of orange and purple.

The crystal clear waters offer a wide range of reefs, from barrier reefs to fringing reefs and atolls to steep drop-offs, as well as slopes and flat seabeds, all offering opportunities for beginners to professional divers to test their skill and be amazed by the wonderful beauty of this underwater sea life. Besides the 242 species of corals, Taka Bonerate boasts 526 species of colorful and strange reef fish as well as 112 species of macro algae.

Divers will be able to get close and swim with dolphins, turtles, manta rays, sometimes spot sharks, or sperm whales, and be enthralled by the giant gorgonian fans, black corals, scorpion fish, nudibranch, tuna, trevallies, napoleon wrasse and more that make up this unbelievable,pristine underwater paradise. You will also find hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelysimbricata), Pacific Ridley turtles ( Lepidochelysolivicea), and green turtles (cheloniamydas). Indeed, Taka Bonerate is said to have one of the world's highest marine diversity. The Park has over 50 fantastic dive sites, a number are by the island of Tinabo, others are near the islands of Kahabia, Belang-Belang, and Taka Lamungan.

Best time to dive is between April to mid-May, and October to mid-November when the soft easterly winds do not whip up the waves. Winds are still reasonable between October through May. But during the west monsoon winds are liable to cause waves to two meters or higher. All ferries will stop operation when waves are dangerously high. The local population, who lives mostly on and around the island of Selayar are predominantly Bugis, known for their superb craftsmanship in boat building, and the Bajau sea gypsies.

To get to Selayar you must first reach Makassar or fly to Aeroppala Airport on Selayar Islands. Wings Air flies daily between the Sultan Hasanudin International Airport in Makassar and the Aeroppala Airport on Selayar Islands. Alternatively, youcan travel overland from Makassar to the town of Tanjung Bira and then take the ferry from Tanjung Bira's port to Selayar. If you want to use public transportation, best take an air-conditioned bus from Makassar that leaves at 9:00am. The route goes via the town of Bira at Bulukumba Regency, where the bus will be loaded on the ferry to cross to Selayar. From Selayar it still takes some 8 hours by boat from the town of Benteng to the island of Tinabo. Garuda Indonesia is scheduled to soon start operating Makassar - Selayar flights which will definitely shorten travel time and increase convenience.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Indonesia Tourism website ( ), Indonesia government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Japan News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in August 2020

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