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Fronting the city of Makassar are a cluster of islands basking in the sun, numbering 55 in all, some large, while others are merely sand bars that disappear at high tide. This cluster of islands is known as the Spermonde Archipelago, but locals know them only by their individual names.
The islands nearest to Makassar, such as Lae-lae and Kayangan, can be reached within 15 minutes by speedboat and are popular weekend getaway resorts, others have fishing villages, while the furthest away such as Kapuposang island, immediately face the deep sea and are therefore ideal for diving and snorkeling.
Best time to visit the islands is during the east-monsoon which is between May through September. This is also the perfect time to go sailing around the islands.
The island of Kayangan is about 2 km from the city facing the harbor and is filled with simple restaurants and has rooms for rent. While Lae-Lae is situated some 1.5 km. from town and is the closest to the city. The island has been extended with a long breakwater at its north side to protect the harbor of Makassar against waves.
Lae-Lae today is densely populated, its inhabitants live from fishery and tourism, renting out boats to take tourists back to Makassar or to other islands. The trip to Lae-Lae takes only 10 to15 minutes.
The island of Samalona, some 7 km. from Makassar lies further away and is therefore quieter. During colonial days the island was open exclusively to the Dutch elite. Indonesians were not allowed to enter the island. Samalona has a beautiful white beach, surrounded by healthy coral reefs, where the reef on its northern side is best for snorkeling. A number of cottages are available for rent, but meals are simple, though pricy.
On the Kodengareng Keke island, some 12 km. from the city, the Dolphin Resort has been built. Here one can go snorkeling and diving, the water is clear and there is a variety of marine life to be enjoyed. Dolphin Resort offers four 2-room bungalows, and meals at extra cost. They also have dive equipment for rent. But for diving arrangements it is best to organize this with one of the many dive operators in Makassar.
For information contact: Dolphin Resort , P.O. Box 1543, Makassar 90000, South Sulawesi – Indonesia. Tel.: +62 411 5063596
Diving with Sharks
Lanyukan and Kapuposang are the furthest islands facing the deep sea.
Located some 37 km. from Makassar, Lanyukan is surrounded by reefs and steep drop offs. Here one finds bigger fish like mantas, barracudas and plenty of sharks. Here, from a 100 meter shelf, the reef suddenly plunges to 600 meters. Therefore, only experienced divers should dive these waters. There is a small village on Lanyukan but there are no overnight facilities.
Further away at some 70 km. from Makassar is the island of Kapuposang. This is a beautiful green island covered with casuarinas trees and coconut palms. Kapuposang is right at the edge of the continental shelf that separates Australia from Asia.
This is shark paradise, where the blue-and-white tip reef shark will be inquisitive but mostly harmless, but the hammerheads are ready to attack. This is deep water, from 300 meters near the island, the reef plunges down to 800 meters. Here you will find giant groupers, schools of tuna, stingray and turtles
There is a resort for divers and non-divers at the south-east point of the island.
Although quite far from Makassar, a speedboat will get you to these outermost islands in 1.5 hours.
Make sure you have enough suntan lotion, wear sturdy shoes when walking around the islands to avoid bruising yourself on corals. Bring also some first aid kit especially when you are travelling with kids and the family.
It is best to make arrangements with an experienced dive operator in Makassar, who will rent diving and snorkeling equipment, and make arrangements for your boat to take you to and from the islands. They can also supply you with food, drinks, and whatever else you will need to enjoy the islands but also to protect yourself from unforeseen inconveniences. For a number of addresses click: Find a Travel Agent.
If you prefer to make your own arrangements, there are plenty of boats available for hire at the wharf. Make sure you agree on the return trip. At Lae-Lae there are fishermen who rent out their boats for the return journey to Makassar or on to other islands, but these may not be available on other islands.