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Stretching south of the main island of Sulawesi in the Flores Sea, the Taka Bonerate National Park in the Selayar Regency is predominantly a 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.
The Island of Selayar is the gateway to this extensive 530,765 hectares national park, of which 220,000 hectares form an expanse of atolls and lagoons. Taka Bonerate is the third largest atoll region in the world after Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands and Suvadiva in the Maldives.
Taka Bonerate, together with Wakatobi, Ambon, Banda and Raja Ampat together with Bunaken as well as Derawan 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, which forms the base of this huge triangle. Besides atolls, this national park comprises 21 islands.
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 (Eretmochelys imbricata), Pacific ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivicea), and green turtles (chelonia mydas). 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 raise 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 craftmanship in boat building, and the Bajau sea gypsies.
To get to Selayar and Taka Bonerate, you should take a flight toMakassar, capital of South Sulawesi. There are direct flights from Singapore to Makassar on Garuda Indonesia and SilkAir. Since Makassar is the air hub for east Indonesia, almost all domestic carriers fly to Makassar from all main airports in the country.
If you need to stay overnight, there are plenty of hotels in Makassar (you can check our Find Hotel in Makassar).
For direct land transportation to Selayar, best take an air-conditioned bus from Makassar that leaves at 9.0 am. The route goes via the town of Bira at Bulukumba Regency, where the bus will be loaded on the ferry to cross to Selayar, where it is due to arrive at 07.30 pm. From Selayar it still takes some 8 hours by boat from the town of Benteng to the island of Tinabo. So you may want to stay overnight at Benteng (See Find Hotel on Selayar).
SMAC charter flights are also available at Makassar, operating to Selayar twice or three times weekly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The flight takes 40 minutes. For information call SMAC Office in Selayar, no. : +62 414 21361, or mobile no. : +62 81355222282.