This is my very first ultimate guide for a destination.
I’m not going to lie, I would normally write a short blurb about my travel experience and let the photos do the story telling because I feel that my words never do it any justice! But this time, I have received so many MANY questions about Labengke. Since there are not many blogs or articles available in English that cover this area and I am Indonesian and Labengke is located in Indonesia, I have decided to do something different. I will try my best to put together a guide with as much information as possible so that I can hopefully help you all experience the blessing that this beautiful island gave me.
- We went with an all inclusive guided tour company in Indonesia.
- We spent approx AU$600 per person incl food, accomodation, tour, daily guided tours, transport. Please do not take my word for the price as we received a massive discount for booking multiple tours in one go.
- We went to Labengki Islands by a traditional wooden boat. I recommend that you plan your transport in advance.
- Bring your trekking shoes because the hike was quite intense and also organise both prescription and basic medications because it is hard to get these kind of supplies due to the remoteness of the island.
- There is no signal in 99% of the Labengke area so I would HIGHLY recommend you join a tour. No signal means you cannot google anything therefore going without a tour guide will leave you feeling like a useless potato.
- Download offline music or eBooks to fill in your spare time when there is no signal.
How to get to Labengke Island:
Located in South Sulawesi Island (Indonesia)
From Bali take a flight to Makassar (UPG) 1 hour - flight to Kendari (KDI) 1 hour - land transport to the Tanasa Harbour 1 hour- boat to Labengke island 1-2 hour.
For domestic flights within Indonesia, I normally use Traveloka
Haluleo Airport (KDI) in Kendari City
Flight from Bali:
Most flights will transit in Makassar city (UPG) 1 hour flight and then another 55 minutes flight from Makassar to Kendari.
Once you reach Haluleo Airport (KDI) in Kendari City, you need to take a car to Tanasa Harbour which is roughly 1 hour from the airport.
Since you can only reach Labengke Island by boat, the boat is scheduled to leave the Tanasa Harbour by 8am or 9am the latest.
From the Tanasa Harbour to Labengke Island, they normally travel by a traditional wooden boat and this takes roughly 2 hours. If you use a speedboat then it will be 1 hour and of course, it cost slightly higher.
Best time to get to Labengki:
Rainy season: June - September
Dry season: October - May
Jellyfish season: December
Yes, we went in December and got stung many many times by the jellyfishes. I would HIGHLY recommend that you avoid December for the sake of your own skin otherwise you will smell like a giant walking vinegar bottle like we did!
Where to stay in Labengki:
Home stay - this means you stay at the locals house in “Labengki Kecil”
Labengke Island Beach Hut, which is like a private island. It costs $50 per person, per night and includes food but there are some living conditions to keep in mind:
We initially wanted to stay here but they were temporarily closed for operation due to some unknown condition. From this resort, you can see the heart shaped lagoon directly.
If you stay in the home stay or the Lanbengke Beach Hut, food is all inclusive.
The food served was traditional Indonesian food and instant coffee. I won’t lie and say it was pretty tasty but we were both lucky because we didn’t get any stomach bugs like we had anticipated! Remember that this island underdeveloped so do not expect anything fancy. If you want to buy some basic snacks or soft drinks, you will need to take a boat to Labengke Kecil.
We visited Labengki Kecil where all the locals stay and they were very welcoming to the tourists. All the children looked super happy and played in harmony with the simplest DYI cartoon cars from cigarette boxes and bottle caps.
Here is a special tip for all the Internet lovers - if you climb onto the cliff nearby, at the very back, you can actually get a very low signal bar with 3G.
What we did in Labengke Islands:
Once again please note all these locations were organised by the tour agencies as a package.
A 20 minute ride from the Labengke Resort and it is best to come here early in the morning before the tide is high. We arrived slightly late so on the way out, the ocean water was rushing through a small hole and dragged me until I hit the coral. Inside was a secluded lake and it was mind-blowing how peaceful and quiet this place was!
From Lubang Tobelo to Danau kembar, it takes only 10 minutes. It is named kembar (twins) because there are two lakes that look exactly the same.
I guarantee you that when the boat arrives at the corner of the entrance, you will not be able to resist screaming at how blue and mesmerising the colours are! It is seriously like a copy and paste from a magazine!
It is named grandma’s house because according to the tale, this place has been guided by a 100-year-old grandma. There are four beautiful lagoons in the area and of course, a drone shot was the only way to do it justice
It was dark and if you are claustrophobic like me, you will definitely need a torch. As soon as you step inside the cave, you will feel the gentle touch of a cold breeze on your skin. It is quite easy to climb to the spot where we took the photo below
This cave is really photogenic, especially with the blue colour water in the middle of the cave and the small pockets of light shining through. It gives a special effect when you take a photo in here!
From Danau kembar to Blue Lagoon, it is 10 minute boat ride. You will need to climb the sharp rocks to get to this location but it is probably the BEST location so far. The only words to describe the feeling when I swam in the turquoise water is it is beyond magical, and I would actually come back to this island just to experience that incredible feeling of diving into the refreshing cold water again.
Next destination is also 10 minutes. If you climb to the top, you will see the love heart shaped bay on the left and on the right side.
This hike is nothing compared to the other spots and most importantly they have proper stairs.
Puncak Khayangan or Mini Raja Ampat/ Mini Wayag (Indonesia most iconic place in Raja Ampat)
To get here, you have to climb sharp rocks and thankfully the tour guide gave us gloves for protection. The hike was very challenging and I actually felt like I was Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, literally! But if you slip from the top, it is definitely game over for good.
Goa Kolam Renang (Swimming Pool Cave):
Located in the locals main island, Labengke Kecil village, this swimming pool cave is only a 5 minute boat ride from the Labengke Beach Hut. The cave itself is not super deep and you can explore by swimming because the water is roughly 1.5m to 2.5m deep. The locals have also installed power inside to provide some light. The cost for entry is 10cents per person.
Pantai Pasir Panjang (Long Sand Beach):
Pantai Pasir Putih (White Sand Beach) Sombori - Central Sulawesi
To reach here we actually crossed the border. Labengke Islands is located in the South Eastern part of Sulawesi. We stopped by this beautiful beach for lunch and the water was unbelievably transparent and blue. You could easily confuse it for the Maldives water and the white colour sand. In the pictures, you might see the sand slightly yellowish due to the editing colour I chose but in real life they are quite white and very soft fine sand beach.
Underwater Life Pictures Taken From A Few Different Spots in Labengke:
What I learnt from being in a remote uncivilised island for 4 days:
Now that you have seen the catch behind these beautiful islands, yes, the accommodation. Although it is cheap, it is not your typical 5 star private island resort. My best friend and I were speechless when we arrived and were told there is no electricity, that we had to shower from a bucket AND brush our teeth from the same bucket that we flushed our squat toilet with. But all the beautiful water surrounding this island made up for it, including the friendly guide and staff whom made us feel very comfortable. I must be honest though, I was quite surprised at how cool we were with this unusual resort situation because we did not whine one bit! But this has also made me realise that I am strong enough to adapt to any type of living condition. When I first showed many of my friends the bathroom and the bed photos, 99% said they wouldn’t go. Yes it might seem pretty bad in the picture but I believe that once you are there exploring all of the beautiful spots – it will all be worth it, every second of it. Call us crazy but the beauty of the place was worth every jellyfish sting we had suffered on this holiday!
I nearly fainted when I first head the tour guide say “there is no signal in the islands”. I thought to myself, how will I survive?? But after the first night of no signal and only using my mobile for music, I actually found myself starting to it. I was surprised to feel the peacefulness of having no pressure to check emails and social media, and how wonderful it was to interact face-to-face with another person without a LCD interface between us. I truly felt connected to my childhood, a time when all we did was spend quality time together wihtout the distraction of message notifications.
To date, all my whinings have literally been first world problems. “There is so much traffic! The weather is too hot! OMG it’s so cold! I’m so hangry because the line at the restaurant is too long!”. But after commuting to other islands by a traditional wooden boat regardless of the weather conditions (rain, hail or shine), this experience truly made me feel like a fool. While I am busy whining about little things, these village locals have to ride their boat for hours in any weather condition just to get decent food supplies and not to mention, when they also to buy basic medicine or to get medical attention!
Thanks Kakaban Trip fore the drone footages x