Wedged between Borneo and the Moluccas, Sulawesi is a sweltering island with endless peninsulas, lashings of marine magic, and a rugged relatively unexplored interior where mountains and megaliths crash in dramatic fashion. The islands, sweeping waterways and jaw dropping national parks make it a glorious destination for yacht charters looking to blend glorious seabound adventures with an elaborate ritualistic culture. From the buffalo cult homes of Tana Toraja to the volcanic peaks in the north, there’s something compelling at every port of call when sailing Sulawesi.
Reasons to Charter a Yacht to Sulawesi
Sulawesi brims with incredible tribes and colorful cultures making it a must for those keen to catch sight of the rare funeral rituals of the Toraja highlanders. In Toraja the dead are kept in the homes, preserved in a mummified state for years and funerals are a huge deal when they happen – often during the dry season. During this time hundreds of buffaloes will be slaughtered to accompany the dead on their final journey.
Sulawesi boasts endless waterways to tempt divers and snorkelers from across the far-flung globe. From the strange creatures and rare night-dives filled with phosphorescence in the Lembeh Straits to archipelagos and coral gardens in the Togean Islands, not to mention five national parks for pristine diving, sailing and scuba adventures, your hair will barely get chance to dry when sailing this wonderful water world.
Just like the rest of Indonesia, Sulawesi doesn’t fall short when it comes to natural drama, with huge swathes of land feeling completely unexplored. Of course, there’s the islands and gem like waterways, but there’s also rainforests filled with the tiniest primates on earth (the tarsier monkey), sperm whales breaching the waters, simmering volcanoes, thundering waterfalls, crater lakes, and vistas that will leave you weak at the knees.
Where to Visit in Sulawesi
The Lembeh Strait is a scuba divers paradise. With reefs and wrecks and monumental drop off points, there’s little reason to come up even for air when submerged in the kaleidoscopic appeal of this place. Without a doubt, one of the absolute pleasures of submerging yourself in the Lembeh Strait is the night dives where glittering phosphorescence turns the ocean into a sea of falling stars.
Home to the Bajau people and an intricate culture of deep-sea fishing, the Togean Islands offer a beautiful island backdrop for those seeking to sail off the beaten track. Golden beaches strung with hammock dressed palm trees set the scene for quiet contemplation and late-night fires with the locals. Una Una makes for one of the most sought-after dive sites thanks to its rich diversity, and with dense wild jungles flanking the edges, there’s plenty of land-based wildlife discovery to keep you busy.
Leaving the yacht behind and heading into the rugged interior and the mountainous surroundings of Tana Toraja is a must for anyone intrigued by the fascinating culture of the Toraja people. The highland people have intricate death ceremonies and stunning architecture with their boat houses stranded on land and their cave graves and beautifully carved effigies. When not witnessing the cultural efforts to celebrate the dead, there’s plenty of rice paddy trekking, cycling, and just drinking in those glorious mountain views.
When to Charter a Yacht to Sulawesi
Those setting sail for the northern shores of Sulawesi are best heading out between the months of July and October for a clearer climate. Those sailing south will find it’s best to visit between May and October to make the most of the weather.