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Samalona Island, Makassar Overview

Formed on a cluster of coral, Pulau Samalona or Samalona Island is one of Makassar’s hidden gems. It has beautiful white sand beaches, azure waters, and breathtaking marine life. The island is famous for its snorkelling and diving opportunities that lets one see the colourful coral reefs and fish up close. Pulau Samalona is less than an hour’s boat ride from Makassar, making this little island the ultimate day trip and weekend getaway.

Even those who aren’t keen on taking part in the water activities will love the camping opportunities – making a bonfire, enjoying the night sky from your tent, roasting fish and corn for dinner, and if the weather’s good, even sleeping on the shore! Pulau Samalona sees hundreds of locals on a daily basis, but it remains fairly unknown to international travellers and has only been gaining popularity in recent years. Visitors of Samalona Island are bound to love the laidback, tropical vibe and getting away from the hustle of city life.

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Things to Do at Pulau Samalona

As a small island off the coast of Makassar, Samalona Island isn’t abundant with things to do. However, the water sports opportunities here are worth it.

1. Water Sports: From snorkelling and diving to jet skiing, banana boating and even fly-boarding, the crystal clear waters here are ideal for any kind of marine adventure. These need to be arranged from Makassar where once can book a Samalona Island package and carry equipment. Make arrangements with a tour operator before coming to the island as there aren’t any kind of facilities in Samalona alone aside from a lighthouse, chalets, and some restaurants.

Diving Operators: Popular operators are Makassar Diving Centre and Bubblemakers. The white sand and coral reef at Samalona Island promises beautiful views of lionfish, turtles, barracuda, scorpionfish, cuttlefish, lobsters, stingrays, anemones, and even sharks. There are at least eight wreck dive sites across Samalona Island for advanced divers. These include a World War II Japanese plane shipwreck, a 50-metre long Japanese shipwreck, and a 40-metre long Japanese shipwreck to explore. There’s also a 200-metre coral wall to see.

Dynamite fishing, also known as blast fishing, occurs in these parts which can cause large explosions in the water that scare away marine life, so it’s best to dive with an instructor who knows these parts well. After a day of exploring these shipwrecks, or snorkelling closer to the island’s shores, there are plenty of local restaurants to enjoy delicious, fresh food. In addition, the island has public toilet facilities and multiple homestays.

Best Time to Visit

The ideal time to visit Samalona Island is from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM on week days. After that, the waves tend to get rough and the day can get pretty hot. On weekends, the island can get annoyingly crowded.

The months from April to November are ideal for enjoying Samalona at its best. Avoid visiting during the monsoon months. Not only will the sky be overcast and provide no views, but the waves can be unpredictable and dangerous.

Tips

1. Carry water bottles to the island. Fresh fish, juice, beer and other items may be available on the island but drinking water at a reasonable price is not one of them
2. Watch out for sea urchins on the sea floor while exploring the island. If you get stung, it can get quite painful and the closest city, Makassar, is at least twenty minutes away.
3. Some travellers complain about the terrible mosquitos here, so do bring some mosquito repellent

How To Reach Pulau Samalona

Samalona Island is located in Ujang Pandang district of South Sulawesi Province. It is around seven kilometres (thirty minutes) from Makassar city. To reach this island, hire a speedboat or charter a boat from Losari port or Fort Rotterdam pier. These speedboats can cost anywhere between IDR 300,000 to IDR 450,000 depending on negotiated prices and duration of the trip (round-trip, single trip, or overnight trip).

Chartering a boat for 8 people would cost around IDR 400,000 for a round trip. There are also public boats that operate on the weekends. Starting from Fort Rotterdam, avail a one-way trip for around IDR 10,000.

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