Taka Bonerate is a marine national park, located in Selayar Island Regency, South Sulawesi. It is listed in the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves. Featuring 220,000 hectares of atoll, it is the third largest atoll region in the world after Kwajalein in the Marshall Island and Suvadiva in Maldives. The name itself means ‘corals on top of sands’.
This national park is entirely located on Selayar Islands Regency, covering 18 small islands, 5 deltas, and 30 atoll rings. This area has been protected even from the colonial era. Today, Taka Bonerate offers a pristine marine destinations as well as cultural heritage of Bajo people. Here are some of the part you need to visit at Taka Bonerate.
Tinabo Islands feel like a private island
Tinabo Island is located strategically within the national park, it is also the headquarters of the marine park. There are Tinabo Besar and Tinabo Kecil Islands, located next to each other. These two small islands are so quiet, it feels like private islands most of the time.
This is the perfect place if you want to get away from hectic city life. You can snorkel, dive, or just walk around the island in complete tranquility.
Diving and snorkeling paradise
This whole national park is a paradise for those who love marine life. Basically, this national park is a very vast coral reef compound, thus ideal for scuba diving or snorkeling. As of November 2018, this area has 19 diving spots, offering virgin coral with extraordinarily rich biodiversity.
Tinabo Island is the most popular spot due to its easy access. But if you have time to spend, you might want to see many coral walls and caves all around this park. Diving and snorkeling can be done all year round.
Immerse yourself in a unique culture of Bajo People
Only seven islands in this national park are inhabited; Rajuni Kecil, Latondu Besar, Tarupa, Jinato, Pasitallu Tengah, Rajuni Besar, and Pasitallu Timur. Most inhabitants are Bajo and Bugis people. Bajo people are well-known sea-faring tribe, often nomadic, and has conquered many seas in Southeast Asia.
Takabonerate’s Bajo is different from the other places because they live in a sand island that often get drown entirely during high tide. Learning about their fascinating culture is one of the attraction of this area.
Great education tourism
The great biodiversity in this area is already attracting many marine biologists and researcher to come to these atolls. The park is also ideal for educating tourists the importance of corals.
While observing the ecosystem in the area can be quite educating, there are programs that are intended to not only provide information but also involves the tourists into the conservation effort within the islands. One of such activity is planting and transplanting coral reef to keep the ecosystem balanced.
How to get to Taka Bonerate and what to do there
This park is admittedly not the easiest place to get to. Aeroppala Airport in Selayar Islands is only served with flights to Makassar. Alternatively, you can go to Tanjung Bira and then take a ferry to Benteng, Selayar.
From Benteng, the only access to the islands is by boat. Due to the vast area covered in this national park, getting from one place to another can take hours.
Taka Bonerate is a large atoll area where you can enjoy many beautiful marine tourism spots. Located just to the south of Makassar, these atolls are superb example of marine underwater life.