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Travel & Holiday

Rare gem in Sulawesi

Makassar in south Sulawesi is fast becoming a popular beach destination
The Straits Times - March 6, 2012
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Rare gem in Sulawesi -- PHOTO: ADRIAN EUGENE SEET

Many of Indonesia's 17,000 islands are untapped tourism gems, although that is changing with increasing flight connectivity within the country. Makassar in south Sulawesi, for one, is fast becoming a popular beach destination.

Since last June, Garuda Indonesia has been flying daily from Singapore to Makassar for around $350 return.

This makes it so much easier to visit Losari, a 2km stretch of beach in Makassar, the gateway to more than 50 islands in the nearby Spermonde Archipelago, where travellers can find quaint fishing villages, picturesque beaches and diving and snorkelling spots.

Samalona, located 7km from Makassar, is great for beach bums and divers, who can find marine creatures such as batfish, stonefish and bluespotted stingrays on the south and western side of the island. Those interested in wreck-diving can explore World War II sunken treasures such as a Japanese warship in waters near the island.

The islands of Lanyukan and Kapuposang, which are about a 1 1/2-hour boat ride away from Makassar, face the deep sea, making them great diving spots to see big fishes such as sharks, barracudas and giant groupers.

Some tour operators will arrange barbecued seafood lunches on island-hopping trips. A recommended tour operator for diving and snorkelling trips is Limbunan Tours & Travel Services (tel: +62-411-3633-444/3633-555/3633-777, e-mail: limbunan@indosat.net.id).

One-day diving trips with seafood lunch for a party of five cost from US$100 (S$126) and snorkelling trips cost US$75.

A must-try at Losari Beach is pisang epe, a Makassar snack of grilled banana topped with brown sugar. It costs about 18,000 rupiah (S$2.50) for a serving of three pieces.

Marketing consultant Adrian Eugene Seet, 39, who visited Losari Beach for a weekend getaway last September, was impressed with the crystal-clear water quality and the hospitality of the locals he met.

He says: 'While Losari Beach may lack the glamour of Bali, it is where you can truly relax and enjoy its beauty in its raw and untouched form.'

Getting there: Take a three-hour flight from Singapore to Makassar on Garuda. From the airport, it is a 30-minute car ride to Losari.

Where to stay: Mid-range options include Mercure Regency Makassar (www.mercure.com, rates from US$60 for a superior double room). For five-star comfort, check out Hotel Aryaduta Makassar (www.aryaduta.com, rates from 1,540,000 rupiah for a deluxe seaview room).

Best time to visit: April to November

To book: Garuda has a 3D2N Garuda Getaway package priced from $508 a person (twin-sharing), and includes airfare, accommodation, daily breakfast and return airport transfer. Call 6250-2888 or e-mail sin-reservation@garudaindonesia.com.sg. Book by March 31.

 

 

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