PULAU SOMBORI – THE ‘RAJA AMPAT’ OF SULAWESI – COMPLETE GUIDE

pulau sombori. sombori island, labengki island, pulau labengki

Pulau Sombori (Sombori Island) is the definition of PARADISE. Sombori Island is one of Indonesia’s best-kept secrets and it is also known as the Raja Ampat of Sulawesi.

Pulau Sombori boasts blue lagoons, stalactite diamond caves and beautiful turquoise bays filled with coral rock islands.

Here is a complete guide of Sombori Island including how to get there and what to expect!

 

WHERE IS PULAU SOMBORI

Pulau Sombori is a mecca of small islands located off the coast of Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. From the city of Kandari on the mainland, it is approximately a 3-hour boat trip to reach Sombori Island.

 

HOW TO GET TO SOMBORI ISLAND (PULAU SOMBORI)

Sombori Island is best visited as a day trip from Labengki Island which is included in a tour.

The most efficient way to travel to Pulau Sombori is to fly to Kendari Airport, which is the nearest city to Sombori Island in Southeast Sulawesi.

Most flights will fly to Makasar in West Sulawesi and here you will have to transfer flights and fly to Kendari in Southeast Sulawesi.

The flight from Makasar to Kendari is around 50 minutes. When you arrive at Kendari Airport, a taxi will cost 100,000 Rupiah ($7) for a 30-minute ride into the city.

From Kendari City you will have to take a car to the boat harbor that takes 1 hour and then a boat to Labengki Island which takes approximately 2 hours depending on sea conditions.

The accommodation is located on Labengki Island and then you can visit Sombori Island from here.

It’s definitely not the most ideal route but this is currently the only way to reach Labengki Island.

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PIN LOCATION OF SOMBORI ISLAND

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pulau sombori. sombori island, labengki island, pulau labengkiPulau Sombori (Sombori Island)

 

HOW TO BOOK A TOUR TO SOMBORI ISLAND

This region of Southeast Sulawesi is still very much undiscovered and there is next to no tourism, which means at this point there are limited options to book a tour to Pulau Sombori and Labengki Island.

After hours of research, I managed to find a local travel company called Fun Adventure that was able to organise a trip for 3 days and 2 nights to Pulau Labengki and Pulau Sombori Islands.

I contacted the tour company via Whatsapp one week prior to my trip to Sulawesi to organise and confirm everything. Their Whatsapp number is +62 821 3989 9009 and they are very quick to respond when you message to inquire about booking a tour to Pulau Labengki.

Alternatively, you can book a tour through their website by Clicking Here.

The cost of the Pulau Sombori tour was around 4,000,000 Rupiah ($275) which includes transport to and from Kendari to Labengki Island, 2 nights accommodation in a small homestay on Little Labengki Island, a 3-day island-hopping itinerary including a day trip to Puluau Sombori Island, 3 meals per day (rice, noodles, fish) and drinking water.

pulau sombori. sombori island, labengki island, pulau labengkiOur Sombori Island guide, Ikbal

 

WHAT TO EXPECT ON THE PULAU SOMBORI TOUR

DAY 1:

On the first day and third day of the Pulau Sombori tour, the following locations you will get to visit on Pulau Labengki and Little Labengki Island are the Goa Cave Swimming Pool, Blue Lagoon, Pasir Panjang Beach, Kimaboe Hill + Teluk Cinta (view of a love heart shaped lagoon) and The Lighthouse.

Full Blog Post ∼ Labengki Island 

DAY 2:

On the second day of the Pulau Sombori tour, you will take the boat to Sombori Islands for an entire day of island hopping.

The locations you will get to see on Pulau Sombori are the Sombori Island Lagoons (Grandma’s House), Sombori Hill on Pulau Kayangan (viewpoint similar to Raja Ampat), Berlian Cave (Gua Berlian) and a lunch break on Mbokkita Island.

 

TOP 4 THINGS TO DO ON PULAU SOMBORI

 

Sombori Hill on Pulau Kayangan 

Sombori Hill and Kayangan Peak are located in a small bay of colorful reefs with turquoise blue water and it is surrounded by a dozen coral rock islands.

The boat will pull up at the base of Pulau Kayangan and from here you can hike for 5 minutes to the top of Sombori Hill to Kayangan Peak.

The view from the top is not something you get to see every day. See the images below and you will know what I am talking about.

Once you’ve enjoyed the view from the top of Sombori Hill and Kayangan Peak, you can ask your guide to take you to another viewpoint across the bay for a different perspective of this location.

The boat will arrive on a deserted white sand beach and you can hike for a short 5 to 10 minutes to the top of another rock island for unforgettable panoramic views of the bay.

 

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pulau sombori. sombori island, labengki island, pulau labengkiBirdseye perspective of the ‘Raja Ampat’ of Sulawesi

pulau sombori. sombori island, labengki island, pulau labengkiThe Kayangan Peak viewpoint – Sombori Island

pulau sombori. sombori island, labengki island, pulau labengkiKayangan Peak – Pulau Sombori

 

Berlian Cave (Gua Berlian)

A short 10-minute boat ride from Sombori Hill is the Berlian Cave. To access Gua Berlian, you will have to step off the front of the boat as it arrives at the edge of the rocky coastline that is Pulau Sombori.

There is a small wooden ladder to climb to a flat rock face surface and then it’s an easy 1-minute walk to the entrance of the cave.

On the inside of the Berlian Cave are stalactite diamond formations and it is also home to a large family of bats.

There is a hole at one end of the cave where the sun’s rays will find their way through, providing some light for you to see some of the fine details of the inside of Gua Berlian.

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pulau sombori. sombori island, labengki island, pulau labengkiFlame torch inside the Berlian Cave

 

Sombori Island Lagoons (Grandma’s House Sombori)

When exploring Pulau Sombori, we visited some of the most breathtaking lagoons I have ever seen. It is better known by the locals as Grandma’s House, the meaning of this I am not quite sure.

Our boat sailed us through a number of small entrances between large scale cliffs and we were able to explore and swim around in the blue lagoons.

The best perspective of these Pulau Sombori lagoons is from above and I highly recommend flying a drone here to capture it all.

 

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pulau sombori. sombori island, labengki island, pulau labengkiBirdseye perspective of Sombori Island Lagoons

pulau sombori. sombori island, labengki island, pulau labengkiGrandma’s House Pulau Sombori

pulau sombori. sombori island, labengki island, pulau labengkiSombori Island – Pulau Sombori

 

Mbokkita Island – Pulau Sombori

Mbokkita Island seems to be the hub for local fishermen to come to dock their boats for a break during the day. A small community of villagers inhabit Mbokkita Island in Pulau Sombori and cater to the fisherman when they arrive.

We stopped on the island to have some nasi goreng for lunch and were kindly invited to share some lobster with some of the locals. Hands down the best lobster I have ever eaten.

The island is filled with over-water huts on bamboo stilts, each of which are painted a different color of the rainbow and wooden decks and bridges between.

pulau sombori. sombori island, labengki island, pulau labengkiLunch with the locals on Mbokkita Island

 

SOMBORI ISLAND – THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

As Pulau Sombori and Pulau Labengki are up and coming destinations in Indonesia, there is very limited information about these islands, in fact, this article may be the first detailed blog post you will find that is written in English.

On Little Labengki Island the only power source comes from a generator that is only switched on from 6pm to 10pm, so if you need to charge camera batteries, phones and accessories, this is the only chance you will get.

The population of Little Labengki Island is 470 and it is inhabited by the local Bajo people, said to be the toughest fisherman in all of Indonesia. They are also very welcoming and friendly to new visitors.

Pulau Labengki is home to the world’s largest clam and also the only blue hole found in Indonesia for scuba diving. A French diver made it down the blue hole to 170 meters though it is still unknown how much deeper it goes.

There is no wifi anywhere on the island and the only service you will get is from the top of the Lighthouse if you are using a Telkomsel sim card.

The food at the accommodation is very basic and only consists of fish, rice, noodles, vegetables and crackers for the 2 nights and 3 days tour. I recommend packing extra snacks and fruit before leaving the mainland.

There is no ATM machine on the island, though you won’t need any cash as everything is included in the Sombori Island tour.

 

WHAT TO PACK FOR PULAU SOMBORI ISLAND

 

Everyday Backpack: One of the best backpacks on the market! The Nomatic 20L Backpack is perfect for on the go adventures. Featuring multiple storage spaces for valuables,  drink bottles, chargers, notebooks and more. This sleek backpack was designed for you.

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Universal Power Adapter: Don’t leave home without one! I highly recommend getting this Universal Power Adapter so that you are able to charge all of your electronics when you’re on the road. Compatible in Asia, UK, Europe, Africa, USA, SA and Australia.

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Hidden Money Belt: I never go on a trip without one! The best thing is they are always out of sight, hidden beneath your clothing. With RFID blocking, they are perfectly designed to keep your credit cards, cash and other valuables safe when you’re out adventuring!

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Waterproof Phone Case: A waterproof phone case is a must-have item! This universal case will keep your phone safe from water damage, sand and scratches during your adventures. Suitable for all smartphone models.

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Portable Charger: One of the best portable chargers on the market! The Anker Power Bank keeps your phone and accessories charged on those longer adventures. Featuring 2 USB charging ports, rechargeable battery, works with iPhone, iPad, Samsung, Oppo and Android.

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Microfibre Travel Towel: To pack a towel or not to pack a towel? A standard bathroom towel can take up a lot of space in your travel bag. Get your hands on a quick-dry Microfibre Travel Towel which is perfect for the beach, backpacking, camping and general traveling.

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Rain Jacket: A light-weight rain jacket is an absolute must when traveling! North Face waterproof rain jackets come in both men and women sizes, featuring a breathable mesh lining and adjustable hood that can be tucked away inside the collar.

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Kindle: The best alternative for books! Kindle e-readers are perfect for long haul flights, reading on the beach or a quiet evening away from the bars. Kindle’s are waterproof with rechargeable batteries and adjustable light settings to suit indoor/outdoor conditions. 

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Activated Charcoal Tablets: Want to avoid food poisoning? Most of us have been a victim of travelers diarrhea from eating street food. Organic Activated Charcoal Tablets are fast-acting and will rid your system of the bad bacteria that causes stomach upset.

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MY CAMERA GEAR

 

Everyday Camera: The most affordable mirrorless camera on the market! I personally use the Sony A7ii Mirrorless Camera on all of my adventures. It’s compact, lightweight and super easy to use for all levels of photography. A 28-70mm Sony lens is also included. 

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Drone Camera: Take your photography to new heights! The DJI Mavic Pro 2 Drone is at the top of the game when it comes to high-quality images and video, easy to control functions and traveler-friendly capabilities. I guarantee you won’t regret purchasing one.

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GoPro Hero 8: One of the most popular cameras on the planet! I love using the GoPro Hero 8 for all of my underwater shots and fast-paced adventures. The GoPro Hero 8 captures the best moments with its wide range of functions that are very simple to use!

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Camera Bag: My favorite camera bag I have ever owned! The Lowepro Protactic 450 AW II Camera Bag features a waterproof rain cover, drink bottle holder, padded compartments for cameras, drones, lenses, accessories and it also has a laptop pocket. 

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Selfie Stick: Everyone loves a good selfie, right!? The Sandmarc Metal Edition Selfie Stick is sleek, stylish and can extend to 1.2m. I find it much easier to take photos and videos with the GoPro when it is mounted to the Sandmarc Selfie Stick!

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Camera Tripod: The Joby GorillaPod is suitable for all cameras. This tripod is easy to use and perfect for setting up a time-lapse video or even using it as a selfie stick. The legs are flexible so you can wrap it around a tree or a pole to get creative with your shot.

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GoPro Dome: Have you ever wanted to capture those under/over water shots with the GoPro? This epic underwater GoPro dome housing is the best camera accessory to have to create the perfect 50/50 shot. I use mine every time I am in the ocean!

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Memory Card: The best thing about SanDisk Extreme Pro is that it delivers maximum speed for images and videos. Having 64GB of storage means that you can store hundreds of files on this SD card for 2-3 days and not have to worry about running out of space.

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External Hard Drive: As a photographer, my images and video files take up a lot of space on my MacBook so I use the WD Elements External Hard Drive to store everything. With 4TB worth of storage space, this is more than enough for 1 years worth of content.

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MY SHOP

Before you go from this Sombori Island post, don’t forget to check out My Online Shop!

I’ve got a wide range of digital products for sale and I’m sure you’ll find something that will come in handy during your travels!

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FINAL THOUGHTS OF PULAU SOMBORI

I hope you enjoyed reading this article about Sombori Island (Pulau Sombori) and I hope it inspires you to visit this wonderful region in Southeast Sulawesi while it is still untouched.

Happy Adventuring!

 

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4 Comments

  1. luke
    September 19, 2018 / 9:56 am

    hi Jonny Melon, good and informative website on Indonesia, especially on Sombori. Looking for family holiday to explore later in December. Will continue to read on. if you may, any chance to contact you to ask more ? thank you

    • Jonny Melon
      September 19, 2018 / 9:58 am

      Of course what do you need to know?

  2. Maha
    February 16, 2019 / 2:31 pm

    Hi, can you please help me with complete itinerary starting from Bali and all the way to Samborini and Labengki islands?

    • Jonny Melon
      Author
      February 18, 2019 / 9:59 am

      Hello, all the information is in the blog post 🙂

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