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Sulawesi Circumnavigation | Makassar - Makassar | 20 Nights

Sulawesi Circumnavigation: Exploring Seafaring Kingdoms

20 Nights | Departs Makassar 19 March 2021 |  Onboard Coral Adventurer

Discover the ancient seafaring kingdom of the Makassans on an expedition circumnavigation of Sulawesi and the eastern coastlines of Borneo. This rare and unique 20 night expedition aboard Coral Adventurer takes in a full coastal exploration and a fascinating confluence of cultural heritage, natural beauty and unique wildlife.

Famous for extraordinary cultures and maritime heritage, Sulawesi is inhabited by rare species such as small primates known as Tarsiers, the Sulawesi hornbill, the large-footed Maleo bird and the Celebes Macaque. Through the voyage, encounter the legendary Dayak people at Samarinda, share with the Bajau “sea gypsy” people in their stilt villages built over the water, and dive beneath the surface at the world-renowned reef locations of Bunaken and Lembeh. At Tana Beru, see traditional Phinisi boats being built on the beach accordingly to generations-old plans that use no nails. Detour for a brief visit to the east coast of Borneo to encounter orangutans and sun bears in a natural conservation habitat.

Amidst the history, cultural adventures and wildlife encounters, enjoy time ashore on the pristine palm-fringed beaches of remote islands, snorkel amongst vibrant coral reefs and enjoy solitude and seascapes from the comfort of our small expedition ship. Return at the end of the day to relax and delight in local cuisine onboard Coral Adventurer.

Sulawesi is the 11th largest island in the world and a rarely visited sanctuary amongst the Indonesian archipelago. With a rich diversity of culture and wildlife and the marine parks that are home to the most biodiverse reef systems in the world, it provides an unforgettable adventure.

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Expedition Highlights

  • Explore historic turtle-shaped Fort Rotterdam in Makassar, the former regional headquarters of the Dutch East Indies, and wander through the 17th century buildings, now housing museums and cultural wonders.
  • Meet the Buginese people of Parepare, and experience local village life
  • On the island of Borneo, encounter endangered Orangutans and Sun bears in native conservation habitats and hear about the efforts to protect them
  • Join locals of the Dayak Kenyah tribe in traditional dances before being invited into the traditional Lamin Longhouses to discover their traditions and culture
  • Discover the remarkable underwater worlds of renowned diving locations in Bunaken Marine Park, Wakatobi Marine Park, Lembeh Strait and Banggai Archipelago
  • Visit the stilt villages of the ‘sea gypsies’, the Bajau people, who life off the sea and love to share their traditional lifestyle with visitors
  • Swim in Mariona Lake, Togean Islands, and have the ethereal experience of being surrounded by thousands of harmless Amaranth jellyfish
  • Visit the beachside boatbuilders of Tana Beru to hear seafaring tales and admire the traditional construction of the wooden Phinisi ships, built without nails.



Bridge Deck Suite $30,500 n/a
Bridge Deck Balcony Stateroom $23,500 n/a
Explorer Deck $21,500 $32,250*
Promenade Deck $18,000 $27,000*
Coral Deck $15,500 $23,250*

Prices are listed in Australian dollars * Limited sole use occupancy available. 

Optional Charter flights: $850 per person each way in 2020 (TBA for 2021). Darwin to Makassar and/or Makassar to Darwin. Limited seats available, call our reservations team to confirm your booking.


The Itinerary

Embark: Board at Makassar Port at 4:30pm for 6:00pm departure on 19 March 2021
Disembark: Arrive and disembark at Makassar Port at 08:30am on 8 April 2021

Day 1: Depart Makassar

Prior to boarding, enjoy the multicultural, friendly and ancient seafaring city of Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi and heart of the golden era of the spice trade up until the 19th century. Board Coral Adventurer at Makassar Port at 4:30pm where there is time to settle into your cabin before our 6:00pm departure.


Be welcomed to the historical city of Parepare with a colourful traditional dance. Experience the local Buginese village life and handicrafts and see tombstone carvers and blacksmiths at work. Step ashore in the small village of Batu-Batu to see Sao Mari – a large pole museum housing a collection of royal regalia, antiques, ceramics and weaponry. Enjoy a taste of local delicacies and mingle with the local people.

At days end, join fellow explorers, and crew for the Captain’s Welcome Drinks on the Vista Deck of Coral Adventurer.

Balabalagan Islands

We arrive at the tranquil Balabalagan Islands in the Makassar Strait and enjoy a leisurely day of swimming, snorkelling, diving and relaxation on the palm-fringed sands of this picturesque location.


After an overnight voyage, we awake to explore the bustling city of Balikpapan on the island of Borneo before journeying to the Samboja Lestari Rainforest and the Sun Bear Centre to see endangered sun bears, the world’s smallest bear. The Sun Bear Centre is an environmental education facility and is dedicated to saving rescued bears. We then walk to the adjoining Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation to see these threatened and iconic primates. The BOS Foundation rehabilitates orphaned and injured orangutans before releasing them into the wilds of the surrounding rainforest.

We will return to Coral Adventurer after a short visit to local markets.


We make our way via the Xplorer tenders to explore Samarinda, the capital province of East Kalimantan, which is located 50km upstream from the mouth of the mighty Mahakam River.  A trading town with an intriguing history of Sultanates and traditional Dayak tribes, the native people of Borneo, Samarinda is a hub for regional wealth. Ecological and cultural treasures are to be found deep within the rainforests that surround. We are welcomed to Samarinda by the traditional dance of the Dayak Kenyah before making our way to Pampang to experience the culture of the Dayak people and their traditional Lamin Longhouses. We enjoy a guided walk to gain a deeper understanding of the life and history of their tribal traditions. There is also an opportunity to visit a village known for its talented weavers along with a 400-year-old mosque.

On our second day discovering Samarinda, we journey further upriver in the Xplorer tenders for a deeper exploration into the people and places that sit at the heart of this remote province.

At Sea

Enjoy a leisurely day at sea and join our Expedition Team for a program of activities, demonstrations and informative presentations.

Toli Toli

We explore famed Toli Toli, which is a city steeped in folklore and known as the “city of cloves”. An abundance of varied spices is cultivated in the hills surrounding the township while the coast is lined with stilt houses where fishermen ply their trade.

Our tour of Toli Toli will take you through the traditional fisherman’s village in becaks (three-wheeled bicycle cabs) to the community house Rumah Adat to share a cultural performance, including Maragai and Mamanuk Tau Panau dances. Enjoy fresh young coconut and local cuisine while browsing local handcrafts. A walk through the village passes the tombs of Toli Toli kings and includes the old mosque before returning to Coral Adventurer.

Saronde Islands

In true expedition style, we will let the winds and the tides guide us to explore the picturesque island chain of the Saronde region. We will search for an adventure ashore with options for snorkelling and beachside adventures.


Bunaken Marine Park is world renowned for its incredible diversity of marine life and is a ‘must see’ underwater destination for snorkellers and divers. With remarkable water clarity, precipitous walls of corals create an otherworldly diving experience with opportunities for both novice and experienced divers and snorkellers.


Lembeh Strait is yet another spectacular underwater world. Well known for its coral reefs and marine life, we spend a whole day exploring this aquatic sanctuary in search of the weird and wonderful marine life and to enjoy these pristine surrounds.


We arrive at the remote city of Gorontalo where we will enjoy local cultural performances before setting off on a guided forest walk. After we return to the ship for a hearty lunch, we will spend the afternoon with a swim and kayak in the sheltered waters of the harbour. If nature permits, there may be an opportunity to swim with the gentle giants of the sea, the whale sharks.


We awake early to explore Pulau Togean, the home to the Bajau “sea gypsy” peoples who live in stilt houses built above the turquoise sea. Traditionally, the Bajau lived solely off the sea, coming ashore only when necessary. They are fascinating people and are accomplished divers and fishermen.

The Bajau people are very welcoming and enjoy sharing their unusual lifestyle with visitors. Later in the day we find more time to relax with a swim, snorkel and kayak in these idyllic waters.

After a night on anchor, we awake to explore nearby Mariona Lake, also known as ‘jellyfish lake’. This is one of the highlights of Togean, where it possible to swim with thousands of Amaranth jelly fish, each about the size of a human fist. The lake was formed by rapid geological activity, which left the jellyfish ‘stranded’ without predators, evolving over time to lose their sting and making them safe to swim amongst. This is a surreal and unforgettable experience.


The famous and endangered Banggai cardinalfish is a striking species not much bigger than a matchbox and are recognisable by its vertical black stripes. They are endemic to the Banggai Archipelago and we hope to spot these elegant fish while snorkelling and diving around the islands.

Labengki Island

The conservation area of Labengki Island is sometimes known as a mini Raja Ampat for its geographical similarities. The two main islands are surrounded by picturesque islets, cloaked in forest and colourful orchids. White-sand beaches bookended by rocky outcrops and shaded by palm trees make Labengki Island a terrific base to enjoy water activities such as snorkelling over giant clams and coral gardens, or swimming and kayaking around the lagoon.

Later that day, there are opportunities to visit the village and enjoy a cultural performance, visit the lighthouse and take a nature walk. The majority of Labengki Kecil’s 600-strong population are Muslims with fishing being a traditional pastime.

Wakatobi National Park

In the heart of the ‘coral triangle’, the 143 mostly uninhabited islands that make up Wakatobi were declared a marine conservation area in 1996, then later a national park in 2002. The park is part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves with extraordinary numbers of coral species, fish, whales, dolphin and turtle populations. The coral reefs of Wakatobi form part of one of the largest reef systems in Indonesia.

As well as many opportunities for extraordinary water activities, we enjoy a cultural visit to Liya Village, Wangi Wangi.


Coral Adventurer docks in Bau Bau Harbour for official immigration clearance and formalities. We are welcomed by a traditional dance performance, before being whisked away in local petepete transport to tour Buton Island. Visit a traditional market, a fisherman’s village, the Buton Fortress, Kraton (palace), and Wolio Cultural Centre. See cultural performances, and ikat weaving in the historical centre of Buton Kingdom.

Tana Beru

Traditionally, timber “Phinisi” boats have been crafted by the Bugis boat-builders on the beach at Tana Beru since the 14th century. Over the centuries they have been used by the seafaring Makassans to travel as far as Australia and Madagascar to trade in spices and trepang.

This is an ancient craft handed down through the ages and still relevant today. There are ceremonies involved in each stage of the boat building, and the boats are positioned along the coast in various stages of construction. We learn about the traditional construction methods, unchanged for centuries, and climb into a boat to admire its size and craftsmanship of the boat-builders.

Day 21: Arrive Makassar

Coral Adventurer arrives into Makassar at 6:00 am. Farewell your Master, crew and fellow explorers with disembarkation at 8:00 am.

This itinerary is an indication of the destinations we visit and activities on offer. Throughout the expedition, we may make changes to the itinerary as necessary to maximise your expeditionary experience. Allowances may be made for seasonal variations, weather, tidal conditions and any other event that may affect the operation of the vessel.

March 2021

Departure Departure Arrival Arrival Cost Per Person Cost PP Ship Availability  
19 March 2021 19 Mar 2021 08 April 2021 08 Apr 2021 $15,500 to $23,500 $15,500 to $23,500 Coral Adventurer Available Book

April 2021

Departure Departure Arrival Arrival Cost Per Person Cost PP Ship Availability  
19 March 2021 19 Mar 2021 08 April 2021 08 Apr 2021 $15,500 to $23,500 $15,500 to $23,500 Coral Adventurer Available Book

Your cruise price includes:

  • Accommodation in selected room grade for the number of nights as listed in each itinerary
  • One night accommodation pre-cruise, with welcome event
  • Pre-cruise  and post-cruise transfers
  • All meals
  • House beer and wine during lunch and dinner service
  • 24 hour tea and coffee
  • Captain’s welcome and farewell drinks
  • Access to islands, marine and national parks
  • Guided tours in tender vessels
  • Touring as described in each itinerary
  • Services of expedition staff and lecturers including briefings and knowledge-sharing sessions
  • Port taxes and government charges imposed by government authorities

Your cruise price does not include:

  • Charter flights
  • Post-cruise accommodation
  • Entry visas/travel permits
  • Travel Insurance
  • Items of a personal nature including but not limited to phone and internet communications and bar charges (outside of the included drinks package as highlighted), laundry charges and souvenir purchases

Tipping not required:

Other cruise lines automatically add gratuities to your account and service charges to your bar invoices. At Coral Expeditions, our crew has no other agenda than your delight.

Our friendly reservations specialists are on hand to assist with your booking arrangements to ensure your holiday runs as smoothly as possible. Contact our team on 1800 079 545 during business hours in Australia or email


Comprehensive Travel Insurance is strongly recommended for all travellers as protection against any unforeseen events that may necessitate the cancellation or interruption of your holiday and should be purchased at the same time as you purchase your cruise. It should also include emergency evacuation and repatriation cover.

We recommend Travel Insurance by SureSave.

SureSave, is an Australian company who specialise in travel insurance designed for travellers. SureSave provides world assistance through a customer support team, a claims team and an in-house 24/7 Emergency Assistance division. Underwritten by Lloyds of London, you get peace of mind knowing your security is guaranteed.

Please note: SureSave Travel Insurance policies may only be purchased by Australian residents. For international travellers, please discuss your policy requirements with your local insurance provider.