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Sulawesi Circle

Sulawesi Circle

Makassar to Makassar20 nightsAll InclusiveFrom $20,180.00* PP

Uncover the ancient seafaring kingdom of the Makassans on a circumnavigation of Sulawesi and the eastern coastlines of Borneo. This 20-night expedition aboard Coral Geographer takes in a full coastal exploration of Sulawesi and its fascinating confluence of cultural traditions, natural beauty and unique wildlife.

Throughout the voyage, encounter the legendary Dayak people at Pampang village, share with the Bajau tribe 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, witness ancient traditional Phinisi boat building and encounter orangutangs and sun bears in a natural conservation sanctuary in Borneo.

Sulawesi is a rarely visited sanctuary amidst the East Indies. With a rich diversity of culture, wildlife and marine parks that are home to some of the most biodiverse reef systems in the world, this expedition voyage offers an unforgettable adventure.

  • Begin and conclude your journey in historic Makassar, once the centre of the Dutch Indies head quarters
  • Meet the beachside boatbuilders of Tana Beru and admire the skillful construction of Phinisi ships
  • With some luck, enjoy the opportunity to swim with gentle and majestic whale sharks at Gorontalo
  • Cruise up river to inland Samarinda and participate in the traditional dance of the Dayak Kenyah tribe in Pampang village
  • On the island of Borneo, encounter endangered orangutans and sun bears in natural conservation sanctuaries
  • Discover the extraordinary underwater worlds of renowned diving locations in Bunaken, Wakatobi, Lembeh and Banggai
  • Visit the stilt villages of the Bajau tribe who live off the sea and learn of their unique traditional lifestyle
  • Swim with thousands of harmless golden jellyfish at remote Togean


Coral-Expeditions-map-Sulawasi Circle



From your optional charter flight from Darwin, board Coral Geographer at Makassar Port at 5:00pm where there is time to settle into your cabin before our 6:00pm departure. In the evening, meet your crew and fellow guests at the Captain’s Welcome Drinks.

Charter Flight: An optional pre-cruise charter flight from Darwin to Makassar will be available (at an additional cost of approximately $1,250).

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

From Balikpapan, journey to the Samboja Lestari Rainforest and the Sun Bear sanctuary to encounter the endangered species. The adjoining Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation rehabilitates orphaned and injured orangutans before releasing them into the wilds of the surrounding rainforest and we will visit the conservation centre to see these iconic primates.

Dayak people Samarinda

Explore Samarinda with a visit to the Grand Mosque and strolling through the Cita Niaga street market to shop for traditional crafts and local food. With 2 days to explore, we may enjoy an Xplorer cruise upriver for a deeper exploration into this remote province.

From Samarinda we will make our way to Pampang to be welcomed by the traditional dance of the Dayak Kenyah tribe and visit the ancestral Lamin Longhouses. Enjoy a guided walk to gain a deeper understanding of the life and history of the Dayak people.

Explore famed Toli Toli, known as the ‘city of cloves’. Many spices are cultivated in the hills, while the coast is lined with stilt houses where fishermen ply their trade. Ride through the fisherman’s village in becaks to the Rumah Adat to enjoy the Maragai and Mamanuk Tau Panau dances. A walk through the village passes the tombs of Toli Toli kings and the historic mosque.

In true expedition style, we will let the winds and the tides guide us to explore the picturesque island chain of the Saronde region 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. The remarkable water clarity and precipitous walls of coral create an otherworldly diving or snorkelling experience.

Snorkelling Reef with Coral Expeditions

Lembeh Strait is another spectacular underwater world, where you may spend a whole day exploring in search of the fascinating marine life that dwell in this marine sanctuary. There is also an opportunity to visit Kangkoko National Park where we may walk through the forest in search of Sulawesi’s endemic wildlife including threatened species, Celebes crested macaque, Sulawesi bear cuscus and Sulawesi dwarf cuscus.

At the remote city of Gorontalo, enjoy local cultural performances and a guided forest walk, before spending the afternoon swimming and kayaking in the sheltered waters of the harbour. If nature permits, there may be an opportunity to swim with the gentle whale sharks.

Mariona Lake - Amaranth Jellyfish

Arrive at the beautiful Togean Islands, home to the Bajau people who live in stilt houses built above the turquoise sea. The welcoming tribe will share their unique lifestyle with us. Swim or kayak in the pristine waters and swim with thousands of tiny harmless Amaranth jellyfish in Mariona Lake – an unforgettable and ethereal encounter.

Banggai Island cardinalfish

The famous and endangered Banggai cardinalfish is a striking species not much bigger than a matchbox and 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.

Often compared to Raja Ampat for its geographical similarities, Labengki Island is surrounded by picturesque islets, covered in forest and colourful orchids. White-sand beaches shaded by palm trees are our base to enjoy water activities such as snorkelling over giant clams, kayaking around the lagoon and visiting the local village.


In the heart of the coral triangle, Wakatobi is part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves with extraordinary numbers of coral species, fish, whales, dolphin and turtle populations and some of the largest reef systems in the East Indies. Enjoy water activities and a cultural visit to Liya Village.

Bau Bau, Buton Island

Be welcomed to the historical centre of the Buton Kingdom by a traditional dance performance, before being whisked away in local petepete transport to tour the island. Visit a traditional market, a fisherman’s village, the Buton Fortress, Kraton (palace) and Wolio Cultural Centre.

Traditionally, wooden Phinisi ships have been crafted by the Bugis boat-builders on the beach at Tana Beru since the 14th century. The ancient technique, which uses no nails, has been handed down through generations. Hear the seafaring tales of the boat builders and climb into a Phinisi ship to admire its size and the craftsmanship of the boat-builders.


Coral Geographer arrives in Makassar at 7:00am. Farewell your Master, crew and fellow explorers with disembarkation at 8:00am. An optional charter flight to Darwin will be available.

Charter Flight: An optional post-cruise charter flight from Makassar to Darwin will be available (at an additional cost of approximately $1,250).

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. Coral Expeditions suggests that you do not arrive on the day of embarkation or depart on the day of disembarkation due to any changes that may occur in scheduling. 

Fares & Availability

Bridge Deck Suites

Private Balcony - 37.5m2

2 Available

Explorer Deck Balcony Stateroom

Private Balcony - 21.4m2

12 Available

Promenade Deck Stateroom

Picture Window - 17m2

7 Available

Coral Deck Stateroom

Porthole Window - 17m2

Fully Booked
Book this Departure

Prices are per person twin share, listed in Australian Dollars (AUD).  Booking Terms & Conditions >
For solo traveller rates see our Solo Traveller Program

Additional Information


  • All excursions with our Expedition Team
  • Use of Xplorer, Zodiacs and Kayaks
  • Snorkelling & SCUBA equipment (SCUBA diving at an additional cost)
  • Daily lectures and briefings with Guest Lecturers
  • All meals, chef-prepared on board
  • Captain’s welcome and farewell events, and open bridge access
  • Selected wines, selected beers and house spirits, juices, and soft drinks served with lunch and dinner
  • 24-hour barista-style coffee and tea station
  • All entrance fees to National Parks, ports, traditional owner fees and charges imposed by governing authorities
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Use of all onboard facilities, incl. a reference library
  • Your expedition photos captured during the voyage
  • Post-cruise transfers (in most destinations)
  • Wifi Access – Standard speed connectivity enabling email, social image sharing, web browsing and messaging

Not Included:

  • Pre-cruise transfers
  • Pre and post cruise flights/charter flights
  • Pre and post cruise accommodation
  • Travel Insurance
  • SCUBA Diving (view Scuba diving rates)
  • Entry visas & travel permits for the country you are traveling to/from
  • Alcoholic drinks (including beer and wine) outside of lunch and dinner service
  • Laundry service (available at a cost)
  • Items of a personal nature such souvenir purchases
  • Optional Extras (in some destinations)
More Information -SA

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