Cosmos Bungalows is located in the quiet fishing village of Tanjung Bira on the southern tip of Sulawesi – one of 17,000+ islands that make up the Indonesian archipelago.
Still unsure where we are? Ok, so you could say we are sandwiched between Borneo to the Northwest and Bali to the South. (see map below).
Sulawesi is a fascinating Island, with breathtaking scenery, amazing wildlife, rich and diverse local cultures and an underwater ecosystem rivalled by very few places on earth.
Even though Sulawesi has a little bit of everything the adventurous traveller could wish for, it is still well off the beaten track. This is probably a good thing, but the doors are slowly opening and it wont be too long before the virginal feel of Sulawesi starts to become more like the rest of South East Asia…. so come now and experience independent travel at its best!
So why bother coming to Cosmos Bungalows??
To be completely frank, getting to Bira is a bit of a pain in the ar$e. It is a long journey whichever way you arrive, so is it really worth the effort?
In short, Yes. It most certainly is.
Bira itself is a coastal village with a rich maritime heritage and dotted by pretty, traditional houses on a collection of attractive beaches. The area known as Pasir Putih, or White Sand, is the tourist zone and stretches from the big red entrance gate (where you will most likely be charged a 20,000IDR entrance fee) all the way to a potentially gorgeous little beach at the end of the road. I say potentially because unfortunately, despite its incredible popularity with local tourists, the area is very poorly maintained. Polystyrene food containers and drinks bottles are tossed shamelessly by day trippers, ruining the very area they have come to visit.
Fortunately, there is an alternative. And it just so happens to be where Cosmos Bungalows is situated! Hooorrah!
A short walk west – either along the beach or a road through the jungle – will take you to Bara; a stunning bay made up of two long, sweeping beaches. Powder white sand is lapped lazily by the crystal clear Sea of Flores, whilst monkeys, wild pigs, monitor lizards and opportunistic investors rummage in the predominantly undeveloped cliff side jungle above.
Ok, so the beach is pretty at Bara. But I get bored shitless sunbathing after ten minutes, what else is there for me to do in the area?
Excellent question. here goes….
First Class Scuba Diving
The area surrounding Bira is home to an incredible array of aquatic life. Diving here is incredible, and very cheap in comparison to many other areas of the world. At the time of writing (2015) our closest dive shop, maybe 200m further west along the beach, is charging approximately €24 per dive. And considering sperm whales, whale sharks, manta rays, hammerheads, dolphins and many more awe-inspiring creatures have been seen off the coast lately (some by the management on recent dives) it makes for very good value indeed.
You don’t have to be in the diving clique to enjoy the marine life round here. The snorkelling can be just as amazing. Where the turquoise sea descends into the deep blue makes for an ideal location, as here is where most of the turtles like to chill out. Graceful and serene, these beautiful beings are here in abundance. You may also see the placid white and black tip reef sharks if your lucky, plus plenty of other things to keep you entertained for hours.
Being a coastal town, the people of this region are seafaring folk. Their local style of boat, the Phinisi, is world renowned for its two masted design and sleek beauty. Traditionally used for shipping cargo around the Indonesian archipelago, these boats are very much in vogue now for expat investor to convert into live aboard diving vessels. Seeing these ships being painstakingly created by master craftsmen is incredibly interesting. Contrarily, having to listen to one of the snobbish money-men brag about how big, beautiful and effective their phinisi is can quickly become very tedious indeed.
Got a decent torch? Is it waterproof? If yes was the answer to both of those questions then you have no excuse not to visit the freshwater caves in the nearby village of Ara. These beauties are a pig to find, but make for a fun and exciting few hours taking a dip in the crystal clear water whilst enveloped in darkness.
Renting a scooter
Just get on a bike and drive. Take left turns, right turns, u-turns, do whatever you like, just get out into the countryside and small villages to see what life is really like in this area of South Sulawesi. From coconut groves, to remote deserted beaches, to rice paddies, to fishing villages, to salt harvesting and shrimp fields…take your camera and see what you can find. Take some decent pictures and we will put them on the walls of our bungalows. Maybe.
Still not satisfied?? Jeez, you’re a tough nut to crack.
Why not just get pissed and ask the staff to prepare a bbq instead.