Selayar Island is the main island of the Selayar Islands. It lies off the coast of Cape Bira of South Sulawesi Province. Divers dominate the scene in the few resort hotels, and the most fascinating and rare underwater encounter is seeing dugong! This gentle creature never fails leaving divers in awe, nor do the over 50 well preserved divesites around Selayar and nearby atolls. Other activities include hiking the lush rainforest with pictureperfect waterfall and a batcave, which can also be reached by bikes or motorcycles. Secluded white-sand beaches complete this island paradise.
This secluded tropical paradise offers a number of splendid, secluded white sandy beaches. The Baloiya Beach stretches some 3 km along the coast. From here you can see tarsiers and wild boars amongst the dense foliage of the forest. The Selayar Diver Resort offers cottages and facilities for divers. Other beaches are the Pinang Beach, some 80 minutes from Benteng or the Je’neiya Beach, some 60 minutes from the town of Benteng.
Besides diving and snorkeling among the colorful reefs and underwater life of Taka Bonerate (for more information see “Taka Bonerate National Park), the island of Selayar offers a number of outstanding attractions to visit and see.
The Dongson Kettledrum is the star attraction here. Excavated in the 17th century, this large and beautifully decorated Dongson kettledrum is from the Bronze Age and estimated to be around 2,000 years old. Found in Papalahoia, which was the seat of 14th century pre-historic Selayar kingdoms.
The kettledrum is now stored at Bontobangun, some 3 km. south of Benteng in what is described as a “one room museum”. The museum must be opened with a special key that can be obtained through your local guide.
The large Dongson drum, said to be the largest in the world, stands 95 cm high and has a diameter of 115 cm. On the top is a large star with 16 points and 4 stylized frogs. Its sides have four handles, in pairs of two. Decorations along its side cover three bands: at the bottom are etched elephants, birds and coconut trees, the center band are abstract motives, and the top depicts peacocks.
Besides the Dongson drum, this one-room museum also has remnants of ancient ships. There is the head of the naga (dragon) that is 110 cm. high, has wings, head and a tail which is 150 cm. long, made in the Majapahit style. There is also an “anjungan” the platform where the captain of the ship gives his orders to the crew. An 16th century Arabic inscription mentions : “Sultan Abd al-Malik, Tuban”. Tuban is a port in East Java, which was the main harbor during the time of the Majapahit kingdom.
Not far from here is the Fortress of Gantarang. Gatarang was one of the strongest pre-Islamic kingdoms, who built this fortress to ward invaders from Ternate and Buton.
How to Get There?
To get to Selayar you can travel overland from Makassar to the town of Tanjung Bira, and take the ferry to Selayar from here. The sea journey takes two hours. But when the seas are choppy, ferries do not sail.
There are air conditioned buses from Makassar, travelling via Bira, where the ferry carries passengers and bus to Salayar.
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