Goats outnumber vehicles in the isolated coastal village and dive centre of Pantai Bira – at least until the delightfully chaotic weekend warriors come in by the busload from Makassar. Most budget accommodation is found in the scruffy village of Pantai Bira, while quieter Pantai Bara, 3km away, offers more refined but siloed resorts. To truly get away from the crowds, head across to a homestay on Liukang Loe Island, a short boat ride away.
All of these beaches are very broad at low tide and there’s decent snorkelling a short swim from the shore. You can explore more remote bays and neighbouring islands by boat, and there's plenty of interesting stops on the mainland accessible by bike or motorbike.
The diving here is dramatic, on a par with anywhere in Indonesia for 'big stuff': lots of sharks (including hammerheads), rays and pelagic fish. Be aware of strong currents.