Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia: Wakatobi
This place is definitely off the beaten path, but well worth the effort of getting there. The service here is top-notch. Everything is taken care of and everyone’s there to dive. Of course you don’t have to dive to have a good time as there is plenty of snorkelling along their extensive house reef that will keep you entertained for some time. On the short boat ride from the airport you’ll pass by the local town which is supported by visitors to Wakatobi. It was great to hear that the resort has had sucha positive impact on the locals livelihoods as well as the protection of the reefs.
Speaking of reefs, it doesn’t get much better than this. Cut off from mass tourism, Wakatobi truly is a remote island refuge. It is situated in the heart of the Coral Triangle and if you know anything about reefs, you know this is where it’s at in terms of diving. But do take note, if you are hoping to see large pelagic you’re headed to the wrong island. This place is all about macro. For those of you that are into photography, be sure to pack your macro lens and port. Unfortunately, I spent a lot of time with video on this trip and don’t have a lot in terms of macro shots. But I can assure you if macro isn’t your thing there are many other options. The walls and reefs capes are incredibly dramatic.
If you haven’t already heard about the amazing set up they have waiting for you, let me just tell you there is actually an entire room dedicated to keeping your photography equipment protected while changing batteries, memory cards, lenses and ports. And believe me there is plenty of room for everyone. There is nothing worse than trying to clean an o-ring on your night table.
The rooms here come in the form of individual bungalows which are really cute and private. One thing that I thought was a nice touch were the built-in foot baths which are sunken just before the front steps going up to the bungalow’s porch. For the most part, we walked around the island barefoot so it felt good to be able to rinse and dry our feet before we entered our room. Oh, and I almost forgot, there was a large pitcher of water in our room when we returned from a full day of diving which was much appreciated.
These guys really are extremely organised and attentive to your needs. Just take a look at the board that’s updated every day. For those opting for enriched air, before you head off to dinner you are encouraged to analyse two of your tanks for the following day so that they are all ready to go in the morning. The third tank is analysed after your second dive. Since this such a serious dive location they probably get more nitrox divers than your average resort therefore keeping things organised and perfectly structured is important to them. There is a very real emphasis on safety and efficiency all while achieving a sort of family environment amongst the staff and guests. That’s actually something else I want to mention. The crew worked very hard to make us feel at home in such a far away place. For example, on the last evening of the trip they presented a slideshow consisting of underwater images submitted by guests as well as a montage of the dive guides with their groups. This close-knit environment of like-minded people is bolstered by the resorts structured schedule. Their calendar requires a fixed start and end date for in- and outgoing guests. By requiring this they automatically create a very social environment for all of their guests.
Have you been to Wakatobi or are planning to go? Would love to hear what you thought of it!