By Walt Stearns
The are many reasons why Wakatobi Dive Resort is recognized as one of the world's most celebrated diving and snorkeling destinations. Guests travel from Bali by direct charter flight to a remote and beautiful tropical island, where they relax in beachfront accommodations and have exclusive and easy access have access to pristine coral reefs located within a private marine reserve. And in addition to exceptional diving and snorkeling, they enjoy gourmet dining, spa visits, water sports, beach time and five-star service from an attentive staff.
The Dive Center is a full-service facility staffed by a diverse and highly professional group of instructors, dive masters and guides who together speak over nine languages, from English to German and to even Japanese. This group can provide everything from basic instruction and refresher courses to advanced and technical training. In addition to air and nitrox, the center can accommodate the technical crowd with rebreather materials and custom gas blends.
Wakatobi operates a fleet of custom-built 75-foot-long dive boats with large areas of shaded deck space that provide ample seating and storage space for gear and camera equipment. These boats include large bathrooms and showers located at deck level and easy water access from entry gates located far away from the engine exhaust. Though these boats could easily hold two-dozen passengers, the number of divers and/or snorkelers on board is limited from 10 to a maximum of 14.
Two-tank morning boat excursions return guests to the resort in time for lunch, with the option of making an additional single-tank afternoon boat dive, or enjoying unlimited shore diving on the House Reef, with dawn to dusk taxi boat support. Night dives by boat are scheduled according to demand. Each diver is provided with a dedicated onboard storage and staging areas, and gear will be there and ready to dive when you step on board. The boats typically return to the jetty between the first and second dive, giving divers a chance to stretch their legs, and allowing late risers to catch the second dive.
Of the 40 dive sights regularly visited, many offer profiles that start a few feet from the surface and drop abruptly into the depths. The most striking are sites near Sawa Island, where walls rise as shallow as knee-deep and plummet in vertical faces that reach well below 150 feet. With reef contours of this nature, it's easy to perform a series of extended multi-level dives without going into decompression.
Boat dives often run 70 minutes in length, but you always have the option to end the dive sooner. Spending the latter portion of dives off-gassing in the shallows can often be the most interesting part, as the tops of the reefs are just as vibrant as they are deeper down. The shallows are home to a parade of macro-size critters – from blind shrimp with their ever-watchful guardian gobies to more flamboyant subjects like nudibranchs and broadclub cuttlefish.
For those who are new to Indonesian waters, or who simply wish to see all the wonders of the reef, I would strongly advise you following the guides. The Wakatobi dive crew is especially adept at locating the more cryptic forms of marine life, including the four species of micro-size pygmy seahorses that live in these waters. In addition to being astute hunters, guides are always at the ready to lend assistance when needed. The dive staff is equally respectful of guests who prefer a bit more autonomy. Thus, if a buddy pair wants to explore at their own pace, they are allowed the freedom to do so within the safe range of their personal experience and training. During the surface interval, in addition to snacks, water and beverages like coffee, tea or hot chocolate, guests are given a refreshing hand towel infused with water and lemongrass.
In addition to the boat dives, Wakatobi’s famed House Reef is available to divers and snorkelers between 5 am and 10 pm. Accessible from both the beach and the property’s pier, the House Reef offers a topography ranging from inshore grass beds and shallow coral gardens to a drop-off with a precipitous face. At the edge where these two interfaces meet, the reef takes a sudden plunge from snorkeling depths straight down more than 50 meters into the blue. Down the wall’s face, divers will find a wall perforated by clefts and overhangs, decorated with a dazzling array of hard and soft corals.
Macro photographers with an interest in invertebrates will be especially pleased by the diversity of animals that can be found on this reef during twilight and evening hours. Divers with good air consumption will easily be able to make many of the dives here last for 90 minutes or more.
For buddy teams and single divers with solo diver certification, the resort also offers a taxi boat service to ferry divers to more distant portions of the House Reef. The taxi service operates during daylight hours, and will even take guests to the neighboring site of Turkey Beach for a truly memorable drift diving experience as you utilize the current to bring you back to the pier. For all these reasons, Wakatobi’s House Reef has received numerous accolades and awards from magazines and websites which have called it the “world’s best house reef dive.”
In addition to its land-based dive operations, Wakatobi Dive Resort manages a 36-meter luxury dive yacht, Pelagian. Unlike the typical live-aboard dive boat, Pelagian offers truly commodious accommodations and an uncompromising level of personal service. Aboard Pelagian, ten divers will discover the outer reaches of the Wakatobi National Park, as the boat cruises through the islands of Tomia, Kaledupa, Binongko, Hoga, Wangi-Wangi and Buton - offering both reef and muck diving in one cruise. For the best of the Indo-Pacific’s extraordinary marine life diversity, many divers opt to spend at least five days at the resort and continue the adventure on Pelagian. Wakatobi’s guest experience staff will assist with arrangements for these combo bookings.
When you add it all up, you are looking at one of the most pristine and bio-diverse coral reefs systems in the world, home to more than 600 species of coral, 3,000 varieties of fish, with an even greater number of invertebrates, all just a stone’s throw from luxurious accommodations and delicious meals. Would I come back again? Well, I've been here three times already.
Find out why so many divers name Wakatobi as their all-time favorite destination and start planning your own bucket-list trip. We can arrange all the details, just give us a call us at 800-330-6611 or send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.