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Dive Review of Wakatobi in
Indonesia/Sulawesi

Wakatobi, Jun, 2006,

by James Jenkins, CA, United States . Report 2544.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Caribbean, California, Galapagos, Cocos, Hawaii, Palau, Truk, Fiji, Solomons, Coral Sea, Papua New Guinea, Sipadan
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather windy Seas calm
Water Temp 78 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 39 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No solo diving, no gloves, no deco
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities 5 stars
UW Photo Comments [None]

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 4 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Wakatobi is a beautiful resort catering to up to 50 divers on 4 large, purpose-built boats where everything runs like a Swiss watch. (We had 39 divided into three groups on three boats.)

They meet you upon arrival in Balis Denpasar Airport, coordinate your entry, transfers, and give you the schedule for their private plane departure.
They fly you to their own landing strip in south eastern Sulawesi and transport you to the Resort.
The schedule is breakfast 7:00a, briefing 8:00a and onto your boat for two morning dives; back to the resort in time to shower and change for a 1:00p lunch, then a single afternoon dive at 2:30p (back by 4:30p or so); dinner 7p.
There are two night dives via your boat in the 11-day charter; these are really dusk dives and are done early enough to return and change for dinner.
The house reef is very good and is open from 6a to 10p; there is a small boat service available from 6:30a to 6:00p to take you out or pick you up.
The food is varied and very good including both Indonesian and Western style dishes.
The bungalows are spacious and have adequate AC. There is a library with a computer and internet access and free wired & wireless internet.
There is a large camera room centrally located next to the rinse tanks with 110V and 220V, fresh towels, mild AC and lots of space.
Dinning is in a separate restaurant; the Long House includes relaxed seating and tables, a shop and a media room for presentations. There is a bar at the end of the pier for enjoying sunsets, and there are chairs, tables, all around the break wall.
The largely local staff is very helpful; most speak some English, and are very accommodating (within the boundaries of the schedules and rules).

Diving:
The dive guides I dove with (4) were good guides and spotters. They are very respectful of the reefs. Theyll help you with buoyancy, etc. in a friendly, helpful (not draconian) manner (no gloves). There were no more than 6 divers/guide. (Technically, there is no solo diving or only solo diving for Instructors with pony bottles.)
The groups dove the same sites with staggered entries. Guests were allocated to boats based on who was traveling together, skills, etc.
They change your tanks, schlep your gear back to shore, help you up the ladder, and help you on with your tank. About the only thing we did was to verify and log our NITROX mixes.
The walls and slopes rise to within a meter of the surface and are very healthy (with virtually no storm damage and very minor human damage). The corals (hard and soft) and sponges are beautiful. Usually the last 20 30 minutes of each dive was a long safety stop most of the interesting things were in the shallower water.
The diving is generally easy diving either no current, or drift dives in very manageable currents. Visibility ranged from 30 during some outgoing tides to up to 100+ on more remote sea mounts. Dives are limited to 70 minutes (60 for night dives) but we sometimes pushed that by 5 or 10 minutes as a group. Even then, most returned to the boat with adequate air since the dives were fairly shallow and required very little exertion.
We saw crocodile fish and lion fish on virtually every dive; there were plenty of scorpion fish, leaf scorpion fish, cuttlefish, turtles, bumphead parrot fish and abundant reef fish.
The guides could usually find one or more varieties of pigmy sea horses on most dives. Other critters included: frog fish, winged pipefish, false stone fish, stone fish, a good assortment of nudibranchs & flatworms (but not abundant, by any means), 5 types of cardinal fish including the pajama, banded sea snakes, eels, mantis shrimp, many small (macro) shrimps, blue (and black juvenile) ribbon eels, octopus, jaw fish, decorator crabs, and more.
There were very few big things (other than turtles and medium-sized bumphead parrots). In 32 dives we saw one pair of eagle rays and a couple white tips. There were a few small and medium-sized tuna and a small school of chevron barracuda. Thats about it.

Overall, if you enjoy resort-based diving, like to be pampered and are happy with 3 dives a day (and dont need to see large fish), I would highly recommend Wakatobi.

With the boat schedule, its almost impossible to really do the three boat dives and two more shore dives. You can, but its hard. We had low tides every evening which meant that to do a real night dive we had to walk down the beach to a specific entry point. The outgoing tide meant that wed have poor visibility and the possibility of strong currents if we didnt hit the slack just right. So, we didnt do after dinner dives. I settled into the routine and did enjoy it. The diving was very nice, we did see critters, beautiful coral, and enjoyed the diving, the pace, the environment and the service.

If you are a liveaboard sort of diver 4 or 5 dives a day (or more!), dive solo, love real night diving (after dinner), etc., then save Wakatobi for AFTER your liveaboard trip. After 40 or 50 dives on a liveaboard, you might enjoy the slower pace and being pampered!

Despite its remote location, I would recommend Wakatobi for less experienced divers (but not beginners). Its easy diving, manageable currents, and the guides are excellent and very alert. The boat pickups were all expertly managed. There was no reason to go deeper than 100 110 feet and that was only on a couple dives for the frog fish and some elegant dart fish.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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