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Dive Review of Wakatobi Dive Resort in
Indonesia/Southeast Sulawesi

Wakatobi Dive Resort, Sep, 2013,

by Markus Fritze, CA, US (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports with 4 Helpful votes). Report 7249.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 5 stars
Snorkeling 4 stars
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments We have been at Wakatobi many times - almost coming every year. My wife loves taking pictures of beautiful corals and as such I have not found a better place, which is also that "easy" to reach (Bali and then a hotel organized flight directly to the hotel island) and that nice.

The trip from SFO to Bali is long and recently we changed to use Eva Air, which flies with only one stop (in Taiwan) to Bali and also is a pleasant overnight flight. The Wakatobi staff will expect you in the airport. Your job is just to wait for your luggage, while he takes care of the VISA for you.

You have to stay in Bali for at least one night. Last year a typhoon got our flight canceled on the last minuted and I had to rebook on the departure day. Try avoiding that and spend a few days in Bali on the front end. Either on the beach or visit Ubud in the mountains (which I found more interesting, Wakatobi offers enough beach for us).

The flight to Wakatobi leaves at the domestic airport in Bali, which is currently under heavy construction. Nevertheless the hotel awaits you at the taxi stand, gets you a luggage boy with a cart and you just follow him through the maze. After a few minutes you find yourself in a temporary lounge with drinks and some (scary) food and wait to be picked up by the staff of the hotel. Very pleasant considering the mess the airport was in.

The flight to Wakatobi is about 2.5 hours long (if you sit on the right side of the plane you typically can see the large vulcano "Gunung Rinjani" southeast of Bali, also you can see the Wakatobi resort on arrival at the right side). The resort has a landing strip on Tomea island. From there minivans will take you to the "harbor" (warning: wear good shoes, because the steps down are not even close to being level). From there the boats will take you to the resort within a few minutes.

At the resort you will be taking to your room and get all the information you need to get settled. The layout of the resort, etc. can be found on their website, I don't need to describe it here.

Food is almost always served as a buffet with plenty of choices and deserts that can compete with very good restaurants. Considering that they have to fly/ship pretty much everything into the resort, it is a miracle. Still the only dive resort that ever made me maintain my weight during a trip.

The resort offers 2 morning dives and one afternoon dive by boat. They are organized very well and wishes are considered - if possible, because they try to avoid dive sites that are in choppy waters - which I appreciate. You can also do as many house reef dives as you want per day. Either you enter from the jetty or via the beach in front of the dive shop. You can also get a taxi boat to drop you off at the reef and dive back. The house reef is a fantastic wall and you can see pretty much everything the area has to offer. It can have some current depending on the tides.

The dive boats are loaded by the crew, no need to carry anything - diving is really easy and you have to worry about nothing. The time to the dive sites is typically well below one hour. Often just barely enough to get dressed and listen to the briefing. After the first dive there is a one hour surface interval, which either is used to get to the next dive site or to to a short stop at the resort. During that time snacks and drinks are offered. Every diver also receives a metal drink bottle fur the trip with their name on it. You can take it home after the trip, it is actually quite good. Ahh, a toilet is also on the boats.

Our group of 4 wanted to do certain dives that were out of the normal route, so I rented a boat for a day. That's not cheap, but man, it was worth it. You can literally do what you want: leave whenever, go wherever, dive as much as you want. No waiting for others, etc. I'll probably do 1-2 days of just that kind of diving on our next trip.


What are the negatives?

There is obviously the price. The resort is clearly not a cheap destination, but you get what you pay for: location, rooms, food, diving - all is great. It's always a trip I enjoy, because I know it will be good. The only place I know that tries to get better every single time. They actually _read_ your feedback and will improve on it!

Diving is fantastic, if you are into corals and coral fish. If you need to see manta rays, sharks, etc. or if you are into Muck diving - go somewhere else. Muck diving is possible on the Pelagian (Wakatobi's live aboard), but you only get 2 days or so out of it and that alone is not worth it. The Pelagian is great, but most of the diving is similar to Wakatobi.

Location? Maybe, it is a 20+ hour flight from San Francisco, plus at least one night in Bali. However, the corals are much better than in e.g. Belize. Not even close. A flight is ~$1k (Eco) or ~$6k (Business). Your call... A flight from San Francisco to Belize also took a whole day.

Because of the location every now and then the resort has a turnover of employees. Nobody can stay in a place like that forever - it's just to plain remote. Guides leave, new ones come. Same with the other non-local staff (mainly in the restaurant and management). This time a bunch have moved on and the new ones were not fully up-to-speed. In the restaurant it was a bit less perfect than normal. If you've never been there before, you probably would not have noticed it.

We'll be back, for sure.
Websites Wakatobi Dive Resort   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Germany, Malta, Egypt, Maldives, Indonesia, Belize, USA
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather dry Seas calm
Water Temp 27-27°C / 81-81°F Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 45-60 Ft/ 14-18 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions ~70 minutes on boat dives, buddy teams. Solo diving only for approved instructors. You can rent your own boat and then do what you want...
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

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 4 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics N/A

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities 4 stars
UW Photo Comments The resort has an air-conditioned camera room with power strips, plenty of towels and tools, rinse tank for cameras in front of it. The team is very helpful, always offering to carry my DSLR to/from the boat. They are very considerate - if you need something or have a certain procedure, they will try their best to accommodate you. The size of the camera room is sufficient, especially because in the past several years the resort has also become a destination for non-divers, which actually reduces the crowds.
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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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