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Dive Review of Wakatobi Dive Resort in

Wakatobi Dive Resort, Jul, 2008,

by Steve Tulsky, CA, USA ( 2 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 4319.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 5 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Going to Wakatobi is like going to a summer camp for diving. The trip begins and ends on the same date for everybody. All the campers gather in the VIP lounge of the Bali airport nervously awaiting the adventure to come. One can practically picture the parents scurrying around wondering whether Junior remembered to bring his toothbrush.

Finally the plane is ready, and the campers file aboard for the two and a half hour flight. On this writer’s particular outbound trip Wakatobi was using a new charter airline, and the seats were adequately comfortable. The return flight on their regular provider’s plane had seats that were positioned insufferably close together, a form of torture for the vertical overachievers.

When the plane lands on Wakatobi’s private jungle airstrip, a handful of counselors scoop the campers into a half dozen dilapidated minivans for the five minute jaunt through town (and its throngs of excited, welcoming children) to the dock. From there one of Wakatobi’s spacious dive boats takes them on a fifteen minute cruise to the next island and the resort.

Once there, before they are allowed to go to their bungalows, the campers are herded through the sign-in and equipment rental process which the camp staff wants to complete before the impending dusk. This is annoying given that everybody is tired, still dressed in travel clothes, and tripping over their hand luggage, but is necessary to enable the diving to start first thing the next morning. Fortunately this process is efficiently completed, and the campers are finally shown to their bungalows, which they find to be spacious, nicely appointed, and appropriate for the setting. Prior complaints in UC about inadequate bedside reading lights seem to now be inoperative, undoubtedly the victim of the Swiss owners’ passion for making the Wakatobi experience absolutely perfect.

One thing to know about Camp Wakatobi is that it is spread over a couple of adjoining areas that while separated by less than a two minute walk, are latitudes apart in terms of weather. Coming from the San Francisco Bay Area, your scribe thought that he knew all about microclimates, but this was ridiculous! His party was housed on the blowy South side of the resort, and experienced what felt like gale-force winds and crashing surf during much of their stay. A very brief traipse towards the center of the resort, however, quickly ushered them into an island paradise of sunny skies, calm winds and quiet seas. It was completely bizarre, and made their choice of premium waterside accommodations feel wasted.

It is soon time for the first camp dinner, where the campers learn the mess hall routine. Tasty, hearty food mixing Indonesian and Western cuisines is served buffet-style in the large, comfortable restaurant. It is all-you-can-eat, as long as you are able to keep the overly eager bussing staff from scarfing your utensils while you go for seconds. A lot of love is put into meal preparation at Wakatobi, and the chef makes great efforts to serve food that accommodates a broad range of tastes. Hot beverages are gratis, and alcohol and soft drinks are available at the cash bar, but here is where the campers discover Camp Wakatobi's only true deficiency--there's no Bug Juice!!! Which kid who has ever been to camp can forget the Bug Juice, the colorful, iced sweetened liquid poured generously from large pitchers at all meals. Wakatobi should offer some kind of cold flavored beverage (sweetened, unsweetened, iced tea, Kool-Aid, anything) as an alternative to the unappealing desalinated sea water that they otherwise serve to those who don't choose to purchase sodas, cocktails, or bottled water.

The next morning arrives and the campers finally get to go diving! They are each assigned to one of the four Wakatobi longboats, which they will remain with throughout their stay. There are no more than 15 divers assigned to each boat, and most have a dozen or less. At their first dive briefing the campers meet their dive counselors, who will remain with their group except on their rare days off. When they reach their boat, the campers find their equipment waiting for them on-board, placed there by the two tank attendants who will do all of the heavy lifting for the remainder of their stay.

As the group heads off to the first dive site, the campers quickly discover what makes these boats so wonderful. They are comfortably large, the cabins are completely shielded from the equatorial sun, and they have plenty of space for prepping cameras, a very low freeboard for easy exits and entries, and perhaps most importantly, very large and very useable toilets! Furthermore, the crew are great. The tank attendants work hard to learn the campers’ personal preferences, from equipment set-up to choice of after-dive hot or cold beverage to the dry towels presented after each return from the deep.

The program is two tanks in the morning and one in the afternoon. Two of the afternoon dives during the course of a ten-day stay are replaced by night dives. The divemasters are generally excellent both as underwater spotters and as counselors striving to show the campers a good time. The corals are awesomely beautiful and healthy, the fish are fascinating and often well camouflaged, and there’s lots of cool tiny stuff to see.

As at all great camps, the adventure ends too quickly. The departing campers are shuttled to the airstrip, crossing paths with the next load of eager new campers as they deplane from the inbound flight. It takes almost an hour at the primitive airstrip to painstakingly refuel the plane out of half a dozen steel drums. The campers know they’ve returned to civilization when upon arriving at the Bali airport, a huge tanker truck pulls up which will accomplish that same task in five minutes. The campers say a fond farewell to their new friends, already looking forward to returning next year.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 51-100 dives
Where else diving Bonaire, Maui
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas choppy
Water Temp 77-78°F / 25-26°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 30-50 Ft/ 9-15 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Time limit--65-75 minutes, depending on the dive.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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