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Dive Review of Wakatobi Dive Resort in
Indonesia

Wakatobi Dive Resort: "Current - it's hard to like", Sep, 2017,

by Marilyn Walker, CA, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 9 reports with 12 Helpful votes). Report 9828 has 2 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 2 stars
Snorkeling 1 stars
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments First dive is at 7:30 am, second dive at 11 am, third dive either 2:30 pm or 5:30 pm as night dives rotate around among the several dive boats. Water is chilly, although my dive computer reads 80 and 81 degrees. We're both in shorty wetsuits, still get a bit cold.

The dive operation is running three dive boats, with about 15 guests per boat. One dive guide handles up to five guests. The groups are intended to enter the water at intervals, so we spread out, but in practice it doesn't always work that way. We sometimes feel like we're too crowded. The crowding is especially pronounced on narrow sea mounts, where there is no room to spread out. At the end of the dive, everybody is hanging around the same place, getting in one another's way. We complained to the manager, who promised to look into the situation more deeply. We didn't visit any more sea mounts, so cannot comment on whether the cattle boat situation improved.

Coral and sponges look healthy. The water temperature is still suitable for the environment so we don't see the coral bleaching that is damaging other parts of the tropical Pacific.

We see clouds of small, colorful reef fish but bigger predators are infrequent. Other divers reported shark sightings way off in the blue, we saw a few barracuda, a few jacks.

Nudibranchs tend to be the common sorts, although everybody likes to have a look. Some of the most colorful chromodorids are disappointingly missing here. For example, my favorite Chromodoris bullocki was absent.

I tend to disregard the very tiny animals, which are difficult for me to see or photograph, but other divers delight in them, including the ever-popular pygmy seahorse.

Current
Every dive is strongly influenced by the current flow. Several times we moved away from the scheduled location because a two or three knot current was ripping through. One of the dive guides always jumps into the water to check the current, and perhaps to pick up the mooring rope as well. We could often see the current disturbing the surface with a characteristic jumpy pattern of wavelets around a smooth middle.

Even when the current was mild enough to begin a dive, it might quite unexpectedly become very strong and disrupt the plan. Sometimes the current pushed us backwards, sometimes pushed up towards the surface and sometimes down towards the bottom. If we were pushed backwards, the party just turned around and went the other way. But then we might go around a corner and find an equally strong current against us again. Then the group would be restricted between two opposing forces.
The house reef and Turkey Beach, which is immediately beside the house reef, are examples of the dive sites most notable for raging currents. We surfaced to find ourselves swirling in a circle as the conflicting currents made a whirlpool. Some divers enjoy such encounters, but we did not like it at all.
These are tidal currents, influenced by the sun and moon, rather than ocean currents like the Gulf Stream. Our visit was at the equinox and the waxing moon, so their influence was minimal. I'm speculating that during the solstice and full moon, it's worse.

The current became such an overwhelming issue that I would urge anybody who might come to Wakatobi to consider very carefully your tolerance for the difficulty of photographing, or even swimming, in strong current.

Well Done
The resort has a high standard for customer service. Staff greet you by name, inquire about preferences, make haste to correct any issues. Every individual greeted us with polite and enthusiastic greetings every time we saw them.

The men do all the heavy lifting, transporting tanks back and forth from the boats, and bringing the bins of dive gear for each person as well. Each person's gear is organized into a numbered bin and two numbered hangers for wetsuits and vests and whatever other rubber the guest needs. Bins and hangers are transported out to the boat very early in the morning and brought back again in case somebody wants a house reef dive. If people mark themselves off from a given dive, the bins stay on shore and for late decisions, they will even yank a loaded bin off the boat and put it back ashore.

The ocean view bungalow is comfortable and blessedly quiet. One evening we heard some rowdy noise from the jetty bar while we were outside, but that was not audible within the cabin. Otherwise, it is as peaceful as anyone could wish. Our ocean-view cabin was nicely located not far from the restaurant and not far from the dive shop. The air conditioning struggles on those afternoons when the sun is blazing, but is fine at night for sleeping.

There are many very nice touches, like the salt-water taps where the feet transition from sand to wood, to wash off the sand. The bungalow is serviced twice a day, first while we are diving and again in the late afternoon.

They keep the beach immaculate. No trash, ever.

The dive shop is willing to be flexible about the dive packages. I had carefully worked out a combination of light diving, two boat dives a day, and regular diving, three boat dives and house reef, with the self-knowledge that we have less energy than we did twenty-five years ago. It turns out that John is willing and enthusiastic about doing that third dive, so we agreed, and management agreed, that he should dive all the three-dive schedule, instead of being sticky about sharing. Other resorts have disappointed us with the rigidity of their rules, so well done, Wakatobi!

I am happy with two boat dives and the option for snorkeling on the house reef when I want to get wet again in the afternoon. There is time for massages at the spa.

We took advantage of two sources of resort credit. First, I paid the bill in full early and got a two percent rebate on the invoice total. Later, we kept our luggage weight below 20 kilos each for another credit. The resort credit is good for spa treatments, the bar bill, the boutique or similar expenses here. These credits are not special for us, they are clearly stated on the website for any customer.

Needs Improvement
The wi-fi is poor – not enough bandwidth and too frequently dropping the signal.

The landscaping in the older part of the resort emphasizes foliage, not flowers, including a downright ugly brown epiphyte with tattered, ragged leaves. It contrasts poorly with other resorts that have, for example, frangipani and bougainvillea and flowering ginger for decoration. The newer parts of the resort have more flowers growing in pots, because coral rock is right underneath the sand. The gardening staff diligently clean the plantings.

Problems Encountered
Visibility is not as good as I expected. The problem is not runoff, because even on the farther-out sites the water is still murky. Part of it is plankton, which is eaten by the little reef fish, and part of it is sand. Even diver bubbles dislodge sand from ledges and diminish the viz for those who trail them, and it can't be helped.

The nearby sites are supposed to be protected from commercial fishing by the establishment of a National Park. However, we saw a big purse seiner dragging the net right by the shore, flagrantly disregarding the rules. “We report them to the Coast Guard,” Shoko said. When and how the violator is dealt with remains unseen by us and meanwhile the fish are gone.

Surprises
We were upgraded mid-week from the bungalow to a villa, to our surprise and delight. It's quite luxurious. The ocean-view bungalow had been very pleasant, but is entirely eclipsed by the villa. They told us that the bungalow needed maintenance, but that was a pleasant fiction. When we stopped by our old bungalow a few days later, we saw it was occupied. So if it was really a double booking, we certainly profited! Thank you, Wakatobi!

Marilyn's 71st Birthday
After lunch, John did a third dive, but I had a massage. Scented oil, new-age music, firm hands, and a darkened, air-conditioned room, highly sensuous. I was somewhat wobbly walking from the spa back to the dive shop, being so relaxed. The twinges of stiff muscles from all the swimming were gone.

When John was not yet back from the dive, I soaked myself in the plunge pool that is private for the villa. Swim suit is not required. The pool has sea water, warmed by the blazing sun, and is just for lounging. Had I wanted a swim, I could walk down the steps to the beach (wearing swim suit and fins and mask and snorkel). Lion fish and parrot fish and little flashy fish live there. It's amusing to watch the lion fish approach the little fish, who stay a safe distance away, even swimming in a ring around the lion fish, not hurrying or seeming alarmed. Some afternoons it was just too hot to be outside at all. I lowered the shades between the sun and the porch, to keep down the glare, but stayed in the air conditioning for the hottest part of the day.

Star View Lounge
All the residences have lounge chairs under a sun umbrella. We requested that our umbrella be closed, in order to see the night sky above the chairs, admiring the incredible star panoply, invisible back home. We use the Sky View app on the iPad to see the patterns in the stars and identify the planets both above and below the horizon. Of course, the app works in the daytime too, but it's a bit strange to be looking at the Milky Way against the backdrop of the blazing sun.
Websites Wakatobi Dive Resort   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Indonesia, Caribbean, Australia, Malaysia, Solomon Islands, Micronesia
Closest Airport Tomia Getting There Charter flight Denpasar to Tomia. Don't miss the flight.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas currents
Water Temp 80-81°F / 27-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 30-50 Ft/ 9-15 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Easy-going but safety minded
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 1 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 4 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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