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Dive Review of Wakatobi -- Pelagian in
Indonesia/Bali & Wakatobi

Wakatobi -- Pelagian: "Mimpi Menjangan and MV Pelagian, diveoperations that go the extra step", Jul, 2016,

by Phil Hamilton, MA, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 7 reports with 2 Helpful votes). Report 9423.

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 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Outline of trip report:
Preface:
We know that you will need to edit this, but we thought we’d tell you everything about this trip.
Firstly, this was a trip that almost never happened! Three and a half weeks before departure, I was knocked off a ladder and sustained a fractured heel. However, with the aid of a sympathetic surgeon, some technology, a great airline, and 2 wonderful dive/resort operations, we had a great experience.
The plan was to fly to Bali, go to the Mimpi Menjangan dive resort in northern Bali to get over jet lag and do some check out dives and then go to Wakatobi to join the Pelagianlive-aboard for a week, diving the archipelago. Frustrated with trying to use frequent flyer miles for the dates we wanted, we took advantage of an introductory offer from Qatar Airlines as they were launching their Boston/Doha route. Long flights, but only one stop from Boston to Bali. We booked business class and received astounding service – no hassles with the checked in dive gear, comfortable flights, and great staff. By this time I was in a removable orthopedic boot and walking frame.
A suggestion for anyone with a long layover in Doha: the airport hotel will charge for a room based on length of occupancy instead of a whole night – great if you just want to take a shower and grap a couple of hours sleep before the next leg of the journey.
We had informed both dive resorts of my impaired status, and our arrival in Bali was an indication that Wakatobi was going to live up to their reputation for excellent service. We were met by Wakatobi staff, even though it would be another 4 days before we flew onto Wakatobi. They organized the collection of our luggage, had been in contact with the driver from Mimpi Menjangan, and took us and our luggage directly to the car waiting for us.
Mimpi Menjangan:
It had been 12 years since we were last in Bali – we didn’t remember so much traffic! It took just over 4 hours to get to Mimpi from the airport – a journey we had expected to take about 2 hours. We had picked the resort at the recommendation of Clay Wiseman at Underwater-Art, who I had met at the Boston Sea Rovers show on several occassions . The plan was to relax, do a day of boat diving and a day of shore-based “muck” diving at a nearby beach. When we reached Mimpi Menjangan, the staff had found a wheelchair and had switched our villa to one with fewer steps. Our villa was very comfortable with its own garden and a small geothermal pool in addition to a regular shower which my wife found wonderful. It was late when we arrived, but there was no problem ordering room service.
Due to the jet lag and weather, we only did one day of diving at Mimpi. The resort dive boats are comfortable wooden boats with a canopy. We were the only 2 divers that day, but they still took us out. The site we visited was Cave Point on the southern side of Menjangan Island - the strong winds prevented us from going to other sites. We were at the tail end of a later-than-normal rainy season and visibility was about 45-60 feet (15-20 meters). The site had soft corals and gorgonian fans and several large sponges. As this was a check-out dive for us, we weren’t actively critter spotting but we did see a pygmy seahorse and several nudibranchs we hadn’t seen before. The water temp was 82°F and we did notice some coral bleaching. As the winds were still quite strong, we made the second dive in the mouth of the bay where the resort was located. It was more sheltered but the water was markedly warmer - 86°F, with much larger areas of bleached coral and noticably fewer fish.
The boat crew were very helpful getting me from shore into the boat and getting me back on the boat after a dive, and the dive guide was a good spotter. While this was essentially a “catch our breath” stop before going to the Pelagian, it was a very enjoyable stay. The resort has a very relaxing atmosphere, the dive operation was very professional, and the restaurant was excellent and would cater to special orders. Definitely worth a return for a better and longer look at diving Bali’s north coast.
Technology: a major achievement of this part of the trip was confirming that I could dive. Less than a week before departure, I had the stitches in my foot removed and was directed to keep the dressing dry! A frantic search on the internet turned up a product called DryCAST, basically a shaped latex tube which covers the foot and leg and fits snuggly around the thigh. Although the website shows people swimming with a DryCAST, when it arrived there was a statement saying that it wasn’t to be used for diving. However, with the DryCAST on and a 3 mm wetsuit over it there was never a problem with leaks for the 19 dives I made during the trip. Combined with a fin modified so the ankle couldn’t flex, zero to mild current diving was possible!
Wakatobi/Pelagian:
The night before our depature to Wakatobi and the Pelagian, we stayed at the recently-opened Hilton Garden Inn in Bali a few minutes from the airport – very convenient, very comfortable, and not too expensive.
Due to runway issues, our departure to Wakatobi was delayed about 2 hours; however, Wakatobi’s Bali staff kept us informed of developments and were on hand if we had any questions. Arrival at Wakatobi saw more excellent service taking care of me with my limited mobility from the landing strip to the Pelagian. Once we boarded the Pelagian, we realized that booking the master cabin was going to pay off handsomely - apart from the descent to the RIBs used to take divers to the sites, everything we needed was on the same level! The master cabin was beautiful and spacious.
Wakatobi and the Pelagian pride themselves not only on the quality of the dive sites but also the quality of service. For us, on this trip, they met and exceeded expectations! At the end of the trip my wife commented “we’re spoiled, how can we top this?”
With only 10 divers served by a crew of 12, the service was outstanding. The food was varied and well prepared and they handled any special requests without complaint . The only culinary restriction was that there was no pork onboard as the majority of the crew, including the kitchen staff, were Muslim; for those who had to have bacon at breakfast, they did have turkey bacon. The week of our trip, the resort’s executive chef was on board prior to taking some leave. For my wife’s birthday, he made an amazing chocolate cake surrounded and topped with chocolate bark. And we enjoyed a wonderful rendition of Happy Birthday from the entire crew!
The cruise directors were excellent at ensuring a smooth operation; the dive briefings were good, the dive guides avoided more than mild currents during the dives , and attempted to satisfy everyone’s requests. Our RIB captain, Yaya, was outstanding; he soon learned how to attach my modified fin/boot and would fit it before each dive and remove and stow it after the dive. Also, after the first day of diving, the stainless steel ladder to get back onto the Panga had towels wrapped around several rungs and secured with cable ties – someone had noticed that I was using my knee of the injured leg to climb the ladder.
We had spent a week at the Wakatobi resort some years before, so we had some idea of the diversity and abundance of marine life of this archipelago – and the Pelagian crew delivered! The reefs were in very good to excellent condition with none of the bleaching we had seen at Mimpi Menjangan; although at one site off Wangi Wangi, we did hear some dynamiting which is still practiced by some of the fishermen in the area.
With little or no current and only 4 or 6 divers on each RIB there was time to take that extra photo or video clip, or hang and watch a shrimp/goby pair around their nest, or a mantis shrimp go after prey. With 65, 80, and 100 cu ft tanks available, dives of 1 hour were attainable for every diver on the trip. The guides: Judith, Ramon, and Ismael were good at spotting the small and obscure as well as reminding us to look out to the blue, look up, or look down to see the larger reef inhabitants going about their business. Shark sightings were rare- our group saw only one in the distance and the other group saw two during the week. Turtles were seen on a few dives but they seemed more shy than ones we had encountered on other trips to the region. Banded sea snakes were much more common than we remembered from our diving around the Wakatobi resort. The one minor disappointment was that the strong winds on several days while we were there prevented the Pelagian from visiting any of the muck diving sites on their usual itinerary. However, no days were lost to diving during that week.
At the end of the trip, the crew sanitized, washed, and dried our gear for the trip home. Again, concierge service.
Postscript:
On the flight back to Bali there were several of the Wakatobi staff, including Yaya (RIB captain) and the chef from the Pelagian crew. Once we had landed and collected our luggage, one of the Bali-based staff was there to escort us to the airport hotel where we were spending several hours before the midnight flight back to Doha. Quite unexpectedly, Yaya and the chef offered to handle our baggage trolleys and brought our luggage right to the reception area of the hotel. Later, as we sat at the hotel bar sipping on a cocktail, my wife once again mused: “how do we ever top this trip?”


Websites Wakatobi -- Pelagian   [Mimpi Menjangan

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Galapagos, Indonesia, Maldives, Caribbean, Sea of Cortez, Roatan, Utilla, Belize, Costa Rica, Curacao, Cozumel, Australia, California, New England, Fla keys, Philipines
Closest Airport Ngurah Rai Getting There Qatar Airlines, Boston to Doha, Doha to Bali. Excellent service, no hassles

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas calm, choppy, no currents
Water Temp 82-86°F / 28-30°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 45-80 Ft/ 14-24 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions Keep in sight of guide, change direction when guide indicated, minimum 3 minute safety stop
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments We didn't use our cameras at Mimpi Menjangan. However, the Pelagian had a great camera room with plenty of outlets for charging batteries and cameras. Each guest had their own drawer in the camera room for storing accessories, tools, spare batteries, etc.
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Subscriber's Comments

By carl berenson in WA, US at Dec 18, 2016 13:41 EST  
total cost of your trip? thanks.
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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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