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Dive Review of Wakatobi -- Pelagian in

Wakatobi -- Pelagian: "Diving Wider Wakatobi from the Pelagian", Mar, 2015,

by Rickie Sterne/Chris Button, AR, US (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 24 reports with 8 Helpful votes). Report 8471.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments For those willing and able to pay the considerable tariff, there is a lot to like on the Pelagian. Pelagian divers enjoy the usual Wakatobi meet and greet on their arrival at the the airport in Denpasar. They are welcomed back to the airport by Wakatobi staff and escorted to a VIP lounge when they return for the charter flight to the resort. While the charter flight, now provided by Garuda, is slightly more expensive than commercial flights, it offers several advantages. The most obvious of these is a free 74 pound weight allowance. Wakatobi adopts a carrot rather than a stick approach to luggage weights. We each received a $100 "light luggage" resort credit because our bags weighed in at just less than 20 kg each.That credit paid for over six days' worth of nitrox. After we reached the resort, the Pelagian group was rounded up and escorted to the resort's lovely restaurant to eat lunch while all our luggage was carted out to the yacht. When we boarded the boat, we were given a thorough briefing and made a check out dive near the resort.
The Pelagian maintains a brisk and busy four dive per day schedule. The dive day begins early on the Pelagian. With the first dive scheduled for 0645, divers needed to have their nitrox checked and to be suiting up on the dive deck by 0630. Those of us who felt the need for coffee and nourishment before the first dive were setting our alarms for 0530. The so-called grazing breakfast did offer compensation in the form of fresh-baked croissants or pastry, but it still made for an early start to the day. We ordered our breakfast before boarding the dinghies. From that that point we followed the dive-eat, dive-eat, dive-eat, collapse routine usual on liveaboards.
The office staff in Bali pays close attention to the pre-trip questionnaires. The dive crew knew that I prefer to don my gear in the water, and the cruise director had ordered extra green tea for Rickie. Both requests were treated as reasonable.
All diving is done from dinghies. Our dive gear remained on the dinghy as long as were were on the boat. During long intervals a tarp covered the gear.
Each week the Pelagian offers three and half days of reef diving and two days of muck diving. The reefs were lovely and healthy, ranging from sloping to steep walls with healthy hard coral cover. The only trash we can remember seeing on our reef dives was on the checkout site. We saw a good variety of tropical fish, including many juveniles. On one dive we encountered a dozen juvenile emperor angelfish, and on other dives we saw young boxfish, filefish, and clown triggers. There were also many anemonefish tending their egg nests. We did see several broadclub cuttlefish on night dives. The reef octopus were all shyly hiding in coral crevices, but a small wonderpus posed for us in the muck for over twenty minutes before deciding we weren't much fun. We saw more nudis than we had seen diving at the resort two years ago. Several, including a mating pair of Asternotus heapticus and an umbrella shell (Umbralacum umbralcum) were new to me. There was also a nice fat Aegires minor laying an egg ribbon. One night Nico showed us pygmy pipehorses, which threadlike creatures he insisted were larger than Lembeh pipehorses. The muck diving was quite good, not quite Lembeh or Ambon, but every bit as good as Bali. At Asphalt Pier Rickie got one of those shots of a lifetime: a comet swam into view just as he focused the frame. The mandarin fish dive at Magic Pier is a dependable crowd pleaser, but on another night dive we watched fingered dragonets (Dactylus dactylopus) mating as well. The only sizable fish we saw was a single eagleray sailing through the murk near Asphalt Pier. There were many, many eels and various crustaceans around the sites as well. We thought that the Pelagian rather atypically saved some of the best sites, Neptune's Garden and Fish Trap, for the last dives of our trip.
The back-to-back trip guests did not miss any dives during the transition days. We did our four dives on sites close to the resort and were given some choice as to the sites we visited. Having skipped the first night dive due to jet lag, we made fifty-one dives, all at least seventy minutes long, in two weeks. The Pelagian has enough choice of sites on its itinerary to avoid repeating dives outside the muck for the longer-staying divers.
The boat is metal hulled and very well set up, not to mention beautifully appointed. We spent one week in the deluxe cabin and one week in a superluxe cabin. The deluxe cabin was comfortable and had plenty of storage space. We enjoyed the hot shower and nice bathrobes. The Pelagian, like the resort, provides a full range of good quality amenities: soap, shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion. There is a hair dryer in each cabin. The superluxe cabin was huge and provided more storage space than we could fill. The main advantages of the more expensive cabin were less engine noise and room to get out of the bed on both sides.
The salon area has two tables for meals. If you are cold natured, as we are, grab a spot at the smaller table. The air conditioning vents blast the larger with cold air. We found the temperature seriously uncomfortable at the evening meal, even wearing light jackets and caps. Who brings a real coat to the tropics? There is also a long upholstered bench for lounging. A table with chairs on the back deck offered an alternate seating option for daytime meals. The top deck had chaise lounges in full sun and tables and chairs under cover. The area where we donned wetsuits was on benches around the back deck. Baskets under the benches let divers store dry stuff and night lights. A convenient restroom is located just off the side deck where we showered after dives.
The meals were a culinary occasion. Breakfast was cooked to order. As nearly as I could tell, divers were free to order anything that did not contain pork. Wakatobi is a Muslim area, and the yacht's chef maintained a halal galley. At breakfast we were shown the menu for the three-course lunch. There were always two
choices of entree, and other requests were accepted cheerfully. Lunch began with a salad and concluded with a dessert or fresh fruit, as we preferred. After lunch, we made our selections for dinner. Dinners started with soup accompanied by fresh-baked rolls and also offered two choices of entree as well as dessert. The chef baked all desserts. The Pelagian has a wonderful coffee machine. There is also a bottomless cookie jar, filled with homebaked cookies. In addition to the three main meals of the day and the grazing breakfast provided for early risers, an afternoon tea was served on the back deck following the afternoon dive. Offerings might include samosas or cheeses as well as fresh fruit. The tea was always balanced by both savory and sweet tidbits. A few divers had to skip dinner after overindulging at afternoon tea.
The service on the Pelagian is attentive. Cruise directors Shelley and Steve are personable and tried hard to make every guest a happy guest. Shelley and Nico are the primary dive guides, with Steve relieving each of them once a day. All three were good guides, with different diving styles. The dinghy drivers stay on the sites during dives and help divers put on their tanks and lift the tanks out of the water before divers climb back into the dinghy. When we returned to the boat, we stripped off our wetsuits, which the crew took to the top deck to hang for us. Before the next dive, our wetsuits would appear tidily folded at our gear stations. All meals were served by a waiter. The cabins were spotless, as were the common areas of the boat.
The Pelagian does ply more or less the same itinerary every week, so divers might not want to visit this boat every year. However, the Pelagian definitely merits more than a single visit's attention.
Websites Wakatobi -- Pelagian   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving around the Caribbean, Australia, Sea of Cortez, Fiji, Truk, Yap, Palau, other areas of Indonesia
Closest Airport Denpasar, Bali Getting There very long flight, but good connections on Singapore Airlines

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, cloudy Seas calm
Water Temp 82-84°F / 28-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 10-85 Ft/ 3-26 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 120 feet or nitrox MOD. We were encouraged to dive safely and conservatively because we were in a remote location.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments The Pelagian has a large camera room with plenty of outlets, both 110 and 220. On our trip only five of us really set up shop in the camera room. There was ample space for four large rigs and one moderately sized setup. Two divers with small point and shoots dropped in for charging but did not really hang out. In addition to the primary work stations, there is a closed cabinet for storing extra batteries and spare stuff. Towels are provided for drying and draping cameras.There is also a large-screened Mac for general use. The one serious drawback to the camera room was its downright frigid temperature. We and our cameras were all shivering. The five stars for subject matter assumes that divers knew they would not be photographing large pelagics in the Wakatobi area.
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Subscriber's Comments

By report author: Rickie Sterne/Chris Button in AR, US at Oct 16, 2015 12:34 EST  
Oops! This trip was actually made in March, 2015.
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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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