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Dive Review of Wakatobi in
Indonesia/South-East Sulawesi

Wakatobi: "Great UWP of corals and critters", Oct, 2016,

by Markus Fritze, HH, Germany (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports with 5 Helpful votes). Report 9347 has 2 Helpful votes.

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 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 5 stars
Snorkeling 5 stars
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments This trip report is an update to my report from 9/2013. I copied identical parts from the report over, but updated it with new information.

We have been at Wakatobi 8 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.

This time our trip was last minute (we "planned" 1.5 weeks before departure). We ended up with Thai from Germany via Bangkok to Bali. Overall a fine flight and considering the short time before departure also the cheapest option. In Bali you now go through immigration (no more complicated VISA) and pick up your luggage, where you will be expected by somebody from Wakatobi, who will lead you out of the airport to a car, which brings you to a hotel. Because international flights arrive later in the day and the flight to Wakatobi starts early, the overnight is necessary.

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 lounge with drinks and some food, and even Wifi and wait to be picked up for the flight. Wakatobi switch carriers and is now using brand new planes from Garuda for the flight to the resort (twice a week: Monday and Friday). The flight now also leaves on time and early enough to be at the resort before lunch, which allows an easy afternoon dive.

The flight to Wakatobi is about 3 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.

This time we had a private boat for 5 days and went to several dive sites, we haven't been before, because they are a bit far away for normal groups. The private boat even comes with a little kitchen/"dining room" for a decent lunch and a butler (besides the staff of 3 and the guide).

BTW: no muck diving! Maybe a bit in Teluk Maya, but that's it. On high-tide it is possible to dive in the see gras fields in from of the resort, which is always good for a surprise.

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 the US or Germany. On the plus side: we left in the evening and arrived the next day on the afternoon in Bali. Not too bad.

We'll be back for trip-9 next year.
Websites Wakatobi   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Germany, Malta, Egypt, Maldives, Indonesia, Belize, USA
Closest Airport Bali Getting There Wakatobi charters a plane from Garuda twice a week for the ~3 hour trip to the private airport. Arrival in Bali a day before the connecting flight is required. On the departure day the international flight can't leave Bali before 5pm, if you want to catch it.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy, cloudy Seas calm
Water Temp 29-30°F / -2--1°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 10-15 M / 33-49 Ft

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 None Mantas None
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales > 2
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 4 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities 5 stars
UW Photo Comments My wife and I are UWP for many years. She is doing wide-angle, I am doing macro and super-macro.

Wide-angle is easy in Wakatobi. The amount of healthy corals is unbelievable. There was some minor bleaching this year, but you found maybe 1 or 2 damaged corals during one dive. In the past 10 years the reefs haven't suffered, it's more they cycle: certain corals/sponges are less dramatic in one year, while 2 years later it changed back. Wakatobi also offers a lot of overhangs, which make good motives. In the recent years the amount of schools or medium fish went up quite a bit. You can see these schools on almost every dive. Turtles were also up. However: still no sharks. On the plus side: we saw a bunch of pilot whales and pods of dolphins from the boat. I'll doubt you see them underwater.

Macro is also great, but harder than during muck diving, because of all the corals. In the recent years I noticed that certain species cycle, too. This year Orangutan Crab where not to be found in the first week being there. And in the second week: on every bubble coral you could find one. Overall I have never found more nudis, crabs, etc. in any one trip. Also thanks to the guides, who were constantly looking for something interesting.

About 2 years ago Wakatobi opened even more to photographers by having a resident UWP (Marco Fierli, [ link]). He not only helps with little repairs of your gear (my Nauticam Viewfinder flooded, which BTW is annoying but quite harmless), he also offers many classes for beginners to suiting very advanced photographers, who want to improve on certain skills. He is very well booked, you should probably check in advance.
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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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