Where Is Wakatobi ?

4:41 PM
Where Is Wakatobi ?. Wakatobi Resort is in far Southeastern Sulawesi, Indonesia, positioned in the midst of a remote island archipelago group known to adventure travelers as Tukang Besi. Wakatobi is named after the four islands that surround it, Wangi Wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia, and Binongko. (Note the anagram Wa Ka To Bi). Yes its location is remote, quite literally on the fringe of "civilization." But that's precisely the point, for this remoteness is what makes the trip worthwhile.

While early explorations required an extended ferry boat ride from Kendari, it is now far easier to reach Wakatobi Resort. An excellent air strip has been constructed on the neighboring island of Tomia, receiving direct charter flights from Bali to the resort. The aircraft in use is an excellent Fokker 50. That is a 50-passenger, twin-engine turbo prop with two pro pilots and plenty of room for guests and gear. This air transit is a wonderful improvement to the Wakatobi experience, improving supply lines and making access immensely more comfortable and efficient.

From the Tomea airstrip, a 10-minute van ride is followed by a short boat ride across the channel to the resort's front door. Each time I return to Wakatobi it looks more like the ultimate island paradise of my dreams. If one were going there with visions of the Hyatt Regency Grand Cayman in mind, no doubt they'd be disappointed. On the other hand, if barefoot elegance and natural beauty are more your style, then you are in the right place. You'll take off your shoes to step ashore, and never give them another thought for the duration of your dive trip "at the end of the world."

Wakatobi Map
Once a diver at Wakatobi has demonstrated his ability, he will enjoy virtually total diving freedom, 24 hours per day. During my eleven-night stay, I logged 46 dives. One gung-ho dive buddy made 57. On the boat dives, resort owner Lorenz Maeder apologetically asked that we limit our bottom time to 75 minutes. For dives on the house reef, though, there’s no time constraint except the buddy teams’ desire to stay wet and have fun within the no-decompression limits.

The most striking feature of Wakatobi’s diving is the immense diversity and pristine condition of the reefs. There are massive coral colonies swarming with reef fishes and a delightful density of rainbow-colored soft corals. Reefs start in three feet of water or less, and the best diving is wonderfully shallow. With easy access to the excellent house reef, the night and dawn diving are superb. In my estimation, Wakatobi now offers the finest shore diving in the world. Offshore, the divemasters of Wakatobi have thus far identified more than 40 dive sites within a 20-minute boat ride or less. Exploration is still underway, enabling guests to experience sites rarely, if ever, dived. Best of all, these reefs will remain pristine since the entire region is now a protected National Marine Park.

At the time of this writing, less than 300 divers have visited Wakatobi. You and your dive buddies can still be among the first to explore its treasures. And how often can you truly say you were the first one to set eyes on a part of our blue world?

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