In 2013 we had to cancel our trip to Wakatobi the day before we were due to travel because Vicky found a tumour in her leg so we were delighted to get to this fabulous Indonesian Dive Resort on a little island off the South Coast of Sulawesi in October 2015. We first heard of Wakatobi at the Singapore Dive show and was impressed as it was situated in a great diving area and, being the only resort for miles, had sole access to the many excellent dive sites.
Wakatobi is on Onemobaa Island, next to the larger Tomia Island where a small airstrip is reached by a 2 hour charter flight from Bali. The resort currently runs two flights per week so we arrange to visit from Friday to Friday. When we arrive at the airstrip we take taxies to the jetty of the adjacent fishing village and transfer to a boat to take us on a 10 minute ride across to Wakatobi. Everyone is super friendly and helpful and there is no shortage of staff - about 200 in the half full resort. We get a short briefing and are shown to our beach front villa where we take off our shoes and don't put them on again for a week. The resort has a central 'long house' and dive centre with a restaurant, spa and the rooms scattered around pretty gardens with palms and flowers. Being Swiss-run everything works by the book - from our drills on the first dive on the house reef to logging your own Nitrox everyday. And you better be on time for the diveboat because they leave on the dot.
There are three dives per day - two in the morning and one in the afternoon or evening. In addition you can dive on the house reef as well if you want to. Diving is run from four large diveboats which can carry up to 18 divers each - in fact we had between 6 and 15 divers on our boats and it generally wasn't crowded. We dived with our guide, Muji, in a group of 3 or 4. The diving is also well set up for photographers with a camera room and plenty of space on the boats for gear. Most of the dives are drifts on walls although we also dive some pinnacles and sloping reefs. The fans and soft and hard coral are spectacular and there are loads of reef fish and critters although we see fewer larger fish and no big pelagics. A few turtles and families of bumphead parrot fish plus the odd baracuda.
Vicky is pleased that she brought her waistcoat and hood as the water temperature is not so hot at 26C. We also mostly do 70 minute dives by the end of which we are decidedly chilly. Muji turns out to be a great spotter of small stuff and is triumphant when he finds us a juvenile Rumengan's pipehorse - no bigger than a hair. I am equally delighted when my photo (below) is in focus! He also finds a number of white Pygmy seahorses which are equally hard to photograph, together with many nudibranchs and flatworms.
We see a number of new creatures we have not seen before like the spearing mantis shrimp which sits in a hole in the sand and can shoot out a spear which can pierce a camera housing according to Muji. I had not seen the jawfish (another sandhole dweller) with a mouthful of eggs before either. We don't find any frogfish but we do see octopus, ghost pipefish, crocodile fish, and the 'elegant' squat lobster (below) - another new one for me.
One thing that surprises us is the number of people who come back here time and time again. We certainly enjoyed our stay but there are so many places that we still want to visit that I think we will do more exploring of Asia and the Pacific before we are back. However I would certainly recommend this as a great place for a week's diving. You can combine the resort stay with a week on their liveaboard, the Pelagian, for an even finer diving holiday. During our stay our clocks get adjusted - we are up at around 5.30 and in bed by 9pm most nights. 10 o'clock is a late night as breakfast starts at 6.30 and we are on the boats by 7.30. Still this works well and we enjoy our sundowners on the jetty bar each night around 5.45. Click on the links in the sidebar to see photos from the trip and connect to the resort website.