Sooner or later, any diver with the aim of diving the world’s greatest waters must try the Wakatobi Dive Resort. Famous in both diving and marine biology circles, Lorenz Meader and his team has throughout the years pioneered the diving industry by taking their resort and their conservation efforts to ever higher levels. Obviously, we had to try it. Read on to see what we thought.
Destination: Wakatobi Dive Resort, South East Sulawesi, Indonesia
When: 3 to 10 January 2012
Duration: 6 diving days
Number of dives: 17
The Wakatobi Dive Resort is located on the small island of Tomia in the Wakatobi National Park in Southeast Sulawesi. The Flores Sea lies to the south and the Banda Sea to the east. It is right smack in the middle of the Coral Triangle in what is the most biodiverse marine area on Earth. So the location is pretty perfect for diving.
The humble beginnings of the resort date back to 1995, when the first building was built. Since then, it has developed from a mysterious place only the most adventurous divers visited (and back then it was a long, long journey by bus and boat to get here), to one of the most exclusive dive resorts in the world. To me, exclusivity (in terms of luxury) can sometimes take away focus from the diving and attract a different crowd more interested in the exclusivity itself than in the diving. So it is a balance act to stay on track with the “right” kind of diving crowd.
The resort itself is very nice, without being in any way over the top luxorious. The villas are spacious, the restaurant is also very nice and the common areas too. But what really sets Wakatobi in a class of its own is the ambience created by the staff. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what it is that makes it so special, but management has really succeded in creating an extremely welcoming and friendly atmosphere. Not too much – just right. Everyone of the staff seems to love working at Wakatobi and that is a feeling that transmits to the guests.
Lastly, the food is amazing. Period. Food is served buffet style, but it feels like a tasting menu. Many different little pinches of delicious asian food along with a choice of pasta if you rather stick to western style. This is the best food we have ever had at a dive resort.
Wakatobi has a number of large custom built dive boats from which you dive. The boats are very spacious and great for the purpose. My wife and I had one dive master assigned to us (Ben) who took great care of us throughout the week. Once again, the level of service and attention was perfect – not too much, but just very relaxed, attentive and genuinely nice.
Now to the actual underwater thrills. If I would try to sum up the diving at Wakatobi in one word it would be: healthy. Without being a marine biologist, I just for the feeling that the reefs in Wakatobi are so healthy and alive. To me these reefs are some of the most amazingly rich coral reefs on the planet, with great macro life and huge schools of fish. This is not the place to go for big pelagics (even though you can of course be lucky as we were – read on), but to experience reef life at its best.
Our favorite sites were:
- Roma – a wonderful underwater ridge with lots of blacken barracudas. We also saw two octopi a mantis shrimp, schools of midnight snappers and bumphead parrotfish.
- Starship – cuttlefish, bumphead parrotfish, morays, leaf scorpionfish, orangutang crab, bragibanti pygmy seahorse.
- Conchita – two blacktip reef sharks, a large “herd” of bumphead parrotfish, lots of rainbow runners and unicorn fish.
- Table Coral City – a beatiful place with large table corals. We saw green turtles, hawksbill turtles a (lost) remora and an enormous school of blacken barracudas.
- Conucopia – a nice wall. We were so lucky here… We mad a whale shark encounter! Something am sot no one believed afterwards. Our dive master had never spotted a whale shark at Wakatobi before – but there is was!
So, is Wakatobi the best dive resort in the world? Well, I don’t know, because I am still far from having visited all, but to me it is definitely the best so far. The ambience rely sets it aside at the very top. We just felt so welcome and spoiled in a non obtrusive way at Wakatobi.
The downsides? Well, it is pricey.
Hope you have enjoyed this post!