Wakatobi is one of Indonesia’s premiere snorkel destinations. The island of Wakatobi is a small idyllic island dotted with palm trees and fringed by a white sandy beach, short limestone cliffs, and endless coral reefs. In the middle of it all is one boutique dive and snorkel resort knows as Wakatobi Resort, which also happens to be one of Indonesia’s premier resorts and snorkel destinations.
Logistics of Arriving
Wakatobi is located off the south-east corner of Sulawesi amid a sparse chain of islands and atolls that barely reach the surface. It’s only accessed—easily—by a charter flight several times a week which is operated by the resort itself. The flight is only about two hours from Bali. Upon arriving the resort will pick us up in comfortable cars and drive us a whole six minutes to the pier where we will be picked up by one of the resorts comfortable wood boats. This leg of the journey takes about twenty to thirty minutes. Yes, the boats have a roof to protect us from the sun as well as welcome drinks and a comfortable restroom.
At this point you’ll probably notice that our large checked luggage is not with us. Not to worry, the resort is unloading it from the charter flight and it will be delivered to our about an hour after we arrive. It’s a good idea to pack a change of cloths, essential toiletries, and medications in your hand carry luggage so you’ll have these essential things upon arriving at the resort.
The first day is sort of an orientation day where we’ll have plenty of time to unpack, eat lunch, and get a thorough briefing of what is going to happened throughout the week. And yes, we will be able to get in the water for an afternoon snorkel session on their really quite incredible house reef.
The resort itself is very nice. White sand pathways take you to your beachfront rooms which are beautifully built. The rooms are very comfortable with all the essential amenities and a bunch more. For example, if you want a specific type of pillow you just call down to reception and place your order off their pillow menu!
Wakatobi resort has a fantastic restaurant where we will take all of our meals, unless of course you want a quiet night on your porch and decide to order room service. The food is buffet style and features delicious European and Asian cuisine and some amazing deserts. If you have special dietary requirements just let us know in advance and they will take care of the rest.
Where activities outside snorkeling are concerned, there is plenty to do. Wakatobi resort has stand up paddle boards and kayaks while the beach just in front of your room is a perfect place to cool off after sunbathing. They can also organize village tours the the neighboring village as well as Indonesian cooking and language lessons.
Like all of our group snorkel tours, Wakatobi resort sets us up with their largest most comfortable boat which is essentially at our disposal for the week. No divers allowed! We will also have our own snorkel guides who will also remain with us for the week and escort us to the areas best snorkeling sites. All of our gear will be loaded up each morning by the helpful crew and put away each evening in separate boxes for each of us. The furthest we ever need to go to reach a snorkel site is thirty minutes, with the closest being just a few feet from the resort.
I’ll be honest, after snorkeling in places like Raja Ampat, Komodo, and Alor for the past six years I wasn’t really expecting to be surprised by the reefs, but I was absolutely blown away. The reefs were some of the healthiest I’ve seen and were easily comparable to any of Indonesia’s top destinations. They were generally characterized by vast plateaus of hard coral, sponges, and occasionally sea grass and at the reefs edge they would either turn into steep slopes or vertical walls that dropped into the blue. On the slopes and walls the coral was just as vibrant and dense with lots of soft coral and a variety of sea fans.
Each site offered something a little unique in terms of marine life, while on just about all the sites we did we ended up finding crocodile fish, green sea turtles, and banded sea snakes. Given it’s location within the Coral Triangle, Wakatobi has an outstanding diversity of colorful reef fish. We found everything from nudibranches, schools of fusileers, eels, cuttle fish, blue ring octopus, and even had a blue whale surface just a few meters from the boat!
In short, Wakatobi is an excellent destination for those who want an easier travel option within Indonesia while not missing out on any of the iconic reef scenes the country is known for. From the charter flight, to the food, to the snorkeling, and even the pillows; everything is tailored to fit your needs.