Wakatobi Dive Resort, As Good As It Gets

This is one of those occasional diving related posts. If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll notice that it’s been pretty quiet for the past little while. That’s because been lucky enough to have been in Indonesia at the Wakatobi Dive resort, and blogging was pretty far from my mind. I just got home a few days ago, and what an incredible experience.

Wakatobi is well hyped. This can be very risky for an attraction. I had extremely high expectations going in, and they were all exceeded.

Wakatobi Dive resort is located just off the island of Tomia, in South East Sulawesi, in Indonesia. It’s a bit of a haul. My experience (from Toronto) was that it took about 25 hours of travelling to get to Bali, overnight in Bali, and then another 2.5 hour charter flight to Wakatobi.

It’s worth every minute.

Map picture

 

I was too tired on arrival in Bali to really see much of it, but if you have the time, it’s quite an amazing place. I did get to spend a day on the way back with a pretty incredible tour guide, Komang Wardiapa, owner of Bali-Go-Round Tours. If you’re in Bali for any reason, I highly suggest that you contact them – it will be well worth your while.

Once at Wakatobi, I was escorted to my own cabin by one of the many Wakatobi dive guides, and was given the ins and outs of the stay at the resort, including where my personal storage for my dive gear was on land, on the boat, my allocated area in the dedicated camera room, and the dive site schedule for my stay. I should mention that once my luggage was tagged by the greeter at the Bali airport, I never needed to touch it again until I was unpacking in my room.

Wakatobi operates a fleet of six 70 foot custom built dive boats. While I was there, they were operating three for 35 guests. If you’re counting, that’s fewer than 12 divers per 70 foot dive boat, and there were at least 2 dive guides per boat. This was extremely comfortable boat diving. Of course, if the boat diving is too much, you can dive the best house reef in the world anytime you wish.

The instructors, like all the rest of the staff were extremely helpful, and highly professional. Their focus was on the diver, but they never let safety get ignored. I had requested to use Nitrox during my stay, and was asked for my certification card. I’ve NEVER needed to produce that card before, so I stopped carrying it, and didn’t have it with me. It was quite clear that they’d need to see proof of certification before proceeding, (which I very much appreciate) but no problem, they went ahead and contacted the agency and got the requisite proof with no further input on my part.

I could go on and on about the facilities, the staff, and the way that they run their operation. Their web site, as nice as it is, doesn’t even do it proper justice. I was made aware (by Komang, mentioned above) of the fact that they were recently featured on a dive travel show, “Into the Drink”. if interested, you can watch the entire show here, it’s about 20 minutes long. I was struck by how the hosts impressions mirrored my own, both of Bali and of the resort.

I had a nice plus in that I had the opportunity to attend the Ikelite Photo School, put together by Frank Owens and Steve Miller (no, not that Steve Miller…). As you can see from previous posts on my blog, I have had some experience with underwater photography, but with just a couple of days of instruction (over drinks in most cases!), and I was quickly able to produce images like those below. I’ll let you be the judge of how successful it was.

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(Top to Bottom: False Clown Anemonefish, Hairy Squat Lobster, Colman’s Pygmy Seahorse (about 2mm), Blue Ribbon Eel, and Willan’s Chromodoris Nudibranch)

You can view the entire gallery on Flickr here

Steve and Frank will be offering the school again this summer – I highly recommend it. If you’re interested in other dates, I know that they’d be happy to consider them – you can contact them via the links on the school’s page.

I’m still buzzing from this trip. It has quite literally been the trip of a lifetime, and the best dive resort that I’ve ever seen. I’m already plotting how to get back there.

It’s now back to work for me. I should have an interesting announcement posted here shortly.

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