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Diving at the Wakatobi Dive Resort

SE Sulawesi, Indonesia

We are not dive resort people. We tend to want to just dive. We are not the lay around the beach types, or go to the bar types of folks. At a lot of resorts, lugging your gear every day out to the boats gets old after day one. So, our decision to stay a week at a dive resort was made because of the distance and time it takes to get there, and to only spend one week in the area didn't make much sense. Plus, the charter plane was on a schedule where we had to stay some time at the resort anyway.

It was a decision we did not regret. Indonesian boutique designed bungalows on the beach were spacious and beautiful. They were private, each with their own lounge chairs and umbrella, hammocks and porches. Pathways of sand winding through the trees allowed easy access to the dive gear area, camera room, Long house (with boutique and media room), and the dining area. A long pier reached out to the reef wall, where the Jetty Bar beckoned us to watch the sunset each evening.

With a resort staff of over 300, they seemed to anticipate every need. The chefs rotate between the boat and resort, and the food was wonderful and varied. The resort offers massages and spa treatments, classes in language, culture, towel folding, reef ID seminars, kayaks and snorkeling.

The Wakatobi Resort was quite an experience, run like a land based live aboard. All gear was taken on and off the boats by the crew. After the dives, the crew rinsed and hung it up. All you had to do was analyze your Nitrox fill before the gear was put on the boat. There was a large air conditioned camera room by the Long House with many charging stations.

The boats are large and spacious with a roof, camera table and head. The dive sites range from the House Reef right outside the front door, to, at the most, an hour's ride. Wakatobi boats dove the reefs around the islands, but also went out and dove the open ocean reefs. We did have to contend with currents that were variable, strong and could be changeable, both on the boat and at the resort. We once did the whole house reef, about a half mile in length, in about 7 minutes!

They usually offered three dives a day from the boat, and you could dive/snorkel the house reef, an excellent dive site, as much as you wanted. Some of my favorite dive sites were the Zoo, an wonderful dive with incredible schools of many species of fish, large cuttlefish and sea kraits and beautiful soft corals in the shallows. Another memorable site was Blade. Out in the open ocean, about 50' down the reef was shaped like the blade of a knife, with the walls dropping off both sides into the abyss from the reef top. Sea fans, soft corals and a giant pink Frogfish were found.

The reef diving from the Pelagian and from the Resort offered different ecosystems, so we never had the feeling we were diving the same topography. We only saw the Mandarin Fish, dwarf cuttlefish, and pipefish via muck diving from the boat, and certain pygmy seahorses, sea kraits and giant pink and green Frogfish from the resorts boats. The varied schools of fish, soft corals. lettuce corals, gorgonians and sea fans offered a riot of color.

Go to Wakatobi.com for more information on the resort and diving.

What intrigued me most about Wakatobi was not that they were a luxury dive resort , but in what they were doing for conservation.

When they built this resort, they basically made a deal with the village chiefs on the island to make a marine preserve, with no fishing allowed. In return, the resort pays them a fee for each diver for each day, a reef lease program. The fish thrive in the reserve, get bigger, and then go out in the other areas so the locals can still have a food source. They have over 300 staff at the resort, so good jobs are offered to the locals. The locals understand that income from tourism is more than they can make from fishing. The monies paid by Wakatobi helps pay for schools, and community projects. Conservation gives islanders a way to not only improve their reefs and oceans, but to provide a better life and future for them.

Wakatobi is an entirely self sufficient entity. They generate their own electricity and provide it to the village. They do the same with potable water by reverse osmosis, so along with the resort, the village has drinkable water.

Wakatobi has also built housing for their staff, and everything is built on the resort, whether it be the furniture, bungalows, roofing, is all produced at the resort.

They even have a turtle rehabilitation program, taking eggs from nests that may be disturbed or vandalized, raising the turtles, and releasing them in the wild again.

We have seen conservation efforts in the Solomon Islands and Fiji, but not to the extent that Wakatobi has gone to achieve such dramatic results.

For more information on their conservation efforts go to Wakatobi.com/conservation

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