A Family First

Published July 3, 2016 in Family Focus, RESORT

Diving into new adventures at Wakatobi Resort

Annalisa Doedens had witnessed many wonders of the underwater world—but only from the surface. Together with her husband and sons, she had snorkeled with whale sharks in Mexico, visited the Great Barrier Reef, shadowed sea turtles in Sipadan and taken in the reefs of the Maldives. But it wasn’t until she visited Wakatobi Resort that she was able to fully immerse herself in the life of the reef.

“All those times when we snorkeled, I was never much good at ducking under,” Annalisa explains. “So as inviting as things looked down below, I could never get submerged to really see them.” That changed in early 2016, when she enrolled in a scuba training class along with her husband Richard and three of their four sons. Soon after earning PADI dive certifications in their native Australia, the family planned their first dive holiday. They chose Wakatobi Resort not only for the quality of the diving, but also for the setting and atmosphere.

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“At Wakatobi we have found this perfect combination of remoteness, charm and intimate attention,” says Annalisa.

A perfect combination

“Some of the resorts we’ve been to were more commercial and impersonal,” Annalisa says. “At Wakatobi we have found this perfect combination of remoteness, charm and intimate attention. Everything here is geared to creating a smooth and seamless stay, and the communication between guests and staff is really, really good. Each day, we’d have these personal notes from the staff. And it was amazing to be greeted by name, and treated like favorite family members.”

“For our family, we just loved being able to come to a luxurious resort and still do something that is not artificial, where we enjoy nature and marine life.”

The Doedens were equally impressed with what they discovered underwater. “The reefs were better than anywhere we have ever been, the fish life was fantastic and most every dive site was just 10 to 15 minutes away, with no long boat rides over rough water,” says Richard. Though relatively new to scuba diving, he is no stranger to the underwater realm. Before beginning his professional career as an architect and commercial property developer, Richard had spent most of his 20s as a working abalone diver.

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“Appreciating the underwater world in an environment like this has been an incredible experience,” says Richard, seen here with his sons Elliot (left) and Alex. Photo by Walt Stearns

“It was quite different,” he recalls. “All my diving was done in cold waters in south Australia, and I used a surface-supplied hookah rig. I’ve calculated I have somewhere around 4500 hours of diving with hookah equipment, but always with head down searching through the weeds and not being able to witness the underwater realm like we’ve been able to do here. It felt quite a treat to dive with a tank for the first time—a bit heavy on the surface, but very liberating once I was in the water. Now I am diving for fun with the children, and it’s a very different feeling,” says Richard. “This trip has been unique. For our family, we just loved being able to come to a luxurious resort and do something that is not artificial, where we can enjoy nature and the marine life” he says. “Appreciating the underwater world in an environment like this has been an incredible experience, one that we we hope to have again.”

The Doedens also appreciated the resort’s spacious dive boats and the personalized attention received from the dive staff. “We were really pleased with how large and comfortable the dive boats are,” says Annalisa. “And the one to four guide to diver ratio was also a pleasant surprise. We weren’t lumped in with a big group, and were able to dive as a family with our own guide, Yusef. He helped me to feel relaxed and comfortable at all times, even on the night dive that I wasn’t sure about trying.”

Wakatobi Reefs, Dive Site Roma

Roma was one of the family’s favorite dive sites because of the wide range of marine life and coral growth they were able to see. Photo by Walt Stearns

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“It was like being in a cartoon,” says Annalisa. “The marine life is mesmerizing.” Photo by Walt Stearns

Sixteen-year-old Alex Doedens signed up for a video class with resort photo pro Marco. Alex had used his GoPro camera on previous snorkel trips, but said he learned more from one session with Marco than during the previous two years of shooting. He and his brothers Carl and Elliot were fascinated by the marine life at sites such as Roma, and the ability to make long multi-level dives, and then spend afternoons or early evenings snorkeling the House Reef. The teens also spent part of their days enjoying other water sports such as paddle boarding, wake boarding and kayaking. All three boys said they would be up for a return visit, and agreed that they would want to come during the resort’s prime kitesurfing season, which runs from June through September. Richard, who is an avid kitesurfer, agrees.

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The teens and dad agreed that they want to make their second visit during the resort’s prime kitesurfing season, which runs from June through September. Photo by Jason Wolcott

The family enjoyed the ability to make long multi-level dives, and then spend some afternoons snorkeling the House Reef. Photo by Wakatobi Resort

The family also enjoyed the ability to make long multi-level dives, and then take in late afternoon snorkeling on the House Reef. Photo by Wakatobi Resort

“It’s good to have activities other than diving for the teenagers,” Annalisa says, “Having strong WiFi service at the resort made them happy, because they were able to stay connected with their friends back home. But more important it was also fantastic to be able to bring them to a place that is authentic and natural,” she says. The senior Doedens appreciated the variety of cuisines the resort’s chefs provided, and were pleased to learn that the boys could make special requests for traditional favorites. Another highlight of their days, Annalisa says, was enjoying a evening libation at the Jetty Bar before dinner.

“Everything about it—the casual elegant atmosphere, the attentive service, the food, and of course the reefs—come together to make this one of our all-time favorite destinations.”

“Getting scuba certified was a great decision,” says Annalisa, “as was choosing this resort for our first dive vacation. Everything about it—the casual elegant atmosphere, the attentive service, the food, and of course the reefs—come together to make this one of our all-time favorite destinations.” The Doedens plan to return to Wakatobi Resort, and on their next visit, they want to bring more family members. For us, it’s easy to fly from Melbourne to Bali, then it’s only a short hop to the resort, where you feel welcomed and away from it all. It’s very different from a large commercial resort. The only regret we had on our trip was that we didn’t spend enough time, we could have happily stayed another week.”

Is it time for your own family first? We’re easy to reach with private charter flights from Bali to the island every Monday and Friday. Learn more here.

Contact us at office@wakatobi.com or complete a trip inquiry at wakatobi.com.