Family Time

Published September 25, 2017 in Family Focus, RESORT

How Wakatobi Resort brings family divers together

When planning a vacation getaway, striking a balance between adult pursuits, teen interests and age-appropriate activities for youngsters can be a challenge. As many families have discovered, Wakatobi Resort is a place that not only offers something for all ages, but also experiences that bring generations together and creates life-long memories. Here, told in their own words, are some special memories created when these families came to our island.

A diversity of divers

As divers, the Bennett were a true mixed bag when they arrived at Wakatobi. Joe could count more decades of diving experience, while his wife Judy had logged around 40 dives in the year since she earned her C-card. Daughter Haylie is a PADI Master Scuba Diving Trainer, while her brother Mitchell had only recently competed his training, and would be making his first submersions as a certified diver.

“Despite our widely different range of skill levels, Wakatobi was the perfect place to for us to dive together as a family,” Haylie says.

“I loved the House Reef, and I’m certain those divers who are new to the sport or finishing off their PADI Open Water course, will love it even more than I did!” There are several reasons why, she says. “The easy entry and exit off the beach allows you to wade into waist deep water to commence your dive. There’s no rocky shoreline to deal with or steep hills to haul your gear up or down, and the dive center is set up right on the beach.” It is an ideal area to practice skills,” Haylie says, “then you can swim out over the drop-off and dive along the spectacular wall to whatever depth feels comfortable and appropriate.”

There are many other factors that make Wakatobi ideal for new divers she says, from the excellent visibility and calm conditions to the spacious dive boats and helpful staff, which help take the stress out of perfecting newly-minted skills. And it’s not just new divers who will appreciate the personal support of Wakatobi’s dive staff. “Despite her qualifications and dive experience, my mom still gets nervous before her dives,” Haylie says. “The Wakatobi staff are an incredibly experienced group of professional that love to have fun, but take their roles very seriously. Each day our very caring–and patient–dive guides instilled confidence in mom, and made her feel at ease before taking the plunge.”

An amazing introduction

James and Sarah Bettle are avid divers and snorkelers. They decided Wakatobi would be the perfect place to introduce their children Vieve and Dylan to the sport. “They are both very strong swimmers,” John says, “and we felt this would be an ideal location for them to have their first true underwater experiences.” Sarah says she was impressed by the professionalism of the staff. “They have very high safety standards, the quality of the equipment was excellent and it was wonderful to see the staff’s instant rapport with the children as well.

The Bubblemaker program was a highlight for Vieve Bettle. Children as young as eight can partake in this experience at shallow depths, safely under the full supervision of our divemaster-trainers. Photo by Wakatobi Resort

Vieve, age 9, and Dylan, age 11, enrolled in the PADI Bubblemaker program, and Dylan then went on to a Discover Scuba program. “We saw an eagle ray right after I started,” Dylan says. “I got out of the water and was like, ‘Dad, I want to do it again and again and again.’” The family also explored a number of Wakatobi’s signature sites, where the adults were able to dive, or join the children snorkeling. “We saw turtles, eagle rays and Dylan spotted a shark,” Sara says. “The fish and coral diversity was incredible.”

One of the highlights of the vacation came on the final day of Dylan’s Discover Scuba program. “We were hanging around on the beach in front of the Longhouse, and Dylan and Yoeri, his dive guide, were kitting up,” Sarah recalls.

Pods of pilot whales can be seen as they pass between the resort and Sawa island across the channel. Photo by Walt Stearns

“I noticed some splashing out in the water. At first I thought it was fish, then it looked to be a pod of dolphins.” The family and Yoeri quickly loaded into a taxi boat, and made the short trip to the outer edge of the House Reef.

It was an “absolute monster stroke of luck” says dad James Bettle, of the family’s unique in water encounters with the pilot whales. Photo by Walt Stearns

“When we got close, we saw that it wasn’t dolphins, it was a pod of breaching pilot whales,” James says. They entered the water, and within moments, a group of whales passed by, coming as close as 15 meters to the swimmers. “My dad tapped me on the back and pointed, and I looked down at just the right time,” Vieve says. “There were maybe 15 or 20 passing by, and there were some babies on the top of the pack.” It was one of those absolute monster strokes of luck,” James says, “and of course, the kids have discovered a new passion. So now we’re waiting for Vieve to get to age ten and Dylan will be twelve, and then they’ll do their open water together.”

Not just for divers

“Wakatobi is an excellent destination for a family who are not all divers.” So says Simon Streit. Along with his wife Yvonne and 12-year old son, Moritz, Simon traveled from Switzerland to discover what he describes as “tropical paradise.” “We spent two wonderful weeks at Wakatobi,” he recalls. “ I did a diving package the first week and then just enjoyed snorkeling with my family the second week.” One of the most appealing aspects of the resort is the fact that there is not only exceptional diving and snorkeling, he says, but a range of engaging activities for non-divers as well.

Wakatobi Resort offers a variety of engaging non-diving activities for youngsters and adults, such as kayaking, paddleboarding, wakeboarding, kitesurfing and beach games. Photo by Wakatobi Resort

“Moritz is 12, and there was plenty to keep him happy. There was kayaking and paddleboarding, beach sports, tours, and badminton if we wanted. And for me, it was also the perfect place to just chill out and read,” he says. Yvonne was impressed by both the quality and variety of the food. “It was ideal for our needs as a family. There were a lot of healthy choices for Moritz, and the staff was very cordial, making sure we had everything we need, even before we asked for it,” Yvonne recalls. “This is actually the resort with the highest level of service I have ever experienced,” she said. As an added bonus to the vacation, Simon says he has gained a future dive buddy. “After Moritz took the Bubblemaker course, he now wants to learn to dive!”

During Kids Sea Camp, a family of three generations occupied one of the resort’s two-bedroom pool villas, and enjoyed kayaking along the shoreline. Photo by Margo Peyton

Sharing the passion

Through her Kid’s Sea Camp programs, Margo Peyton has introduced thousands of youngsters to the underwater world. Recently, she organized a family camp event at Wakatobi Resort. After spending a restful night in Bali, families boarded the resort’s charter flight, and were greeted on arrival by local school children, who serenaded the group with Indonesian songs. This set the tone for a week of personal attention and services that Margo now refers to as “the Wakatobi way.” “Personal dive instructors, resort butlers, tour guides, kite boarding instructors and private chefs were all at our beck and call,” Margo says.

“Wakatobi Resort is a testament to environmental responsibility and intelligent travel. It’s built with the love of family, and created with extraordinary vision.”

The spacious floor plans of Wakatobi’s Bungalows and Villas allow kids and parents to stay together, she says. One family of three generations occupied the resort’s two-bedroom, which includes a private pool. “It was perfect, as the grandkids were able to host pool parties for their new friends,” says Margo. “It was inspiring see that Wakatobi’s values are in line with Kids Sea Camp’s. Wakatobi Resort is a testament to environmental responsibility and intelligent travel. It’s built with the love of family, and created with extraordinary vision. The Wakatobi way is a truly magical way to live life.”

Want to make some special family memories of your own? Your Wakatobi guest experience consultant can help you make it happen. Complete a trip inquiry at wakatobi.com or contact us directly at office@wakatobi.com.

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