Tanks or No Tanks

Published December 12, 2017 in Diving, DIVING & SNORKELING, Snorkeling

Both divers and snorkelers can share in the exploration of Wakatobi’s underwater treasures

Wakatobi Resort rewards scuba divers with more than 40 exceptional sites within the protected boundaries of its marine preserve. But there’s no need to don tanks and gear to discover the rich tapestry of marine life that thrives on our reefs. Guests who prefer to stick with mask and fins have access to vast areas where corals rise to within a meter or two of the surface. But what truly sets Wakatobi apart from many diving and snorkeling destinations is the abundance of sites where divers and snorkelers can share the underwater experience.

What sets Wakatobi apart from many other resorts is the abundance of sites where divers and snorkelers can share the underwater experience. Photo by Didi Lotze

Right at home

Unlike many dive resorts, which consign snorkelers to near shore shallows that are less than spectacular, Wakatobi puts them in the heart of one of the most celebrated underwater sites in Indonesia. No boat ride is needed to reach the famous Wakatobi House Reef. All guests need do is wade in from the beach, or walk to the end of the resort jetty. Here, they will find seagrass and shallow coral formations that transition to steep slopes and walls just 70 meters/230 feet from the shore.

A swim around the resort jetty will reveal a multitude of marine life, including cuttlefish, which can even show up in pairs. Photo by Wakatobi Resort

A swim around the resort jetty will reveal a multitude of marine life, including cuttlefish, which can even show up in pairs. Photo by Wakatobi Resort

Snorkelers need not venture far from the resort jetty to discover an intriguing range of marine life. Right around the jetty, they will find numerous varieties of colorful anemones and their attendant clownfish. A swim around the coral heads and bottom will reveal frogfish, stonefish, moray eels, blue spotted stingrays, crocodilefish, cuttlefish, ghost pipefish, jawfish, shrimp and goby pairs. The House Reef at Wakatobi is an especially attractive option for novice snorkelers and kids, who can hone their water skills in the company of parents or a personal guide. Because the site is also a favorite with divers, its underwater treasures can be shared by those who wear tanks and those who don’t.

No second-class passengers

When it comes time to venture beyond the House Reef, snorkelers are not shunted into a separate craft and sent to a separate shallow reef. Instead, they are welcome to join divers aboard the resort’s fleet of custom-built 21-meter/70-foot boats.

Wakatobi’s large, custom-built boats provide full shade and plenty of room to spread out and relax. Photo by Warren Baverstock

Wakatobi’s large, custom-built boats provide full shade and plenty of room to spread out and relax. Photo by Warren Baverstock

These comfortable and stable vessels provide stem-to-stern shade and long benches where passengers can spread out and relax. The boat’s engine is tucked away in a stern compartment, which eliminates exhaust odors and keeps operating noise levels to a low burble. On the ride to each site, dive masters provide detailed briefings for both snorkelers and divers, and snorkeling groups are joined by their own in-water guides. Getting on and off the boat is easy, even for youngsters, thanks to the water-level side entry doors and ladders.

Snorkelers can explore the shallow areas of the reef or hover on the edge of walls and slopes, where clear waters let them watch divers below. Photo by Walt Stearns

Snorkelers can explore the shallow areas of the reef or hover on the edge of walls and slopes, where clear waters let them watch divers below. Photo by Walt Stearns

Once in the water, snorkelers have the option of exploring shallow areas of the reef, or hovering on the edge of walls and slopes, where clear waters let them watch divers below. And after exploring the deeper regions of a site, divers can extend their bottom times by ending their dives in the shallows, investigating the same formations as the snorkelers. Back aboard, there are always fresh towels, minty facecloths, snacks and a comfortable bathroom.

A majority of Wakatobi's dive sites are just a short boat ride from the resort and are equally rewarding when seen from the surface. Photo by Warren Baverstock

A majority of Wakatobi’s dive sites are just a short boat ride from the resort and are equally rewarding when seen from the surface. Photo by Warren Baverstock

Close to home

Some of the best places for blended snorkeling/dive trips are located just a short boat ride away from the resort by boat. One that is sure to be on the roster several times each week is Roma. This famous pinnacle is a must-do for divers, and it is equally rewarding when seen from the surface. Divers will want to follow to the slope down to view the site’s namesake colony of turbinaria coral, which resembles a gigantic rose more than 20 feet across. Meanwhile, up on the pinnacle’s coral-covered crown, snorkelers will be immersed in swirling schools of fusiliers, pyramid butterflyfish, sergeant majors, snappers and redtooth triggerfish. Those who swim towards blue water may also run into blackfin and bigeye barracuda, snapper, crevalle jack, turtles and eagle rays. With ample sunlight, the formations of potato and table corals that decorate the perimeter are a good place to look for more elusive finds such as ribbon eels, leaf scorpionfish, pipefish, carpet anemone shrimps and rockmover wrasses.

Table Coral City is another great dive-and-snorkel site within just a few minutes of the resort. Photo by Walt Stearns

Table Coral City is another great dive-and-snorkel site within just a few minutes of the resort. Photo by Walt Stearns

Another premier dive-and-snorkel destination within a few minutes of the resort is Table Coral City. In addition to expansive coatings of the site’s namesake coral, this large seamount supports intricate groves of staghorn and cabbage corals. In mid day, the upper reaches light up as sunlight reflects off the scales of swirling anthias, which flit about by the thousands. Leaving the shallows behind, divers move onto slopes coated in gorgonians and a riot of sponges. A resident school of chevron barracudas often circles the mound, and giant trevallies hunt in the shallows.

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