A Shallow Water Favorite

Published June 19, 2017 in RESORT

A snorkeling couple discover world-class snorkeling on the reefs of Wakatobi

A visit to any new resort destination raises certain questions and concerns. Will simply getting there be exhausting? What’s the weather really like? How’s the food and the service? And in general, will the place live up to its own marketing claims. Such questions have never stopped Australians Barbara and John Pratt from hopping on a plane. The Melbourne-based couple makes several international trips a year—taking in everything from Caribbean snorkeling adventures to European ski vacations and African safaris. And in early 2017, they decided to take a chance on a place they’d never heard of and booked a trip to Wakatobi Resort.

Where in the world?

Fall was coming on in the Southern Hemisphere, and the weather was getting cooler. “I suggested we go somewhere warm, maybe do a bit of snorkeling, somewhere off the beaten path” said John. “We had been to the Maldives, and enjoyed it,” Barbara said, “but we wanted somewhere quicker and easier to get to, especially with fewer connections.” After learning that there were direct flights from Melbourne to Indonesia, Barbara searched for the best snorkeling destinations.

“Having a local Wakatobi representative who was able to walk us through every aspect of the resort’s amenities was really reassuring.”

“The first thing that came up was Wakatobi,” Barbara said. “Well, then I had to look up ‘What’s Wakatobi?’ because, honestly, neither of us had heard of it. It looked just gorgeous and secluded. We then mentioned the name Wakatobi to one of our friends, who is a scuba diver. He said he would be very jealous if we were to go, and of course, that helped us in the decision-making process,” she said. Based on that comment and favorable reviews from online sources, the Pratts made an inquiry on the Wakatobi website and also reached out directly to our Australian guest experience consultant, Juliette Myers. As a member of our global team of guest experience representatives, she was able to immediately respond with answers to the Pratt’s questions. “Having a local Wakatobi representative who was able to walk us through every aspect of the resort’s amenities was reassuring,” John said. “Juliette was quite helpful and super to deal with; after she answered our questions and filled in some of the details, we took the leap and booked.”

A partnership with the Garuda Group enables us to provide guests with a fast, comfortable flight aboard the airline’s newest plane, a 70-seat ATR-72 600. This aircraft cruises at a speed of 500 kilometers per hour, cutting the flight time between Bali and our private airstrip to two and half hours. Photo by Walt Stearns

An easy arrival

The adventure began with a direct flight to Bali aboard a Garuda Group aircraft. “This is a company that has really changed dramatically in the last few years,” Barbara says. “They have gotten themselves up to being a world-class airline, everything about the flight was comfortable and easy.” Like all arriving guests of Wakatobi Resort, the Pratts were met on arrival at Bali’s Denpasar airport by a member of the Wakatobi concierge team; this time by Stijn, the resort’s Bali Concierge Chief.

“He took care of everything–escorted us through customs, and took care of the bags,” said Barbara. “We’d wanted to spend a couple of days in Bali, and Stijn had all the reservations, land transportation and details in hand. The whole experience really was seamless.” So too, they say, was the morning departure from Bali to the resort, which began with a breakfast nosh at the airport’s VIP lounge, followed by Wakatobi’s direct charter flight to the resort’s private airstrip on one of Garuda Group’s newest aircraft, the ATR-72 600. “We got off the plane, had a short boat trip to the resort’s dock, which was lovely, and when we stepped ashore, it was magical from that point on.”

The Pratts say the infinity pool on the villa deck was “quite nice,” but having the ocean and House Reef right at their doorstep was “the real joy.” Photo by Wakatobi Resort

Water views and special meals

The Pratts checked in to one of Wakatobi’s waterfront Villas, and immediately knew they’d made the right choice of accommodations. “It was spacious and very private, with a large bathroom and everything we’d need,” said Barbara. “It was quite nice having our own little plunge pool on the deck, but the real joy was being right on the water. We love the sea, so having it right on our doorstep was simply fantastic,” John said. “We could just step right in for a swim on the house reef anytime we wanted, and in the evenings we’d relax with a cocktail and enjoy the views, just gorgeous.”

“The food has really been exceptional, it’s like fine restaurant dining.”

An unexpected highlight of their Wakatobi stay was the food. “You’re not sure what to expect when you go to a remote island, so you might think, ‘well OK, there’ll be something to eat, so whatever.’” These modest expectations evaporated with their first meal, John said. “Other resorts we have been to didn’t offer anything near the quality or the range of options that we’ve had at Wakatobi. The food has really been exceptional, it’s like fine restaurant dining.”

Guests are served the finest meats and refined cuisine in an elegant beachfront setting. Photo by Maksim Toome

Our chefs prepare vegetarian options daily, and are happy to accommodate those on gluten-free diets or with any other special dietary requirements or wishes. Photo by Didi Lotze

“As a vegetarian, I was especially pleased,” Barbara said. “The chefs created a huge variety of very tasty vegetarian choices, not just a few salads and vegetables. They even made delicious vegetarian hors d’ouvres, it was all perfect for me.” Unlike his wife, John enjoys meats, and he too had good things to say about the kitchen. “I said to Barb, we need to get the name of the butcher because I’m quite fussy about my food, and the meat has been extraordinary.”

Snorkeling the magic gardens

“We’ve done a fair bit of snorkeling throughout the world—the Caribbean, the Maldives, and Australia—and Wakatobi is by far the best,” John says. “The reefs are pristine, and there’s so much live coral, and a remarkable volume of life. The fish, the colors, the clear water… it all exceeded our expectations.” The Pratts were also impressed by the professionalism of the dive staff and boat crews. “They were so well organized and accommodating,” Barbara says. “We also loved having our own private guide. He took care of everything, even right down to helping me put my fins on each day, how’s that for service!”

The Pratt’s favorite snorkel experience was at Lorenz’s Delight, where a variety of fish and brightly-hued corals continue to within a foot or two of the surface. Photo by Walt Stearns

“Our favorite reef was Lorenz’s Delight,” said John. “The water was crystal clear the day we went, and there were so many fish. At one point I think we were swimming in the middle of a couple of hundred small fish. They were all around us and it was almost as if they were accompanying us on our escapade.” “The coral reefs were mesmerizing,” Barbara said. “You could just stay in one spot and look at it for an hour. It was like being in a magic garden.”

Wakatobi is “something special,” according to the Pratts. “It’s remote, but also quite accessible.” Photo by Wakatobi Resort

We’ll be back

“There are not a lot of places I go back to, because I tend to think that if you have wonderful memories of a place, going back might spoil them. But Wakatobi is different,” John said. “From the setting to the snorkeling, it’s something special. It’s remote, which we like, but also quite accessible. We are definitely planning a return visit.”

Planning your next dive / snorkel vacation? Email our team at office@wakatobi.com  Complete a quick trip inquiry at wakatobi.com.

Learn more about snorkeling experiences at Wakatobi Resort here

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