Wakatobi Resort in SE Sulawesi, Indonesia, is one of the world's most sought-after dive and snorkel destinations.

Finding a Favorite Place at Wakatobi

Published February 28, 2024 in RESORT

In January of 2024, Richard and Candace Oberschulte celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary with a trip to Wakatobi. They were first-time guests of the resort, spending two weeks in one of Wakatobi’s oceanfront Villas and devoting their days to snorkeling and free diving with a private guide. At the culmination of their trip, they also chartered one of the resort’s private boats for a memorable day on the water. After their trip, we caught up with Candace to get her impressions of Wakatobi.

Guests enjoy a meal on their Wakatobi private boat.

Richard and Candace enjoy a meal on their Wakatobi private boat. Photo by Wakatobi Resort

Q: Where have you previously traveled?

A: “This was not our first time traveling specifically to free dive. Richard and I have been to Belize, Niue, and Raja Amat. I have traveled with my sister to free dive in other areas of Indonesia, Melanesia, Maldives, Seychelles, Tonga, Eastern Papua New Guinea, Great Barrier Reef, India’s Lakshadweep, Bonaire, Cuba, and the South Pacific from Fiji to Easter Island. Of all these places, I’d say that Wakatobi’s abundance of fish and coral come in as the most beautiful along with Raja Ampat.”

Q: What was your overall impression of the resort experience?

A: “We liked everything about our Villa accommodations. The daily towel animals were delightful. Our ‘butler,’ Pasek, had a smile and kindness that radiated. He was there anytime we needed him but was never intrusive.”

Wakatobi Villas offer privacy and spacious comfort, complemented by stunning views of the ocean and spectacular sunsets.

Villas offer privacy and spacious comfort, complemented by stunning views of the ocean and spectacular Wakatobi sunsets. Photo by Didi Lotze

“We were impressed with the way the grounds were kept. The daily designs made in the sand on the walking paths were so lovely, we would try not to step on them. My massage was fantastic. The food served in the restaurant was abundant and with lots of choices.  And the staff was very attentive to Richard’s food allergies and my vegetarian way of eating.”

Q: As a snorkeler, what did you most appreciate about our operation, guides, and snorkeling sites?

A: “Chiara was our snorkel guide for our two-week stay, and we loved that we had her every day.  From the moment we met, she made sure we understood how everything worked with the dive center and how to sign up to snorkel on our own on the House Reef. The snorkel sites were fantastic and Chiara’s knowledge of the fish and the area just made it so special.

“The boat operation worked flawlessly. The crew was always ready to help and we were totally spoiled! The freshly baked treats on the boat every time and the way the staff, including Chiara, took care of our gear and wetsuits was something we had never experienced.  This kind of attention to detail is uniquely Wakatobi.”

Q: Do you feel having a private snorkel guide was beneficial?

A: “Absolutely! Once Chiara understood our skill and experience, we were able to free dive as we wanted without mixing with others who might not have the same skill set or interests.  Spoiled once again! When we return, we will want to have the same Villa and the same freedoms, hopefully with Chiara as our guide.

Q: You booked a private boat experience. How was it?

A: “Talk about being ‘over-the-top’ spoiled. We are so happy we spent the extra money to make our 45th anniversary so unforgettable.  Chiara was with us and we invited the resort manager, Chris, to spend the day with us.  Our butler for the day was Alun, so, so kind and attentive. We enjoyed our three dives and underwater entertainment from an active octopus. Wow!  Snacks of pastries in the morning with fruit then a delicious pizza and salad lunch and brownies for dessert. We did not want the day to end, however, it ended beautifully with a lovely sunset as motored back to the dock.”

Green turtles are a common site while snorkeling at Turkey Beach.

Green turtles are a common site while snorkeling at Turkey Beach. Photo by Walt Stearns

Q: Do you have a favorite snorkel site and/or a favorite memory from your trip?

A: “We enjoyed all of the sites! If we have to pick one, perhaps it would be Turkey Beach. There were so many turtles we lost count! We also enjoyed hearing the stories behind the name of each dive site.”

Q: Were you aware of Wakatobi’s conservation programs before you arrived?

A: “We watched videos about Wakatobi before we arrived, but our real education about the conservation efforts happened while at the resort Seeing with our own eyes what has been created and is being preserved is astounding. It is apparent the owner, Lorenz Mäder, is a visionary, a diplomat to unite the local island chiefs, and very hands-on. Lorenz was at the resort while we were there making things happen alongside the resort manager, Chris Gloor. They have put in place a very successful and united team.

Having many of the local islanders working at the resort was a treat, and we even learned some Indonesian. The fact that staff were out cleaning the beach three to four times a day was fantastic, and we were inspired to do the same as we do anywhere we travel. Seeing this showed us ocean health and sea life are priorities to Wakatobi.”

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves. We understand you both have many talents and Richard is a gifted wine maker.

A: “We are both from San Diego County, California, we lived near the beach, spent a lot of time swimming, and learned early to respect the ocean. We are now retired from careers in the wine industry — Richard rose to become VP of Blending and Finishing at Sutter Home Winery. I also worked for Sutter Home, and then started an event company with clients in the wine business.

“My dad was a Navy man and on the first Seal Team O. He also taught scuba diving and made sure we were all certified divers, – me at age 16. My mother taught swimming and was a synchronized swimmer and open-water swimmer. Hence, my love and respect for the ocean. I never liked the burden of the tanks, which is why my passion is free diving. Since retiring, we have been trying to get in as much travel and diving as possible. We are always looking for our next favorite place to dive, and we definitely found it at Wakatobi. We hope to return soon!”

Wakatobi Jetty Bar, Wakatobi Resort, SE Sulawesi, Indonesia

“We are always looking for our next favorite place to dive, and we definitely found it at Wakatobi. We hope to return soon!”

Celebrating your own special occasion sometime soon? Contact our team. We’ll help you create unforgettable memories.

Email: office@wakatobi.com
Inquire >here.

Learn about the Wakatobi Collaborative Reef Conservation program >here.