Why we love Wakatobi

Published December 30, 2019 in RESORT

Our guests share some of the many reasons why they appreciate and celebrate our resort

Everyone appreciates receiving a sincere “attaboy” and we’re no different at Wakatobi. We always value the compliments and positive reviews our guests provide and are flattered to note that words like “best” and “favorite” often pop up when they recall their time at Wakatobi. But what exactly is it that keeps Wakatobi Dive Resort earning such accolades? The answer may be different for each person, but always stems from the harmonious combination of nature and nurture, where one of the world’s most pristine and picturesque natural settings is enhanced but not overwhelmed by a luxury dive resort that places a premium on service, relaxation, and personal attention. Here are some of the reasons guests offer when asked why they love Wakatobi.

Family time

After two decades of dive travel around the world, Stan and Barb Lochrie now consider Wakatobi to be their favorite destination. Since their first visit in 2007, they have returned numerous times. “Wakatobi is a great place to take the family be it a holiday, a birthday or other special occasion, or large family reunion,” says Barb Lochrie.

The Lochries have made plans to revisit Wakatobi in 2022 and are “counting the days” until their return in 2022. This photo was taken by Wakatobi staff.

“In early 2018, we took our family to the resort — children, spouses, and grandchildren, and we’re planning another family gathering at the resort soon. We’ve also made a lot of new friends from around the world while at the resort,” Barb says.

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Many guests tell us that aside from non-diving activities such as spa treatments, village tours or additional water sports, they simply enjoy the peace and tranquility evoked by Wakatobi’s atmosphere. Photo by Didi Lotze

Casual pursuits at Wakatobi

Wakatobi’s expansive marine preserve certainly delights underwater enthusiasts. But not everyone who visits our resort does so with the intention of spending every possible waking moment submerged. For some, a couple of satisfying dive and/or snorkel excursions a day is just right, leaving ample time to enjoy the beach, catch up on some rest and relaxation in a hammock, and enjoy some pampering at the spa, or explore the topside environment and surrounding islands.

As a non diver, Heather Anderson considers Wakatobi a great place to relax. “The spa treatments were amazing, the bird walks in the morning were relaxing and informative, and I enjoyed watching the sights of the ocean changing throughout the day,” she says. “Sunset was one of my favorite times of day, especially relaxing with a drink at the Jetty Bar. I thoroughly enjoyed the peace and tranquility of the resort and the simple sounds of nature. My husband enjoyed the diving, we were both very relaxed.”

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Casual diving and snorkeling enthusiasts love Wakatobi for its tranquil sea conditions and diving activities that are not tied to rigid or exhaustive schedules. Photo by Walt Stearns

In addition to topside attractions, the other features that endear Wakatobi to the more casual diving enthusiast are the conditions. With many premier dive sites just minutes from the resort, boat rides are often short. Sea conditions are equally kind, and just steps away from your villa or bungalow the calm, clear shallows of the house reef await.

“I can only describe my visit as magical. I was traveling as a single woman and a little concerned about what it would be like in such a remote environment, but it was delightful! I went birding most mornings with the resort manager, and had a great kitchen tour with the chef, but most of all I loved the diving with my dive guide.” Darby Langdon

With three regularly scheduled boat departures daily, on-call taxi boat services and spontaneous access to the House Reef, diving activities are not tied to rigid and exhaustive schedules. Those who don’t wish to dive in currents can schedule their dive times to coincide with still waters, or experience the ease of riding a gentle current on a coordinated drift dive that will never require them to swim against the tide

Step down to the beach Wakatobi villa_Didi Lotz

Wakatobi is more than just a dive resort, it is a relaxing and enriching experience. Just steps from your villa or bungalow are the calm, clear waters of the house reef. Photo by Didi Lotze

Just for you

Sometimes, it’s nice to be the center of attention and to have things all to yourself. Wakatobi guests can experience the ultimate in personalized attention with our Private Dive Experience Manager (PDEM) program. This service is automatically provided to Villa guests, and available to all resort patrons. Each PDEM devotes their full attention to a single guest, couple, or family, and is there to assist you in all phases of dive planning, and to accompany you on each dive. For new or casual divers and families with younger divers, this personal attention provides an additional level of comfort and enjoyment. Accomplished divers find they are able to enjoy the greatest possible underwater autonomy by partnering with a PDEM, and photographers often rely on them as photo assistants and critter spotters.

Many guests enjoy a taking a private boat, one of the resort's greatest values. Photo by Walt Stearns

More and more guests are enjoying the private boat option, one of the resort’s greatest values. Photo by Walt Stearns

Private dive boats are another service available for those seeking a truly personal diving experience. With this program, a diver or small group can secure one of the resort’s full-sized dive launches for the day, and can set their own itinerary. Robyn Hughes and her husband Wade are big fans of the private boat program. “Wakatobi’s private boat is the closest you can get to diving from your own boat, in home waters, ” she says. “We really liked the flexibility and the feeling of truly getting away from it all, and it gave us the freedom to fully explore different areas, and sometimes even wander off where nobody else is around. Between dives there was plenty of room to get comfortable, the crew members were delightful company, and we liked having quiet lunches on the boat.”

“The private boat is the best thing since sliced bread,” says Robyn Hughes. “It offers the ability to go where you want, when you want, spending as much time as you’d like on any given site.”

Avid underwater photographer and Seacam CEO Harald Hordosch is also a fan of the private boat program. “As a photographer I like choosing dive sites where I can be by myself, and I want to be able to return to sites I really liked and dive there a few times,” he says. “Having the flexibility to make your own choices certainly enhances the holiday experience.” On his latest visit, Harald was also pleased to be able to request a favorite guide to accompany him. “Kaz truly knows the waters and found the most amazing creatures for us –little shrimp we never photographed before and probably would never have seen. Being able to dive with him once more made the trip that much more special.”

Creature features

Just as an abundance of wildlife will enhance a magnificent forest setting, the reefs of Wakatobi are made even more memorable by the rich variety of marine life than inhabit or visit these sites. Swirling schools of fish add a vibrant sense of activity to underwater sea mounds and walls. Moving in for a closer look, some subjects such as the iconic anemonefish, are easy to spot, while others like crocodilefish may require sharper eyes to discover as they lie in near-perfect camouflage on a rock outcropping.

“There are many opportunities to observe pygmy seahorses, frogfish, and ghost pipefishes, as well as rare invertebrates and other creatures living along the house reef wall,” says Dr. Richard Smith. He appreciates the ease of being able to visit the house reef at any time, and finds the ability to dive a site repeatedly allows divers, and particularly, photographers, to build the familiarity needed for discovering small animals and documenting unique behaviors.“What spectacles await you!,” says Brian and Deena Jones. “The reefs and coral are amazing and their [Wakatobi’s] enthusiasm for both the big and tiny have brought us to a new level of appreciation for diving.”

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A rare pygmy pipehorse (aka pipedragon) was spotted for the first time around 2006 by a Wakatobi guide during a dive on the House Reef. Shortly thereafter, two more individuals were photographed at the dive site Teluk Maya. Photo by Richard Smith

Wakatobi’s guides are expert critter finders, and they can provide help not only in locating rare or interesting subjects, but will also demonstrate ways in which animals can be approached without startling them or causing damage to the marine environment. This is especially important when the subject is a tiny animal such as a pygmy seahorse or skeleton shrimp, which many divers would never be able to locate without the help of a guide. Guides and resort staff are not only good at finding critters, but also share a wealth of information on the biology, habits, and habitats of the animals at Wakatobi. Guests can also tap into a multi-media library of marine life references housed at the resort’s Longhouse, and enjoy presentations on the underwater flora and fauna of the area.

Pristine coral reefs abundant with marine life bring photographers from all over the globe to Wakatobi. Photo by Glen Cowans

Picture perfect

“Of all of the destinations I have visited around the world, Wakatobi remains the one where I was really excited on every single dive by an incredible underwater perspective that made me think, ‘OMG, how beautiful,’” says photographer Warren Baverstock. At Wakatobi, a range of factors come together to create an ideal environment for underwater photography. The reefs themselves make for stunning wide-angle scenes, with plentiful and colorful hard and soft coral cover, clear water and abundant natural light to help capture the big picture. The same reefs also teem with thousands of species of fish and invertebrates, creating an endless supply of portrait and macro subjects. Wakatobi’s target-rich environment is also conducive to long dive times, as the waters are warm, and the topography allows for long multi-level profiles that may have photographers running out of camera memory before bottom time. The expansive and sheltered storage space found on Wakatobi’s fleet of dive boats provides plenty of protected space for camera stowage and adjustment, and boat staff and dive guides are well versed in the handling of fragile and expensive imaging equipment.

Wakatobi’s target-rich environment is conducive to long dive times, as the waters are warm, and the topography allows for long multi-level profiles that may have photographers running out of camera memory before bottom time.

“The Wakatobi staff always offered to carry my housing to and from the boat, and there was always plenty of room onboard for the larger underwater housings in our group,” recalls photographer Michael Zeigler. In the water, dive guides offer assistance in locating subjects, and make themselves available to provide a stabilizing hand that allows a macro photographer to get in really close without impacting the environment. “The guides did a great job of not only demonstrating perfect buoyancy and care for the reef, but also succeeded in pointing out an abundance of subjects for us to photograph,” Zeigler says. Ashore, the resort’s dedicated camera room and digital imaging equipment facilitate post-dive camera maintenance and image processing, and provides opportunities to review and share the day’s work with the staff and fellow photographers.