Rarely do I stay at luxury dive resorts. My focus when planning a dive trip is on the quality of diving and the dive operation, more-so than what’s on land. But this trip was organized by Ed Robinson’s Dive Adventures as part of a group trip, so I’m all in! I knew the diving would be fantastic!
The Wakatobi Resort is located in SE Sulawesi, where you hear the gentle lapping of shore waves and island breezes through the palm trees. No traffic or city noises here! This place is unpretentious luxury where all the staff pay extraordinary attention to detail without being cloying. We stayed in a fabulous and spacious oceanfront bungalow but they also offer garden bungalows and a handful of larger oceanfront villas. The Wakatobi Resort runs like a well-oiled machine, from the kitchen to the dive operation and everything in-between.
All of their dive guides (and snorkel guides for that matter) are highly trained and experienced, and are knowledgeable underwater naturalists able to find and ID just about anything out there on the reef. Impressive! We had a terrific Indonesian divemaster assigned to us for the trip, and when he introduced himself, he sort of chuckled as he said that he was our Underwater Experience Manager, or something like that, for the trip. Each day, he would ask us what we would like to see on the dives. Besides asking to see whale sharks and mantas, which we knew would be extremely unlikely in that region, we’d usually defer to him to tell us what to keep an eye out for. They gave great briefings telling us about the site and what marine life we’d hope to see, with a little more insight about particular critters’ behaviors, commensal relationships, and other points of interest about the site. Oh, did I mention home baked snacks and fresh fruit, hot tea and hot cocoa on the dive boats between dives? And a warm spa cloth moistened with aromatherapy essential oils after each dive. Seriously?! Yes!
Oh, the food! Delicious and spectacular international cuisine was offered in the dining room on fresh buffets and hot (or cold) from the kitchen. And if your taste buds are in the mood for something else, you can ask the kitchen to prepare a different dish. We asked once, not because we didn’t love what was already out but because we wanted more of the dish they served the day prior. No problem was the answer from our waiter. I couldn’t believe how such a variety of fresh foods including lots of fresh fruits and vegetables could be served at such a remote location. They satisfy all kinds of specialty diets, too, including gluten free, vegan and vegetarian. I’m none of those, but I still couldn’t resist trying some of those other dishes, like tempeh for example. Yummy and healthy too. And, oh the desserts! Fortunately, they plated small portions on the buffet so we could sample many! I was sure I had gained weight that week with all the fabulous food. They love surprising their guests on special occasions too. I told our divemaster that I was celebrating an anniversary dive there and wouldn’t you know, after dinner, they surprised me with a remarkable cake decorated with a reef scene and Nemo on the top! How amazing is that?!
They have created one of the world’s largest marine protected reserves at Wakatobi in order to ensure a future of diversity and abundance of underwater life. Beautiful walls, amazing reefs, “gi-normous” sponges, brilliant soft corals and life everywhere! Some of the most memorable dive experiences there included when we were in very shallow water, maybe 20-30 feet deep, and swimming over the shallow reef-top. Seeing the ambient light shine on the spectacular array of dazzling corals, schooling fish in resplendent colors in the clear aqua blue water was mind blowing!
We met lots of snorkelers there too, enjoying those glorious shallow reefs. I loved the educational programs given in the evening after dinner by the divemasters or other staff. Topics ranged from highlighting certain critters and fish to tying a sarong, to the Indonesian language. My problem was that after three to four dives a day, I was usually asleep by 8:30 at night, dreaming about more diving. We had a truly outstanding stay at Wakatobi- impressive diving while also being pampered at a remote, tranquil, pristine natural environment. Really unbeatable!