Not just a great dive resort
The most important thing I have realised is that Wakatobi is not just a great dive resort. Quite simply, it
is the best resort of any type that I have ever had the pleasure to visit. The diving here is unquestionably
excellent, but it is the incredibly high standard of everything else offered that truly amazed me.
Wakatobi was first recommended to me by a professional dive photographer I know, and the website closed the
deal for me. It was clear, detailed and provided a wealth of information. Yet no matter how good the website
was, it still fell short of reality, which was so much better. Even before I arrived, I started to get a
taste of what Wakatobi offered, with email confirmation of flight details, attendants at the airport, and
personal assistance checking in and boarding the plane. It is this sort of individual attention that is the
hallmark and the greatest strength of the resort.
As a location, I have simply never seen a place as beautiful as Wakatobi. Each day I would wake up, look at
the palms, the crystal clear sea and the golden-white beaches and think that this had to be the most
beautiful place on the planet. Just taking a boat out to a dive site was an experience by itself. All
around you there are small islands, and you would see pristine, untouched beaches, leading up to lush
green hills. I quickly lost count of the number of times that another guest and I would make a comment
like: "Wow, I finally believe some of those magazine pictures of tropical paradises might be real."
Of course, the beauty above land is matched or exceeded by the beauty of the dive sites, which is an
accomplishment by itself. In addition to the stunning house reef (which would have been enough by itself),
there were short boat trips to a huge variety of locations and different conditions. Every single dive site
we visited was an award winning adventure in itself. After two weeks here, there was not a single site I
every heard a single complaint about. After each dive, everyone would chat on the boat, saying "Did you
see this?" or "I saw a..."
It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the quantity of fish, coral, nudibranchs and other marine life here.
There is so much to see in every meter, all of it in brilliant shades of colour. Fortunately, Wakatobi
also provides excellent dive guides. Not only do they give you a briefing on what sort of things you can
see (including whether it is better for macro or wide angle photography), they also discover some of the
most cunningly hidden or tiny critters available. Taking things one step further, every dive guide I met
was also willing to share their knowledge and passion with you. If you wanted to learn what sort of
environment a pigmy sea horse lives is, they would talk you through it, explain the different types, and
how to spot them. As the icing on the cake, they would also show you the right fans or grass when you
dived, so that over time you also learned how to spot them youself!. I felt the guides here helped take
me from someone who needed to have everything pointed out, to someone who could seek out my own interests.
I still appreciated their expert help, but the thrill of sometimes actually being the first to find
something interesting and be able to point it out to another diver is a reward in itself.
One of the things I liked most about diving at Wakatobi was what you did not see. The dive guides here
were always incredibly careful with the reef, and never disturbed the plants or fish to get a better picture.
Sometimes it meant that you might need to wait to get a perfect shot of a timid animal like an Elegant
Squat Lobster, but it always felt worth the wait. You knew you were seeing the animal in its natural
habitat, not disturbed or just artfully arranged. You also knew that your children and grandchildren
also be able to see it. Wakatobi proudly boasts of being one of the only places in the world where the
coral reef is growing and expanding each year. In fifty years time when your current favourite site is
looking tired and worn from accumulated visits and too much poking and prodding, Wakatobi will still be
a pristine island paradise.
No description of Wakatobi could be complete without long and detailed descriptions of the food. Their
kitchen team is simply incredible. Every meal has more options than I could try, and I always wanted
"just a little bit more" of some of their superbly cooked food. Their ingredients were excellent, with
local fishermen offering the freshest and choicest of their catch each day. While Wakatobi's Chef could
do incredible things with their Australian beef and New Zealand Lamb, words simply cannot describe the
heaven they could create with the fish. I have had both the best sushi and the best-cooked fish in my
life here. Even if you don't like diving, come here for the food alone. Even with ten pages, I don't
think I could do justice to the sorts of meals they served me every day.
Lastly, I have to mention the staff here. It doesn't matter whether they are the dive staff, admin staff,
groundskeepers or one of the anonymous people who keeps things running, they were all excellent, they all
always had time for a smile and a hello. The staff make a conscious effort to remember your name, which
gives a close, personal feeling right from the first day. I cannot remember ever staying anywhere where
the staff were this attentive, and this eager to provide great service.
If you have the chance to visit Wakatobi, take it. You won't regret it, and you will always remember this