We spent a week at Wakatobi, after a week on their dive yacht (The Pelagian). The week on the Pelagian was great -- very nice stateroom, wonderful meals, good service and great diving. Unfortunately, Wakatobi's resort experience was not that great.
Wakatobi's Bali office is very organized and has a great system for getting you through the airport and off to your adventure. That was appreciated, since we were very tired from the long hours of traveling to reach Bali. We spent a couple of nights in Ubud, then returned to the Bali airport to check in for the charter flight. The Wakatobi staff handled our luggage and escorted us to the lounge to wait for the flight. (By the way, the "VIP" lounge in the domestic terminal is a joke. The Bali Airport is under construction, so this might be a temporary situation.)
The charter flight is not comfortable. It is a prop plane with little storage and no legroom. When you arrive at the airstrip, a car takes you close to where the boat picks you up. You have to walk down ~50 steps, then out to the dock. At high tide, their dive boat can pick you up. If it's not high tide, you have to take a small "taxi boat" to the dive boat. If it is raining, you and your luggage will be soaked whether you are heading to the resort or to the airport
to fly home. Umbrellas are not sufficient. The dive boat will take you to the resort.
We were greeted at the resort and served lunch before departing for the Pelagian. As mentioned earlier, the week on the Pelagian was great -- it exceeded our expectations. A week later, we returned to the resort. We got back to the resort early in the morning and went out on a 2 tank boat dive, until our bungalow was ready for check-in. The select beach bungalow was okay, with a king-sized bed and a garden shower, and it had a nice covered porch with a sitting area. Nothing plush or special, but it was fine, except that we had to kill a large mouse in our room as we were unpacking our bags.
The diving was pretty good. The dive boats were spacious, covered and were set up for easy entries and exits. Some of the sites were great and some were mediocre. The dive guides were very knowledgeable and the boat crews were friendly and helpful. They took care of everything, you just had to suit up and do a giant stride into the water. The "house reef" just off of the beach was available for shore diving or taxi boat diving. It was fairly nice and had a lot of marine life in the shallows. We also used their Stand Up Paddleboards (SUP), which was a lot of fun. You could see so many fish while paddling through the shallows, that it was like snorkeling without getting wet.
The restaurant served all of the meals buffet-style. The selections were varied and the food was creative, plentiful and tasty. Unfortunately, the "hot" food was never hot and the "cold" food was never cold. The restaurant is open air and has a huge problem with houseflies. The flies are landing on the food at the buffet tables and on your plates as you are eating. Gross! Plus, we saw another large mouse in the restaurant one night. The service at the restaurant was very good. The staff was very friendly and attentive.
The "expat" management staff at the resort, plus the "founder" of the resort were very not friendly or helpful. In fact, they were dismissive when we had issues arise. At the end of the trip, our luggage had to be ready at 8 and we had to be out of the bungalow by 10. We were supposed to leave for the airport at 11, fly out at 1 and be in Bali by 4. We had an international flight at 8. Due to continuous, unexplained delays for the charter flight, we ended up missing our international flights. Throughout the day, we attempted to get information from the staff and were ignored or lied to about the status. We were disgusted with the lack of care or interest shown by the management staff. The Bali staff tried to re-book us, but were only able to replace our Business Class seats with Economy Class seats for the return flight. However, they booked us into a nice place in Bali for the night and we flew out the following afternoon. But, because of the charter flight's delay, it took 66 hours from the time we had to check out of our room at Wakatobi until we arrived home. Brutal!
Wakatobi is not cheap. Plus, they "nickel and dime" you on both the Pelagian and at the resort. Soft drinks, beer, wine, Nitrox fills, etc. are not included in the price. At $3.50 for a coke, $4.50 for a can of local beer, $12.00 for a glass of house wine, and $25.00 a day for Nitrox, plan on an extra couple of thousand dollars for incidentals and tips for a two-week trip. There are a lot of other great diving locations in this world where you get better value for your money. This was a trip that we had planned and looked forward to for a long time, but it didn't live up to the brochures. We definitely won't return to Wakatobi.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Wakatobi is inspired by the realization that great people are prepared to travel far to experience the most beautiful reefs left on the planet. It goes further than any other dive resort to be deserving of the most precious time of the year of its guests. Wakatobi is about maximizing value not minimizing cost for its clientele. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Wakatobi Dive Hotel Sulawesi