We flew from the East Coast of the US to Wakatobi. Upon arrival in Bali, it was a nice touch to be met on the "far side" of Customs/Immigration where an English speaking staff member bearing a Wakatobi sign met us as we deplaned and took our passports and fee and waited in line for us while we waited for our bags. He then collected our bags and escorted us through Customs where the English speaking driver Wakatobi had arranged awaited us with our requested amount of small denomination Rupiah and a local cellphone. We had the same great driver throughout our stay in Bali. Upon our return to DPS' domestic terminal a few days later for the flight to Wakatobi, we were met outside the airport by Wakatobi staff and were escorted inside the terminal where Wakatobi staff collected our bags and escorted us upstairs through security and into their well stocked lounge with wifi to await the charter flight to the resort.
Upon arrival we were met by Wakatobi staff and a veritable rolling scrapyard of old vehicles to take us to the pier to board the boat for the short ride to the resort itself. Arrival was handled quite nicely, by having a staff member tasked to escort each couple to their bungalow and to the dive shop to get us set up with gear. My wife's gear was all quite nice, and they were happy to unscrew their SPG and screw on our air-integrated computer. I had brought my rebreather, and they had an area set aside for me to prepare and service it. There are all the consumables any tech diver would ever need. At one point I required a particularly large allen key (thank you TSA for messing with my gear and not reassembling it correctly) the resort did not have. An hour later, Miguel had arranged for one of the staff to make me one. The toll they welded up for me was actually nicer and lighter than anything one would purchase at Home Depot, and I was astounded that they did it at all, much less so quickly and elegantly.
The diving was amazing. After every dive, everyone on the dive boat was bubbling happily about what they'd seen. The health of the reefs is amazing, and the variety and profusion of critters must be experienced to be believed.
We had opted for a garden bungalow, which was fine. Internet access was a bit slow, but reliable (ie; no VOIP, but reliable web pages and email). The food was great and well presented, and I did, for sure, eat too much. My wife, who is usually a picky eater, was eating quite heartily (which, dear reader, is not all good).
The Wakatobi staff is amazing. The sort of people you'd like to take home with you. The dive guides have quite a hard job, and they are at Wakatobi because they WANT to be there. The enthusiasm for the reefs was contagious, and they always had something to show us we'd have missed on our own.
To us,two marks of a fine resort, is how it deals with guest complaints, and what it does for guests. The guests were always exclaiming happily about the little things the staff had done for them. Wakatobi offers what they call "fluo diving". One uses a UV light and yellow lenses placed over one's mask on a night dive to see what fluoresces. After decades of diving, I'd grown a bit bored with night dives. For me, fluo diving put the excitement of exploration back into night dives, as we were constantly discovering things we'd never (quite literally) seen in that light. One couple didnt feel as if they'd gotten so much out of their fluo dive. They expressed this to Wakatobi management, who arranged for those guests to be escorted a day or two later to another site where they had an amazing time.
To us, a vacation should be relaxing. Wakatobi is a place with NO security issues or concerns. There is simply no crime there. Except when enjoying one's spouse (as housekeeping is frequent) one can leave one's door unlocked, and locking one's closet or safe is a waste of time and effort as it is simply unnecessary. It is liberating to not have to worry about anything at all during one's vacation, and I believe this contributes greatly to the quality of a vacation.
My wife, who loves to dive, but who is not as hard-bitten a diver as me, said she had a great time, and is already looking forward to returning. We both like that part of the resort fee goes to the local villages to preserve the reefs, as they are compensated for not fishing their traditional fishing grounds, and the reefs well reflect that. Dive boats are HUGE, and I never saw more than 4 gusts to one instructor/dive guide. Dives ran 70-75 minutes, and air hogs could ascend at any time and were escorted to the boat by their guide.
While it is, admittedly, a long haul from the US, I will, for sure, be back.
- Also Known As:
- Wakatobi Dive Hotel Sulawesi
- Wakatobi Dive Hotel
- 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