In most of our minds, paradise is a pristine white sand beach and an endless blue horizon of warm, clear water. Throw in a couple of palm trees, fresh fruit, tropical fish and plenty of sunshine and you have the makings of heaven on earth, right? The next stop on my itinerary of Indonesia was this exact paradise! The idyllic Wakatobi.
A chain of 4 small islands that stretch out into the sea from the main island of Sulawesi, it was here that I would spend a few days soaking up the sun, sea air, warm breezes and incredible culture… starting with a beautiful welcome dance by some of the local children.
After a beach side lunch of fish and rice, it was time for my first fresh coconut drink, prepared for me personally right on the sand and in the shade of the coconut palms swaying overhead!
After my first sip it wasn’t hard to see why this is the drink of choice on tropical beaches around the world. Deliciously refreshing and full of goodness, coconut water is the ideal drink to replenish all the fluids lost in the extreme heat and humidity!
Snorkelling & Scuba-diving in Wakatobi
After our lunch on the sand, it was time to discover more about what makes Wakatobi one of the best dive spots in the world…. an afternoon of snorkelling and scuba-diving!
In these warm waters there are over 850 species of coral and incredibly diverse fish life. In fact this area probably offers the greatest variety and diversity of marine life in the world after the Great Barrier Reef. 85% of the world’s coral reefs are found in the Indo-Pacific region and it is located at the world’s epicentre of coral reef biodiversity and designated a UNESCO Marine Biosphere Reserve.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that I have done 2 scuba dives before, I wasn’t able to scuba dive in Wakatobi as I am not certified as a diver, but I did go snorkelling as much as possible and what I can say is that I still saw the most incredible marine life.
The water in this part of the world is incredible… Warm, clear and super salty! I loved being able to look out from the side of the boat and see the bottom of the ocean floor almost 10m below. And once I dived beneath the surface a whole new world opened up.. Think beautiful colours, sea fans, soft and hard coral, exquisite tropical fish of all shape, size, colour and variety, even a striped sea snake or two!
After an amazing afternoon of swimming and snorkelling it was time for some fun in the sun and we spent a few hours just chilling on the upper deck of the boat, jumping over the sides and generally living our best boat life!!
How to get to Wakatobi
Flying is by far the fastest way to visit Wakatobi. To get to the Wakatobi archipelago first fly to Makassar (Ujung Pandang) or Kendari and then catch a connecting flight to Matahora Airport on Wangi-wangi Island with Wings Air – the only airline flying to Matahora Airport.
We flew in from Makassar. The flight is around 90 mins long. The price of a round-trip plane ticket (Makassar-Wangi Wangi) is around $200USD and from Kendari-Wangi Wangi is around $100USD.
Maranggo Airport is a separate private airstrip on Tomia Island which is used exclusively to transport visitors of the Wakatobi Dive Resort.
Alternatively you can take a 12 hour boat ride from Kendari to Bau-Bau and then to Wakatobi.
Dive trips in Wakatobi
Wakatobi Dive Trip offer a 3 day 2 night tour package including airport transfers, hotel stay in Wakatobi, 3 meals a day, transport via boat between islands and snorkelling/dive equipment, a snorkelling / dive guide (dive master) and travel insurance from around $250USD per person. A trip of 6 days 5 nights will set you back about $490USD.
Where to stay in Wakatobi
Wakatobi is rustic and low-key – no 5 star resorts here. We stayed at Patuno Hotel & Resort in Wangi-Wangi in wooden bungalows right on the sea front that all have private balconies. The rooms are large, but basic. They could have done with a bit of maintenance and a few less bugs, but for a night or two it was comfortable and clean. A buffet breakfast is included and there was (slow) wifi in the restaurant and lobby. Rooms start from $35USD per night.
I loved spending time out on the pier that jutted out into the sea enjoying the warm breeze, endless horizon and beautiful sunsets with a Bintang beer in hand!
Top tips for travelling to Wakatobi
- Wakatobi is remote, but that’s what makes it special!
- Expect limited to zero wifi
- There are no ATMs or convenience stores here so bring what you need in terms of money and medication etc
- Pack light – relaxed and casual clothes are ideal due to the warm, humid climate and lightweight fabrics are recommended. Do pack a warm top too as it does cool down at night
- The risk of getting Malaria in the Wakatobi region is very, very low.
- When travelling in the tropics, it is wise to be up to date with your vaccinations such as Typhoid, Tetanus/Diphtheria, Hepatitis and a current Polio protection.
- The best months of the year to visit Wakatobi are April – June and October – December
- If you have the time and inclination it’s advisable to do your PADI Open Water or Advanced Open Water certification before travelling to this part of the world. You don’t want to miss out on the under water world in this part of the world!
To see more of the incredible underwater world of Wakatobi, watch this awesome video by one of my fellow travellers and amazing videographer, Mike Corey from Kick the Grind…
Read more about my #TripofWonders experience in Indonesia here:
Images: Kathryn Rossiter; Snorkelling image – Vaughan from The Travel Manual; Coral images – Cynthia from Every footstep an adventure & Amelia from xameliax.com ; Drone pic – Tyler Cave; Video – Mike Corey.
My trip to Indonesia was on the invitation of the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism as part of the Trip of Wonders. For more information on travelling to Indonesia please visit www.indonesia.travel and follow @indtravel on Twitter or Instagram and search the hashtags #WonderfulIndonesia #TripofWonders for more incredible photos from our journey
I write reviews and feature beautiful places on my blog in order to inspire others to find new, exciting and different places to visit. As always all thoughts, opinions and images are my own.