I recently had the great pleasure of visiting an exclusive remote island resort in Southeast Sulawesi. Many of you (in the know) will have either heard of it or visited already. If you’re the former I suggest you pack your bags and head that way now. If you have been before and planning a trip back sometime in the distant future, just remember we only end up regretting things we did not do or decisions we took too long to make, so get busy planning your next trip!
Wakatobi Resort is beautiful, quite, luxurious and fun! If you are like me then you live to dive and the diving at Wakatobi with its crystal clear, warm water and kilometers of continuous reef is simply underwater heaven.
Situated in the heart of the Coral Triangle, Wakatobi National Marine Park covers a massive 1.39 million hectares making it the second largest marine park in Indonesia and boosts the highest diversity of hard corals on the planet. (UNESCO 2006) Diverse marine habitat is accompanied by incredible biodiversity with more than 250 species of coral and 500 different species of coral reef fish to discover, explore and admire.
The resort itself is equally as impressive, a truly special place where you can relax in luxurious and serene isolation, taking in oceanic beauty by day and the cosmic wonder of the heavens by night. The resort is not only self sufficient producing its own fresh water and energy needs it also employs 300 staff (mainly locals) to cater for its 60 guests and supplies power to the local village. Due to the impressive relationship between the resort and the local people, Wakatobi has managed to protect the unique and precious surrounding reef system for the past twenty years, making it an outstanding model for sustainable environmental capitalism.
What about the service you ask? I can honestly say without hesitation or reservation that the staff and accommodation at Wakatobi is world class! From the moment I sank my feet into the warm tropical welcoming sands, till the moment I stepped back on the private charter that would sadly take me home, I was treated like a princess. I did not lift a thing, (which is important for an underwater photographer who travels with over 40kg of gear) and I did not do a thing except for have the most relaxing dive experience you can imagine, ate wonderful food, drank lovely wine under the stars, and indulged in a much needed three hour massage.
I realised early on in my stay that my experience on the island was all about the detail. As I walked down the white sand path that was meticulously raked into Zen like patterns, I felt I was walking through a living breathing Japanese sculpture garden rather than an island dive resort.
At breakfast I found the cuisine and service to be five star, with breakfast consisting of in-house freshly baked bread, delicious pastries, tropical fruit and an assortment of hot dishes from both east and west to choose from.
At the dive centre I was again welcomed in the same genuine friendly way I was welcomed from the moment I arrived. All the staff on the island seemed to magically know my name greeting me with a kind smile and happy to help with my every wish. I was amongst friends and felt relaxed and at home.
When I reached the dive centre I was met by my lovely and talented photo-pro, who escorted me to the boat where my camera and dive gear awaited.
He took me through the operation of the large and comfortable dive boat explaining how the days’ diving has been meticulously planned out for me. Along with knowledgeable photography skills and passionate advise on each dive site, the dive masters of Wakatobi effortlessly inspire underwater creativity with each dive.
The island is blessed with crystal clear waters and kilometres of continuous reefs. With a ridiculous forty-three mapped dive sites on your doorstep, you feel spoilt for choice and can indulge in whatever diving experience you heart desires.
Diving the beautiful house reef is an excellent late afternoon activity or simply enjoy the view with a cocktail over the water from the sunset bar. At night don’t forget to look up, gazing at the heavens is simply breathtaking for this part of the world. You can relax and watch the entire universe shining above you, as you finish another perfect day in paradise.
Now that’s a dive holiday worth taking!
Images by Pamela Martin and Gregor Seaton.
A sad farewell.
The last day I got to sleep in and enjoy another of the beautiful meals that Walindi Resort had been providing all week and take it easy.
I spent the day by the pool editing photos, writing about the exceptional week I was fortunate enough to have and spending time with the lovely staff I now consider friends.
My dive gear was dried for me and returned to my bungalow ready to pack before the forty-minute drive back to the airport.
Leaving my jungle home I felt sad but so very fortunate I had found and experienced a true paradise both above and below the water.
I’d like to thank Max, Cheyne, Ema, Garry, Matts and all the staff at Walinidi Resort for working so hard to make Walindi what it is today and making my time there one I will never forget.
Hope to see you soon
Sharks and Crocs!
For my final day of diving Kimbe Bay and they had left the best to last!
Inglis Shoalis the dive site to go to for “the shark show” that did not disappoint.
As soon as we descended to the seamount we were joined by Gray Reef sharks, White Tips and Silver Tips that continued to swim around us for the entire dive.
These beautiful, inquisitive and shy predators of the ocean blessed us with their grace, gliding around us as we watched on in joyful amazement.
The sharks were an added bonus to yet another top dive site filled with green, purple and orange Anemones that teamed with Clarks, Pink and Spine-Cheek anemone fish. Schools of Barracuda, Batfish, Trevally and Unicorn Fish have taken up residence along with octopus and a number of Moray Eels, making this dive site a must see.
Knowing I had to fly the next day the second and final dive was in the shallow waters off one of the smaller islands in the bay where we did our Croc shoot.
The team at Walindi was experienced and professional, enabling us to get in the water to photograph the incredible Saltwater Crocodile in its natural habitat.
Granted the croc was a juvenile and I was in the water with handlers, it was still an amazing and fun experience to witness and take underwater photos of one of the great predators of the region.
It was an incredible last day on the boat and in the water!