Wakatobi in Indonesia is located in the centre of the coral biodiversity and is a UNESCO Marine Biosphere Reserve. The area has been growing in popularity as it has some of the healthiest reefs anywhere. The fish are abundant, and the healthy reefs have some unusual critters.
Rising from the Banda Sea and known as the Tukang Besi Archipelago, the four main islands give Wakatobi its name. Wangi-Wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia and Binongko, they are remote and unique in Indonesia. The liveaboard cruises depart from Wakatobi itself.
The reefs are limestone fossil with a variety of topography from walls, and drop-offs to overhangs and coral gardens. A huge variety of marine life is present at all of the dive sites. There can be both larger pelagic, such as manta rays and whale sharks seen all year. But, the area, is more known for the fantastic macro life and critter finds. Pilot whales visit the region for four months each year.
The reefs are different here than in other locations of Indonesia due to the drier climate. They are formed with limestone so as termed as fossilised reefs, and there is no soil to erode so the water visibility is and environment are clear.
As part of a marine reserve, fishing is limited as are diver actions and the money raised by the park goes to the adoption of sustainable reefs practices and education. As a result, huge volumes of fish life along with manta rays and whale sharks can be found here. Pilot whales frequent the area November to May.
New dive sites are still being discovered as Wakatobi is still a relatively new dive destination, especially in the outer atolls.
The diving is along walls, seamounts, ridges, drop-offs, reefs and coral gardens in Wakatobi with seagrass and sandy sub straights, giving the marine life a massive diversity of habitats. Coral coverage is excellent, with both hard and soft corals, sponge life and sea fans. Wakatobi has over 940 fish and 750 coral species in its dive sites. The dives are along the second largest contiguous reef system in the world separated into dive sites.
There is some larger pelagic life to be seen, but it is not a big animal dive destination as such, the colourful underwater scenery, unusual critters, and fish variety is what makes Wakatobi unique.