Wakatobi

A mini archipelago with more than 100 islands, Wakatobi is named after its four largest islands: Wangi- Wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia, and Binongko. These islands are positioned between the Banda Sea in the northeast and the Flores Sea in the southwest, resulting in incredibly diverse marine life.

Wakatobi is the home of over 300 coral and 500 fish species, making it one of the most thriving sea ecosystems in the world. Often cited as the largest barrier reef in Indonesia, only second to The Great Barrier Reef in Australia, diving in Wakatobi promises something magnificent in the center of The Coral Triangle.

Top highlights of Wakatobi

  • Witness the giant mammals of the sea, like whales and dolphins, migrating through Wakatobi waters.
  • Explore the Blade, a group of seamounts that spanned across 200 meters in one of the least visited dive spots in the region.
  • Experience the night dive at The Zoo and witness the mandarin fish mating ritual once the sun sinks.
  • See the 300-years massive disccorals forming two gigantic flowers known as The Rose in Roma Reef.
  • Immerse yourself in the largest barrier reef ecosystem in Indonesia, only second to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

About Wakatobi

Geographically situated in the southeast of Sulawesi and between the Banda and Flores seas, it is no surprise that Wakatobi is blessed with marine biodiversity, especially coral reefs.

Declared a national park in 1996 and designated UNESCO Marine Biosphere Reserve, Wakatobi is Indonesia’s third largest marine park. Covering an area of 1.4 million hectares, 900 thousand is the home of the coral reefs. Out of more than 100 islands in the region, only seven are inhabited. The most famous tribe in Wakatobi is possibly the Bajo tribe, known as the Nomads of The Ocean. The tribe is one of the inspirations for James Cameron when creating the Na’vi people in the Avatar 2 film.

The Wakatobi region has long been considered the center of coral reef biodiversity and Indonesia’s most significant barrier reef. The water temperature is perfect for the ecosystem not only to grow but also to survive.

Diving in Wakatobi

Over 50 dive sites have been mapped out in the region, making the options to dive solely based on your schedule. As with some other diving regions in the epicenter of the Coral Triangle, expect to see some splendid marine species on your exploration.

As Indonesia’s most significant barrier reef, different types of reefs can be found here, ranging from barrier, fringing, patch, and atoll reefs. Species of mushroom corals, hard corals, and soft corals are abundant in the region, giving the impression of a living aquarium due to their colorful nature.

Some fish species that can be spotted in many dive sites in Wakatobi are wrasse, damselfish, grouper, snappers, sweetlips, cuttlefish, fusiliers, dottybacks, and blennies. Marine mammals are also frequently seen in the area due to its strategic location. Different whale species, from the pilot whale, sperm whale, and melonhead whale, make a constant appearance during the migration period.

Wakatobi is also home to various dolphin species, including bottlenose, Risso, spinner, and spotted dolphin, which divers commonly encounter while diving in the area.

For macro enthusiasts, Wakatobi offers spectacular sightings of species of crabs like porcelain and Harlequin crabs. White-spot anemone shrimp, peacock-tail shrimp, and pygmy seahorses are hidden among the coral reefs, waiting to be discovered. Of seven pygmy seahorse species, five can be found in Wakatobi.

Discover your next adventure in

Wakatobi

The Great Barrier Reef of Indonesia

Wakatobi differs from Cendrawasih Bay, where you can dive with whale sharks, or Misool, where the manta rays become the main attraction. Instead of a singular experience, Wakatobi offers a whole adventure in the form of stunning reef species, formations, and diversity.

Take, for example, Blade, a dive spot that is rarely visited because it is only accessible when the weather is fine and the current is calm. The seamounts are extended parallelly for more than 200 meters, yet the wide is less than seven meters across. Seen from the side, the formations resembled the blade of a giant knife. The depth of these seamounts is estimated beyond 60 meters.

In Roma Reef, many potato corals create formations like those in the Coliseum, Rome, hence why it was named Roma Reef. Not only that, in this particular dive site, there are two giant formations, estimated to be around 300 years old, consisting of vast colonies of disc coral (Turbinaria mesenterina). When seen from above, it looks like a gigantic rose, aptly named The Rose.

Among more than 50 dive sites in Wakatobi, coral gardens with different species, colors, and formations are commonly found, differentiating the region from other dive sites in The Coral Triangle.

Diving Environments in Wakatobi

The different reef types in Wakatobi have formed a unique topography. Expect dramatic drop-offs and walls, and you have the option to explore the caves and overhangs in some dive sites. Muck diving is also possible, giving you other options based on your preference.

The currents in the region are generally mild and safe even for beginners, but in some dive sites, the pinnacles can be pretty intense. In this case, only experienced divers are allowed to dive.

The water temperature in Wakatobi ranges from 26 to 30 degrees Celsius. Even in the warmest months, the temperature never falls beyond that. This ideal temperature helps in avoiding coral bleaching in the area. The visibility during the best diving period ranges from 20-40 meters, even more on a clear day, making it perfect for macro photography enthusiasts.

Discover your next adventure in

Wakatobi

How to get to Wakatobi

Even though the location of Wakatobi seems secluded on the map, getting there is quite simple. Here are ways to get to Wakatobi.

By plane

Direct flight to Wakatobi is available from Makassar and Kendari. To reach Makassar or Kendari, flights are available from big cities in Indonesia, like Jakarta and Denpasar (Bali). Another choice would be flying directly to Tomia Island (Wakatobi Resort) from Bali, but to do this, booking a dive package with Wakatobi Resort is mandatory.

By boat

If you feel adventurous, taking a boat is an option. You must go to Kendari and take a boat from Wanci Harbor to Wangi-Wangi. The journey to one of these main islands takes approximately 10 hours.

You can also take a boat from Bau-Bau to Wangi-Wangi, Kaledupa, or Tomia. You need to get to Kamaru harbor from Bau-Bau, which takes around 3 hours by car, and then continue with the boat to Wakatobi. The journey lasts for approximately 5-6 hours.

By Liveaboard

The most comfortable transportation to explore Wakatobi is by Liveaboard. This option will give you flexibility and a more organized itinerary and make it possible to reach the remote part of Wakatobi, which is not accessible by public transportation. Most Liveaboard organizes the trip around diving, which makes it an excellent choice if you want to dive in different spots in Wakatobi.

Diving Seasons & Weather in Wakatobi

Exploring Wakatobi can be done all year long as the general temperature of the water is constant throughout the year, but some months are better than others.

Like any other part of Indonesia, Wakatobi has dry and wet seasons. The dry season lasts from May to October, while the wet season occurs between December to April, with December to February being the wettest months with more rainfall. Outside those periods is the monsoon, especially in July and August, where the wind is somewhat stronger, and the sea surface is choppy.

If you’re looking for the best season to dive, head to Wakatobi between March to November, with March to May and September to November being the peak diving season.

Dive Sites in Wakatobi

Kulati

Wakatobi

Maya Bay

Wakatobi

Blade

Wakatobi

Nua Shark Point

Wakatobi

The Zoo

Wakatobi

Turkey Beach

Wakatobi

Marine Life in Wakatobi

Liveaboards in Wakatobi

Le Costa Liveaboard

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Bugis Liveaboard

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Shared trips from $1050 pp

Shared trips from $1050pp

Mahodaya

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Amalia Liveaboard

0.0/5

Tambora Liveaboard

0.0/5

Shared trips from $3850 pp

Shared trips from $3850pp

Elbark Cruise

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Upcoming Trips in Wakatobi

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June, 2024

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