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What To Expect From a Wakatobi Liveaboard
A Wakatobi liveaboard is a perfect option for divers wanting to explore this amazing area in Sulawesi, Indonesia. It is a group of 4 remote islands in the Banda Sea to the southeast of Sulawesi Tenggara Province of Indonesia. The name Wakatobi is in fact an acronym of the 4 islands, Wangi-Wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia, and Binongko. Liveaboards in Wakatobi usually depart from Wangi-Wangi, the capital and largest of the 4 islands, or if you choose the luxurious Pelagian liveaboard you will take a flight directly to private airfield of the Wakatobi dive resort.
The area of Wakatobi is also a protected Unesco Marine Bioshpere Reserve spanning an incredible 1.39 million hectares. There is limited fishing, and destructive industries have been banned. In order to preserve this equilibrium, minimising human impacts while enhancing the natural seascape, locals receive subsidies that incentivise the preservation of the reefs. This is largely funded by Marine Park fees, which is also spent towards education not only for locals but for tourists as well.
Being tropical, it is possible to dive Wakatobi all year round, with a consistent temperature of 89 Fahrenheit (32∞C). Water temperatures range from 77 Fahrenheit (25∞C) in August to 86 Fahrenheit (30∞C) in October. The best time to take a liveaboard cruise is said to be between March and December, since wet season lasts from January to February. Although, it's worth noting that Wakatobi has one of the shortest and driest wet seasons for the area. In fact, the weather is so forgiving that it is sometimes possible to create your very own custom itinerary for your dive cruise.
The incredibly successful management of the area, coupled with the unique, dry climate of the region, has resulted in an exceptionally clean underwater environment. New reefs have formed upon fossilised reefs, and there is very little soil erosion giving rise to fantastic visibility somewhere in the region of 65 to 200 feet (20 ñ 60 m).
Dive a Wakatobi liveaboard to see extraordinarily healthy reefs, which in turn, attract a very dense gathering of many fish species. It has been recorded that around these islands alone, there are upwards of an astonishing 700 species of fish and 400 species of coral. Some of those species also include a few special treats such as manta rays and whale sharks, which can be seen at any time during the year (with a little luck). But from November to April, you also have the chance to see short-finned pilot whales, an 18 foot (5.5 m) long member of the dolphin family. A dive trip during July and August,will see many species of fish spawning, attracting prolific schools, all the while avoiding the high seasons of Wakatobi which are typically between April and May, and September to November.
Dive Sites Of Wakatobi
Coral Garden is very appropriately named, and holds a spectacular reef system that sits in a sort of giant crater. Current around the reef is generally sheltered by the sandy walls of the depression, while over the top, currents can be fairly strong. A descent line is normally used to help guide the divers down together to the edge of the crater. From here, the group moves out of the current, and around the reef that is occupied by many species of wrasse, including cleaner wrasse and brightly coloured sling-jaw wrasse.
The resident, House Reef, also happens to be one of the most loved reefs by divers, and itís fairly shallow at around 40 feet (12 m). Both reachable from the shore and by liveaboard, House Reef features a small wall and a drop-off. On the sandy ledge you'll find all manner of creatures hiding, such as flounders and snake eels. Currents along the wall are usually very mild, allowing for a very relaxing drift. The wall is heavily clad in soft corals, especially anemones, housing all sorts of tiny crabs and shrimps, as well as spectacularly coloured nudibranchs.
Roma is one of the finest liveaboard diving sites in Wakatobi. Upon descent, you are immediately greeted by large schools of vibrant reef fish. This site is largely made up of pinnacles, but also includes one enormous pinnacle that almost breaches the surface of the water. This site is teeming with life.
Top Tips For Divers
Renting a camera in Wakatobi can be difficult as the service is rarely offered. Make sure you bring your own camera so you can capture those underwater memories!
Getting To Wakatobi
By far the easiest way to reach your liveaboard vessel is from Bali. Ngurah Rai is the only international airport on the island of Bali, located on the southern coast in Denpasar, Bali's capital city. Several airlines now offer direct flights to Bali, but there are currently no direct flights when travelling from Europe. One must normally connect via Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur, but it is also possible from to reach Bali via Hong Kong, Dubai or Singapore depending on where you began your journey. The Pelagian liveaboard has a private aircraft which takes divers to it's own airfield where the famous Wakatobi resort is based, this flight is additional to the liveaboard costs.
The alternative way to reach Wakatobi would be to catch a plane from Jakarta or Makassar, heading to Haluoleo Airport in Kendari. From here, you can either take another plane or a boat to Wakatobi, landing on Wangi-Wangi.