Places to visit

Wakatobi National Marine Park, the Underwater Nirwana

Overview

Legendary underwater explorer and conservationist, Jacques Cousteau is said to have called the Wakatobi islands – then known as the Tukangbesi islands:  an “Underwater Nirwana”

Now a National Marine Park covering the entire Waktobi District, it comprises a total of 1.4 million hectares, of which 900,000 hectares are decorated with different, colourful species of tropical coral reefs. For Wakatobi is widely recognized as having the highest number of reef and fish species in the world.   The islands are also famous as the largest barrier reef in Indonesia, second only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.  Here can be found fringing, atolls and barrier reefs and offer more than 50 spectacular dive sites easily accessible from the major islands.  This is the habitat of large and small fish species, the playground of dolphins, turtles and even whales. 

The island group comprises 143 larger and smaller islands where only 7 are inhabited counting a total population of around 100,000, while the others remain uninhabited. Most notable are the Bajo communities, the seafaring nomads who inhabit many of Indonesia’s remote islands.

Located right in the heart of the Asia-Pacific Coral Triangle, in the province of South East Sulawesi , the Wakatobi Islands offer crystal clear pristine waters and a rich bio-diverse underwater life, a true paradise for Divers, as this is one of 3 hearts in the World Coral Triangle that stretches from the Solomon Islands in the Pacific to Wakatobi, and North to the Philippines.  Wakatobi alone is said to have 942 fish species and 750 coral reef species from a total of 850 of world’s collection, which, comparing with the two world’s famous diving centers, the Caribbean Sea  owns only 50 species with 300 coral reef species in the Red Sea, in Egypt.

Situated  at the end of the south eastern “petal’ of the orchid shaped island of Sulawesi and separated by the deep Banda Sea to its north and east and the Flores sea to its south,  the name Wakatobi is in fact an acronym of  its four main islands, which are :  Wangi-wangi (WA), Kaledupa (KA), Tomia (TO)  and Binongko (BI).

Due to its magnificent underwater life, Wakatobi is fast gaining worldwide attention for its quality dives that can be made by beginners to professionals. Small wonder, therefore, that many liveaboards make this one of their main ports of sojourn.  Aside from its dive sites, Wakatobi has many superb beaches.

The conservation group “Operation Wallacea” is very active in this marine park, conducting underwater research and conservation. During the Sail Wakatobi 2011 in August, the Marine Laboratory on Hoga Beach by Kaledupa is to be officially inaugurated. (For information visit: www.opwall.com)

The District capital of Wakatobi is Wanci on Wangi-Wangi. Since the opening of the Matohara Airport on Wangi-Wangi, these remote islands are now more accessible and can be reached by flights from Jakarta or Makassar.  There is also another landing strip on Tomia island, which receives charters from Bali

For more detailed information on Wakatobi, visit: www.wakatobi.info

To Stay

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Wakatobi Patuno Resort

Jl. Raya Patuno, Wangi-W angi Wakatobi Kendari

Dragon Inn Kendari

Jl. Edi Sabara No.8, Sulawesi Utara Kendari

Venus Hotel

Jalan Malik Raya 22V, 93127 Kendari

Zahra Syariah Hotel Kendari

Jl. Haji Edi Sahara No. 1A Kendari

Benua Hotel

Jalan Pangeran Diponegoro No.75, Benu-Benua, 93123 Kendari

Hotel Benua

Jl.Diponegoro 75 Kendari South East Sulawesi

Hotel Horison Kendari

Jl. Ahmad Yani No. 3 Kendari

Imperial Hotel

Jl Ahmad Yani No.77, 93117 Kendari

Hotel Estate

Jalan Kolonel Madjid Junus, 93111 Kendari

Wonua Monapa Hotel Resort

Jl. Wolter Monginsidi 93233 Kendari South East Sulawesi

Putri Wisata Hotel

Jl. Let. Jend. MT. Haryono No.104 Kendari South East Sulawesi

Grand S.O. Hotel

Mayjen Sutoyo 63-65 Kendari

To Stay

Of the four main islands, Tomia Island was the first to be developed. The Wakatobi Dive Resort here offers luxurious accommodation from Villas to Beach bungalows and garden bungalows. The Resort also runs private charter flights, that pick up passengers from Bali to fly direct to remote Tomia. This beautiful Dive Resort caters to the high end of the market.

On Wangi-Wangi island is the 40 room Patuno Resort that offers upper and medium range accommodation. All resorts, however, allow easy access to Wakatobi’s numerous dive sites and organize professional dive operations.

 The Patuno Resort offers Diving Packages for 2 nights and 5 dives in Wakatobi for Rp. 6,320,000 twin share per person including the return flight from Jakarta , or Rp. 2,320,000 without airfare, valid until December 2011. Other more extended options are available. For details check at : www.patunoresortwakatobi.com

There are other smaller establishments in the town of Wanci, among others:

Nita Sari

Jalan Kemakmuran 34

Wanci , Waktobi,

Tel.: +62404 21636

Gajah Mada II

Jalan Kemakmuran 82

Wanci, Wakatobi

Tel.: +62404 21527

Jelly dan Setiana,

Jalan Samburaka 77

Pongo, Wakatobi

Tel: +62404 21112

Lamongan

Jalan Merdeka 5

Pongo, Wakatobi

Tel.: +62404 21017

Tips

The best time for diving in Wakatobi is from March through December.

Get There

Express Air is the only regular airline that flies from Jakarta to Bau-Bau, in Southeast Sulawesi, and continues to land on Wakatobi’s Matohara Airport on Wangi-Wangi.

Other airlines flying to Bau-Bau from Jakarta , Bali or Surabaya are Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, Batavia Air and Sriwijaya Airline. From here you must take a boat to Wakatobi.

For detailed information on departures and arrivals of transportation check at: www.wakatobi.info.

The Wakatobi Dive Resort operates Charter flights so they can pick up passengers from Bali arriving direct on the island of Tomia.

For information check: www.wakatobi.com

To Eat

The resorts serve some of the best dishes, both Western, Indonesian and local.  But you can also find simpler meals at the many small restaurants in Wanci. Of course seafood is the main dish.

For handicrafts, Binongko is the center for weaving. You can buy hand-woven traditional cloths at the traditional markets of Binongko or Pasar Togo Binongko. 

To Do

Tired of diving and snorkeling?  Visit the Kampong Bajo Mola on Wangi-Wangi and see the life of the local Bajo sea nomads. There are also a number of interesting forts on Wangi-Wangi. Five kilometers from Wanci is Fort Tindoi, standing on top of Tindoi Mountain, while at Liya Togo Village is Fort Lya which also has the Lya Kraton Mosque within its compound. The fort was built in 1538 by an influential Islamic cleric called Syekh Abdul Wahid. Other forts are the Mandati Tonga Fort and the Kapota Fort.

Kaledupa has some of the best beaches such as the Hoga Beach, Sombano Beach, Peropa Beach, and Puncak Jamaraka  

The Untete Beach at the Kulati Village is the longest white sand beach on Tomia with endless rows of coconut trees, where the usual fish grilling tradition is held. There are also mangrove forests to explore.

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