Welcome to Paradise
Photos and text: Dray van beeck
After a long set of flights we finally arrived in Bali. On our way to Wakatobi we decided to first come at rest at this beautiful Island. There has been a lot written about Bali and its even better than that. Great muckdiving, friendly people, excellent food and dead cheap. After 5 days of diving and relaxing we were expected at Denpassar airport.
The welcome of the representative of Wakatobi resort is spot on. Bags were labeled and one is personally guided through the check inns, ending up in a first class lounge. Here the other guests that arrived before us sat in luxury. After everyone had arrived we were brought to a small airplane for the two hour flight to wakatobi. The inboard meals were first class.
From the window we could see the blue sea with scattered green tropical Islands. And at last the resort of Wakatobi could be seen from the air. The landing went smooth and all of us were transferred to some small battered minibuses for a ten minute drive to the jetty. From here another twenty minutes and we arrived at the resort. You can see that it’s owned by Swiss. The precision and detail that went in the design and finishing of the resort is miraculous. Consider that it’s in a very remote environment. Before the airstrip was build it took more than 24 hours to travel to Wakatobi.
The welcome and briefings reminded me a lot of live-aboards I was on, thorough and clear. The rooms are five stars, luxury, luxury and more luxury. Outside the room a beautiful garden and palm trees lining the white beach. Seeing the sea, we wanted to dive it. After lunch (I will not even start about the meals since I gained 4 kg in the 11 days we stayed at the resort. Let’s just say; don’t go there when you’re on a diet.) we sorted out our dive equipment and went for a check dive. The house reef of Wakatobi is known as one of the best in the world. The shallows have sea grass, two gullies lead to the outside wall. Corals, beautiful healthy corals were everywhere. Plenty of marine life swimming and crawling around in a gentle current. After 70 minutes we ended the dive back in the bay. Looking forward to the next dive.
Before diner there was time to set up the camera. Wakatobi is a paradise for photographers, not only for the subjects you can take but also the set-up. There is a camera room where every one has his own spot with electrical plugs for recharging, two fresh towels each day and enough space to clean the camera and download the pictures. In the lounge there are two PC’s for downloading and reviewing the shots. Than there is time for a drink on the jetty and get to know our fellow guests. We were lucky since the total of guests that week were only 12. We were divided in two groups with a dive guide for each group.
The next day the first full dive day started. The days begin with breakfast after which there are two boat dives. Lunch. Afternoon boat dive and for who wants to a night dive from the beach. The boats are very spacious with plenty of space for everyone and camera equipment. The maximum dive time is 70 minutes. Every dive is at a different spot since there is plenty of choice and no other operator in the area. The guides are great spotters. Finding a pygmy seahorse is almost impossible but they showed us plenty in the 10 days we were there and 3 different kinds. Small crustaceans in the corals, ghost pipefish, nudibranchs, leaf fish, turtles, moray eels and much more. Expect mostly macro life and beautiful healthy covered walls. The organization was done with Swiss precision.
The last day there was no diving. The equipment could dry and bills be paid. After which we got a village tour. The village close to Wakatobi (the name consists of the first part of three Island names; Waha, Tomia and Binongko) is sponsored by Wakatobi resort. Most villagers work at the resort, Wakatobi build a hospital and electricity is provided for free. The villagers are very friendly people living either of the resort or as fisherman.
After 10 days and 30 dives we left with a lot of great memories, plenty of photos and some great newly made friends. The transfer was as great as coming. For photo opportunities the plane circled twice over the resort. A great way to say goodbye to Paradise.