Diving In The Wakatobi - Dive Indonesia
The Wakatobi is a remote archipelago situated in the center of the Coral Triangle in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. It is home to Indonesia’s second largest Marine National Park, covering 12,500 square kilometers of protected and pristine coral reefs, white sandy beaches and remote traditional villages. As such the Wakatobi is a great destination for scuba diving enthusiasts from all over the World. It is becoming increasingly popular with recreational divers, underwater photographers, marine biologists, and backpackers.
Until recently the Wakatobi has been a difficult to reach due to its remoteness, but that is now changing with the introduction of an airport on Wanci Island. There are now daily Express Air flights (except Mondays) to this airport. Wakatobi visitors can take early morning flights from Jakarta or Surabaya and transit in Makassar. From Makassar you can take a small 32 seater plane to Wanci, via Bau-Bau. Divers should be aware that the baggage allowance on these flights is only 10 kilograms, so pack lightly and consider hiring your dive equipment from your dive operator in the Wakatobi. You can pay for excess baggage, but it is often delayed if the flight is already at full capacity.
Upon arrival in Wanci you will need to embark on the next leg of your journey by boat. Most divers do not spend long on Wanci Island as the top Wakatobi diving spots can be found around Hoga Island and Tomia Island. From the airport jump in a taxi and head for ‘Pelabuhan Mola’. From here you can take one of the daily public speed boats to Hoga or Tomia. It is advised to get there as quickly as possible. Flights usually get into Wanci at about 10.30am, so head down to ‘Pelabuhan Mola’ as soon as you get off the plane to ensure you do not miss your boat. If you do though, you can easily charter a small Bajo boat to Hoga.
Hoga boats depart anytime between 9am and 12 noon so it is often possible to catch one of these. Tomia boats generally leave between 9 and 10am, so if you are planning on visiting Tomia it is often necessary to overnight in Wanci first. If you are traveling with a group of 4 or more divers you can pre-arrange a chartered pick up with your dive operator in Tomia. It is difficult to charter boats from Wanci to Tomia without making an arrangement in advance, as it is quite a long journey and needs a large boat.
For the intrepid travelers with plenty of time there are other ways to get to the Wakatobi. For example you can take a PELNI boat from Makassar to Bau-Bau, or you can fly from Makassar to Bau-Bau with Lion Air or Express Air. From Bau-Bau there is a boat which leaves for Wanci at 9pm every night. It arrives in Wanci at about 6am, so you will be in plenty of time to catch one of the public boats to Hoga or Tomia.
In summary there are many ways to reach the Wakatobi, and the gateway is through Wanci. By far the easiest way is to fly, but the overnight boat from Bau-Bau is also a good alternative, especially if you’re thinking of spending a couple of days diving in Bau-Bau beforehand. Once you arrive in Wanci you can travel by public speed boat to reach the top diving destinations of Hoga Island and Tomia Island.