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. Wakatobi is widely recognised as having the highest number of reef and fish species in the world. The islands are also famous for compromising the largest barrier reef in Indonesia, second only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Here can be found fringing atolls and barrier reefs, offering 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 seven 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.
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 phenomenal underwater life, Wakatobi is fast gaining worldwide attention for its quality dives that are available for 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.
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 transport arrivals, please visit: www.wakatobi.info.
The Wakatobi Dive Resort operates charter flights so they can pick up passengers from Bali arriving directly on the island of Tomia.
Tired of diving and snorkelling? 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 kilometres from Wanci is Fort Tindoi, standing on top of Tindoi Mountain, while at Liya Togo Village is Fort Lya which also features the Lya Kraton Mosque within its compound.
Kaledupa has some of the best beaches in the area, 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.
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.
All resorts, however, allow easy access to Wakatobi’s numerous dive sites and organise professional dive operations.
The resorts serve a great range of dishes, including Western, Indonesian and local. 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 centre for weaving. You can buy hand-woven traditional cloths at the traditional markets of Binongko or Pasar Togo Binongko.