Wakatobi Liveaboard Diving, Indonesia
Wakatobi diving is a fabulous mixture of macro critters and larger pelagic sightings all in a relatively small area, something for every guest to enjoy.
Wakatobi in Indonesia is located in the centre of the coral biodiversity and is a UNESCO Marine Biosphere Reserve. The area has been growing in popularity as it has some of the healthiest reefs anywhere. The fish are abundant, and the healthy reefs have some unusual critters.
Rising from the Banda Sea and known as the Tukang Besi Archipelago, the four main islands give Wakatobi its name. Wangi-Wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia and Binongko, they are remote and unique in Indonesia. The liveaboard cruises depart from Wakatobi itself.
The reefs are limestone fossil with a variety of topography from walls, and drop-offs to overhangs and coral gardens. A huge variety of marine life is present at all of the dive sites. There can be both larger pelagic, such as manta rays and whale sharks seen all year. But, the area, is more known for the fantastic macro life and critter finds. Pilot whales visit the region for four months each year.
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Wakatobi Liveaboard Diving, Indonesia - 5 LIVEABOARDS
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The reefs are different here than in other locations of Indonesia due to the drier climate. They are formed with limestone so as termed as fossilised reefs, and there is no soil to erode so the water visibility is and environment are clear.
As part of a marine reserve, fishing is limited as are diver actions and the money raised by the park goes to the adoption of sustainable reefs practices and education. As a result, huge volumes of fish life along with manta rays and whale sharks can be found here. Pilot whales frequent the area November to May.
New dive sites are still being discovered as Wakatobi is still a relatively new dive destination, especially in the outer atolls.
Best Places to Dive in Wakatobi
The diving is along walls, seamounts, ridges, drop-offs, reefs and coral gardens in Wakatobi with seagrass and sandy sub straights, giving the marine life a massive diversity of habitats. Coral coverage is excellent, with both hard and soft corals, sponge life and sea fans. Wakatobi has over 940 fish and 750 coral species in it dive sites. The dives are along the second largest continuous reef system in the world separated into dive sites.
There is some larger pelagic life to be seen, but it is not a big animal dive destination as such, the colourful underwater scenery, unusual critters, and fish variety is what makes Wakatobi unique.
Best Dive Sites in Wakatobi
An interesting dive site which has some currents, so a descent line is used to a large crater starting at 11m that is around 40m in diameter. The bowl structure has impressive coral coverage and is protected from the currents. Here many cleaner wrasse are kept busy with different fish species. The mini walls around the crater have many garden eels and goatfish, but occasional large marine life passes.
Named for the steady currents running over the site supplying plankton-rich water for the many resident tropical marine life. With walls, ledges and overhangs this is a reasonably strong drift dive where you pass hard and soft corals. Some palagics are found here with white tip and nurse sharks, along with eagle and Mobula rays.
The name means “let's get drunk” and is used for a large reef area spilt into several dive sites at Tomia Island.
The area is known for large gorgonian sea fans and many anemones with their corresponding clownfish. Feather stars and soft corals cover the ridge with Barrel sponges and coral bommies. Common sightings are nudibranchs, crocodile fish, ribbon eels shrimps, lionfish and pygmy seahorses.
A world class dive site with an interesting pinnacle that breaks the surface slightly that is surrounded by life as one of the highlights, it could be a dive site in itself. Surrounding the pinnacle are mounds with pristine coral and anemones, two of which are great for macro life. Many different coloured leaf fish can be found along with comet fish in overhangs and under ledges. Many fish surround the whole dive site with schools of fusiliers and red tooth triggerfish. Banded sea snakes are prevalent here. This is one of the Mari Mabuk dive sites.
Located close to shore this is a dive site for both liveaboards and resort guests ideal for both day and night dives as it is shallow. Many snake eels, stingrays, founders and ships with their gobies and in the sandy area. In the seagrass, there are robust ghost pipefish, filefish and razorfish.
At the drop off there is a resident school of trevally and an as yet unidentified pygmy seahorse in a sea fan at 12m. The walls have pristine coral and anemones with great macro life, shrimps, crabs, nudibranchs, leaf fish and so much more. In the blue, there is a chance to spot the eagle rays, and turtles often found here. In the patch reef, ribbon eels can be seen, and batfish hang around the reef area.
Wakatobi Scuba Diving Highlights
- Common sightings - Manta rays, whale sharks, banded sea snakes, snake eels
- Special sightings - Pilot whales, eagle rays, pygmy seahorses
- Topography - Pinnacles, walls, drop-offs, coral gardens, reefs
- Visibility - 20 to 50m
- General information - Dives in the area range from beginner to advanced but there can be some currents here.
Best Time to Go
Wakatobi is a year-round destination, it has a drier climate than other areas of Indonesia and is protected by surrounding reefs and islands. The climate is tropical with temperatures remaining at around 32 C all year.
The best time to visit is March to December when diving is excellent.
April, May and November are the high seasons.
July and August are spawning season bring high volumes of fish life, temperatures and visibility are lower by a small amount at this time of year, and there can be slightly more wind.
January and February have the most rain, but this is not a real wet season as Wakatobi has 25% less rainfall than the rest of Indonesia.
November to April is the best time for pilot whales to be seen.
Whale sharks and manta rays are year-round sightings.
Water temperature ranges from 25 to 30 C annually, so a 3mm shorty is suitable for most of the year, but a 5mm long may be needed for the colder months.
How to Get There
The liveaboard cruises depart from Wakatobi itself so guests would usually transit either from Bali or Java taking a local flight to reach the destination.
Some vessels have private flights that are an additional cost to your liveaboard cruise.
The local airport is on Wangi-Wangi.
Marine Park and Conservation in Wakatobi
The marine reserve of Kepulauan Wakatobi National Park, Sulawesi protects the Wakatobi area.
The area was designated as the 3rd largest marine park in Indonesia in 1996, covering 1.4 million hectares in area. In 32005 the park was listed as a possible World Heritage site, and in 2012 it became a World Network Biosphere Reserve.