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Wakatobi delivers five-star marine life experiences

A small island in central Indonesia is home to a unique resort that is the aquatic equivalent of a five-star safari lodge. This idyllic outpost is Wakatobi Resort, a boutique property that provides divers and snorkelers with exclusive access to some of the world’s finest coral reefs — set in the context of a luxury vacation experience.

Wakatobi guests come to experience coral reef ecosystems that are considered among the most pristine and bio-diverse on earth. The destination has earned an international reputation among avid underwater photographers and marine life enthusiasts, as its reefs are home to hundreds of rare and unique species of marine life. These prized ecosystems are protected by an innovative conservation initiative that has remained in place since the resort first opened. This program dedicates a portion of guest revenue to the maintenance of the preserve and for direct payments to local fishermen and villages in exchange for honoring the preserve’s no-take policies.

The resort is equally appealing to more casual underwater enthusiasts, as there are hundreds of acres of shallow and protected coral reefs that provide ideal conditions for snorkelers and novice divers. A professional, multi-lingual team of instructors and dive guides are also available for guests who wish to experience diving or snorkeling for the first time.

Daily excursions aboard a fleet of large, comfortable dive/snorkel boats provide daily access to more than 40 sites within the preserve. In addition, divers and snorkelers have full access day and night to an expansive area of coral gardens and seagrass meadows known as the House Reef, which lies directly in front of the resort beach. This site has been named the world’s best shore dive by multiple entities.

Guest accommodations include a collection of well-appointed private bungalows set in a shoreside palm grove and oceanfront villas with private decks with over-water views of the reefs. Wakatobi is known for observing the highest standards of guest attention. The resort’s team of local and international hospitality professionals combine international expectations for personal service with warm Indonesian traditions of hospitality. Guests are greeted by name, and needs are often anticipated before a request is made.

In addition to daily diving and snorkeling activities, Wakatobi guests can enjoy spa services, nature tours, cultural experiences, and water sports such as paddleboarding, kayaking and excursions to an uninhabited island. Seasonal trade winds during certain months of the year provide additional opportunities to experience the sport of kiteboarding, and the resort’s water sports center offers lessons and all needed equipment.

Dining is often cited as a highlight of the Wakatobi experience. A culinary team led by a master chef provides guests with range of international and Indonesian favorites, served in a relaxing beachfront setting. The team can accommodate bespoke menus and special dietary requests.

Though remote, Wakatobi is easily reached by way of direct charter flights from Bali to a private airstrip. Upon arriving at Bali’s International airport, guests are met by the resort’s concierge team, which handles all details of arrivals, transfers, and layovers.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Wakatobi Resort.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. Long ago, I did some island-hopping through Indonesia and I felt at the time that the region had immense potential as a tourist destination. From what I’ve seen in the photographs and read here I feel that Wakatobi provides plenty more evidence for my belief.

    1. Hi Roger, I don’t know how long ago you were island-hopping in the country, but I would imagine there have been huge changes in the decade or two. I hope you are able to visit Wakatobi soon and see how much tourism has developed!

  2. I’ve never really got to grips with diving so it’s good to learn that there’s still plenty of marine life to enjoy even if you are not a diving pro.

  3. Really fancy an outdoor massage. None of my spa treatments have ever been in the sort of climate where you could get away with that.

    1. I hope you get to visit Wakatobi soon, Suzy! The spa blends the best of Indonesian and European traditions, so there are a number of different massages to choose from.

  4. I’ve been thinking about a family dive holiday for a while, but never been sure where to start. Wakatobi looks like a great option.

  5. This really looks a tip – top resort. This is a part of the world that I’ve never been to but it certainly has got plenty of attractions. It’s definitely on my wish list for 2023 though it’s becoming a very long list as time goes on.

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