Flashpaking in Wakatobi

It was difficult to seperate the colours, it was all just shades of blue. On the horizon the dark cobalt blue of the ocean met the clear blue sky along a thin shimmering line. Closer to the shore, the sea was transparent, the boat appearing to float on a layer of condensed air. Everything was completely still, the ocean flat as the surface of a millers pond. I took a final breath and fell backwards into the ocean. This would be my first dive in over ten years.

Wakatobi is a divers paradise. This group of three major islands (Wangi-wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia and Binongko) located off the eastern coast of Sulawesi is at the centre of a large marine national park. All around the islands, the waters are teeming with fish, while the golden sandy beaches and hot tropical sun makes this the perfect place to get away from it all.

Although the beauty of Wakatobi is well known, the islands are difficult to access if you are on a tight budget. The direct flights that link Makassar and Kendari to the airport on Wangi-wangi will be out of your budget. Instead you will have to get a ferry from either Kendari or Bau Bau to Wakatobi. If you are taking a slow ferry then you will be in for an overnight 10 hour trip. There is also a fast ferry, but this only leaves on odd numbered dates (1,3,5, etc.) from Bau Bau to Wakatobi and even dates from Wakatobi to Bau Bau.

Once you arrive in Wakatobi you will find that there is not a lot of choice when it comes to accommodation. What is available is a mixture of all inclusive resorts and homestays. The prices vary tremendously and range from a couple of hundred dollars a night at places like Wakatobi Dive resort down to just ten dollars for a simple bed.

Diving in Wakatobi is more expensive than in the popular tourism hotspots like Bali and Lombok. A single dive costs around Rp350,000 ($40). The price will drop if you book a diving package at one of the resorts. However, as I sank below the waves I pushed all of these thoughts out of my mind. I needed to remind myself how to dive, it had been ten years after all since the last time I had done this.