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Divers Report That Wakatobi Reefs Better Than Ever

Photo: Walt Sterns

In the wake of pandemic closures, visitors who waited more than two years for the long-anticipated reopening of Wakatobi Dive Resort are returning to discover vibrant marine life and thriving coral.

Following a soft reopening in May with a limited number of invited guests, the resort’s signature direct guest flights from Bali returned to service in the first week of June 2022. When guests arrived, they soon discovered that the underwater landscapes were everything they remembered and hoped for. They report that the reefs are in pristine condition and marine life seems even more abundant than in years past.

“The House Reef and other sites could not have been any better,” says guest Paul Moliken, who was among the first arrivals in June. “The corals are in excellent health, and there were some personal firsts for me, including crinoid shrimp, clingfish, pygmy cuttlefish, and more, along with the expected regulars like bumphead parrotfish, rays, triggers and batfish schools, clownfish in anemones and too many types of butterflyfishes to count. Right near the jetty, I found squid, nudibranchs, pygmy seahorses, and mating octopus.”

Mating octopus at the Wakatobi jetty. Photo:

During the two-plus years of closure caused by the pandemic, Wakatobi’s owners and management team remained committed to the continuation of the resort’s renowned Collaborative Reef Conservation Program. This commitment included the continuation of least payments to area villages in exchange for honoring no-take zones, regular reef patrols and reef and beach cleanings. In addition, a number of areas that were avoided in years past due to damage prior to the establishment of the marine preserve now show significant regeneration and will be added to the dive site roster.

As guests have now reported, these investments in the reefs and in the staff have yielded positive results. “Wakatobi is better than ever,” says guest Paul Vandermarck. “I got out of the water shaking my head in wonder after snorkeling on the House Reef on our first day.”

Guests confirm that fish life on favorite sites has benefitted from ongoing protections. Robert Kreuzer was delighted to find three species of pygmy seahorses on his first day of diving. “There is an abundance of fish and coral life,” he says. “We saw the Denise, the Bargibanti and also the Pontohi.” In addition, Robert says his dive guide Muji found a Rumengani, also called Lembeh Pygmy Seadragon. “For both of us, it was the first time we saw this amazingly tiny animal, and we didn’t expect to find it here. And for me, it was a highlight of my underwater photography.”

New E-Book Celebrates the Wonders of Wakatobi

Divers and marine life enthusiasts around the world are invited to take a visual vacation to the reefs of Wakatobi in a new E-book published by a pair of award-winning underwater photographers. Dive Wakatobi is described as a labor of love by the authors, Wayne and Pam Osborn, who have made ten trips to the resort in recent years to pursue their passion for underwater image making.

This 320-plus page book showcases marine life portraits created by Wayne over the course of 550-plus dives, along with Pam’s work compiled through 1000-plus hours of snorkeling, predominantly on the House Reef. Like previous publications offered by the Osborns, this book can be viewed and downloaded free of charge for all to enjoy and share.

To download the free book to your Apple device, head over to Apple Books.  

For more on Wakatobi, visit here.

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