Welcome to Wakatobi Islands
With over 50 named dive sites, one of the highest marine species diversity in Indonesia, and few visitors, Wakatobi is a diver’s dream. Above water, it’s not too shabby either: Bajau sea gypsies inhabit villages standing in the middle of the ocean, empty white sand beaches stretch between rocky outcrops, and boats thread between the maze-like channels of mangrove forests. Few visitors leave this remote island chain off the far southwest coast of Sulawesi disappointed.
The archipelago, formerly (and still occasionally) known as the Tukangbesi Islands, is now referred to as Wakatobi after the four main islands: Wangi-Wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia and Binongko. These form the heart of Wakatobi National Park, established in 2002 and declared a Unesco World Biosphere Reserve in 2012.
The islands may be difficult to reach, but that just makes it more likely you’ll have this paradise all to yourself.
“All roads lead to Rome – and in Wakatobi all travels go through Wangi-Wangi Island”.
Commercial flights to the local Matahora Airport and the harbor in Wanci make this island the doorway for all visitors to the archipelago. Wangi-Wangi Island consists of numerous small villages and the main town of Wanci. Wanci is the center of transportation, economics, finance, government and shopping.
The uniqueness of Wangi-Wangi is its easy access to different tourism activities. For visitors interested in culture, the village of Bajo Mola and heritage sites like Liya Togo offer interesting surroundings and cultural events. The island’s beaches invite you to swim and the freshest seafood awaits you in the three markets. With a motorbike or a car everything is in easy reach, and with only two major roads, getting around is simple.
For diving enthusiasts there are many accessible dive spots around Wangi-Wangi and Kapota Islands. Thanks to its airport and harbor that connects the island with other parts of Indonesia, diving around Wangi Wangi is the easiest option. You can find a descent number of dive operators who can advise you about the best spots and current conditions.
They also usually have one or two secret spots up their sleeve that are not yet mapped. The most frequently dived sites are Waha Cemara, Sombu, Nua Shark Point, Wandoka Pinnacle, Kapota Pinnacle, Waha Wall, Jepang, The Zoo, Tanjung Kapota and The Berandals Cavern. Below is a full description of the most popular dive sites around Wangi Wangi and its smaller neighbor Kapota.
Dive Sites in Wangi Wangi:
“Kaledupa Island takes its name from “Kauhedupa”- which means incense wood”.
Before the arrival of the Butonese in Wakatobi, Kaledupa was the island of the ruling kingdom. Stepping foot on Kaledupa you will instantly be taken by the island’s glorious beauty and come to understand why the royals chose it as their home. Coconut trees and mangrove forests greet you at the shoreline and behind them lays the most fertile land in Wakatobi.
The island is home to peaceful villages of beautiful wooden stilt houses with gardens full of shady trees from which the many birds give free music concerts each day. The quiet calm of the island’s forest, and the sight of its rolling green hills, will steal your heart immediately.
Iconic Attractions in Kaledupa
- Bajo Mantigola Village
- Bajo Sampela Village
- Hoga Island
- Lariangi Dance
- Limbo Langge
- Mangrove Forest
- Sombano Lake & Village
Dive Sites in Kaledupa
Near the island of Kaledupa, surrounded by pristine coral, lies its small neighbor, Hoga Island. Thanks to its unique and rich underwater world many student researchers regularly reside on this island and take part in a program run by Operation Wallacea, an organization focused on conservation research.
This small paradise hosts no less than 22 dive sites, all of which can be accessed within 30 minutes by boat. Channel Drop Off, Outer Pinnacle, The Ridge, Coral Garden, North Wall, Pak Kasim´s and Baby Batfish are the most popular. Your local dive operator will know which spots suit you best. On Hoga there are a few dive operators and two resorts who offer diving. Kaledupa also has a few dive sites, Kaledupa Double Spurs being the most popular of them.
“The largest number of dive sites in Wakatobi”.
Tomia is highly regarded for the beauty of the underwater world that surrounds it. But curious visitors who keep their eyes open will soon notice this beauty does not stop at sea level. Arriving from the ocean, the island’s wild white-sand beaches and soaring cliffs await you.
Many lively villages are spread throughout Tomia as well as an ancient heritage site. Discover the nearly unexplored neighboring islands with their unique wildlife and incredible beaches, or head to Tomia’s night market for local delicacies. Thanks to its popularity among divers, the island has good infrastructure with many hotels and homestays waiting for your arrival.
Iconic Attractions in Tomia
Dive Sites in Tomia
Tomia is the most famous destination for diving in Wakatobi. Numerous hotels, homestays, guesthouses, a luxury resort and many dive operators have gathered on Tomia and its small neighboring island. The crystal clear waters around the island host more than 40 dive sites that have been named and mapped. Most of the dive sites are easily accessible by boat. To choose a dive spot that suits your expecta-tions, level of experience and the season the best, ask a local dive operator. The most popular and loved dive sites are the Wreck of Kulati, Roma, Mari Mabuk, Ali Reef and Niko Alu of Kulati.
“Kepulauan Tukang Besi” – meaning Blacksmith Archipelago”.
Binongko might be the last abbreviation in the name of Wakatobi, but it certainly does not lag behind the other islands when it comes to natural and cultural beauty. It is a truly unspoiled land, full of rocky hills and dramatic cliffs, with inviting beaches, turtle breeding grounds and countless springs hidden throughout.
Another unique feature of Binongko are the island’s blacksmiths, who in the past gave the area of Wakatobi its name “Kepulauan Tukang Besi”, meaning Blacksmith Archipelago. These dedicated artisans are famous for producing high quality parang (machetes), which are exported throughout all of Indonesia. There are no hotels on Binongko to spoil the authenticity feeling, but there are plenty of traditional homestays with clean rooms and delicious food.
Iconic Attractions in Binongko
- Bante: Snorkeling and Topa Labago
- Binongko Beaches
- Flying Foxes at Topa Mata
- Lighthouse at Haka
- Sowa Mangrove Forest
- Tukang Besi (Black Smith)
- Turtle Point
Dive Sites in Binongko
The waters around Binongko remain little explored, except by its inhabitants who fish using small boats and traditional tools. There is no dive operator in Binongko. Adventurous divers seeking to explore the far reaches of Wakatobi’s underwater world will have to rent a boat from nearest island (Tomia) and bring all their dive equipment (including filled tanks) to Binongko. However, it is well worth the effort as Binongko offers a rich and pristine marine environment.
A variety of hard corals dominate the dive sites on the west of the island, and while in the east corals are scarcer and hundreds of turtles can be found. Thanks to strict protections under local law, the turtle population here is very healthy, making it the turtle capital of Wakatobi. The conditions depend on the season, with easterly or westerly winds. To date, 14 dive sites have been mapped around Binongko, with many more to follow in the future. Listed below are some of the ones that have been properly explored and assessed.