Snorkeling the reefs of southern Sulawesi
‘Wakatobi’ is the acronym that is based upon the names of the four main islands located in the province of Sulawesi Tengarra, about 100 kilometers southeast of Sulawesi, Indonesia. The islands from north to south are WAngi-Wangi (the capital), KAledupa, TOmea, and BInongko. The Wakatobi Marine Conservation Area was established in 1996 to protect the incredibly healthy and diverse reefs around the islands, and in 2002 the entire archipelago became the third largest national park in Indonesia, Wakatobi National Park. In 2012, it was designated as a UNESCO Marine Biosphere Reserve. The location, shallow reefs, and level of protection make this the perfect place for snorkeling!
Lying along the junction between the Flores and Banda Seas, the islands are nearly at the geographical center of the Coral Triangle. Recent surveys have confirmed its status as an area with some of the highest levels of marine biodiversity in the world. Fantastic shallow reefs cluttered with hundreds of species of corals surround the islands and the years of protection have allowed robust populations of reef fish, from the smallest gobies to the largest groupers and sharks, to flourish in the azure blue waters. It’s no wonder that Jacque Cousteau suggested that these islands possessed some of the finest diving in the world.
Click on the tour date below to read about trip details including accommodations, pricing, and how you can join us!
Day 1: Bali, Indonesia
Meals provided: D
Meet at our group hotel for our trip orientation and welcome dinner. Overnight Puri Santrian
Day 2 – 11: Wakatobi National Park
Meals provided: B,L,D
Our ten days in Wakatobi will be filled with snorkeling the local reefs around the islands. Vibrant coral reefs swarming with colorful tropical fish thrive in shallow, clear water, the benefit from decades of both local and national protection. Each day we have our own private boat that will take us to the best reefs Wakatobi has to offer. Of course, we will have plenty of opportunities to visit their ‘house reef’, one of the richest reefs in terms of both marine diversity and abundance. On one of the days we will have the chance to visit local villages to learn about island life in the Wakatobi regency. We will also plan on night snorkeling to watch some of the nocturnal activity on the reef as well as see critters that are usually inactive during the day like octopuses, scorpionfishes, and corals.
Day 12: Bali
Meals provided: B
After breakfast, we depart for Bali. Please note we have an afternoon flight that has us arrive in Bali around 2:00PM. Onward international connections or trip extensions.
What to Expect
Located 5 degrees south of the Equator, Wakatobi experiences year round tropical weather with average water temperatures in the lower 80’s (F) or upper 20’s (C). Even with the pleasant water temperatures, we strongly suggest some type of lightweight thermal protection such as a 2mm wetsuit or, at the minimum, a lycra suit. These suits also work to keep you protected from the strong sun. Our snorkel sessions often last up to three hours and we want everyone to enjoy as much time in the water as possible before the elements (or lunch!) force us back on land.
While water currents are common around the islands, we often plan our snorkel session around the slack tides when water movement is minimal. That being said, we do take full advantage of our dedicated boat and will plan to do a few drift snorkels that will allow us to cover large tracks of reef without having to swim too hard. Again, our snorkel sessions are 100% boat supported and they will be there at all times to assist anyone for whatever reason.
Special equipment you might consider are waterproof flashlights for our night snorkels. We recommend this light (click the link below) as it is lightweight, powerful, and fairly inexpensive:
For more information about our what to expect on our tours, please click on our page About our Tours to read about what a typical day of snorkeling looks like on most of our tour programs.