A DIVERS PARADISEAs man inexorably encroaches upon the world’s last remaining wildernesses, it’s increasingly hard to find pristine places to dive. Sadly, mass tourism now intrudes upon locations that only a decade ago were considered extraordinarily remote. It is reassuring that some places remain beyond the reach of human interference. Wakatobi Dive Resort in southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia, is one such place.

The Wakatobi archipelago stretches in a south easterly direction from the tip of the Sulawesi mainland; starting with Wangi-Wangi, then to Kaledupa, Tomia and finally Binongko Island. The first two letters of each island create the acronym WA-KA-TO-BI, after which the resort gets its name.

To reach this forgotten corner of the planet, you can’t hop on an easyJet flight. During the resort’s early years of the 90s, long ferry and overland journeys lasted several days. Thankfully, in order to more easily share their magnificent reefs, Wakatobi decided to build a private airstrip on a neighbouring island. Exclusive flights now run twice a week directly from Bali to the resort, making access easier than ever.

HEART OF THE MATTERIt is well documented that, sitting at the heart of the Coral Triangle, the biodiversity in the waters around Wakatobi is extremely high. Twenty kilometres of reef are protected around the resort and here literally thousands, or more likely millions, of reef creatures flourish.

While the resort is a perfect base to explore the immediate area, to voyage beyond the Sawa reef systems to even more remote and unvisited sites requires a liveaboard. In 2005, Wakatobi Dive Resort acquired Pelagian to do just this job, and she has been cruising there ever since. Together, Wakatobi Dive Resort and Pelagian offer the perfect combination for experiencing the wider region.

LUXURY LODGINGS Several aspects of Wakatobi Dive Resort stand it apart from other dive resorts: the extremely high level of service, five-star accommodations and gourmet food - not to mention the diving. There are three tiers of accommodation offered at the resort, from Palm Bungalows nestled among tropical vegetation just a stone’s throw from the lapping waves, to the middle tier Ocean Bungalows, which offer a porch affording stunning views out across the flat tropical waters. The most opulent level of accommodation options are the villas. With unobstructed views of the ocean, and sunsets, the four spacious yet private villas are surely the gold standard of dive resort lodgings anywhere in the world. With a butler to optimise your holiday on land, and a private dive guide for your in water experience, what could be better? One and two bedroom villas offer different options for families and the latter even have private pools.

If food is high on your list - and let’s be honest, what diver doesn’t need a good feed after a long day of diving? - then you’ll be more than catered for at Wakatobi, with buffet style international cuisine served in an open air dining room overlooking the ocean. It’s very easy to forget how remote Wakatobi actually is when you have such outstanding fresh food served daily. Most of the supplies come from Bali by plane and the logistics behind the operation, that go on seamlessly behind the scenes, must surely be military in their planning.

Wakatobi is one of the world’s most wellknown dive resorts, and for good reason. Over the years Wakatobi has developed into a leader in quality of diving accommodations, ambience and dining. Ultimately, however, the key to the resort’s success has been the outstanding diving.

The diving is accessible to all levels, with corals growing all the way from the surface to the deepest realms of the rebreather diver, so let’s explore some of what its reefs have to offer...