Wakatobi two years later
by Nick Ferris
The Wakatobi Resort is on a very small island off southeastern Sulawesi, Indonesia. We dived there in late April 2005, and went back in early May 2007, expecting everything would be about the same. Which had been pretty good in every way. But things seldom stay the same for very long.
The resort has more cabins (bungalows), both north and south of the main buildings and dock. They are very nice, with hot water (if you let it run long enough to violate the “sea shower” rule). There is a new, spiffy restaurant. The restaurant serves nutritious food, but after a week it was the “same ol’ sane ol’” The resort can now take 52 guests. But there is more walking, lots of rules and procedures to remain aware of, and the need for changing out of wet gear to eat lunch – then back to wet clothes for the afternoon dive. After we arrived we were subjected to a series of lectures by the staff, which went right through dinner. There is a non-diving German manager now, who had me looking for his monocle and maybe an iron cross. We had to turn over our passports for a couple of days. Can’t be too careful who ends up at remote dive resorts.
And one of the divemasters is keen on no one touching anything, including sand at the bottom. One should not kneel on the sand while taking pictures. If there is current (nearly always), why, a divemaster will hold you steady for your shot. Sure. The divemaster will be far below examining gorgonians with a magnifying glass for pygmy sea horses. Now I’m not against microscopic sea life, but most of the interest and activity seems to center on these things. Indonesia may be the center of development of coral, with more than 400 species, but you would never know it. The coral and sponges are many, healthy, varied, of every color, and seldom mentioned. There were no talks, day or night, about the reef environment. For that you have to hear Mel Cundiff at a CUPS meeting.
There are now four nice, big, dive boats in service each day. They are good boats with midships exits and entries, and good crews. They handle cameras well. The camera room ashore is really two rooms, pretty much filled (not over crowded) with camera gear, batteries, chargers, etc.
We observed fewer lionfish this time, and no crocodilefish – something in good supply two years ago. We had some rainy and windy weather for two or three days, another departure from the situation two years ago. No, I don’t blame the new management; but it is interesting that there are changes in weather and wildlife even at nearly the same point on the calendar.
While the facilities are good, the ambience is fading. Perhaps one should just let a good experience become a great memory, and not try to repeat it