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Thread: Wakatobi Trip Report

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    Shearwater Copis Diver Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy's Avatar
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    Copis Meg and rEvo III

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    Wakatobi Trip Report

    We recently visited Wakatobi Dive Resort (Wakatobi Dive Resort - A World-class diving resort in Southeast Sulawesi Indonesia), and I wanted to give a trip report on our experience.

    For several years now we have been tempted by Wakatobi’s colorful web site promising pristine reefs and 5 star creature comforts and boasting all those positive user reviews. Having not been on a dive trip in two years since becoming pregnant, my wife wanted a more luxurious vacation, not one of our usual dive expedition trips that often leave us as exhausted as they do exhilarated. Traveling internationally for the first time with our 14-month-old daughter upped the ante quite a bit as well. We figured simply pulling off a successful trip without having to do everything ourselves, like dragging kegs of scrubber, dill and bailout tanks half way around the world or coordinate o2 from a local hospital or welding company would be enough of a challenge. The remoteness of Wakatobi, its location within the coral triangle of Indonesia, combined with it’s high level of personalized care and technical diving assistance made it irresistible for where we were in our lives. We just had to see for ourselves if it measured up to all it promised.

    It’s no secret, Wakatobi is one of the more expensive remote dive locations in Indonesia, an area where some amazing bargains can often be found not far away. So why would people fly half way around the world to stay there and spend all that cash rather than stay at one of the other less expensive resorts or liveaboards? Like so many things with respect to this sport, the question for the discerning diver really comes down to a matter of value. Just as owning a rebreather isn’t limited to just the rich and famous (we are neither), going to a dive resort like Wakatobi can be accessible to even those who are usually thrifty but looking for a special experience and willing to pay more, if only they can be convinced that the value is there. The question on everyone’s mind is “Is it worth it?”… I will attempt to answer that question, though the answer to such a question is ultimately relative to one’s expectations and desires.

    Last edited by Gill Envy; 7th September 2010 at 20:36.

    Gill Envy

  2. #2
    Shearwater Copis Diver Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy's Avatar
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    Copis Meg and rEvo III

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    Re: Wakatobi Trip Report

    What sets Wakatobi apart?

    Preparing for the journey there:

    It is a first for me to go to a resort that attempts to so clearly state what it has to offer and clearly understand what your expectations are before you get there and at measured intervals throughout the trip, checking to see if anything can be adjusted to better suit your desires. A sort of “Fantasy Island”, the staff at Wakatobi attempt to identify what your ultimate experience would be and match it, if not even surpass it, in a measured way. Of course there are limits to what can be provided for so far away from a major metropolitan center, but the staff do everything they can to try to, and I quote, “make this the best vacation you’ve ever had”.

    From pre-trip check ins to VIP lounge Airport transfers, the stress of traveling to this remote location is lessened by the thoughtful Bali office staff who make sure someone is there to greet you in Denpasar when you arrive, even if you are staying in Bali for a while at a non-affiliated resort on either end of the stay. They’ll even help you book a hotel in Bali, in advance, within your price range and arrange transportation that will be waiting for you when you get off the plane and upon return.


    The Diving:

    Wakatobi’s web site boasts of protected, pristine reefs. It’s hard to know what to call pristine these days as the worlds reefs are in decline. Indonesia has been known for dynamite and cyanide fishing and climate changes are sparing no one (the sea level has risen 4 inches in 10 years at the resort!). All of that said, Wakatobi has created an exceptional marine protected area in a very well thought out deal with the locals where extra electricity that the resort produces goes to the local village in exchange for their stewardship of the reefs. The locals actually patrol the reefs, honoring the no fishing zones and even keeping poachers out. To the discerning eye, signs of old damage to the reef from before they were protected can be seen here and there below the new growth, and a few patches of bleaching can be seen on occasion, but the reef does appear to be thriving and there are significant stretches of healthy “old growth” reef building hard coral, which is very hard to find anywhere in the world at this point. The quest for the last of the worlds pristine reefs has often left me a bit jaded but I can say that Wakatobi’s reefs are remarkably healthy and relatively “pristine” compared to a lot of places and the prospects of them growing even denser and more mature without the onslaught of poor fishing and poor diving management practices that are all too common at many resorts makes the prospects of future visits to Wakatobi very alluring. Along with the efforts to keep fishing away from the dive sites, the dive staff is truly vigilant about protecting the reef from divers, encouraging good diving habits and forbidding photographers from smashing the reef for that perfect shot. They are adamant that if you violate their policy, you will, after a few warnings, be sitting out the rest of the trip (and they mean it).

    Last edited by Gill Envy; 7th September 2010 at 20:41.

    Gill Envy

  3. #3
    Shearwater Copis Diver Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy's Avatar
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    Copis Meg and rEvo III

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    Re: Wakatobi Trip Report

    The Tech services:

    One of the intriguing things that brought us to Wakatobi is the support of rebreathers. They provide BO, dill and O2 tanks and fills as well as Safnolyme and they have a reasonably well stocked service center for most repairs. Wakatobi has a variety of tech service packages to choose from including a CCR package which covers unlimited o2 and dill fills and scrubber and a trimix package which provides unlimited trimix BO and dill fills.

    Initially we did have mixed feelings about the thought of having a dive master with us on our dives, as ever since going CCR, we’ve enjoyed the freedom of setting our own limits on self guided dives far from any tank clanking, finger wagging dive masters. We were pleasantly surprised as, at the time, Wakatobi had a very technically savvy rebreather diver on staff named Kris Harrison, who is an excellent guide. He was not too heavy handed, and very capable of helping plan and carry out deeper dives, and even kindly offered tips to adjusting gear, improving trim and buoyancy if you wish. Honestly it was a wonderful opportunity to fine tune our skills. To get some 50 hours of quality time with an instructor is pretty awesome!

    As the days passed we got better about being ready to get in the water first and out last, getting the most out of our dives while sharing the boat with OC divers. Dives were limited to between 70 and 100 minutes. We did miss the 90-150 minute dives we usually get to pack in when diving on a rebreather dedicated boat. A private boat can be hired at Wakatobi which would allow 2.5 hr dives, but is more realistic with a group of 4 or more CCR divers to help defray costs ($500 extra a day per boat).

    Between my wife and I, I was the one who was trimix certified and looking forward to progressing to some deeper depths somewhere other than the inky black, freezing waters of the Pacific North Western US. I did not make it clear to the upper Wakatobi management in the pre-trip planning stage that I would be interested in doing some deeper dives if everything were going well for my wife and child. My first priority was to my daughter and making sure her needs would be covered for the trip, then to my wife who really needed a vacation from her 50 hr a week job and wanted a mellow first time back in the water since taking her 2 year maternity leave from diving. So I guess it was not all too surprising that when I started mentioning wanting deeper mixes and more bail out that the higher level management was caught a bit off guard. I had talked this through with Kris over many emails (we met on RBW) leading up to choosing Wakatobi, but the upper management seemed caught of guard to find this out once the stay had begun. It also seemed that they did not have full faith in the assessment capabilities of their tech dive master, which I found ironic, as he turned out to be clearly the most knowledgeable and up to date tech diver at the resort.

    In retrospect I think Wakatobi is at the beginning of truly opening up to tech diving and think that they have a lot of potential. We had a wonderful time, I only wish that I had spoken up early in the pre-trip planning stage and made it clear that if all went well with my daughter and wife that I would like to explore some of the deeper walls on my own with the dive master. Their beautiful deep wall dives and clear, blue warm water make it a perfect place for intermediate tec divers to come and expand their diving a bit, and even potentially get higher level tech training, in a very relaxed and competent atmosphere. As the trip progressed and I felt ready to go deeper, we did eventually get some workable mixes for a 75 and 90 meter dive, it just felt a little weird to have them apparently try and set the limits for me by limited BO mixes and tank sizes. I would suggest to them that they treat tech divers differently than their OC clients, who they are used to having 100% control over. I don’t know how they will reconcile that tech divers are trained to be much more independent and are used to setting their own limits, planning their own dill and BO mixes and simply put, don’t take it kindly to upper management trying to micro manage and second guess. I’m chalking it up to tech diving being a new thing for a resort that is used to having a lot of control over it’s clients. For anyone planning a trip to Wakatobi who wants to do technical diving there, I highly recommend getting very clear with the upper management about what your expectations and needs are beforehand so that if they need more Helium or anything else, that they have some time to make accommodations for you before you get there, as they need extra time to get supplies to the island and also to give them plenty of time to assess your certifications and ability. We did have a wonderful trip with our rebreathers and did some awesome diving thanks to Kris and are looking forward to coming back and exploring more of the beautiful reefs. Kris helped my wife become so comfortable with her gear that she now is interested in taking a trimix course… in warm water! We are very sad to hear that Kris is no longer working at Wakatobi and would hope that they find someone as experienced and savvy to replace him. Kris really made the tec diving experience exceptional for us and helped me achieve my first 90 meter dive! (thanks Kris!)
    Last edited by Gill Envy; 7th September 2010 at 20:50.

    Gill Envy

  4. #4
    Shearwater Copis Diver Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy's Avatar
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    Re: Wakatobi Trip Report

    The Accommodations and Food:

    It’s all too easy to take for granted just what a feat it is to pull off providing a full service resort in the middle of nowhere. To fully enjoy Wakatobi it is important to have realistic expectations and appreciate the level of luxury they have in contrast to how far off the beaten path they are. If you take the tour of the grounds you see first hand the reverse osmosis desalinization system, the massive compressor systems, the quiet electrical generation systems and much more. All of this provides things like potable water running from every tap, air conditioning in each room, quiet air compressors, Nitrox, Oxygen and even Helium for trimix. To keep all the wheels turning smoothly in a place that gets one flight every 10 to 11 days, it takes 3 staff for every visitor, that’s roughly 150 staff for 50 visitors, and that is a big part of what you are paying a premium for.

    The massage spa was very tastefully put together! The quality of the massage was quite good, reasonably priced and easy to schedule. The rooms were quite nice and air conditioned, with a private open sky shower with fresh water! Again, fresh water is a big deal in a place where salt water comes out of the ground. You will enjoy a place like Wakatobi more if you do not take these things for granted. It’s best to think of it more like a livaboard on land, with a lot more space.

    The food was nothing short of spectacular! Few remote places I’ve been in Indonesia can really pull off international fare (I've been to Ambon, Allor, Fiji and Bali). The Wakatobi chefs produce both excellent local and international cuisine. Each day you are greeted with a wide variety of things to choose from at each meal. My wife is a particular eater, liking mostly vegetarian food and at both lunch and dinner, she was provided a special plate of excellent food that met her liking… they made sure of it!

    I’m a bit of a celebrated meat eater and at any given dinner we were presented with main course options such as fish, chicken, beef and even leg of lamb, all done to gourmet perfection. The fruit, vegetables and juices were fresh and delicious.
    Last edited by Gill Envy; 7th September 2010 at 20:54.

    Gill Envy

  5. #5
    Shearwater Copis Diver Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy has a reputation beyond repute Gill Envy's Avatar
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    Re: Wakatobi Trip Report

    The childcare:

    The prospects of continuing diving even though we are now parents has been taken to a whole new level now that we have been at an all inclusive resort such as Wakatobi, where full time childcare is offered in a way that makes the diving day possible and worry free. The manager even has a degree in early childhood education!

    From 7 AM till our daughter went to bed at night, our daughter had a caretaker who was devoted to keeping her safe and happy. Of all the people we are thankful to for our stay at Wakatobi, it is by far “Ifa” who deserves the biggest thank you! She took amazing care of our daughter and it did not take long before we gained confidence in her abilities, enough to truly relax. Whether it was out on the dives, at dinner or out at the jetty bar, sipping kamikaze’s under the the Milky Way, we actually had a much needed chance to reconnect as a couple thanks to the quality of care our toddler received. It was almost like not being parents for 11 days, though we did get to be with her whenever we wished.

    If you are a parent and are intimidated to go on a dive vacation, let alone in a third world country, let it be known that it is possible to have a wonderful dive vacation after becoming a parent, even a tec diving vacation!

    If you want an all inclusive, low stress, luxury experience, you can have a wonderful time at Wakatobi.

    Kind Regards,
    George
    Last edited by Gill Envy; 7th September 2010 at 20:56.

    Gill Envy

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    RBW Member jkaterenchuk has a reputation beyond repute jkaterenchuk has a reputation beyond repute jkaterenchuk has a reputation beyond repute jkaterenchuk has a reputation beyond repute jkaterenchuk has a reputation beyond repute jkaterenchuk has a reputation beyond repute jkaterenchuk has a reputation beyond repute jkaterenchuk has a reputation beyond repute jkaterenchuk has a reputation beyond repute jkaterenchuk has a reputation beyond repute jkaterenchuk has a reputation beyond repute jkaterenchuk's Avatar
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    Re: Wakatobi Trip Report

    George

    Thanks for the detailed and informative report.

    John

  7. #7
    Randy Thornton Mixaddict has much to be proud of Mixaddict has much to be proud of Mixaddict has much to be proud of Mixaddict has much to be proud of Mixaddict has much to be proud of Mixaddict has much to be proud of Mixaddict has much to be proud of Mixaddict has much to be proud of Mixaddict has much to be proud of Mixaddict has much to be proud of Mixaddict has much to be proud of Mixaddict's Avatar
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    Re: Wakatobi Trip Report

    Hi George,

    Thanks for the great write up! Sounds like you had a wonderful time!

    Regards,
    Randy

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    RBW Member Linda Bowen has much to be proud of Linda Bowen has much to be proud of Linda Bowen has much to be proud of Linda Bowen has much to be proud of Linda Bowen has much to be proud of Linda Bowen has much to be proud of Linda Bowen has much to be proud of Linda Bowen has much to be proud of Linda Bowen has much to be proud of Linda Bowen has much to be proud of Linda Bowen has much to be proud of Linda Bowen's Avatar
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    Re: Wakatobi Trip Report

    What an excellent report! Thank you.....you have a new job.

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    Re: Wakatobi Trip Report

    Hi George

    Great report

    Thanks

    Stuey

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    Re: Wakatobi Trip Report

    didnt realize they support rebreathers. good to know.

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