Wakatobi Regency is a group of islands in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia, consisting of Wangi-Wangi Island (as the capital of this regency), Kaledupa Island, Tomia Island, Binongko Island – which all form the acronym for Wakatobi itself. Covering for 1.4 million hectares of marine biodiversity, Wakatobi is a national park and habitat for over 900 fish species and 750 coral reef species.
Wakatobi can be reached by flights from various cities in Indonesia to Wangi-Wangi, or Bau-bau (then take the public boat to one of the Wakatobi’s big island). While you can get public boats between the islands, make sure to check the schedule because they don’t run so frequently.
Overview of the islands in Wakatobi
When you want to visit Wakatobi, it would be best if you know the overview of the islands to help you decide on where you want to stay or spend most of the time during your visit to Wakatobi:
- As the capital of Wakatobi, Wangi-Wangi is one of the busiest islands, where most flights land from other cities in Indonesia. It has plenty of restaurants, ATMs, and hotels.
- Kaledupa Island is surrounded by mangrove forests and palm trees, where you can find old fortresses, some old mosques, and lots of stilt house settlements. Some homestays are available in Kaledupa Island. Across this island, there is a Hoga Island with long empty beach and offshore coral reefs, where you can find Hoga Dive Resort, one of the recommended dive resorts on this island.
- Tomia Island can be reached 3-4 hours from Wangi-Wangi by public boat. It is inhabited by three different tribes and linked by a single road that you can drive around to see the interesting things for a day. There are several dive resorts and simple homestays on this island, making it the most developed island for diving.
- Binongko Island is an island of the blacksmiths, steep cliffs, rocky hills, with dry climate than the other islands. There are dozens of homestays and hotels on the island that are hard to find online.
Best things to do in Wakatobi
As one of the most popular destinations in Indonesia, these are the best things to do in Wakatobi:
- Snorkeling and scuba diving with the highest number of reefs and fish species in the world.
- Island hopping in Wakatobi National Park, including to Hoga Island, Kaledupa, Binongko.
- Encounter the swimming dolphins in their natural habitat of Cape Kapota, Wangi-Wangi.
- Seeing the way of life of the Bajo tribe in the Mola village of Wangi-Wangi island, or Bajo Sampela in Kaledupa. Known as the original inhabitant of Walatobi and as nomadic sea gypsies, Bajo people are believed to be able to survive at sea without food and modern equipment for months.
- Visiting Bukit Kayangan Puncak Tomia, a hill on the Tomia Island from where you can see a panoramic landscape and astonishing sunset.
- Experiencing the traditional local life with the inhabitants of Liya Togo Village in Wangi-Wangi, and visiting View Point and the fortress in this village.
- Exploring Lakasa Cave in the Sulaa village in Bau-bau city, or Kontamale Water Cave in Wangi-Wangi, where you can find the limestone fresh water pool in the cave.
- Tasting local cuisine, like Kasuami made from cassava as a substitute for rice, Parande fish soup, Karasi snack made from cassava, and Laluta, which is grilled sticky rice, etc.
- Shopping for Wakatobi handicrafts handmade by local villagers.
- Witnessing the Lariangi Dance, a national dance of Wakatobi Regency performing 12 girls representing 12 nations.
Top dive sites around Wakatobi
As one of the top scuba diving destinations in the world, Wakatobi has a warm water temperature between 26-30 Celcius throughout the year. Here are some top dive sites in Wakatobi where you can explore:
- Coral Garden
- House Reef
- The Zoo
- Teluk Maya
- Turkey Beach
- Lorenzo’s Delight
- Table Coral City
- Black Forest
- Treasure Chest