That the diving at Wakatobi in southeastern Sulawesi, Indonesia, is amazing will come as news to no one. Here’s a quick peek at our top five favorite dive sites at Wakatobi.

There are three scheduled boat dives per day at Wakatobi Dive Resort, a little slice of paradise in southeastern Sulawesi, Indonesia, but guests can jump in on the House Reef whenever they choose. The diving at any one of the 45 or so sites within reach of the resort is amazing, but even so we had a few favorites when we visited the resort ourselves. Here’s a quick peek at our favorite five dive sites at Wakatobi.

Table Coral City

 

From the moment we dropped in on Table Coral City, we knew we were in for a treat. Thousands of schooling fusiliers met us under the boat as we descended to the pinnacle, covered in the large growths of mushroom-shaped table coral that give the site its name. Peeping out among the table coral were other, equally evocatively named patches of staghorn and cabbage coral: it was a feast for the eyes. Clinging to the slopes of the pinnacle were sponges, gorgonian fans and anemones galore, occupied by irritable but adorable clownfish. Barracuda glided above as we circled the seamount, searching for frogfish and pygmy seahorses. Although we didn’t see any of the latter, Table Coral City nonetheless earned a spot on our list.

Teluk Maya

Teluk Maya, meaning Maya Bay, offers a few dive sites in one. Shallow coral gardens and patches of seagrass dot the sandy bay, offering a variety of environments to explore. As the slope gives way to a wall, there’s even more to explore. We spent most of our time cruising the glorious wall, peeking into overhangs sheltering crabs and lobsters. A school of rays cruised by just overhead but too far away to capture on camera. Reef fish swirled and nudibranchs hid in plain site as we followed a cuttlefish along, slowly going about its business.

Roma

It’s not fair to pick favorites, but if it were, Roma would be it. As we descended onto the wide pinnacle, the site’s signature attraction, a gigantic pink rosette coral came into view below. Large schools of fusiliers and triggerfish flitted about and small fans gorgonians offered a chance for the keen-eyed to spot pygmy seahorses. We had almost instant success spotting one this time, and spent a good portion of the dive just watching the tiny, pink creature do its best to ignore us. Turtles, banded sea snakes and schooling barracuda all dropped by to make this site even more spectacular.

 

Photo by Mathis Weatherall

Photo by Mathis Weatherall

The Zoo

Close to the resort, the Zoo holds all manner of macro marine life. This patch reef in a sandy-bottomed bay shelters frogfish, leaf scorpionfish, ornate ghost pipefish — the gang’s was all there when we descended to take a look. Even better is a dusk dive here, when shy mandarinfish coquettishly court among the rubble and staghorn coral. Males put on a show for females, twisting and turning and trying to impress. Once an arrangement is made, the two fish intertwine and rise toward the surface together, mating along the way.

Photo by Mark Snyder

Photo by Mark Snyder

Black Forest

Black Forest is named for the plentiful outcroppings of black coral, which resides deep at this wall site. A slope connects the depths to the shallows and, because of ear problems, this is where I spent most of my time. The shallows here are just as seductive as the depths, luckily, and I was treated to sun-dappled yellow and purple corals and clouds of busy fish. Oriental sweetlips, clown triggerfish, Moorish idols, clownfish and sergeant majors all appeared in turn. A few turtles slept under coral heads as well, rising only for a breath and to drift along the ridge, which seemed to go on forever.

 

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