You may have thought Bali was paradise on Earth (which it practically is), but there are many more places in Indonesia that look like they came right out of a movie. One tropical region particularly tickled my fancy: Wonderful Wakatobi! Wakatobi an archipelago in southeastern Sulawesi, Indonesia, and consists of several islands. The four main islands are Wangi-Wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia, and Binongko (Wa-Ka-To-Bi). I visited Wakatobi last month and found the best places on Indonesia’s ultimate tropical islands. Let me tell you all about the most beautiful hotspots in the archipelago!
The Underwater World in Wakatobi National Park
The Wakatobi archipelago is located in the so-called Coral Triangle, a treasured ecoregion where we’ve identified hundreds of reef-building coral species. This means the islands themselves may already look like picture-perfect vacation destinations, but Wakatobi’s underwater world is even more breathtaking. The Coral Triangle only covers 0.6% of the planet’s oceanic area, but the region is home to a whopping 76% of all known coral species in the world. It comes as no surprise that most of Wakatobi is part of Wakatobi National Park, a protected marine reserve.
Cemara Beach: My Favourite Swimming Spot in Wakatobi
Cemara Beach looks exactly like one of those flawless beaches I imagine in my tropical vacation fantasies. The white sand and swaying palmtrees had me convinced: Cemara Beach is on of the prettiest beaches I’ve ever seen. It’s one of the best places on the islands to take a dip and go swimming in the sparkly blue waters. Locals often have lunch and barbecues at the beach and there are usually people selling fresh coconuts and ice-cream. It goes without saying that there are also nearby snorkelling and diving sites to admire the unique corals reefs and colourful fishes. I even saw a black and white sea snake slithering near the ocean floor. I was so excited that I accidentally made it angry, so don’t get too close!
Hoga Island: An (Almost) Deserted Paradise
If you think Cemara Beach sounds like a dream, wait until you see my photos of Hoga Island. Yep, I can confirm that Hoga Island is as close as you’re ever going to get to a deserted tropical island. I mean “deserted” like not actually deserted in the sense of being stranded with your best friend Wilson the Volleyball (forget about Jack and Rose, that farewell scene made me cry harder than Titanic ever did). Aside from a handful other vacationers, you’ll have the entire beach to yourself to sunbathe, swim, and snorkel. All you can hear is soft melody of the gentle waves rolling ashore. Rumour has it the reef at Hoga is one of the best in Wakatobi!
Visit a Bajo Village: The Last of the Sea Nomads
The Bajo people are a southeast asian ethnic group that spend most of their lives at sea. There are several villages in Wakatobi, close to Wangi-Wangi and Hoga island. The Bajo people are master fishermen and mainly earn their living by selling their catch. They build their houses, schools, and mosques on poles, high above the water surface. If the water is too deep to build a house, they gather rocks and reef to create a foundation. Their villages don’t have streets, but dozens of boardwalks and bridges that connect the families.
The traditional culture of the Bajo people is quickly changing. Some have started calling the Bajo the “last of the sea nomads”, so a visit to one of their villages is an extraordinary opportunity to get in touch with local culture. I thoroughly appreciated getting to see their way of living as they allowed us to visit their village. If you decide to go to one of the Bajo villages, do remember to behave in a respectful manner. You are visiting someone’s home, not a theme park!
How to Get to Wakatobi
The best way to get to Wakatobi is to fly to Matahora Airport on Wangi-Wangi island. Flying to Wakatobi from Jakarta is definitely the easiest option. Cemara Beach is located on Wangi-Wangi, but the beaches of Hoga Island and Bajo villages can only be reached by boat, which you will have to rent. Renting a boat is perhaps easiest as part of a tour package. Such tour packages usually include accommodation and stops at multiple destinations, like the places mentioned in this blog post. We explored the islands of Wakatobi with Wakatobi Dive Trip.
This blog post was made possible by the Trip of Wonders 2016 in #WonderfulIndonesia. A very special thanks to Indonesia.Travel for inviting me on this incredible journey! Another thank you to Raphael of Journey Wonders for snapping the photo of me in my snorkelling gear!