Out of the 17,000+ Indonesian islands spread out from Sabang to Merauke, Wakatobi archipelago is located south east of Sulawesi, Indonesia’s 4th biggest island. Wakatobi is known as a diving paradise, while Sulawesi is known for its Eastern Indonesian warm and innocent culture. On June 2016, I was on-board on a two-women journey to prove those sayings about Wakatobi and Eastern Indonesia.
Me and my high-school best friend, spent a total of 6 days and 5 nights in Wangi-Wangi and Tomia, so you could say we’ve only been to Wa – To since we missed out Kaledupa and Binongko island. We did not plan at all what were we going to do in Wakatobi other than booking flight tickets and accommodation. This decision made our holiday a real travel experience and a fun adventure of two women conquering Wakatobi.
“Spontaneity is the best kind of adventure"
I’m encouraged to write this blog post because of the lack of information on how to travel around Wakatobi on budget. Also, because I believe there is so much more to Indonesia than Bali. There is so much beauty hidden in this thousand islands archipego that worths more exposure. So here it goes!
How to get there:
The cheapest way to get to Wakatobi is to fly from Jakarta by taking Lion Air / Wings Air. The journey will take around 5 hours in total including one transit at Makassar and one short stop in Kendari. It’s important that you stay on the airplane when you arrive in Kendari since the same airplane will fly directly to Kendari!
| Jakarta to Wangi-Wangi | Cost: ± Rp 2,000,000 (~USD 180) | Time: ± 5 hours | Booking: www.traveloka.com |
“You’ll get to ride this cool plane from Makassar – Kendari – Wangi-wangi"
From Wangi-wangi, you could take boat to Kaledupa and Tomia. There are daily boats running from Mola and Bajal Harbour. It is a challenge to get a confirmed schedule for what time the boats leave from either the harbour. When you get to Wangi-wangi, ask 2-3 different people to get the schedule. There should be one boat leaving in the morning (around 9 or 10 am) and another one in the afternoon (around 2.30 pm). For us it costs Rp 100.000 to get to Tomia using the slow boat (4-5 hours) or Rp 130.000 using the speed boat (2.5 hours).
| Wangi-wangi to Tomia | Cost: ± Rp 100,000-Rp130,000 (~USD 8-10) / person | Time: 4-5 hours |
PS: You could try contacting this number for boat schedule KM Dito: +6282349211371
10 different things to do in Wakatobi:
1. Rent a motorcycle and get around the islands
| Cost: ± Rp 100,000-Rp130,000 (~USD 8-10) / 2 people | Time: 4-5 hours |
Here are some snapshots we took while going around Wangi-Wangi and Tomia Island.
2. Sunbathe by the beach
| Cost: FREE | Time: As long as you want to |
Hondue Beach @Tomia Island
Snorkelling in Wakatobi is seriously bad for you. Because after this experience, it will be hard for you to enjoy your future snorkelling experience. The variety of corals and fishes are so abundant. We got the chance to explore Magnifica, a diving area in Tomia. This place is perfect for snorkelling because you can see the corals and fishes without having to dive deep. I wish I have some photos to share about the beauty of Roma’s coral reefs, but I broke my Xiao Mi Yi the day arrive in Tomia.
| Cost: boat rental ± Rp 300.00 (~USD 25) / person for 2-3 sites| Time: 6-9 hours |
Me and my friend never planned to try diving because neither of us have a diving license. We were lucky to find out that Tomia Dive Centre can provide a 1-on-1 discovery diving for newbie divers! That day I embraced myself and went diving twice with a total dive time of 1 hour and 10 minutes.
| Cost: Rp 600.00 (~USD 50) / dive|
These picture should give enough explanation about how amazing the feeling is.
5. Watch the sunset
Where to catch sunset?
Wangi-wangi: Pantai Waha/Cemara
Tomia: Pantai Wah, Bukti Kahiangga
Pantai Waha, Tomia
Pantai Waha, Tomia
6. Island hopping
These set of photos below are the very reason that made us two women go crazy. Crazy enough to book air tickets the next day to wherever this place is. So, these set of photos are taken in a small island near Tomia, Pulau Ndaa. Pulau Ndaa is a small inhabited island with huge sand bank when the tide is low.
Photo credit: indohoy.com
There is no regular boat to Tomia. To get there, we have to charter a boat that can bring you there. I would suggest to find a speed boat or larger boat that can survive huge waves.
For us, we chartered a boat from Tomia Scuba Diving Centre. Unfortunately, that day the waves were to big for a small wooden boat we rented to travel. Instead, Dr. Yudi, the owner of Tomia Scuba Diving Centre, suggested us to go to Pulau Sawa instead. Pulau Sawa is located West of Pulau Tomia and it can be reached in around 30 minutes.
We arrived Magnifica diving area, which is roughly 1.5 km away from Pulau Sawa, at around 10.30 AM. At that time, the tide is low, around adult’s knee high. In order to get to Pulau Sawa, we either have to walk the distance or take smaller boat that happens to be around where we stopped by. We took the latter option and get in the smaller boat to get close to Pulau Sawa.
Similar to Pulau Ndaa, Pulau Sawa is also an inhabited island that also has beautiful large sand bank! We took our time and circle the island by foot and it’s just as pretty as the pictures of Pulau Ndaa. The white sand, the blue sky, the crystal blue water and the feeling of being secluded. The photos we took will say the thousand words needed to explain the beauty.
Bring your best friend here, lay down at the beach and talk about life with him / her. It’s an amazing way to think, be inspired and figure out the way of life you want.
| Cost: Rp 1.500.000 (~USD 120) / day for boat rent|
7. Hang out with locals and fellow travellers
Meeting new friends is always part of the perks from travelling. You’ll meet some fellow travellers around Wakatobi and also local folks that lives there. We were lucky to meet two Italian guys on our first, who turned out to be our travelling buddies for the rest of the trip.
What surprised us is that we met so many nice local folks that helped us to survive this two-women-against-the-world trip. Two most needed to be mentioned will be:
1) A group of Jakarta folks who we met at a restaurant in Wangi-Wangi. They treated us dinner when we arrived at the restaurant to find it was already closed.
2) Two local guys who helped us to get a beach after we got lost walking 40 minutes looking for it. Plus, they also gave us two free coconuts when we mentioned we want to buy it.
| Cost: Free, you just need to open up :)|
8. Hangout at nice resort
On the last day of the trip, we decided to stay at a nicer resort in Pulang Wangi-wangi. I would suggest you to do the same, since you will need one rest day after all that adventurous days around Wakatobi. We chose to stay at Patuno Resort, and we were lucky to be upgraded to their Beach Cottage!
Patuno resort provide free pick up service, which is amazing because there is no public transportation available in Wangi-Wangi. They also have an amazing restaurant that serves an array of local and international cuisine. It’s a perfect place to set back and prepare yourself to go back to your busy life in the city.
Patuno Resort also have this natural pool where you can try snorkelling if you want to. We also heard they are thinking to bring some dolphins into this pool.
| Cost: Rp 400.000 (~USD 35) / night|
9. Eat seafood the local way!
Throughout our trip we had dinner at only 4 different house food (it’s a literal translation from the Indonesian word “Rumah Makan"), since they don’t have an established place that we usually call restaurant. Nonetheless, these rumah makan serve amazingly good seafood they Indonesian way!
Must try dish: Sup ikan parende
Where to eat seafood:
1) Wangi- Wangi
a) Hotel Wakatobi
b) Hotel Wisata Indah
c) Patuno Resort
There is no rumah makan available in Tomia, your best bet is to enjoy home-cooked meal if you choose to stay at Penginapan Abi Jaya.
10. Eat gasoline-grilled chicken satay at Lakota Beach
Last but not least, I highly recommend to try the chicken satay sold at Lakota Beach in Tomia. Chicken satay is a grilled chicken skewers with super amazingly good peanut sauce as the condiment. It’s perfect to share with friends while watching the sun set at Lakota Beach.
| Cost: Rp 2000 (~USD 0.15) / skewers|
Wakatobi may seem to be unheard and under-developed compared to Bali or Raja Ampat. I would say don’t think too much and just go ahead and come here if you are looking to explore Indonesia outside Bali. It’s an amazing place that has many adventures for you to explore. I hope this blog post can give you all a picture about how Indonesia has so much more to offer other than Bali!
Feel free to email me at email@example.com if you have any questions about Wakatobi.