Bungalows at the water’s edge. White sand beaches. Pristine, protected coral reefs that start a few steps from the water’s edge.
Wakatobi delivers everything a traveler expects in an Indonesian getaway without the one thing you won’t miss: crowds.
This private-island resort, just a two-and-a-half hour plane ride east of Bali, fronts a magnificent coral reef at its doorstep, and is home to just 25 bungalows and four villas. In other-words, it’s as private as it gets without buying your own island. Off the grid, yes—but Wakatobi’s attention to amenities and level of service provide so much extravagance that you get the best of both worlds: a natural island escape and a high-end getaway with unlimited pampering, especially for villa guests.
Wakatobi offers four villas, two with two full bedrooms and a private pool, and two one-bedroom models. As if luxuriating in your own secluded retreat weren’t heaven enough, each of the villas comes with butler service. Should you wish for a watermelon mojito or club soda and lime while sunbathing on your own stretch of sand, your butler will bring it to you. Guests of the villas also enjoy the services of a private snorkel or dive guide. This same guide is available to you throughout the entire trip, anytime you wish to scuba dive or snorkel. Your guide will lead you on a swim overtop the resort’s famed House Reef or on boat trips to nearby reefs, all the while pointing out unique fish and critters to help you make the most of your in-water time.
All guests of the resort with dive or snorkeling in their packages can partake in guided snorkel / dive trips from one the resort’s large boats. Every day, the crew brings guests to one of 40 named sites. Plus, all guests can enjoy unlimited snorkeling from shore on the house reef, one of the most renowned in the world for its clownfish, cuttlefish—cousins of the reef squid—schools of bright-pink and orange anthias fish, hard and soft corals in a rainbow of colors, as well as sea turtles, the occasional passing eagle rays and more.
What’s exceptional about the House Reef is that Wakatobi offers a service that few other resorts do. It’s a one-way boat-taxi service that will drop you at the far—or near—edge of the reef, allowing you to snorkel as much as you like, then meander your way back to the beach or the resort’s jetty. Easy.
For both snorkelers and divers, one of the reasons Wakatobi remains a top favorite resort is its seclusion. Situated within the famed ‘Coral Triangle,’ the resort is located in the Wakatobi Marine Reserve, the third-largest marine park in the country. Here, guests of the resort will typically see no other snorkelers/divers for many miles. That means unfettered access to pristine reefs where 500 species of reef-building corals crowd one another, creating habitat for an abundance of macro life, from nudibranchs to robust ghost pipefish. Moreover, the area is home to more than 2,000 fish species, including the exotic mandarinfish with its electric-cobalt coloring, and 15 species of frogfish.
When the day ends on Wakatobi, the colors keep going. On this tiny isle, sunsets—with their wispy bands of pastel pink and fuchsia—are the kind you settle in for. The best perch for taking in the show is the Jetty Bar, where drinks are served at the end of a long dock just a few feet above the waterline. There’s no better place to sip a Wakatobi mai tai or an icy cold beer while snapping sunset photos, relaxing as the pinks fade to black, and a canopy of stars claims the horizon stage. Come day’s end, you’ll also want to take time to plan your next day’s adventure, be it snorkeling or diving, or taking advantage of everything else offered at Wakatobi.
Such as the Wakatobi Spa. Here, treatments include body scrubs, Balinese massage and pedicures, all with products incorporating numerous botanical essences and the resort’s custom spa oil blends, which can be created based on a guest’s desired treatment.
Guests seeking active pastimes can paddleboard, kayak, kitesurf, or walk the Onemobaa nature trail and spy on local birds as well as monitor lizards. Trips to nearby island villages are also offered, allowing guests the chance to experience a bit of local life, including customs and traditions.
Another unique opportunity is a picnic on a private portion of the beach. Resort staff pack a high-end picnic—with sparkling wine and a wide variety of treats—for you to enjoy while playing castaway. For an afternoon, you and yours can enjoy the utmost in seclusion before returning to the resort. Here, you just might realize that as much as the fantasy of your own island sounds incredible, it’s much more satisfying to visit an island that includes the services of snorkel and dive guides, chefs, massage therapists, bartenders, and ecology experts—who, together, create the one-of-a-kind luxury island retreat that is Wakatobi.