If you’re looking to plan an incredible Wakatobi itinerary, then this is the blog post for you. So grab a notebook and pen and let’s get planning!
Common questions, local tips and recommended activities are a hot topic in Wakatobi travel and we want to provide you with valuable information that makes sense.
Where is Wakatobi?
Wakatobi is to the southeast of Sulawesi Island. This regency is the perfect destination for travellers looking for a tranquil island getaway far from the sun worshipping crowds. The name “Wakatobi” has been crafted based on the names of it’s four main islands: Wangi-wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia and Binongko. It’s also a Marine National Park with the second largest coral reef in the world and home to more than 750 species of fish, 850 known types of coral, and 50 spectacular dive spots. The natural features make Wakatobi one of the world’s best places to dive and snorkel. Besides world-class diving, many lonely islands, unspoiled by tourism, await your arrival.
How to get to Wakatobi
To get to Wakatobi depends on your time and the budget you wish to spend.
The easiest and most practical access is by air, landing at Matahora Airport on Wangi-wangi Island. You can either fly to Makassar (Ujung Pandang) or Kendari before getting a connecting flight to Matahora directly, or fly to Betoambari Airport near Bau Bau (Buton Island).
There are several direct boat routes between Bau Bau on Buton Island and Wangi-wangi, Kaledupa or Tomia departing four to five times per week. The ferry usually departs from Pelabuhan Murhum to Wanci or from Wanci to Bau Bau. There are daily boats to the other Wakatobi islands leaving in the mornings.
Things To Do
Orient yourself and get introduced to the variety of islands in Wakatobi. Each has their own personality, history, vibe and even culture. So whether you’re planning a trip or wondering if Wakatobi would be your kind of place, it’s time to reveal the experiences to tick off on your first visit. Explore the different areas of the Wakatobi Islands below:
Wangi-wangi island is the main island of the archipelago. Wanci is the main town on the island. Wangi-wangi is the biggest island in Wakatobi, where you can find a bigger range of diving companies and hotels, and from there explore the whole park.
- Go for a swim or a shampoo in Kontamale cave (Goa Kontamale). It’s a freshwater cave in Wanci.
- For diving enthusiasts, there are many accessible dive spots around Wangi-wangi and Kapota Islands. The most frequented sites are Waha Cemara, Sombu, Nua Shark Point, Wandoka Pinnacle, Kapota Pinnacle, Waha Wall, Jepang, The Zoo, Tanjung Kapota and The Berandals Cavern.
- For visitors interested in culture, the village of Bajo Mola and heritage sites like Liya Togo offer interesting surroundings and cultural events.
- With its postcard-worthy scenery of beautiful white sand and shady tropical trees, Cemara Beach is the perfect place to take a break from diving.
- Watching dolphins: The best place to see dolphins is near Kapota Island, which is reachable within 40 minutes by boat from Mola Harbor. Here, you can see the Bajo’s best friends jumping and playing around the boats.
- Hopping over to Kapota Island is a wonderful choice. The best way to explore the island is by motorbike, which can be rented locally. Make sure to visit the huge bat cave full of stalagmites and stalactites.
- Experience the Wangi-wangi’s cultural heritage up close in Liya Togo Village.
- Watch the sunset, enjoy food and coffee and relax as night falls at Marina Bay.
- The lighthouse on Wangi-wangi offers breathtaking views. A good spot to enjoy a beautiful sunrise or sunset.
Sombu Jetty is the most popular and accessible diving and snorkeling spot on the island. Sombu is located close to the village Waha, to the north of Wanci.
Kaledupa is surrounded by mangrove forest and edged by palm trees. Kaledupa is the most fertile of the main islands.There are some iconic attractions in Kaledupa you may visit such as:
- Bajo Mantigola Village: This village is perhaps the most traditional among the local Bajo settlements.
- Bajo Sampela Village: Several thousand inhabitants live in its traditional wooden stilt houses, which are built on a coral stone base.
- A great way to discover the unique natural and cultural beauty of Kaledupa is by bicycle. The island’s roads will take you through villages, forests, vast landscapes and magnificent vistas, where an abundance of photo opportunities will present themselves.
- Visit Hoga Island: The island is blessed with white sand beaches, shady coconut groves and a beautiful reef perfect for extended snorkeling and diving sessions.
- Visit a traditional area in eastern Kaledupa as Limbo Langge. You can swim or snorkel in the crystal clear waters and, if you’re lucky, you might catch sight of a pod of dolphins in the lagoon, while closer to the coast you can also explore the stunning mangrove forests.
- Explore the mangrove forest. Capturing photos of the birds and butterflies can require a lot of experience and patience but the forest is full of excellent spots for it. The mangrove forest is situated 2km from Sombano village.
- The beautiful road takes you through a coconut tree forest with the ocean directly beside you if you visit Sombano Lake. The locals consider that Sombano Lake to be a sacred lake that is shrouded in many myths and legends.
Tomia is the most famous destination for diving in Wakatobi. Arriving from the ocean, the island’s wild white-sand beaches and soaring cliffs await you.
- Visit one of the highest points on Tomia called Kahianga Peak. The view from the top offers stunning vistas of the island’s long beaches and the small surrounding islands, making it a favorite sunset picnic spot among locals.
- See the stunning views of the turquoise sea and the majestic cliffs at Kulati Village. Kulati is blessed - with five beaches, a hidden cave and its own fish bank. Also, as the electricity in the village is turned off before midnight, the village is left in darkness save for the incredible illumination of the galaxies overhead. Whether taking in the night sky on the beach or in the village, be prepared for a jaw dropping view above, and just try counting all the shooting stars!
- Visit Lentea Island. Trekking through the forest is challenging, but the beauty of the island’s nature and wildlife will reward those who make the effort.
- Make sure to visit the small, uninhabited island of Nda’a - it is a true island paradise. The perfect place for beach lovers to swim, snorkel or just relax in total privacy.
- Patua Fort: From the top of the fort, you can also take in the magnificent views of the sea and the lowlands of Tomia. The site is also used for a diverse range of festivals and cultural events.
It is a truly unspoiled land, full of rocky hills and dramatic cliffs, with inviting beaches, turtle breeding grounds and countless springs hidden throughout.
- Snorkeling at Bante. It is rather difficult to pass, and requires a short climb down the rocks, but if you make the effort, a heart-stealing snorkeling spot awaits you.
- Cool down and refresh afterward, and head to “Topa Labago,” a fresh water spring. It is only a 5-minute drive from the snorkeling spot.
- Visit “One Melangka” a popular beach in Binongko.
- Another breathtaking beach is Palahidu Beach. An old, square-shaped stone fort overlooks the long white sand beach, which is easily accessible.
- Other beaches also worth a visit are Yoro Sampu, Buea Buku Wali and Mbara-Mbara.
- Enjoy sunbathing at the water springs called Topa Mata and you can see hundreds of flying foxes hanging in the surrounding trees during the day.
- In Binongko you can visit skilled machete makers as they transform steel from car springs into sharp blades guaranteed to cut. Visitors are also invited to participate in a blacksmith workshop to make their own knife with the support of the professionals.
- Visit the Turtle Point: Turtle Point is located on the southeast reef of Binongko around 3km from Wali. Small boats can be taken directly from Wali village. Here, the local turtle population has been rising for many years. And be ready to see them!
Best Wakatobi Tips
Best time to go
The best months for good weather in Wakatobi Regency are July, August, September, October and November. With most of the activities in the area being outdoors, it’s worth paying extra to visit when the weather is better.
Before you go backpacking in Wakatobi, have you got your travel insurance sorted? Cover yourself for the unexpected.
Information and Help
You may go to the Visitor Information Centers - spread around Wakatobi (Wangi-wangi, Kaledupa and Tomia) as they offer information about the best attractions to visit, transportation rental, dive operators and the best places to eat.
Where To Stay
All forms of accommodation are found in Wakatobi - from a luxury 5-star resort to family-run hotels or authentic guesthouses. However, checkout some of our favourites below:
Patuno Dive Resort (Wangi-wangi)
Perfect place to enjoy Wangi-wangi. They have complete snorkeling & diving services. This resort is located right on the waterline, so if you want to swim or to sit and listen to the waves, you don't have to take a single step.
Hoga Island Dive Resort (Kaledupa)
These traditional cottages are built on stilts, each having the luxury of a private balcony, beach view, and a hammock for relaxing.
Wakatobi Dive Resort (Tomia)
Wakatobi Dive Resort is an intimate, award winning, eco-friendly resort that caters to divers and nature lovers looking for world class diving and snorkelling.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this Wakatobi travel blog and it’s inspired you to get out and explore the beautiful islands. Because Wakatobi islands must be on your travel bucket list!