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Posted On:
10 September 2013

Posted By
Wira Nurmansyah

Categories :
Diving and Snorkeling


The Sea Gypsy's haven of Wakatobi

Posted on : 10 September 2013
Categories : Diving and Snorkeling

They named themselves the Sea people. Born and lives all depend on the sea. They have no territorial like other tribe. The entire wakatobi shore - even the entire nation, is their home. They really are the 'Sea tribe'

The Sea Gypsy’s haven of Wakatobi

We get on to a small boat to get across to one of the Bajo village in Kaledupa Island. The sea is so calm, the sky is blue, and in the distance we can see the stage house with their wooden pillars pierce to the bottom of the ocean.

This is one of place where the Bajo community settles. They are no longer a sea nomadic as they used to be. Now they hav live in settlement spreading throughout the entire Wakatobi area.

Here in Kaledupa island, they build their own village in the middle of the sea. Placing coral stone foundation and build a stage house on it. A few even build without foundation, just by sticking the pillars to the bottom of the sea.

The Bajo tribe is a true master of the sea. Since the day they were born, they have lived on the ocean. They are masters of traditional spearfishing.

They hunt for fish with freediving without any modern equipment. At the bottom of the sea, they walk and hold spear as if they were hunting on land.

"There are people among us who could dive up to 25 minutes," said one of the Bajo villagers while i was chatting at the harbor.

Whether it is true or not, because the free diving world record apnea is just 22 minutes. But then again, it is the Bajo tribe. Ocean have been part of their life, so it could be true.

Children of Bajo tribe have been familiar with the sea since early stages. Even, just a day after they were born, they will be bathed with sea water.

Indonesian was known as a maritime antion. Glorious on the sea. The marine capability of the Bugis tribe sailing the ocean with their phinisi may be great. But Bajo people, which said as a Sriwijaya kingdom naval armada, are just using a small boat, can beat them easily with their skill.

That afternoon, we embarked at the Sampela pier; on of the most traditional Bajo village. Stage houses here are still built from woods, unlike the other village where they have use concrete and iron sheeting as the roof.

I saw line of houses in the village. Kids playing with their canoes, some just play in the water, and some plays cocces on a 'field' - which is also build on wooden stage. I also notice school and mosque have been built in the village. The majority of Bajo people are moslem, even though their traditional believes about ancestor spirits and other are stil praticed

The Sea Gypsy’s haven of Wakatobi

The Sea Gypsy’s haven of Wakatobi

The Sea Gypsy’s haven of Wakatobi

The sun is on the horizon, beautifully shining the Sapela. I am still wandering around this village. Some houses are seen to be having satelitte antenna to get television broadcast. But, the bajo tribe is still seems to be in lower economic status compared to people living in nearest town.

I was at the market near Wanci located on the shore, numbers of small fishing boat is seen, looking for fish with their nets and caught fish filling their boats.

"I place the nets about half an hour ago," said one of the fisherman. Fresh fish were easily caught in short time! With large variation such as snapper, grouper cob, even big tuna can be found around Wakatobi. And, Indonesia is known as one of the largest tuna exporter in the world.�

Wakatobi is also on of the areas which are known as the Coral Triangle. The coral reefs in Wakatobi are the second longest in the world nest to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia! And, from all 850 kinds of Coral in the wrold ; Wakatobi is the home of 750 kinds of them!

I get the chance to dive in Wanci an I was amazed by the beauty coral and fishes it has. My dive guide said, it is nothing here to compare to the one in Hoga island. Hoga island is another small island in Kaledupa, which is also the basis of Operation Wallace; an an international marine research organization. But it even here in Wanci the underwater view is astonishing.

The Bajo tribe knowledge of sea is amazing, the can tell a fish just by seeing from the canoe, "I only takes what we need (from the sea), I never used bombs or other dangerous equipment," said one of the fisherman.

He said that using dangerous technique in fishing is not their way. The Bajo tribe lives from the sea; they know how to well treat their live source.

Yet still, some people are still praticing illegal way such as using bombs or potassium to catch fish which could damage the coral. For that a local organization working hand in hand with the local fisherman to protect Wakatobi area.

At night under the stars, we have a barbeque dinnier with the fish we caught with sapah. A traditional spearfishing that done on the boat, with a oil lamp to attract the fish. With the sea breeze blowing, a Bajo tribe man sang a beautiful traditional song. Even though we didn't understand the lyrics means, but the music and the atmosphere was amazing.

I'm so amazed by the natural beauties of Wakatobi and hoping that one day this community can be prosperous. So I can dive and enjoy the wonderful underwater coral park of Wakatobi with a peace in mind.

The people of Bajo Tribe may be on the other side of economy status, but they believe as long as they respect the ocean, the ocean will fullfill their needs. Because they are the gypsies of the sea, the master of the ocean , the sea people, the Bajo tribe of Wakatobi.


Travel Tips

Getting thereDirect flight to Wakatobi only serves by lion air from Jakarta to Wanci of Wangi-wangi Island.

Wakatobi stands for Wangi-wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia, and Binongko. Wanci is the biggest town and where the airport.


For diving junkie, you should stay in Hoga Island. There were homestay and also a resort for arranging a dive. The best dive spot is Hoga, Wanci, and Tomia.

In other island like Tomia there were also a homestay, don't forget trekking to Tomia Hill Peak, the view is amazing.

When to go

Wakatobi is worth a visit at any time of year, but the best visit is on dry season on August - December.

The Sea Gypsy’s haven of Wakatobi

The Sea Gypsy’s haven of Wakatobi

Tag : WAKATOBI National Marine Park, Pulau Wangi-Wangi in Wakatobi