Pulau Wangi-Wangi in Wakatobi

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Wangi-wangi is one of the four main islands that make up the Wakatobi Archipelago off the coast of Southeast Sulawesi, and is the gateway to the Wakatobi Marine National Park.

The name Wakatobi is derived from the four largest islands of Wangi-Wangi (WA,) Kaledupa (KA,) Tomea (TO,) and Binongko (Bi,) and are part of a larger island chain called TukangBesi. The islands are nestled in the heart of the fabled Coral Triangle, and boast 942 species of fish and 750 of the world’s 850 known coral reef species. The islands cover an area of 1,400,000 hectares, 90,000 of which are coral reef, making Wakatobithe second largest coral reef in the world, after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Wangi-wangi, or Wanci as it is often called, is a favourite destination for marine tourism enthusiasts. The Wangi-Wangi waters are a magnificent underwater paradise, rich in stunning coral reefs and an impressive variety of marine life to match. The ocean floor is melded with a range of landscapes: flatplains, gentle slopes, steep walls, and deep caves to make every dive a new adventure. Beautiful Coral Reefs can be found in just a few feet of water, while there are also breath-taking “bottomless” dives well below 90 feet.  

The Wakatobi islands have been fairly well-known among the global diving community for a while now, but what many don’t know is that life above the surface of the water is equallyinteresting. The Bajo people, or Sea Gypsies as they have often been called, are a landless tribe, scattered throughout Indonesia, and further off to Malaysia and The Philippines, but records have shown the existence of the Bajo in Sulawesi for centuries.

True to their nick name, this sea faring community is sustained completely and exclusively by the ocean. But not only do they survive solely on marine resources—they actually live in the ocean as well. That’s right. Entire villages are built on stilts and connected by wooden bridges over large expanses of coral reefs and rocks in the middle of the emerald sea.

The Bajo tribe maintain an intimate knowledge of the maritime coastal ecosystems, as well as the seasons, winds, currents, tides, lunar cycle, stars and navigation. They have developed specialized boat building skills, and through expertly constructed watercrafts, are able to chart some of the world’s most dangerous waters. These mysterious sea people are also distinguished by their exceptional free-diving abilities, and through years of practice have acquired physical adaptations that enable them to see better and dive longer underwater. As profound sailors and gatherers of marine products, the Bajo supply many of Sulawesi’s export products for trade with China.

In the past, the Bajo lived almost completely segregated from the “land-people,” preserving their very distinct way of life for generations. But these once sea-wandering nomads, who have lived for centuries at sea, are now adapting to and interacting more with the land-based ethnic groups and being encouraged to settle on land. Apart from living locations, many other aspects of the Bajo culture have been abandoned, and with more and more Bajo descendants now speaking Bahasa Indonesia, the ancient Bajo language is slowly dying out.

As the Bajo have a tendency to migrate from place to place with the change of tides and seasons, it is not known how many remain, though it is roughly estimated at a few hundred families.

The 2010 film, The Mirror Never Lies, is a collaborative product of WWF-Indonesia, the Wakatobi administration and SET Film Workshop, and gives insight into the lives and culture of the Bajo people and the marine biodiversity surrounding the Wakatobi islands.


To Stay, To Do

Patuno Resort is a luxury hotel, and is Wakatobi’s most accessible Resort, situated just a 10 minute drive from the Matahora Airport in Wangi-Wangi. Patuno Resort offers the choice of the Standard Room, Deluxe Room or Executive Bungalow; each equipped with air-conditioning, hot water, TV, mini bar and a private balcony facing the beach. Hotel facilities include a beachside restaurant, incorporating a range of local and international dishes, beach side cabanas, library, bar, ballroom and meeting rooms. Room rates range from USD70-215 and are all inclusive of free airport transfers, welcome drink, breakfast buffet for two, and free WiFi in restaurant and lobby areas. The Patuno Resort offers a range of dive trips as well as dive courses with qualified PADI instructors. Patuno Resort WakatobiJalan Raya Patuno, Wangi-Wangi, Wakatobi, Southeast SulawesiPhone: 62 – 8114002221Email: info@patunoresortwakatobi.comWebsite: www.patunoresortwakatobi.comFor a list of other accommodations on Wangi-Wangi island:

http://www.torajaland.netWakatobi Dive Resortis not on Wangi-Wangi island, but on the neighbouring island of Tomea, Wakatobi. It is an award winning, eco dive resort offering four levels of accommodations: Villas, Select Beach Bungalows, Standard Beach Bungalows and Garden Bungalows. All accommodations are spacious and available with a either a king-size bed or twin beds and are equipped with air-conditioning as well as ceiling fans. All rooms have a private balcony as well as two lounge chairs for sun-tanning and reading outdoors, a desk with internet access, and mini-bar. The resort facilities include a restaurant in a relaxed, yet elegant setting, bar, boutique and spa. As there is no public airport on Tomea Island, it also offers chartered flights from Bali direct to the resort’s private airstrip. Many types of dive boats are available at the resort to take you on the type of adventure you desire; locally crafted dive boats, shore diving on the house reef, and taxi boats to take you to the further points along the house reef, which is over three miles long. Full equipment rentals and camera facilities are also at your disposal. Wakatobi Dive ResortPhone: 62 – 361 759669           62 – 812381 1084Email: office@wakatobi.comWebsite: www.wakatobi.com

Getting There and Around

Get There

Located literally on the fringe of civilization, you can be sure that whoever accompanies you on your escapade to Wangi-wangi will probably be the only tourists you will see on your trip. The newly opened Matahora Airport is located on Wangi-wangi Island, and does make the pilgrimage to Wakatobi a whole lot easier, but it still is quite the journey.

Wangi-wangiairport is served daily from Makassar and Kendari on Express Air and twice a week on Merpati.

Starting 15 June 2012, Batavia Air flies Jakarta-Kendari daily, leaving Jakarta at 02.45 am West Indonesia Time, arriving Kendari at 06.15 am Central Indonesia Time. The flight returns at 07.0 am and arrives back in Jakarta at 08.30 am local time. (click www.batavia-air.com)

Makassar is an international airport with daily flights from Singapore with Garuda Air and from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with Air Asia. Domestic flights to Makassar are available from all major cities in Indonesia including Jakarta, Bali, Surabaya, Balikpapan, Manado and many more. Depending on where you are coming from, it is possible to get a connecting flight on the same day, so as not to have to overnight in Makassar.