Dive into Bali’s Wakatobi solo

At Wakatobi, mind boggling underwater vistas can be lapped up amidst the luxury of a top- notch resort where singles won’t feel out of place.

Think gorgeous tropical haven and the image that inevitably comes to mind is that of loved- up couples holding hands by candlelight.

Not so at Wakatobi – a luxe resort surrounded by thriving reefs – where the vibe is refreshingly inclusive.

Unusually for a tropical island, Wakatobi holds plenty of appeal for singles. Shared passions and activities and inviting lounging spaces make it easy to meet like- minded travellers. When you’re keen to chill out on your own, the atmospheric bungalows work a treat.

Reaching this marine – ecology hot-spot situated off Indonesia’s Suluwesi Island involves a flight from Bali that passes volcanic craters and innumerable emerald islands sprinkled upon a cobalt sea.

‘Barefoot luxury’ is the prevailing philosophy at Wakatobi.


My beach-fronted bungalow is constructed of tropical hardwoods and features a large lounging deck with generous daybeds and a stone -walled outdoor bathroom.

Along with a pillow menu and free wi-fi, I’m thrilled to find three beautiful coffee table books featuring fish species. My large private yard is surrounded by gargantuan pandanus palms and has a choice of daybeds and hammocks.

Flights arrive mid- morning, allowing time get into the water before lunch.  The house reef has an impressive drop-off and I’m swimming amidst dense schools of tropical fish as soon as I slip off the jetty stairs, where I’m greeted by a curious batfish. I float over meadows of sherbet hued corals and swim amongst fish with pitchforks for tails, the biggest puffer fish I’ve ever seen, mammoth wrasses, several large lionfish and dense curtains of yellow rimmed sweetlips.

Just as well I’d worked up an appetite, for the food at Wakatobi is sensational. Each meal consists of gourmet smorgasbords that include artisan style, freshly bread baked, bespoke creations on request and heavenly deserts such as homemade coconut ice-cream.

Surrounding Wakatobi are dozens of reefs boasting astonishing biodiversity and colour.  Snorkellers are treated with as much reverence as divers, with three trips a day on traditionally-styled timber boats tailored so that guests experience a new and unique location each time. Each guest is allocated to a boat, so you soon get to know other quests.

Underwater, the scenes are psychedelic. Thanks to a protective protocol established by the resort, Wakatobi’s reefs are exceptionally healthy and almost overwhelm the eyes with the immense variety and profusion of corals and marine life. Within moments of jumping in, I encountered new wonders here, like gorgonian gardens, huge pipe corals, barrel sponges and dense ribbons of incandescent fish.

Post dive or snorkel, hot peppermint perfumed towels, hot drinks made the way you like them and baked goodies await. The convivial staff even wash camera gear and offer underwater photography tuition.

Back on the island, snacks and drinks can be enjoyed in a large, lounging zone that has an impressive array of coffee table books.

But in the dreamy afternoon light, I’m rather partial to kicking back in my hammock and dozing to the sound of birds and geckos.

Escape Routes are the helpful and efficient Wakatobi concierge service can orange customized tours in Bali and take care of you from the moment you moment you arrive at Denpasar.

For more visit www.wakatobi.com

Especially passionate about getting away from the crowds and discovering unsung gems, Melissa (pictured here with her trusty editorial assistant) has been writing about travel, architecture and health for a wide range of magazines and newspapers for more than 15 years. She's shamelessly addicted to spending time underwater and seeking out the world's most eye - boggling snorkelling.


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