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White-sand beaches flanked by palm trees and washed by cerulean waters. It’s standard fare for tropical island dreams. But sometimes, the beach is just the beginning, especially at Wakatobi.

WAKATOBI RESORT delivers a full share of sand, sun, palms, and ocean vistas, all packaged into a boutique vacation experience with five-star service, fine dining and plenty of scenic charm.

But it’s what lies beyond the water’s edge that draws travellers from around the world to this small Indonesian island.

A stay at Wakatobi puts you in the heart of the Coral Triangle, a region known as the oceanic epicentre for coral reef biodiversity.

In addition, the resort sits within a privately funded marine preserve that protects pristine reefs that are home to thousands of species of colourful and unique marine life.

Resort guests have full and exclusive access to the reefs, where they enjoy some of the world’s finest snorkelling and diving experiences.

Dedicated dive travellers often put Wakatobi at the top of their wish list, but it’s a destination that’s equally appealing to snorkellers, casual scuba enthusiasts and families.

The underwater adventures begin right at the beach. Just metres from shore, seagrass meadows lead to a vast plateau of shallow coral gardens. This is Wakatobi’s famous House Reef, which has earned the title “World’s Best Shore Dive.”

These colourful shallows extend some 70 metres from shore, at which point the reef takes a dramatic downward turn, plunging into the depths in a series of slopes and walls covered in carpets of sponges and sea fans.

Guests have been known to spend entire weeks exploring the House Reef, and the resort maintains a fleet of small taxi boats to ferry divers to more distant areas of the reef for an easy drift back to the resort jetty.

The resort also operates a fleet of spacious day boats that make daily trips to dozens of underwater attractions within the preserve, including sheer underwater cliffs that rise almost to the surface, pinnacles festooned in bright corals and swarmed by reef fish, and quiet bays that are home to a wide range of rare and iconic marine life.

Guests who are new to snorkelling can hone their skills under the watchful eyes of Wakatobi’s dive guides, and the resort offers a full range of scuba instruction programs for both adults and youngsters.

Attentive in-water support and warm, calm waters create ideal opportunities for children as young as eight to be introduced to diving at an age-appropriate level, and the resort’s dive boats welcome both divers and snorkellers aboard, which allows families to share a common experience.

Ashore, Wakatobi is the epitome of a tropical island getaway, with a collection of traditionally styled bungalows set in a waterfront palm grove, along with oceanfront villas that provide added amenities such as private plunge pools and Asian-style shower gardens.

The resort’s acclaimed culinary team creates gourmet-level offerings and is happy to provide bespoke menus and accommodate special dietary requests.

Guests frequently comment on the excellence of the dining experience, both for the ambiance of the seaside dining room and for the five-star quality of the cuisine.

The resort grounds include a spa, dive/water sports center and nature trails. Recently, Wakatobi has gained the attention of serious birding groups, and several new endemic species have been documented on the island in recent years.

Other dry-land activities include island tours, village visits and Indonesian cooking classes.

Parents looking for a bit of alone time can trust younger children to the care of Wakatobi’s dedicated nannies, while pre-school and school age children can find stimulating programs and fun at the Kid’s Club.

An Internet map search for “Wakatobi” will reveal just how remote this small island remains, with many destinations in the region requiring a series of flights, ferry connections and bus rides.

Wakatobi Resort solved this issue with the creation of private guest flights, which depart each week from Bali International airport to the resort’s own airstrip.

Travel to and from the property is further facilitated by a travel concierge team, which meets all guests on arrival in Bali, assist with entry through immigration and customs and handle all details of transfers, layovers and any Bali side trips travellers might want to include on their itinerary.

A final quality that puts Wakatobi Resort in a class of its own is the Collaborative Reef Conservation Program.

This covenant sets aside a portion of resort revenue to provide direct payments to local communities in exchange for honouring specific “no-take” fishing zones within Wakatobi’s privately funded marine preserve.

The program also pays for reef patrols and cleanings and provides additional social benefits to area villagers.

First introduced at the time of the resort’s opening in the mid-1990s, this ground-breaking initiative has since become a model for other such programs around the world.

This dedication to protecting and preserving some of the world’s finest coral reefs adds one more reason to put Wakatobi Resort on any beach and ocean lover’s travel wish list.

Contact: [email protected]

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