The Blacksmith's Islands

Correctly, the islands that make up the Wakatobi Archipelago are called Tukang Besi Islands (Blacksmith's Islands).
Indonesians, who are in love with abbreviations, have created the artificial name Wakatobi with the first two letters of the 4 largest islands of the archipelago Wangiwangi, Kaledupa, Tomia and Binongko.

Under this name, Wakatobi is well known in the diving scene. Mainly because of the wickedly expensive Wakatobi Dive Resort with its own airport and direct flights from Bali. Anyone who can easily spend at least US $ 350 on accommodation and food (diving costs extra) is in good hands there.

Jacques Cousteau, who visited this area in the 1980s, described it as "probably the best diving area in the world".
I have visited this region several times: First in the summer of 2000, when I stayed at the Wakatobi Dive Resort, but then - because of the local limitations of diving in the resort - a total of four times on a live aboard and most recently in November 2019 to have a look at what has changed in the last 20 years.

The Wakatobi Dive Resort has made it difficult for competitors to gain a foothold on the islands for many years. Passing dive ships were not allowed to dive in the vicinity of the resort and government officials were also not very cooperative with other investors.

Fortunately, that has changed in recent years and here and there one can find tentative attempts to open new diving centers and small resorts even in the immediate vicinity of the top dog, where less well-heeled, diving-enthusiastic tourists can also stay.
 

How to get there

Unfortunately, there is still no convincing solution for getting to this remote area of ​​Indonesia. It takes usually three days to travel to Wakatobi from Europe. After arriving in Jakarta or Denpasar you first have to fly to Makassar and from there via Kendari to Wangiwangi Island.

After arriving at Wakatobi Airport on Wangiwangi in the late afternoon, you often have to spend another night in order to finally get to your destination the next day with a local ferry. Wakatobi is definitely not a destination for divers with little time. Even Raja Ampat can be reached more quickly.

The plane of the Wakatobi Dive Resort, which flies directly from Bali to Tomia Island, is usually not even half full, but the owners of this resort refuse to take other tourists to Tomia.

Travelers with even more time can also use local ferries from Kendari to reach the islands of the Wakatobi Archipelago via Bau Bau on the island of Buton.

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