Trip Dates: Bali, December 6-9 | Wakatobi, December 9-23, 2003
Resort: Wakatobi (Tukang Besi, SE Sulawesi, Indonesia )
Staff: Lorenz Mäder, John Keoghan, Gillian, Doris Hug, Stella
Participants: Bruce Bearfeld, Mark and Marian Blum, Eric Cheng, Anat Grant & Bobby Maruvada, Christine Humphreys, Henry Isaak Jr., Chris King, Lydia Leithner, Mark Lunt, Paul Papadopoulos, Dave Patchen, Jean Louis, Len & Heidi Sheltry, Niklas Waitong, Casey Zwaan
"Oh... Where's that?"
That's the most common response people had when I told them where I was going (a close second being a blank stare). So here's a bit of geography and trivia: Wakatobi is here (.pdf map). The resort is named after specific islands in the chain on which it is located: WAngiwangi-KAledupa-TOmia-BInongko, or WA-KA-TO-BI. The resort itself is actually located on Onemobaa Island, just to the west of Tomia, and with the completion of an airstrip just a few years ago, it's quite easy to get to. All you have to do is book your stay and make your way to Bali. At the Bali airport, I was greeted by Crispin and other Wakatobi staff members, who made sure that all of our needs were taken care of. At the appropriate time, we were herded onto an airplane, and 2.5 hours later, we landed on the airstrip on Tomia Island.
I originally heard about Wakatobi from my good friend Jim Watt, who took some of the promotional photos still used by the resort today. A signed print of his is hanging in the TV room. The beautiful young woman in many of the resort photographs is actually Anna Abernethy, who sighed wistfully when she heard that I would be spending two weeks there. After meeting some of the Wakatobi folks at DEMA last year, and then speaking to Espen Rekdal at Visions 2003, I decided that I absolutely had to go. A few e-mails and forum postings later, Dave Patchen and I ended up diving Wakatobi with fellow Wetpixel member Paul Papadopoulos and, coincidentally, many divers and photographers from the Bay Area.