Last October, I joined nine other SCUBA enthusiasts from Louisiana and headed over the pond (via Moscow- THAT airport was a bit of a culture shock!) to Indonesia for a week of diving some of the most beautiful and pristine reef in the world, followed by four days touring Bali and two in Singapore.
For our overnight in Bali (and for the four days after our return), we stayed in the beautiful Discovery Kartika Plaza resort in the congested Kuta Beach.
If you’re going to Bali, don’t stay at Kuta Beach (unless you don’t mind tons of traffic and tourists a-la spring break), but if you are staying in Kuta Beach, stay at the beautiful Discovery Kartika Plaza! I’ll expand on this in another post.
After 36 hours of traveling and sustaining significant jet lag, this oasis offered the ideal remedy of relaxation. Not to mention their kick-ass plentiful breakfast buffet at “The Pond”- featuring Asian and Western favorites (literally one side of the restaurant for each), and all of the freshest, most exotic fruit you could ever hope to get your hands on. “Impressive” is an understatement.
The best layover EVER: 24 hours at this resort doing nothing but relaxing by the pool or the ocean, meeting the locals who try to sell you everything under the sun. Annoying? A bit. But they are just the nicest people!
Meet Miss Wayan. She suckered me into buying some gifts for the five sisters with that infectious smile and sweetness! Oh, but that opened the floodgates! Once you buy from one vendor, the others expect their due as well… So naturally, I had to buy this and that from this person and that person. Luckily, we’re talking mere dollars (they do go rather quickly, after the whole crew is through with you).
Catching our flight to Sulawesi (Celebes), a distorted “H” shaped island (and smaller surrounding islands) in Indonesia’s North-West corner, we embarked on an epic SCUBA adventure in one of the planet’s most important and biodiverse marine environments, The Coral Triangle.
An aside background note: I spent some years working at The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Washington, DC (before my time at The State Department) with The Global Protected Areas Team. It was definitely one of the coolest jobs I’ve ever had, where I was able to use my international policy background, coupled with my love of our planet and passion for conservation, and I got to work with a team of the most amazingly talented and interesting people from all over the world. One of the key areas of biodiversity that The Nature Conservancy works to protect is the Coral Triangle.
I’ve been SCUBA diving since before I was “of age” to get certified (my father would take me down on an octopus rig and hold me tight under his arm) and snorkeling since I could walk. I love diving. I don’t get to do it nearly as often as I would like. It’s quite an expensive hobby! But there’s no better hobby in the world, in my opinion.
My days at TNC exposed me to the importance of The Coral Triangle and fueled my desire to experience the diving there first hand.
This trip was definitely one of my dreams come true.
Coming in for a landing
Our ultimate destination was award winning, luxury Wakatobi Dive Resort on Tomea Island. We flew to the tiny, three-year-old Matahora airport on Wangi-Wangi Island. Before 2009, the only way to reach this renowned, world-class dive resort was via a live-aboard boat over a two day period.
And this was the grand prize.
There were many stunning sunsets, gourmet meals (seriously, and I am a foodie), lovely happy hours, professional/friendly/attentive staff, and most of all, some of the best SCUBA diving I’ve ever encountered.
Australia’s Coral Sea and Great Barrier Reef, Fiji’s Somosomo Straight and Great Astrolabe Reef, and French Polynesia’s Rangiroa high-octane drift dives are the only other contenders, in my book, that could compete with Wakatobi’s reefs.
Wakatobi is known for their fantastical, small-scale marine life.
I can NOT wait to relive this entire experience by sharing it with all of you on the blog.
Stay tuned, tomorrow’s post will reveal the amazingness that is Wakatobi Dive Resort and the magical Banda Sea in Southeast Sulawesi~ part of the extremely biodiverse and important Coral Triangle
Thanks for stopping by!