Lionfish

Lionfish at Wakatobi

Brandon and Kathy

"Explorations"

Anemonefish

Anemonefish at Wakatobi


Arrival

Diving

The locals

Bali

Wakatobi, Indonesia - September 2006

Far, far away - many new species

This was one trip that I (Brandon) made without Kathy. After all of the other trips, she was ready to stay at home. Besides, she wanted to remodel the kitchen. I thought doing it while I was out of the country was a great idea.

On September 6, 2006, groups of divers from around the country headed to airports for a long trek to Bali and then on to Wakatobi. Wakatobi is part of the Kepulauan Tukangbesi archipelago located off the south-east coast of Sulawesi. The name Wakatobi is an acronym made up of the first two letters of 4 of the islands in this group. I and the other divers made this arduous trip to explore some of our planet's most pristine and prolific tropical reefs.

Unfortunately, the trip did not have an auspicious start for those of us leaving from Houston. We were told that our plane was late and we would not make our connection in Guam. They even talked about re-routing us through Tokyo. But finally they decided that the plane in Guam would wait for us; so we began our 24 hour trip to Bali.

Fortunately, we were only a couple of hours late arriving in Bali. We spent the night in a very nice hotel. We spent a leisurely morning shopping and sightseeing. That afternoon we left the airport on our 2 1/2 hour charter flight to Wakatobi.

We landed on the island of Tomea (the "TO" in Wakatobi). But we were not yet at the resort. Several small busses drove us about 15 minutes to a dock. There we boarded a small boat which took us out to a larger boat (it was low tide) which took us to the smaller island and then to the resort. We had arrived at our final destination! The first glimpse of our home for the next 11 days was a beautiful sight.

Arriving in Wakatobi

Plane landing

Fuel truck

After we landed at the private airstrip on the remote island of Tomea, looking out the window we saw very primitive safety equipment (fire extinguishers) and the refueling truck (with the drums of fuel and a portable pump). This was a sight we had not expected.

Busses

Airport office

After deplaning, we found our modern, air-conditioned (open windows) busses waiting to take us past the airport office and on to the waiting boats. The boats would take us from Tomea to the adjacent island where the resort is located.

First view of the resort

The long house

Finally, after two days of travel, we get our first glimpse of the resort. We are very pleased. We meet the staff; get our cabin and boat assignments; and move into our bungalows. Tomorrow we will be diving.

Diving

On our first day of diving we saw anemonefish, cuttlefish, blennies, lizardfish, and much, much more. Here are a few pictures from the first day's dives.

Blenny
Blenny

False clown anemonefish
False clown anemonefish

Clark's anemonefish
Clark's anemonefish

Cuttlefish
Cuttlefish

Lizzardfish
Lizzardfish

False clown anemonefish
False clown anemonefish

After a day of diving, we would gather at the bar on the end of the pier to watch the sunset. Looking back at the beach, the sun has turned it a golden color.

Sunset

Sunset

The beach at sunset


Giant clam

The next day we saw giant clams, lionfish, nudibranchs, starfish, soft coral, anemonefish, and others too numerous to mention.

Clark's anemonefish
Clark's anemonefish

Nudibranch
Nudibranch

Soft coral
Soft coral

Starfish
Starfish

Hawkfish
Hawkfish

Lionfish
Lionfish

Between dives we would work on our cameras or rest in our bungalow. In the afternoons, we would walk the beach and explore the resort. Over the next few days we saw many interesting fish and soft corals. I also saw my first banded sea snake.

Bungalow

Beach

Jetty

Soft coral
Soft coral

Pink anemonefish
Pink anemonefish

Moorish idol
Moorish idol

Banded sea snake
Banded sea snake

Soft coral
Soft coral

False clown anemonefish
False clown anemonefish

Each evening after the diving was over, we kept returning to the bar at the end of the pier to relax and watch the sunset. Then the next day we would head out again to take in the colors of the soft corals or enjoy the thrill of seeing another banded sea snake. One day I saw my first blue ribbon eel.

On some afternoons we would take our tanks down to the beach and do a shore dive in front of the resort. One afternoon I found several interesting soft corals and then I found a cuttlefish that allowed me to photograph it for 20 minutes.

Crinoid
Crinoid

Coral grouper
Coral grouper

Blue spotted puffer
Blue spotted puffer

Sea turtle
Sea turtle

Ribbon eel
Ribbon eel

Cuttlefish
Cuttlefish


Sunset

Fire twirling

One evening after we watched the sunset, one of the dive staff put on a fire twirling show.

The locals

Fishing boat

Fishing boat

We did get some opportunity to see how the local Indonesians lived. The fishermen used very small boats. They went out every day to get enough fish to feed their families. The resort assisted the local villages with electricity and jobs. In return, they did not fish on the dive sites.

The fish that were caught were either dried in the sun for eating later when the catch might be small; or they were cooked over a wood fire for immediate eating. The children were very interested in us. They don't see very many white people.

Fish
Fish drying in the sun

Cooking fish
Cooking fish over a wood fire

Local children
Local children

Bali

After one last afternoon of absorbing the beauty of the sand and the water, and after one last sunset, it was time to pack up and head back to civilization. We flew back to Bali for two days of shopping and sightseeing before the long trek home.

Our flight to Bali was uneventful. Our guide picked us up at the airport and drove us north to Ubud where we checked into our lovely boutique hotel.

These pictures are of the bungalow that four of us stayed in, the view from our verandah, the main bedroom, our open air bathroom and one of the pictures on the walls.

My bungalow
My bungalow

View
View from the verandah

Bed
Bed with mosquito netting

Bath
Open air bathroom

Shower
Shower

Painting
Painting

The grounds of the hotel had numerous statues, quiet lily ponds and gorgeous flowers. The surrounding area had temples and family compounds of typical Balinese architecture.

Flower
Flower

Flower
Flower

Statue
Statue

Temple in Ubud
Temple in Ubud

Temple in the monkey forrest
Temple in the monkey forrest

Entrance to a family compound
Entrance to a family compound

Lotus blossom

Soft coral

After our two days in Bali we began our long journey home. We remembered the beauty and serenity in Bali and the profusion of underwater beauty in Wakatobi.

divider

C. Brandon Jones
email: Brandon "at" cbjones.info
updated January 19, 2007