Wakatobi kite tour
When David first told me about Wakatobi, to me it seemed a distant Polynesian island, never did I know what beauty and splendour, the islands of Indonesia, East Sulawesi, could unfold before me.
I was a pessimist when it came to finding new locations for kiteboarding, as I’ve thought I’ve seen it all around the region, nothing could surprise me anymore, especially to find a gem that I’ve never heard of.
“All right, David, let’s see it” David convinced me to join in the rest of the group, to embark on the first ever “Kite Week” in Wakatobi.
Again being a pessimist when it came to finding new locations for kiteboarding, I was expecting to rough it out a little, even though the website displayed a little luxury at the resort. Upon arriving at Denpasar, Bali after a 4hr delay, due to volcanic ash sprouting out of Mount Raung, in fact, I heard that I was lucky, Denpasar Airport closed several times, on the day of my departure. I was greeted by Made, a staff from the Wakatobi office, the moment I cleared immigration. Wow! I haven’t even collected my luggage yet and it was 4 in the morning. Made looked wide awake, helped me with my luggage and cleared customs in a snap. So I said to Made, don’t the welcome party usually await the guest at the exits of the airport? Apparently, for Wakatobi staff, they carry a special pass that allows them to enter further into the airport, now that’s service.
I wanted to wait around the airport till 630am, as that was the time I was suppose to be at the domestic airport, just 2 more hours, I can rough it out, no problem but apparently the Wakatobi office had arranged a room at Harris Hotel just outside the airport and suggested I get whatever sleep I can get at the hotel again, very considerate of them.
I think I slept for an hour before I got the wake-up call, had the hotel prepare takeaway breakfast for me and off, the hotel driver took me back where I was two hours ago.
Once again I was treated like a VIP, didn’t even had to lift a finger and everything was settled and we were ready to go to Wakatobi. I met the rest of the kiters at the departure area and we were led to the lounge.
They had a breakfast spread at the lounge, getting spoilt again, it's service after service after service, I was starting to wonder what else awaits.
The resort charters domestic flights by Garuda twice a week, it was pretty spacious and meals were served.
We had an awesome view of Mount Rinjani and its crater, I wonder if I cound kiteboard in the lake???
We had the first view of Tomia’s Jetty and the small island of Onemobaa where Wakatobi Dive Resort is located. Can the colors get any better at ground level? I'll soon find out.
The resort also prides itself for having its very own airstrip.
My first glimpse of the true colors of the waters here was even more blue than I had imagined.
The blue of the waters put the blue-coloured roof to shame!
The ferry from Tomia took only 15mins to the resort but my eyes wanted to feast more of the pristine colors of the waters. Almost there.
We have arrived!!!
Our welcoming committee.
I was escorted to my room by Siti, one of the staff, a well spoken Indonesian girl, who spoke English very well.
My luggage was taken care of while we took a short walk to my room and she introduced me to the various activities and parts of the resort.
As we had arrived at Wakatobi Dive Resort in the early afternoon, that meant that we had time to kite before dinner.
I almost forgot the supposedly most important thing of this trip, THE WIND - it was howling!!!!!
Winds were blowing around 15 knots when we arrived and stayed that way pretty much the whole trip.
I was overwhelmed by the resort and everything else, the wind almost didn't seem to matter, but of course it did.
Notice the leaves of the coconut trees
This was the view from my room, every day and night. It literally blew the whole 7 days and nights non-stop when I was there.
My room mate.
And as the sun sets in Wakatobi.
The pier is where we hung out every evening to watch the amazing sunset and have a beer of course.
Dinner is set up - alfresco or indoors?
Making our way to dinner from the pier
The next day
The next few photos were what I saw daily while having breakfast.
Let's go kiting!
Photos of Tom Court pulling grabs.
It never gets too crowded.
Our daily trips to Sawa Island, which is accessible by kite or boat. I choose to kite :)
The amazing turquoise colours of the sea, changing from dark to light was a feast to the eyes.
Great fun twin tips in the shallow waters of Sawa.
On one of the days we did a 20km downwinder, one of the best kite surfing experiences ever.
We had to cross over to Pulau Tomea by boat
And take this Hot Wheels to the other side of Pulau Tomea.
Enroute to the start point.
Tomia's version of the Hollywood sign :)
What a view!
Briefing before the downwinder.
Here we go....
There were 2 routes to head back to the resort, basically the short or longer route, I decided to take the longer route. Valentin made sure we had communication devices with us during this adventure, once out there, we were on our own, the walkie talkies and phones were only for emergencies, the resort would send out a boat if needed. It should be ok, I thought to myself :).
I had to cross 3 islands and of the 3, 2 of them were uninhabited but as I made my way, I kept close to the shores, so as to get as much wave as I could.
It was a bummer that my Gopro battery had to die on me just when I started the downwinder, so no photos. Words can't even come close to what I saw, the cliffs with nesting birds flying off as my kite flew by scaring them like a giant pterodactyl, the sound of the wave crashing onto the cliff walls, bashing anything that was in it, a picture of Jurassic Park.
Its a pity that my GoPro battery died after that last photo, words can only as so much, so hopefully the other photos will give you an idea of how beautiful this place is.
Sea gypsy's hut on Sawa island.
Hanging out with the locals.
One day I kited upwind to Tomia Island, the local kids were my audience at the jetty.
Snorkelling at right in front of the resort.
Tom and Jason decided to join in.
Insanely clear water.
David and Max
Off we go to Sawa island.
So, besides kiting and diving, one of the best things to do is just chill.
Wkatobi Dive Resort lies in Sulawesi an area where hardly any planes ever fly by, the closest big city would be Bali which is 2hrs by propeller plane. The thought of getting stranded in any of the deserted islands felt as if, one would be in the movie "Cast Away". The reason Im bringing this up is, I had my kite completely deflated one day alone, on the way to Sawa Island. I was lucky to have brought the walkie talkies provided by the resort and managed to radio for rescue, the first time in my life I had to call for mayday. Rescue came in 20-30mins, they brought me to Sawa Island and I was kiting again.
One the things I look forward to at nights here were the photo sessions I had with Jason shooting stars. We where lucky to have Orion's belt on our side, when we were there and could see the milky way. Every night was like a surprise show in the skies I like to call God's canvas.
The Pelagian, a live on board ship that was ones a research ship, its now a luxury dive boat.
This is only a small front of the deck.