The turquoise waters glistened invitingly. As I gazed at the boundless ocean expanse before me, my heart fluttered with both excitement and fear.
Was I ready to snorkel for my first time?
With flippers already on and goggles snuggly fitted to my face, I closed my eyes and gingerly slipped off the boat and into the warm waters below. The water felt like silk against my skin. I could feel the rhythm of the currents as they pushed against my body.
I was completely underwater when I opened my eyes once again and was greeted by soft sunlight filtering through. With my back towards the boat, I saw my first coral reef in front of me — countless types of coral in differing colours and sizes and shapes, the entire area teeming with life. I was completely enthralled.
I kicked my flippers lightly and drifted a little closer. Small tropical fish in every colour imaginable were swimming in and out of the reef crevices — pops of orange and yellow and purple and even rainbow gliding gently along. Royal blue starfish were tightly attached to rocks on the ocean floor. The bright coloration, striking patterns, and sights all around me were surreal.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, it seemed, several hundred fish appeared and began to dance around me. I found myself circling these sea creatures and admiring their beauty. It was tranquil and I felt as if I was at one with the sea.
The reef I explored that day in Wakatobi sits on the edge of an enormous shelf and several times I found myself drifting out, away from the colourful reef into the deep blue waters. This is where the scuba divers went down and explored. There's an indescribable mystic about the deep — the rare and unique creatures waiting to be uncovered, the amount of control one must have down there.
I later saw diving footage from the area: turtles, shipwrecks, creatures straight out of The Twilight Zone — magical to say the least — and it was then that I was inspired to learn how to dive. The next time I'm back in Wakatobi, I want to not only explore the reefs near the surface but explore the mysterious depths below as well.
Later that day, after I had finished snorkelling and returned to the boat, I stuffed my face with delicious pisang goreng that was served fresh on board. Pisang goreng is an Indonesian snack made of deep fried bananas and it was covered in bits of chocolate. Then, with happy bellies, we headed back to the resort, a rustic and charming place nestled on the beaches of a picturesque tropical island. I proceeded to enjoy the sun-soaked, golden beaches and kick back with a cold drink.
After multiple snorkelling adventures in Wakatobi over the following days, it never lost its novelty. The wonders I beheld below the surface will be forever etched in my memory. While I only explored the island of Wangi Wangi this time, I find myself dreaming about returns to this region to check out some of the other islands. Located in Southeast Sulawesi, Wakatobi is said to have some of the best snorkelling and scuba diving spots in the world and offers an abundance of great locations for the novice snorkeler all the way to the experienced diver. With over 900 species of fish and 750 species of coral, dolphins, turtles, whales, and a variety of other marine life, the underwater world here is incredible. I can’t wait to get my scuba diving licence so that the next time I'm back, I can explore the famed diving spots of Wakatobi as well.
Until next time, Wakatobi!
Written by Cynthia Lee