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Diving in Southeast Sulawesi

For those willing to journey off Indonesia’s beaten path, Southeast Sulawesi provides some of the world's most colorful diving, complete with many pristine and uncrowded dive sites.

Diving in Southeast Sulawesi

Quick facts

Home to amazing reefs, rocks and walls, the dive sites in Southeast Sulawesi are the stuff of dreams. Here divers can swim with a huge number of species, from big to small and many endemics. All levels of divers are sure to enjoy diving in Southeast Sulawesi, but underwater photographers will capture some of their best-ever shots while diving in this pristine environment.

Wakatobi National Park and its four islands are Southeast Sulawesi’s premier diving location. This area has some of the highest rated dive sites in the world. Here divers will find 25 pristine coral reefs as well as pinnacles, ridges, ledges and overhangs. Every level of diver is sure to find a challenge in these Indonesian waters. Furthermore, Wakatobi is home to more than 900 species of fish, making these dives some of the most diverse in the world.

Besides Wakatobi National Park, there are a few up and coming areas closer to the southeast Sulawesi peninsula. Head to Pasarwajo for world class muck diving. Nearby Bau Bau now hosts its own dive center. In addition, Batuatu is a mid-sea site with an excellent wall for spotting pelagic species and a few fascinating caves and overhangs.

Divers can expect warm, equatorial weather year-round with waters ranging from 84-91°F (29-33°C) and crystal clear visibility. Keep in mind that visibility may be negatively affected by nearby mangroves. Diving is possible 365 days a year, but warmest water temperatures occur in October and the coolest air temperatures can be felt during July and August. Diving in Southeast Sulawesi is the opportunity of a lifetime for a dive trip you won’t soon forget.

When to go

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6 Reviews
USD 3,105Per person for 7 nights for 2 divers

What to see

Marine life is plentiful in Southeast Sulawesi. Divers can expect to see colorful hard and soft corals, sponges, gorgonians and fans. These include a handful of endemic coral species.

Nearly a thousand species of colorful fish shimmer throughout the reefs, walls and wrecks. Reef sharks and schools of blacktail barracudas stalk their prey while bobtail squid, two species of pygmy seahorses and frogfish create odd spectacles. Eagle rays glide past in the blue and hawksbill turtles can be seen eating in the shallows. For the lucky few, a dugong may make an unexpected appearance near the entrances to mangroves.

Your dive logs are sure to reflect the beauty and wonder available in Southeast Sulawesi.


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Southeast Sulawesi is one of six provinces on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. This area is bordered by the provinces of Southern Sulawesi and Central Sulawesi. The largest city, which is also the capital, is Kendari. Sulawesi itself is the world’s eleventh largest island and located between Borneo and the Maluku Islands.

Southeast Sulawesi holds claim to an impressive history dating back 40,000 years. It was at this time that ancient inhabitants drew still-visible cave pictures. In the 10th Century, a series of kingdoms took rule over Southeast Sulawesi, including the kingdoms of Konawe, Buton, Muna, Kemongga, Tiworo, Kalususu and Moronenen. Buton quickly became the most powerful of the kingdoms after it converted to Islam and began to cultivate spices. Later, in the 17th Century, the Dutch arrived and created a puppet kingdom under the name of Laiwoi. The Dutch never managed to capture the love of the locals and following the Japanese occupation during World War II, the Dutch never regained control of Southeast Sulawesi. In 1950, the island of Sulawesi became a part of Indonesia and in 1964, Southeast Sulawesi was born as a separate province.

Today, Southeast Sulawesi is one of 16 areas identified by the Indonesia government for tourist development. These areas are designed to minimize the strain placed on traditional Indonesian destinations like Bali. While Southeast Sulawesi and Wakatobi National Park are still difficult to reach, it is getting easier to travel here every day. Be quick and book your dive vacation to Southeast Sulawesi soon so as to explore this undiscovered paradise before the tourist crowds arrive.

Other attractions

Most of activities in Southeast Sulawesi center around the underwater environment. However, visitors should also take some time to enjoy sea kayaking, kite boarding or hiking around the verdant topside environment. A visit to local villages will give you the opportunity to get to know the locals. In addition, cooking courses and craft workshops can be arranged. Of course, a few days relaxing on the pristine, white sand beaches are an absolute must.

Getting there

Getting to Southeast Sulawesi is, at the moment, a bit of a challenge. For the easiest access fly to Manado, Kendari, Wangi-wangi, or Makassar. These ports of entry welcome domestic flights from Indonesia as well as a handful of international flights from destinations such as Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Once on the ground in Sulawesi, you can choose to travel to Southeast Sulawesi by bus or ferry. Divers may also choose to travel around Southeast Sulawesi on a liveaboard.


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Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.

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