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Wakatobi Endorsements

Martin Heyn Martin Heyn
Seattle, WA
Photographer. Diving since 1988, +3000 dives
www.aquabluedreams.com

Martin became addicted to underwater photography and video, at age 10 an uncle who actually dove with J.Y. Cousteau gave me a copy of The Silent World and I remember thinking "someday that will be me". I dove camera free for 25yrs but 5yrs ago combined the two hobbies and now can't imagine diving without a camera in hand.


 

Over the past 30years I've had the opportunity to travel to and dive some amazing places, and Wakatobi is one of them. As the world grows smaller, we must travel to more and more remote areas to find these unique pieces of paradise. Wakatobi's location is worth every minute of travel time. From our initial contact to our return home the staff of Wakatobi was there to ensure things proceeded seamlessly.

That attention to detail carried through to the physical resort itself and was evident the moment you stepped off the water taxi. You see it in the thoughtful layout of the dive center, dive boats, camera room, dining hall and grounds. Our villa, the spa, the longhouse are all gorgeous, beautifully built and impeccably maintained. Our villa was truly an oasis within paradise itself.

When we go on dive trips the quality of the food is not typically something I am concerned with; it's just fuel to keep me diving. So I must admit I was quite happy to see Wakatobi's commitment to excellence carried through to the kitchen. The buffet made available was a wonderful mix of local and western cuisine, truly something for everyone. My "photo of the week" victory cake was a work of art and great to eat!

As impressive as all this was, what solidifies Wakatobi as a premier dive destination is what matters most, the incredible diving. It is inspiring, because of their commitment to working with the local people in preserving this living jewel. For divers, no gloves, reef hooks or tripods were allowed. Yet, the guides are committed to helping you get the best shot. To the degree of volunteering to be your tripod, if needed. None of this was delivered in a heavy handed way, but was communicated in a manner that made it clear they recognize what really makes Wakatobi special and ask you to please help them preserve it.

There are too many fabulous dive sites to recount here. To call the reef you can walk out to a "house-reef" feels like a disservice. This stretch of reef is as verdant, colorful and as full of life as any we have seen; even those only accessible by live-aboard. The mix of corals, sponges, fans and fish is dazzling. For the first time we experienced that "gin clear" water we have read of so often. As an enthusiastic photographer, I could barely bring myself to take my wide angle lens off. But when I did there was no shortage of excellent macro subjects, from nudibranch to pygmy seahorses. With just 4 divers per guide, finding these critters is made simple.

We have all heard quotes to the effect "the journey is more important than the destination". While that may be true in many cases, Wakatobi could be an exception. Enjoy the journey, as much as you can, but be assured the destination is a reward in itself. Wakatobi is a wonderful portal to exploring the vivid vistas of inner-space divers seek out.

Some Martin Heyn Photos @ Wakatobi
 

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