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With its reef flat covered with seagrass and its stunning reef drop off full of coral, Wakatobi Resort’s house reef is a world-class snorkeling spot. Here, at the heart of Wakatobi National Park, snorkelers will discover coral gardens with vibrant marine life, including angelfish, sea turtles, Maori wrasse, anemonefish, sea snakes, and around 200 easy-to-spot colorful reef fish species.

Snorkelers at Wakatobi Resort's house reef
Wakatobi Resort’s northern house reef, seen from the Jetty Bar.

How to go snorkeling at Wakatobi Resort

Wakatobi Resort is located on Pulau Tolandona, a small island next to Pulau Tomia, in the Wakatobi Archipelago. Only the resort’s guests can access this spot. The resort will arrange transfers to the resort, basically a 2:30 charter flight from Bali, a 10 minutes car ride to the boat, and a 15 minutes boat ride to the resort’s jetty.

For an even more intense experience, join Snorkeling Report’s Wakatobi trip, from 27 October to 4 November 2024. It includes 12 boat snorkeling sessions on remote coral reefs on our dedicated boat, unlimited snorkeling on the house reef described on this page, as well as a night snorkeling adventure.

Wakatobi Resort's house reef snorkeling map.

Water entrance for snorkeling at Wakatobi Resort

Access can be gained to the waters of the lagoon off the shallow, shelving beaches. The deeper water, reef edge, can also be accessed using the steps at the end of the jetty. Be aware of vessel activity picking up and landing guests at specific times of the day. The house reef is monitored all day long by staff present on the jetty.

Wakatobi Resort snorkeling exploration tips

The beaches of the Wakatobi Resort are edged by a reef flat, about 80 to 150m wide, depending on the location. The flat ends with an almost vertical reef drop off to the open sea. On the flat, the depth varies from 2 to 10ft (0.5 to 3m). You can snorkel throughout the area, but don’t go further than the buoy lines found north and south of the jetty, which marks the limits of the monitored area.

Wakatobi Resort's house reef
A school of redtoothed triggerfish above the reef edge.

Wakatobi Resort’s house reef comprises several different habitat types, including sandy areas, seagrass meadows, and a mixture of corals and seagrasses. A large patch of shallow-water corals is found on the north of the area (see map above). Each of these environments allows for observing different species.

At the end of the flat, you’ll explore the drop-off. Its near-vertical face is well below normal snorkeling depth, but the upper areas have numerous caves, ledges, and an array of hard corals, soft corals, sponges, sea fans, and sea lilies. This is precisely this pristine coral environment that makes the Wakatobi Resort a world-renowned snorkeling destination.

Cuttlefish at Wakatobi Resort
Cuttlefish are a common sight on the house reef, especially on the shallow plateau.

A fantastic diversity of reef fish can be spotted on the drop-off, including some 15 species of butterflyfish and bannerfish, angelfish (regal angelfish, emperor angelfish, majestic angelfish), and surgeonfish (including the iconic palette surgeonfish). Additionally, at least five species of anemonefish have been counted in the area surrounding the jetty and Jetty Bar (see the list below).

Yellowbanded sweetlips at Wakatobi House Reef
The yellowbanded sweetlips is one of the many very colorful fish that call Wakatobi’s house reef home.

Impressive groupers are found in the caves and below the outcrops. Off the reef edge is the area where more open water fish species aggregate as well as green sea turtles and yellow-lipped sea krait.

Maori wrasse at Wakatobi Resort
The Maori wrasse, or Napoleon, is a frequent visitor to the house reef. Adult specimens can grow up to 7 ft/2m.

On the drop-off, two specific features are also worth visiting: the area around the jetty, which encourages numerous different species seeking shelter, and a large canyon-like feature, some 180m south of the jetty, where several of the bigger fish species aggregate (see map for exact location).

Around the jetty, the rubble areas are great for spotting scorpionfish and stonefish, as well as visiting octopuses.

Flasher scorpionfish Wakatobi
Encounter with a flasher scorpionfish in the shallow sandy beds next to the jetty.

The seagrass shallows on the house reef are refuge to species such as filefish, octopus, and ghost pipefish, as well as to the bluespotted ribbontail ray, very common in the shallows.

You will easily spot them from the jetty, resting in the shallows. Keep distance from the large titan triggerfish present in the shallows, as they are probably guarding their nests and can be aggressive if snorkelers approach them.

Snorkelers above Wakatobi Resort's house reef
Snorkelers above Wakatobi Resort’s house reef.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

This spot is the Wakatobi Resort‘s house reef.

 

  • Level required Beginner
  • Protected areaWakatobi National Park
  • Maximum depth10ft/3m on the flats, +50ft/15m past the drop off
  • Water entranceFrom sandy beaches, or from steps at the end of the jetty
  • Potential DangersCurrents, particularly to the south of the area, and vessel activity
  • LifeguardThe resort operates a well controlled observation and recovery facility
  • Visitor numbersMedium
  • Access costsCost of a stay at Wakatobi Resort
  • Restaurants nearbyYes

MAP Spot

These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.