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Wakatobi Announces Reopening

Asia DTA Team

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Plan Your Ultimate Wakatobi Dive Vacation With These Insider Tips

After remaining closed for more than two years through the global Covid-19 pandemic, one of the world’s most-loved dive resorts has announced plans to reopen on June 3, 2022. This news comes as Indonesia eliminates all quarantine requirements for inbound international travelers, and several airlines have now resumed their routes into Bali, which is the gateway to Wakatobi.

And while Wakatobi hasn’t been welcoming guests these past two years, the staff has not remained idle. The staff have kept busy refreshing and upgrading the property and preparing for reopening. Wakatobi’s ‘sprucing up’ efforts extended to many aspects of the resort and dive operation. All the dive boats have been updated; the property has seen a number of significant upgrades; the jetty has been widened and smoothed; and the airstrip received an upgrade under the supervision of a certified runway engineer. In more good news, Wakatobi founder Lorenz Mäder, reports that reefs are in prime condition, and a number of new dive sites have been added to the roster.

With bookings for 2022 and beyond filling up fast, now is the time to start planning your Wakatobi dive vacation. And while Wakatobi Resort is known as one of the world’s top diving and snorkeling destinations, there are still some things about Wakatobi that are not that well known. Some of these perks and opportunities are revealed on arrival but having additional insights ahead of time might make that trip of a lifetime even more memorable. To maximize the Wakatobi experience, here are a dozen insider tips offered by the resort’s staff.

COME BETWEEN THE HOLIDAYS. November and December are months where fewer people travel because it’s a period between major holidays. Airfares may be lower at this time and these months offer great diving and snorkeling conditions at Wakatobi.

DO THE AFTERNOON DIVE. The dive center offers three boat dives a day. After two morning dives, some guests just want to relax after lunch and finish with a shore dive. This often means fewer divers on the afternoon trips. An afternoon dive is also a great option for people who want to sleep in or linger over breakfast and still get in two boat dives a day.

TAKE A FREE RIDE. You can see more of the dive site that’s been called ‘the world’s best shore dive’ by hopping aboard one of the resort’s taxi boats, which will take you up-current for an easy drift dive along the House Reef ending right at the Jetty Bar.

MAKE NIGHT MAGIC ON THE REEF. Night diving is popular at Wakatobi, but you don’t need tanks to get in on the action. Night snorkeling on the House Reef is equally spectacular, and it’s available for all guests to experience.

THIS PLACE IS FOR THE BIRDS. In addition to the incredible diversity of marine life, Wakatobi also rewards nature lovers above the water. The island is rich in birdlife — including an endemic species! Just ask the front office to organize a Bird Watching session for you or other land tours around the island.

PLAY CASTAWAY — IN STYLE. Guests can channel their inner Robinson Caruso with a trip to nearby Sawa island, where they can watch the sunset on a deserted beach while enjoying a delicious aperitivo and hors d’oeuvres. Wakatobi’s concierge team can make the arrangements in advance of your visit.

GET A LOT FOR A LITTLE MORE. Spectacular water views and private dive guides are some of the perks you’ll get when you book one of Wakatobi’s Villas. What many divers don’t realize is that these premium accommodations are just a relatively modest up-charge from an Ocean Bungalow. If you enjoy having a private guide why not consider a Villa booking for a little more.

ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE. Wakatobi is known for the mouth-watering spreads prepared by our culinary team. But guest options aren’t limited to what’s on the table. The chefs are happy to prepare your favorite dish on request, including special dietary options such as gluten-free, low fat, or low sodium.

ENJOY LUXURY WITH A PURPOSE. Through sharing the benefits of sustainable dive tourism with the surrounding villages over the past two decades, the people of these local communities have come to see the value of the reefs in a different light, as a source of opportunity and connection. Through their experiences and pride, they have joined efforts to keep them pristine.

REFRESH YOURSELF ON THE HOUSE. Divers who have been out of the water too long and don’t want to jump right in won’t need to rehash their skills drills before coming to Wakatobi. They can take a refresher course right on our beautiful House Reef.

RUNWAY-TO-REEF-SERVICE.  Did you know that Wakatobi provides a private guest flight from Bali to our own runway on Tomia Island? Our guest flights cut travel time from Bali to our remote island paradise to just 2.5 hours. This eliminates multiple air, land, and sea transfers, and you skip the crowds and long lines. Our guests also enjoy VIP lounge service at Denpasar airport, where they can relax with a full breakfast and a range of amenities before boarding the flight.

SAIL INTO SUMMERTIME. The months of June, July, and August are known for ocean breezes and slightly cooler temperatures. These are also the months where we offer kite surfing, which is something many guests are delighted to see and eager to try.

These are just a sampling of the special moments that await you at Wakatobi. Their team is known for outstanding service so don’t be shy about asking for something special no matter how big or small the request. If it is a special occasion trip — birthday, anniversary, honeymoon, graduation, or retirement ­– let them know, they will make your visit extra special.

For more visit the Wakatobi website.

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Komodo National Park found to be Manta Hotspot

Asia DTA Team

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Through a collaborative effort between citizen divers, scientists from the Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF), and Murdoch University, a new study reports a large number of manta rays in the waters of Komodo National Park, Indonesian, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, suggesting the area may hold the key to regional recovery of the threatened species.

Reef mantas (Mobula alfredi), which grow up to 5m, tend to reside and feed in shallow, coastal habitats. They also visit ‘cleaning stations’ on coral reefs to have parasites, or dead skin picked off by small fish. Courtship ‘trains’ are also observed adjacent to cleaning stations. In Komodo National Park, manta rays are present year-round, challenging the famous Komodo dragon as the most sought-after megafauna for visitors.

Scientists teamed up with the dive operator community to source identification photographs of manta rays visiting the parks’ waters and submit them to MantaMatcher.org – a crowdsourced online database for mantas and other rays. Most of the photographs came from just four locations from over 20 commonly visited by tourism boats.

I was amazed by how receptive the local dive community was in helping collect much-needed data on these threatened animals,” said lead author Dr. Elitza Germanov. “With their support, we were able to identify over 1,000 individual manta rays from over 4,000 photographs.

People love manta rays—they are one of the most iconic animals in our oceans. The rise of the number of people engaging in SCUBA diving, snorkeling, and the advent of affordable underwater cameras meant that photos and videos taken by the public during their holidays could be used to quickly and affordably scale data collection,” said MMF co-founder and study co-author Dr. Andrea Marshall.

The photographs’ accompanying time and location data is used to construct sighting histories of individual manta rays, which can then be analyzed with statistical movement models. These models predict the likelihood that manta rays are inhabiting or traveling in between specific sites. The study’s results showed that some manta rays moved around the park and others as far as the Nusa Penida MPA (>450 km to the west), but overall, manta rays showed individual preferences for specific sites within the Park.

I found it very interesting how some manta rays appear to prefer spending their time in some sites more than others, even when sites are 5 km apart, which are short distances for manta rays,” said Dr. Elitza Germanov. “This means that manta rays which prefer sites where fishing activities continue to occur or that are more popular with tourism will endure greater impacts.”

Fishing activities have been prohibited in many coastal areas within Komodo NP since 1984, offering some protection to manta rays prior to the 2014 nationwide protection. However, due to illegal fishing activity and manta ray movements into heavily fished waters, manta rays continue to face a number of threats from fisheries. About 5% of Komodo’s manta rays have permanent injuries that are likely the result of encounters with fishing gear.

The popularity of tourism to these sites grew by 34% during the course of the study. An increase in human activity can negatively impact manta rays and their habitats. In 2019, the Komodo National Park Authority introduced limits on the number of boats and people that visit one of the most famous manta sites.

This study shows that the places where tourists commonly observe manta rays are important for the animals to feed, clean, and mate. This means that the Komodo National Park should create measures to limit the disturbance at these sites,” said Mr. Ande Kefi, an employee of the Komodo National Park involved with this study. “I hope that this study will encourage tourism operators to understand the need for the regulations already imposed and increase compliance.”

Despite Indonesia’s history with intensive manta ray fisheries, Komodo National Park still retains large manta ray aggregations that with careful ongoing management and threat reduction will benefit regional manta ray populations. The study highlights that marine protected areas that are large enough to host important manta ray habitats are a beneficial tool for manta ray conservation.

For more information about MMF visit their website here.

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Magic Resorts: ready to welcome you back to the Philippines

Asia DTA Team

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Magic Resorts are finally able to welcome you back to their two renowned dive resorts in the Visayas (Central Philippines), after the Philippines reopened its borders last February after 2 years of pandemic.

Both resorts, Magic Island Dive Resort in Moalboal, Cebu and Magic Oceans Dive Resort in Anda, Bohol, are fully operational and were able to survive the lockdown that lasted for 2 years in the Philippines. When the reopening of the Philippines was announced, both resorts underwent a big renovation and restoration to be able to offer the same quality of service as guests could previously expect.

With the same staff members still in their positions, offering the world-famous Filipino hospitality with their welcoming smiles, Magic Island and Magic Oceans are ready again to offer an unforgettable diving holiday. Dive master Manuel (also known as Mani) and Jason, didn’t lose their eye for detail and can still find the smallest critters around Moalboal and the notorious mating Mandarin Fish on Magic Island’s house reef. Of course, the tasty mocktails after your dives in Magic Oceans will be served by the lovely bar lady Esther, whilst the popular singing chef, is preparing the most delicious food to finish off a perfect holiday. Great diving, great service – that’s the ultimate Magic experience!

Magical diving

All the dive enthusiasts from America and Europe who already took advantage of the reopening of the Philippines and spent their diving holiday at one of the Magic Resorts, have been warmly welcomed, not only by the staff, but also by the marine life around Moalboal and Anda. The first passing Whale Sharks, jumping Thresher Sharks, mating Mandarin Fish and even mating Flamboyant Cuttlefish have been spotted! Everybody is excited to see happy divers again after such a long time.

Entering the Philippines

On February 11, the first day of the reopening, the first hundreds of foreign tourists entered the Philippines. Since then, 100,000 tourists have entered the country to enjoy a tropical holiday, for most of them a long-awaited trip. If you bring your valid passport, return ticket, proof of covid-vaccination, a negative test (PCR/antigen) and an insurance coverage for costs for covid-treatment, you may enter the country. A continuous smooth course of the tourist flow may lead to the lifting of some of the requirements really soon!

Get ready for your unforgettable diving holiday at Magic Resorts and book your holiday with some great opening discounts: email reservations@magicresorts.online for details!

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