I was planning on only writing one blog about Pulau Tomia, but really that island was one of the most amazing places I’ve ever visited. As I said in another post, my main goal of coming to Southeast Sulawesi was to find good snorkeling. The nine days on Pulau Tomia made the entire two-month trip to Sulawesi worthwhile (I’m writing this while we still have three weeks left in Sulawesi!).
On our second-to-last full day on the island, we rode our bicycles back to the Waitii Jetty for the third time. The condition of the boats at Waitii Jetty doesn’t inspire confidence:
but we found English-speaking Captain Udi and hired him and his boat for the day. He took us to the atoll about 1 km west (leeward side) of Pulau Sawa. Unfortunately visibility was poor in the morning (that’s Wakatobi-poor; most of the photos below were taken in the “poor” visibility), but it was stellar in the afternoon, making it the best snorkeling I’ve ever done. I’m not sure what the difference was. It was windy and wavy both times. An Indonesian diver suggested visibility is poorer there when the tide is going out (or in? I can’t remember which now.).
Between our morning and afternoon snorkels Captain Udi managed to get his boat very slowly across the shallows so that we could check out Pulau Sawa. We walked all the way around the island with him.
And for our last full day on Tomia? Well, we might as well end on a high note. Ferda tried diving for the first time! I had read good reviews of diver Ahmad on the internet, and indeed he was a great person to take Ferda out for the first time. He’s a quiet guy with more than enough English for introducing newbies to diving. He made sure Ferda was comfortable and calm through the whole process.
He took us by boat to the reef off Pantai Hundue — the divers call the site Kolla Soha — where we’d already snorkeled at least three times. I wasn’t at all sorry to go back to the same place. Indeed it was fun to see from a different perspective (though it really doesn’t make any difference once you’re in the water). The problem with coming to Tomia in May-June (when we were there) is that there is a fair bit of wind, limiting access to many of the dive sites. I think Ahmad said the best months were March, April, October, and November. Pantai Hundue was well-protected from the wind when we were there.
On the boat Ahmad slowly and calmly showed Ferda the equipment.
Ferda started to look like a diver.
She learned how to breathe and clear the regulator.
She also needs to learn how to clear her mask as that’s a pretty basic snorkeling skill.
Before long they were in the water.
You perhaps noticed that Ferda (Ahmad too) went in with a full 3mm wetsuit. Wow, that’s nice. One thing I’d do differently if I came back to Tomia for snorkeling would be to bring a 1.5-2mm long-sleeve top. I only had a very thin top, and I always got cold and often came in earlier than I wanted to because of the cold.
Ferda really wanted me to be diving with her, but I insisted that for her first dive there’d be so much going on that it wouldn’t matter one bit if I was there or not. Indeed I was snorkeling near her the whole time, taking photos, but for most of the time she had no idea I was so close.
At first Ahmad and Ferda were diving in the shallows barely below the surface, but before long they went a bit deeper. I watched them from above.
I guess Ferda got comfortable pretty quickly since Ahmad started taking photos of her.
This turtle was above the divers so I spotted it before they did,
but Ahmad got the money shot:
Pretty happy diver:
After the dive on the way back to Waha, Ahmad stopped the boat at a nondescript place. As I said, he’s a pretty quiet guy. He said something like, “if you want to see lots of fish, head out that way” and waved his arm. We jumped in with our snorkel gear.
Bye, bye Tomia.