Wakatobi National Park is a marine national park situated south of mainland South East Sulawesi, Indonesia; it is well known among divers as one of the world's best dive sites. Its name is an acronym of the four main Tukangbesi Islands: Wangi-Wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia, and Binongko. Since 2005 the park has been listed as a tentative World Heritage Site.
Most travel to Wakatobi departs from Kendari and arrives in Wangi-Wangi, either by boat or plane. The first commercial flight was flown by Wings Air (a subsidiary of Lion Air) on 30 October 2012. (There are plans for Merpati to fly there as well.) Be aware that the airport is on the exact opposite side of the island to its only city, and that there is no public transport available. If you've booked ahead at a resort, they will probably have someone waiting for you. Otherwise, someone at the airport can call a taxi or ojek for you: you will have to wait for around thirty minutes for it to arrive before starting your thirty-minute-long journey into town. An ojek costs IDR 50,000.
From Bau-Bau: Three flights per day between Makassar (Ujung Padang) and Bau-Bau; two boats per day between Kendari and Bau-Bau (boats depart from both Kendari and Bau-Bau at around 07:00 and 13:00: journey time is five to six hours; fare is IDR 190,000). Bau-Bau is a lovely city that hosts the head office of Wakatobi National Park. It's well worth a few days visit on its own, with an amazing 16th Century fort, white-sand beaches with nice coral snorkelling, and lots of caves.
Slow boats to Wakatobi National Park depart from Bau-Bau most days with a journey time of around nine hours (overnight) to the nearest island, Pulau Wangi-Wangi. The Cantika fast boat departs Bau-Bau every two to three days at around 10:00, arriving at Pulau Wangi-Wangi at around 14:00, before continuing on to the islands of Pulau Kaledupa and Pulau Tomia. The fast boat costs around IDR 250,000 from Bau-Bau to Wangi-Wangi and is very safe and comfortable. Check the schedule a few days before you arrive in Bau-Bau.
Boats also depart from Bau-Bau for Pulau Tomia every day (except Fridays) at 21:00 and from Pulau Tomia for Bau-Bau every day (except Saturdays) at 09:00. The fare is IDR 200,000 each way (including a basic meal), and the journey time is approximately twelve hours. The boats that operate between the two islands are the KM Wisata Indah 1/2, the KM Permai, and the KM Wahyu Samudra 1/2/3: at Pulau Tomia, most boats arrive at / depart from Pelabuhan (Port) Usuku, but the KM Permai and the KM Wisata Indah 2 arrive at / depart from Pelabuhan Waha.
Some divers also arrive in Wakatobi via the exclusive Wakatobi Resort's scheduled chartered flights from Bali, but this is not a necessary precursor to diving at Pulau Tomia (see below).
The Cantika fast boat connects the main islands of Pulau Wangi-Wangi, Pulau Kaledupa and Pulau Tomia on a rolling schedule, leaving from each island every two to three days. There is no shortage of smaller boats connecting the various islands, so on any given day you should be able to move from one island to another. It's best to just ask around (for example, at your accommodation reception) a day or two before you want to travel.
On the main islands, ojeks (motorcycle drivers) are easy to flag down on any main road or harbour and usually cost around IDR 5,000 - IDR 20,000 for a short trip, such as from a hotel to the harbour.
Diving at Wakatobi is excellent, with a high diversity of corals, rich marine life, and very few divers relative to more popular Indonesian marine parks such as Komodo National Park and Bunaken National Park. The best diving in Wakatobi is around Pulau Tomia, although excellent coral diving is also possible around Pulau Hoga, a small island near Pulau Kaledupa. People also dive from Pulau Wangi-Wangi.
A good warung offers meals for around IDR 20,000 all day in Kampung Waha, Pulau Tomia. Visitors staying at Penyelam Abi Raya (also in Kampung Waha) can also eat at the homestay.