A shallow start
One feature that makes Wakatobi’s House Reef so memorable is the shallow beginning. Moments after wading in and submerging into chest-deep water, you are gifted with a preview of things to come. Depending on the tide, you can be hovering over anemones and pristine stands of hard and soft corals in just five to ten feet of water, bathed in natural light. In these shallow environs, the warm colors missed at depth really pop. The reds, oranges and yellow are all here in vibrant abundance.
My typical House Reef dive starts with a short swim along the jetty. Closer to shore, visibility can sometimes be about half what it will be once you reach the wall, but the waves are barely ripples. Going toward the drop-off, I often swim right by the sandy area around the jetty, despite seeing everything from lionfish and stonefish, octopus and cuttlefish to tiny pipefish and nudibranchs along the way. Other common sightings that reward those who choose to linger around the jetty include large anemones with their host of clowns, false clowns, dominos, and porcelain crabs hiding inside their tentacles. If you avoid these distractions, an easy three-minute swim brings you to the “cut,” where the jetty ends and the wall begins.