If Wakatobi’s dive site Turkey Beach is not about turkeys, then what is it about?
Look at a map of Wakatobi‘s Reefs and you'll notice that the dive site known as Turkey Beach is listed as #1. That makes sense, because — save for the House Reef — it's one the two closest named sites to the resort's jetty. How close is it? If you were sitting with your morning coffee at Wakatobi's oceanfront restaurant gazing out over the water, you would be looking right at the start of it.
Guests staying in Wakatobi’s new Turtle Beach Bungalows would also have a view of this site from their veranda, as it is located at the southern edge of the resort grounds. As the name implies, there is a white-sand beach along the shore, and this is a favorite site for families looking for a youngster-friendly place to swim or snorkel.
From a diving and snorkeling perspective, Turkey Beach is actually a continuation of the same reef system that makes up the House Reef. The inshore region, which is far larger than the House Reef is dominated by a broad expanse of seagrass beds 1 to 3 meters deep. Outward, the plateau changes composition to a rich and lively coral reef that makes a similar abrupt drop off into the depths, but with a few subtle differences in its topography.
Rather than a having a near-vertical profile running continuously, the reef face periodically changes tempo from wall to steep slope and back again. As you move along its face you’ll find a wonderland of hard and soft corals, and sponges, from the top of the reef (at a depth of 2 to 3 meters) down past the 50-meter mark.
When currents hit their zenith, schools of fish gather to feed near the reef’s crest. In between colorful anthias and fusiliers dart about in their attempts to catch a meal without becoming one themselves. At any given time, you may encounter a passing eagle ray or two or a roaming school of humphead parrotfish. A closer look into the folds and crevices of the reef will reveal a wide range of crustaceans and other invertebrates.
Turkey Beach is known as one of the best sites in the Wakatobi marine preserve to find turtles.
Adding to this diversity of marine life, most of the terrain is riddled with shallow overhangs and undercuts, which provide the site's many resident green turtles with cozy places to take a nap. In fact, Turkey Beach is known as one of the best sites in the Wakatobi marine preserve to find turtles. Day or night, divers will encounter a healthy population of green sea turtles. At high tide, they come into the shallows to nibble on seagrasses, and on deeper slopes, they may be joined by a few hawksbill turtles noshing on sponges.
Given the number of turtles found at this site, you might wonder why it wasn't named Turtle Beach? The answer has to do with the multi-lingual nature of Wakatobi's clientele. Back in the early days of the resort, a guest from Germany was enthralled by the many sea turtles encountered during a dive but also had some challenges grasping how to say “turtle” in English, and mistakenly referred to them as “turkeys.” From that point on, the name Turkey Beach stuck.
Much like the House Reef, currents at Turkey Beach can fluctuate in strength and direction, flowing both north and south based on the tide cycle. As a result, there is no mooring buoy at this site, and all dives are conducted as drifts. Depending on the strength of the current, dive plans could involve a gentle drift or become more exciting.
In addition to regularly scheduled visits by the resort's dive boats, Turkey Beach is served by the Wakatobi's taxi boats. When currents are flowing to the north, divers can take a five-minute taxi boat ride to the site, then enjoy an extended drift dive that brings them back to the resort jetty.
Between its close proximity to the resort and what it has to offer, Turkey Beach is one of Wakatobi's popular night diving sites. After dark, you'll likely find the turtles tucked up under a ledge sleeping. You'll also find the usual cast of nocturnal creatures, including lionfish on the hunt, octopus slithering among the corals, squids on patrol, parrotfish tucked into their mucous cocoons and all manner of crabs scurrying about.
Day or night, a dive at Turkey Beach is a rewarding experience, and it remains one of Wakatobi's most-loved dive sites.
You can learn more about Wakatobi by visiting their blog – Wakatobi Flow
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