Sea Gypsy Sanctuary – ipadguides

They call themselves sea people. Birth and life all depend on the ocean. They have no territorial area like other tribes. The entire coast of Wakatobi – even the archipelago, is their home. They really are ‘people of the sea’


WE took a small canoe with a robin engine to cross to one of the Bajo villages on Kaledupa Island. The sea is so calm, the sky is blue, in the distance you can see houses on stilts whose wooden supports stick to the seabed.

This is one of the residences of the Bajo people. They are no longer sea ​​nomadic as previously. Currently, they have settled in villages scattered in the Wakatobi area.

In Kaledupa, they built their own village in the middle of the sea. Build a foundation of rock, and build a house on stilts on it. Some immediately set up without a foundation, directly plugged into the seabed.

The Bajo tribe are true sea people. Since birth they have lived with the sea. They are excellent traditional divers. Archery fish or better known as spearfishing is their forte.

They hunt fish by free diving. At the bottom of the sea, they walked holding spears as if they were hunting on land.

“We have people who can dive for up to 25 minutes,” said a Bajo resident when I spoke at the pier.

Whether true or not, because of the record free diving inner world static apnea only 22 minutes. But, in the Bajo tribe, man! The sea is part of them, so it might just be true!

Bajo children have been familiar with the sea since childhood. In fact, a few days after birth, they will be bathed in sea water.

Indeed, the Indonesian nation in ancient times was a maritime nation. Success in the ocean. Who is not familiar with the maritime capabilities of the Bugis to sail the seas with their phinisi? Who doesn’t know the legendary Sriwijaya fleet? It is said that the fleet contained people from the Bajo tribe, the true sea travelers.


That afternoon, we docked at the sampling pier. One of the most traditional Bajo villages compared to other villages. The house here is still a wooden stilt house, unlike other Bajo villages, some of which have used concrete and zinc as a roof.

I saw this row of Bajo tribal villages. The children played in the canoe, some played in the water, and some played futsal on the wooden stilts! I also saw schools and mosques already standing in this village. The majority of Bajo residents are Muslim, although they are still thick with the nuances of belief in ancestral spirits and the like.

Looking for fish with a canoe.

The afternoon east sun shone so beautifully. I’m still walking around this village. Some houses seem to already have satellite antennas to catch television broadcasts. However, this Bajo tribe still looks poor when compared to people who live in the city center.

Why is that so?

In fact, Wakatobi’s natural wealth is no joke. When I was near Wanci market on the beach, I saw many small fishing boats looking for fish with nets. And, the fish they caught had already filled their boat.

“I set the net about half an hour ago,” said the fisherman. That much fresh fish can be obtained easily in no time! Starting from grouper, snapper, tuna, to tuna can be found easily in Wakatobi. And, Indonesia is indeed one of the suppliers of tuna for world exports.

Wakatobi is also one of the areas that are included in the world’s coral triangle. The Wakatobi reef line is the second longest in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia! And, what’s even more exciting, is that 750 of the 850 types of coral reefs in the world are in Wakatobi! If the government is serious, from the marine tourism sector alone Wakatobi can become a world-class destination!

Underwater Wakatobi
Underwater Wanci. There are dozens of dive points in Wakatobi.

I had once dived in Wanci and was fascinated by the beautiful coral reefs and fish here. My dive guide said, this is nothing compared to Hoga Island. Hoga is a small island in Kaledupa where marine researchers have established a base here, Operation Wallace.

It’s very rich, isn’t it?

But, why poverty is still here? Is there anyone ‘playing’ here so that wealth is not evenly distributed? Or is there another reason?

This question always arises when visiting eastern Indonesia. A part that is rarely touched, or perhaps forgotten by people in Jakarta there. And, until now I do not know the answer.

In the afternoon, the Bajo tribe likes to sit in front of the terrace of their stilt house.

Bajo tribal martial arts
Fishing, moving, and trading depend heavily on this small canoe.

The knowledge of the Bajo tribe about the sea is very wide, they even know the type of fish by just looking from the canoe.

“We only take enough fish, we never use bombs or other dangerous materials,” said a Bajo fisherman.

He said that those who use unhealthy methods to catch fish are usually not Bajo people. Bajo people live from the sea, they know how to treat their source of life.

However, there are still illegal fishing practices using bombs or potassium which can damage coral reefs. For this reason, local organizations such as Forkani and Komunto always cooperate with fishermen to protect the Wakatobi location.


Even though it’s just a bridge, this bridge has its own ‘road’ name

A star-studded night, we burned the fish we caught with Labuka. A bajo silat master who also teaches fish with us. Under the stars and the sound of the sea breeze, he sings a Bajo song that really touches our hearts. Although we don’t know what the song means.

I am very impressed with Wakatobi’s natural wealth and hope that one day the people here can prosper. So that I can dive and enjoy the beautiful Wakatobi marine park with a calmer heart.


The government’s decision to ‘force’ the Bajo tribe to return to land seems to have paid little attention to the Bajo tribe. They are sea people, sea people. Born, live, and eat from the wealth of the sea. ‘Landing’ them will actually complicate their movement in life.

They are marginalized, they are economically difficult. However, they believe, as long as they respect the ocean, the wealth of the sea will continue to suffice.

Good evening Wakatobi

**Thanks my dive buddy om vindhya for the underwater photo. I guess I have to buy an underwater camera too, hihi.

And finally Wakatobi in video we made version. Enjoy!

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