Avast ye lubbers – there is a fine fleet awaiting you in and around Flores where some of the world’s most exquisite marine environments can be explored and appreciated …writes Stephanie Mee.
THREE years ago, master yachtsman Raymond La Fontaine was sailing the Indian Ocean on his home for nearly 10 years, the Australian sailing yacht SV Basilea, when he hit a doozy of a storm. For weeks there were gales and relentless rain, but his 30 years of sailing experience fared him well . . . until one fateful night the Basilea crashed and water began to flood the hull. It took eight days of struggling to stay afloat before the Basilea finally landed in Jakarta, and months to have the boat properly repaired. It was then that Raymond knew that he had to follow his dream of building an international standard marina in Indonesia.
In less than a year the Basilea was restored to her former glory, Raymond had begun work on the Marina Del Ray in a peaceful cove on Lombok’s Gili Gede, and Indonesian Yacht Charter, Gili Gede Fast Boat and Lombok Dive Charters were up and running. Today Raymond and his team organise some of the most scenic and stimulating boat tours in Indonesia aboard the Basilea and other yachts in their fleet. From day and sunset yacht charters to multi-day liveaboard trips around the archipelago, Basilea offers a wealth of experiences at sea for adventurous types.
Day trips include cruises and sunset tours from Bali to Nusa Lembongan and the islands that Raymond has named “The Maldives of Indonesia”, more commonly known as Lombok’s southern Gili islands. For those who have more time to spare, liveaboard trips range from three days to 10 days, and include stops in exotic outposts like Sumba, Flores and the Komodo National Park to see deserted white sand beaches, pristine rainforests, traditional villages, indigenous wildlife, and volcanic lakes.
Each tour includes an experienced skipper and crew, plus activities like snorkelling and fishing and optional dive equipment. Liveaboard guests are also treated to comfortable accommodation on the yacht, tasty meals including snacks, coffee, tea, and beer, spirits and wine for purchase or included in the package depending on the trip. You can also get in touch with the helpful team at Indonesian Yacht Charters or Lombok Dive Charters to customise your own unique tour.
IT’S all about adventure on the Seven Seas, a 45-metre luxury liveaboard yacht that plies the waters east of Bali in search of extraordinary destinations across Indonesia. With three decks, eight stately cabins, plenty of lounging and living areas, the latest dive equipment, a fully stocked galley, and a boutique shop, The Seven Seas can handle any kind of excursion at sea you can dream of including dedicated dive cruises, family expeditions, underwater photo and video courses, and weddings on the water.
For years Mark Heighes and Jos Pet had been hashing out the details of their dream boat, but they never came across a vessel that quite fit the bill. However, in 2005 they stumbled upon a gorgeous traditional Bugis schooner made of solid ironwood, and they knew that this was the boat they had to have. Together with a team of expert shipbuilders, carpenters, and partners and co-owners Tuti Heighes and Lida Pet-Soede, the duo completely refurbished the boat transforming it into a cutting-edge liveaboard vessel that few in the region can rival.
The Seven Seas boasts three decks with ample space inside and out for relaxing and socialising. Of the eight state rooms, four are spacious double rooms with king-size beds, and four are twin rooms with large single beds. Two of the cabins are on the upper deck offering panoramic views of the horizon from the windows, and all rooms have luxurious teak furnishings and ensuite bathrooms with hot showers. In addition, there is an air-conditioned living and dining area with windows that open to allow sea breezes to flow in, a sun-dappled wooden deck with loungers, and a shaded dive deck with deck showers and gear storage.
Guests can opt for easy one-day or one-night tours around Bali on the Seven Seas, although the company’s real focus is on multi-day cruises around Indonesia’s unique eastern islands. Spend a week or three touring the vibrant coral gardens and deserted beaches of Raja Ampat, see some of the world’s rarest reptiles on Komodo Island, or get off the beaten path in the Southeast Moluccas, also known as the “Forgotten Islands”.
Whether you opt for a single night or nearly a month on board, the professional Seven Seas team will make sure you want for nothing. With a cheerful crew of eighteen Indonesian staff including dive masters, a spa therapist and a gourmet chef, plus two Western cruise directors with more than 10 years experience sailing the region, guests will be treated to amazing experiences, gourmet food and fine wines, expert dive instruction, and a wealth of knowledge about the geography, history, culture and curiosities of each destination.
ALEXA BY TALIKA OAZIA PRIVATE CRUISES
IF romance is in the cards, it doesn’t get more intimate than Alexa by Talika Oazia. Imagine sipping champagne with your loved one on a daybed on deck as you pass by remote islands, swimming nude in crystal clear waters as tropical fish dart by, picnicking under swaying coconut trees on a deserted island beach, and enjoying candlelit meals on the water and under the southern stars. Then of course, you could also spend leisurely days luxuriating in your opulent cabin for two.
Once a traditional Indonesian Phinisi cargo ship, Alexa has been completely remodelled so that classic lines take on a modern all-white air, open-air decks allow for panoramic views, and interior living spaces are spacious and bright. In addition, the decor here is nothing if not decadent with silk rugs, antique sculptures, contemporary artworks, fine linens and crystal glasses. No detail has been overlooked, and the overall experience is five-star grandeur at sea.
On the upper deck of Alexa, you have an open-air dining pavilion, a sleeping arrangement for nights under the stars, sunbeds, relaxation areas, and an open-air navigation platform. Head down one level and you will find the living and dining room, TV lounge, an open-air lounge, and the master (and only) guest cabin on the ship with an ensuite bathroom and private balcony. Finally, the lower deck houses a state-of-the-art kitchen, another dining area, a lounge, library and the crew cabins.
While onboard Alexa, pampering is part of the package, as you have your own personal chef, a cruise director who can arrange day trips to exotic islands, remote villages and pristine lagoons, a dive instructor and spa therapist. They will attend to your every craving, whether it is a premium bottle of wine or spirits, a seafood BBQ under the stars, soothing spa treatments, or rejuvenating yoga and meditation sessions.
PULAU LUXURY CHARTERS
Based out of Serangan Harbour in Bali, Pulau Luxury Charters offers three sleek and stylish boats for a range of activities at sea. Day cruises head off to the crystal clear waters off Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida for snorkelling, swimming and gourmet lunches on beautiful beaches, dive trips include expert instruction for all levels of divers, surf tours take advantage of some of Bali and Lombok’s best breaks while avoiding the crowds, and fishing expeditions set out in search of tuna, mackerel and big game fish.
Each boat at Pulau Luxury Charters has been specially outfitted to accommodate guest’s unique wants and needs. The Rhino 1 is a custom built 42-foot dive and surf boat with state of the art scuba gear and boards onboard; the Haruku is a long-range expedition yacht designed to travel anywhere in comfort and safety. Her 72-foot catamaran hull is wave piercing and provides safe, comfortable, and economical cruising for weddings, parties and short or long range island adventures. With room for six guests and a crew of four this beauty has all the comforts of home with all the bells and whistles needed for an entertaining journey.
Finally, the 56-foot Burjuman is a stunning fly-bridge motor yacht from Italy that offers luxury day cruises, romantic twilight cruises and customised surfing, diving, sightseeing and liveaboard tours.
Flexibility is key at Pulau Luxury Charters, as guests can customise trips to suit their needs. For example, non-divers can take the PADI Discover Scuba Diving course to learn the basics of the sport, while advanced divers can explore fascinating walls, reefs and coral gardens. Surfers can hit up waves year round on either side of the island, and anglers can draw on the crew’s nautical knowledge to seek out the most abundant hauls. Families and groups are also well taken care of, as many of the boats have air-conditioned cabins and lounges, an array of toys including an underwater jet scooter, SUP Boards, kayaks, snorkel and dive gear an inflatable pontoon raft and plenty of space on deck for relaxing and soaking up the sights.
If you only have time for one cruise during your time in Bali, the Champagne Sunset Cruise is hard to top. Board the Burjuman in late afternoon and set off for a gentle three-hour cruise around the calm waters of Sanur and Nusa Dua. Lounge in style on the bow or fly-bridge with a flute of champagne in hand and nibble on gourmet canapés as you watch the sun set slowly behind the peak of Mt. Agung. You can also opt for a decadent four-course Chef’s Dinner on board with dedicated wait staff for charters of up to four guests.
PLATARAN KOMODO PHINISI VESSELS
YOU may be more familiar with Plataran as a collection of exotic boutique resorts in some of Indonesia’s top destinations, but this luxury lifestyle company also offers unforgettable tours to world famous dive sites and islands around Flores and Komodo National Park. With a full fleet of traditional Indonesian sailing ships ranging in size, Plataran Komodo Phinisi Vessels offers exciting itineraries at sea for all budgets, time limits and group variations.
Based out of Labuan Bajo, Flores, Plataran Komodo Phinisi Vessels has four ships, each of which was built by master shipbuilders on the island of Sulawesi. These beautiful wooden vessels have been lovingly renovated to provide comfortable cruising no matter how long the trip, and onboard features include snorkelling and diving gear, fishing equipment, cabins with complete hotel facilities, and a full complement of professional staff who know the waters like the backs of their hands.
Plataran’s flagship vessel is the 25-metre Phinisi Felicia, a Buginese schooner made of rich ironwood and teak, and sporting billowing royal blue sails. With two spacious master cabins with double king beds and four twin cabins, all air-conditioned and with their own ensuite bathrooms, the Felicia can comfortably sleep up to 12 passengers. The boat also boasts a lounge, kitchen, covered deck with a dining table, and plenty of space to soak up the views on the sundecks and bridge.
The Plataran Ambasi can also accommodate large groups with three stylish double cabins and one twin cabin, and the Plataran Phinisi Bali has six single beds with open bunks. The smallest boat in the fleet is the Plataran Komodo, yet this vessel still offers room to move around and inviting lounging areas for day trips departing from Labuan Bajo and setting off to dive sites in the national park, tranquil beaches and hiking trails on remote islands.
Some of the perks that set Plataran Komodo Phinisi Vessels apart from other dive and yacht charter companies include their competitive pricing for both day trips and liveaboard cruises, their highly trained captains, crew and dive guides who are constantly upgrading their skill sets and refreshing their safety knowledge, and their commitment to the environment. In fact, the company has recently partnered with Project AWARE, a non-profit organisation dedicated to ocean conservation, to protect the underwater world here in Indonesia.