Jour­ney to the east

Sail­ing is one of the best ways to ex­plore the vast mar­itime ta­pes­try made of 17,000 is­lands that is In­done­sia. Eve Tedja un­cov­ers four lux­u­ri­ous pri­vate boat char­ters that ex­plore the re­mote eastern part of the ar­chi­pel­ago.


For the long­est time, the eastern part of In­done­sia holds a cer­tain mys­tic for its un­charted is­lands, tales of the leg­endary Ko­modo dragon, aban­doned fortresses, vast jun­gles and dan­ger­ous vol­ca­noes. Many have for­got­ten the fact that the his­tory of In­done­sian coloni­sa­tion started on tiny is­lands in Maluku called Banda, renowned for its nut­meg. The yel­low fra­grant fruit na­tive to those is­lands was the rai­son d’être for con­quest and three cen­turies of Dutch coloni­sa­tion that fol­lowed.

Even fewer peo­ple are aware that in 1858, Al­fred Rus­sell Wal­lace wrote an out­line of his the­ory of evo­lu­tion through nat­u­ral se­lec­tion while be­ing deliri­ous with malaria in a small ram­shackle hut on Ter­nate Is­land. He sent the out­line to Charles Dar­win who have ar­rived at the same the­ory. The let­ter prompted the Vic­to­rian nat­u­ral­ist to quickly pub­lish his work, On the Ori­gin of Species, and changed the course of na­ture. To­day, Wal­lace’s her­itage is found on the line that de­lin­eates the bound­aries of South­east Asian and Aus­tralian fauna, a line that we call the Wal­lace Line.

The tiny is­lands are pop­u­lated with cu­ri­ous chil­dren with big eyes and even big­ger smiles, betel­nut-chew­ing, red-toothed ma­mas, and stoic men who may say lit­tle but are al­ways ready to as­sist a trav­eller. It feels like a vastly dif­fer­ent des­ti­na­tion from the rest of In­done­sia, a far cry from the bustling mega­lopo­lis of Jakarta or the re­sortho­tel vibe of Bali. The best way to dis­cover its rugged, wild and hid­den beau­ties is by boat.

All of the yachts and phin­i­sis – the hand­crafted tra­di­tional wooden boat made by the sea­far­ing Bugis tribe of South Su­lawesi – are sights to be­hold. Gone are the days when liv­ing on board was deemed as a rudi­men­tary tor­ture. In the hands of four ex­pe­ri­enced op­er­a­tors, these boats of­fer el­e­gant suites with taste­ful tribal decor, Egyp­tian cot­ton sheet bed­ding, and Bloody Marys to wel­come you on board. A mas­sage ther­a­pist, dive master and chef will be part of the en­tourage when you char­ter a yacht or book a suite in one of these sea ves­sels.

Nat­u­rally, the wind and sea­son play a huge part in en­sur­ing a rel­a­tively tran­quil sail­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Raja Am­pat Is­lands are per­fect to visit from Novem­ber un­til June. Sail­ing in Flores and Ko­modo, Alor, the Mol­lu­cas and Banda Is­land is ideal from June to Oc­to­ber. Pack your sense of ad­ven­ture and let the crew of these boats take you on a mem­o­rable voy­age.

For what is a lux­ury than to set sail to an is­land that is privy to a few?

Alila Pur­nama

True to its sig­na­ture style of pro­vid­ing con­tem­po­rary lux­ury liv­ing and im­pec­ca­ble ser­vice, the float­ing five-star re­sort is a 46-me­tre, teak-hulled beauty. Alila Pur­nama of­fers a pri­vate char­ter as well as in­di­vid­ual suite book­ings. Opt for the master suite that of­fers 180-de­gree wrap­around win­dows, a pri­vate bal­cony and sun deck, as well as a bath­tub. Have a mas­sage with the waves of the ocean for com­pany and en­joy an In­done­sian feast for din­ner. In be­tween, there are var­i­ous ex­cur­sions to choose from, but div­ing is a must-do on the five- or six-night trip to Raja Am­pat. With more than 1,600 fish and 600 coral species, the is­land boasts one of the rich­est marine bio­di­ver­si­ties on earth. For a shorter trip, book the three-night Ko­modo Na­tional Park jour­ney where you can have an up-close en­counter with the an­cient lizard. Ask the cap­tain to drop his an­chor at one of the most stun­ning beaches or take you to the the thick trop­i­cal for­est of Cen­drawasih Bay for bird watch­ing. Us$12,500/night for a full char­ter and Us$2,221/night for a stan­dard suite. Tel: +62 361 236384 or e-mail: pur­[email protected]­ho­

Silolona So­journs

Hav­ing lived in In­done­sia since 1983, Patti Seery is de­voted to the preser­va­tion and cul­tural un­der­stand­ing of As­mat and Dani, two indige­nous tribes of West Pa­pua. Apart from be­ing an ad­vi­sor of Lemba ga musyawarah Adat As­mat, a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion ded­i­cated to the preser­va­tion and de­vel­op­ment of As­mat tradition, Seery also owns two gor­geous phin­isi ves­sels, Silolona and Si Datu Bua. Made from mas­sive tim­bers and re­cy­cled 300-year-old colo­nial teak planks, the boats are a tes­ta­ment to the art of In­done­sian crafts­man­ship.

The in­te­rior of the five state­rooms in Silolona and three suites in Si Datu Bua are dec­o­rated with arte­facts that are in­spired by the cul­tural her­itage of In­done­sia, from a 16th cen­tury sea­far­ing chart map to in­digo-dyed wo­ven tex­tiles from Sumba.

Cul­ture and com­mu­nity in­volve­ment fea­ture heav­ily in Silolona So­journs’ itin­er­ar­ies. Be it a voy­age to Ko­modo, eastern Flores and the Savu Sea, the Spice Is­lands of Banda, Raja Am­pat or Cen­drawasih Bay, sto­ry­telling, cul­tural per­for­mances and land ex­pe­di­tion are in­sep­a­ra­ble parts of the cruise ex­pe­ri­ence. Seery of­ten comes on­board with the guests to ac­quaint them with the lo­cal cul­ture. Menu-wise, ex­pect fra­grant spices of the ar­chi­pel­ago in dishes such as freshly caught steamed fish wrapped in banana leaf, roast duck, and pineap­ple tart with star anise sauce. Ac­com­mo­da­tion starts from Us$1,360/night/per­son. Tel: +62 (0) 361 286 682 or e-mail: [email protected]

Ras­cal Voy­ages

Nau­ti­cal el­e­gance sums up the de­sign essence of the Ras­cal Voy­ages fleet. Launched in 2017, the pri­vate char­ter only phin­isi of­fers a spa­cious lay­out that al­lows for six en-suite cab­ins and plenty of in­door and out­door spa­ces. Apart from the flex­i­bil­ity to tai­lor-make your itin­er­ary, such as a six-night Spice Is­land Culi­nary Ad­ven­ture in Banda Is­lands or a four-night Ko­modo Well­ness & Health Re­treat, Ras­cal Voy­ages re­cently launched The Ex­plo­ration Se­ries with Con­ser­va­tion In­ter­na­tional that com­bines lux­u­ri­ous ex­pe­ri­en­tial travel with marine bio­di­ver­sity preser­va­tion.

The maiden voy­age takes place this month and will be led by sci­en­tists from Con­ser­va­tion In­ter­na­tional. Af­ter the first voy­age in Mapia Atoll for five days where guests learn the ropes of drone tech­nol­ogy to sur­vey tur­tles and man­tas, there will be ex­pe­di­tions, in­clud­ing ex­ploratory dives with manta rays from Flores to Sumba, a voy­age with the whale sharks in Cen­drawasih Bay, Pa­pua, the walk­ing sharks along the re­mote North Pa­pua coast, and ham­mer­head sharks in Banda Sea, as well as fol­low­ing thresher sharks in Alor. Prices for The Ex­plo­ration Se­ries start at Us$12,000/night for a group of eight. e-mail: en­[email protected]­calvoy­

Prana by Atzaro

As the lat­est new­comer to the In­done­sian yacht­ing scene, Prana by Atzaro sure knows how to make an en­trance. The Ibiz­abased bou­tique ho­tel group, Atzaro, com­mis­sioned an ironwood and teak phin­isi which took 21 months to com­plete. The 55 me­tres, two-masted beauty boasts nine suites, a yoga ter­race that dou­bles as an open-air cinema un­der the stars, in­door and out­door liv­ing and din­ing spa­ces, a spa, and a wa­ter sport deck. With an 18-man crew that in­cludes spa ther­a­pists and chefs, all of your ex­pec­ta­tion will be met on board. Get ready for up close and per­sonal en­coun­ters with the Ko­modo dragons, dive in UN­ESCO Her­itage Site’s Raja Am­pat Is­lands, hike up the his­tor­i­cal Mount Api in Banda Is­lands or ex­plore the re­mote is­land of Alor with its stun­ning coral reefs. Scuba dive with the res­i­dent dive in­struc­tor or ex­pe­ri­ence adren­a­line fu­elled ac­tiv­i­ties such as wa­ter ski­ing. Have an al fresco din­ner from the fu­sion Asian and Western menu or ask the crew to ar­range one for you on the beach where the phin­isi moors. From Us$12,500/day for a full char­terand US$1,120 for a sin­gle suite. Tel: +34 971 188 894 or e-mail: [email protected]­aby­

Hand­crafted by the builders from Su­lawaesi, the beau­ti­ful Silolona is built ac­cord­ing to The Lloyd’s stan­dards.

Dine un­der the stars on the up­per deck of Silolona So­journs’ Si Datu Bua.

Alila Pur­nama’s liv­ing and din­ing room

Break­fast with a view on Ras­cal Voy­ages’ phin­isi

En­joy an ex­quis­ite meal on­board Prana by Atzaro.

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