FROM RAJA AMPAT’S ‘FOUR KINGS’ ISLANDS TO DRAGON-PROTECTED KOMODO, DUNIA BARU TAKES YOU ON A CRUISING ADVENTURE THROUGH INDONESIA’S ANCIENT, MYSTICAL LANDS.
INDONESIA’S ISLANDS PROVIDE a sweep of seascapes almost primal in their appeal. Deep ocean blues vie with lush green islands for your attention while below the waves a tumult of life awaits adventurous divers.
The cruising grounds of Raja Ampat to the east and Komodo in the south distil these qualities into their most intense forms.
Komodo National Park is ruled by the mighty Komodo dragon, stalking its prey with a Jurassic single mindedness against a backdrop of pink-sand beaches and savannah-like islands. Cruise north to Raja Ampat and the grassy islands give way to dense jungle-clad islets that carry their own sense of the ancient.
Superyacht with soul, the 51m Dunia Baru – with a sinuous wooden hull reminiscent of a Phinisi but fitted with all the accoutrements of a modern superyacht – has made these cruising grounds the centrepiece of her charter offerings.
Launched in 2014, the Indonesia-flagged, gaff-rigged ketch carries dive equipment and a host of water toys to make the most of the region’s waters, while her crew have become experts in showing guests the hidden sides and sites of these special destinations.
You don’t need to hear the local name, Four Kings, for the islands of Raja Ampat to get the sense there’s something regal about this pocket of the world.
Rising from the sea to the west of the Papuan mainland, the four stately islands are attended by myriad islets and a string of coral reefs. Above water, cloaks of dense virgin forest create a sharp contrast to the fluorescent aquamarine of the sea below. Under the waves, it’s a world where azure is the reigning monarch and manta rays cruise past in homage.
Dunia Baru’s crew has dedicated time here exploring the furthest reaches of the archipelago, comparing and cataloguing its best dive and snorkelling sites. Although Raja Ampat is fast becoming known as one of the world’s most desirable cruising destinations, the yacht’s cruises take in a wealth of pristine, isolated anchorages to make the most of the area’s unique natural wonders.
Visitors love the abundance of marine species, diving with manta rays along exquisite coral reefs, exploring enormous limestone caves, kayaking through azure coral lagoons or heading to the surface for a trek through the spectacular Papuan jungles.
This isn’t a part of the world thronged with people, but local culture is a vibrant mix of indigenous history, flavoured with the cultures of waves of migrants throughout the ages who now call the region home. The main occupation for locals is fishing and people in the area are known for their welcoming nature.
Tribal groups in Raja Ampat identify themselves as distinct from one another, so visitors will enjoy discovering the different cultural nuances that exist between tribes.
Dunia Baru’s crew enjoy throwing guests into a unique experience early in their exploration of Raja Ampat. Tolomol cave is an enormous cavern crowned with colossal stalactites where guests can swim through to the furthest recesses of the passage before it opens into a stunning, jungle-green sunlit expanse.
Emerging from the water, guests wind through a short rocky trail to a pristine inner lake, where they can swim or snorkel ensconced in towering limestone cliffs and overshadowed at the entrance by shady trees.
A Raja Ampat charter experience will see guests spend much of their days in the water observing the thronging bustle of its underwater inhabitants.
Misool’s renowned dive sites follow stretches of reef where divers can glide across steep coral and rock slopes, flanked by colossal shoals of anchovies. Deep surrounding waters and moderate currents make this a haven for pelagic marine life, which pierce the jostling throngs of reef fish.
On top, sheltered bays invite paddle boarding, kayaking and sailing, exploring private white-sand beaches or experiencing one of the world’s rarest natural phenomena. For guests with an interest in creatures which soar on air rather than currents, the island of Batanta offers up a feast of birdwatching and jungle scenery.
Trek to the local waterfall, enjoy a swim in the pool below or underneath the falls’ cave, and observe a colourful spread of birds and butterflies on the walk back to the vessel. Blythes hornbills, palm cockatoos, egrets and various sea eagles provide the soundtrack for dinner onboard as they return to roost for the evening.
In the afternoons, crew enjoy guiding their guests on treks to a secluded lake which holds something completely unexpected. Surrounded on all sides by steep cliffs, in a secluded part of the jungle, is a lake teeming with harmless, moonlike jellyfish. The jellyfish of the lake are stingless and snorkelling through clouds of the gelatinous creatures is as exciting as it is surreal.
In Komodo National Park, otherworldly creatures also take centre stage. Chief of them, of course, the Komodo dragon – brooding, primeval and fascinating all at the same time. The park located in the Lesser Sunda Islands is also home to other fascinating wildlife.
Wild boar, deer, native birdlife and a friendly monkey population on the island of Padar make it a visitors’ favourite, while the waters off Rinca are home to the full spectrum of marine life from macro creatures to pelagic fish.
But it’s the terrestrial inhabitants of Rinca that will keep drawing guests’ eyes back again and again. Alongside Komodo, Rinca is
one of the few places where dragons can be observed – and they don’t disappoint. The yacht crew work with national park guides to ensure guests’ interactions with the dragons are as safe as they are exhilarating.
Able to reach speeds of 20kmh in short bursts and reaching up to 3m long, the predators are nothing to be trifled with and local guides will introduce guests to their natural habitat with the caution the creatures deserve.
Guests onboard Dunia Baru often opt for an early morning hike to beat the heat, climbing Rinca’s heights for a sunrise view that comes with accompanying adrenalin rush courtesy of the island’s inhabitants.
A short sail away is Batu Bolong, east of Komodo Island, and the famed Pantai Merah, one of only seven pink-sand beaches in the world. Sand comes from rocks and hard materials that are continually being broken down and on Komodo’s pink beach, the sand comes from a tiny pink-coloured marine organism called foraminifera.
Snorkelling in the crystalline waters off the beach is something truly special, while a gourmet beach barbecue under the stars later in the evening closes the day to perfection.
Photos Mark Everleigh