Tag Archives: Unique Sailing Destinations

Sleek & Chic Afloat | El Aleph Luxury Phinisi, Indonesia

By Dian Hasan | July 21, 2010

Few people realize that Bali’s immense popularity as a world travel destination has made it into a cruise center, transporting divers and surfers ply the oceans east of Bali to explore Lesser Sunda Islands of Sumba, Sumbawa, Flores, West Timor, and further afield. The leading attraction in these waters is of course the Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis) giant monitor lizard that inhabits the island that forms the Komodo National Park.

Bali’s cruise industry is mostly made up of  the smaller, human-scale live-aboard ships fashioned from the traditional Phinisi schooners and converted into modern ocean-plying sail boats.

Until recently, however, most of these majestic crafts were better looking on the outside. The interior was reduced to an afterthought. Mostly rustic and traditional, not that much different from the ambience in the fishing villages where the Bugis seafaring people craft Phinisis by hand.

Luckily, some forward-thinking liveaboard operators, understood that the market was looking for something better. Something with an umph! Hence, designers were commissioned, some style quotient got kicked in, and voila!…  a new crop of luxury phinisi emerges. El Aleph clearly belongs to this club of lookers.

El Aleph offers among the most spacious traditional sailing yacht plying the exotic Indonesian archipelago and beyond, in sheer luxury. Broad-beamed and well-ballasted, El Aleph offers unmatched stability and comfort. A symphony in 100-year old tropical hardwoods – her teak finishes more reminiscent of a fine guitar than of a ship – no detail has been left to chance in ensuring your comfort, safety and enjoyment.

Bringing together traditional Phinisi design and 21st century technology, El Aleph was built in South Sulawesi (Celebes), Indonesia’s hub of traditional handcrafted schooner ship-building. Featuring tropical hardwoods by Bali’s finest cabinetmakers who spent more than 200,000 man-hours on the final fit-out.

El Aleph offers a unique opportunity to explore the fascinating Indonesian archipelago – and beyond, to Thailand, Myanmar (Burma) and the Andamans – in luxury and total privacy, far from the crowded marinas and touristed beaches of the standard Asian cruising destinations. Continue reading

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Divine Diving | Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia

By Dian Hasan | July 22, 2010


Raja Ampat means “four kings”, referring to the islands Salawati, Batanta, Waigeo and Misool. This region on the north-western tip of New Guinea comprises about 610 islands spread over 50,000 sq km of spectacular scenery. Here we also find the remote islands of Misool a scenic range of majestic limestone structures with precipitous cliffs and craggy spires.

According to Conservation International, marine surveys suggest that the marine life diversity in the Raja Ampat area is the highest recorded on Earth. Diversity is considerably greater than any other area sampled in the Coral Triangle composed of Indonesia, Philippines and Papua New Guinea. The Coral Triangle is the heart of the world’s coral reef biodiversity, making Raja Ampat quite possibly the richest coral reef ecosystems in the world.

  • Over 1,000 species of fish
  • Over 700 molluscs
  • Over 540 species of scleractinian (hard) corals = 75% of the world total
  • 4.6 million hectares of reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves and rocky coastline
  • Scarcely populated and minimal industrial development

No wonder that this ecosystem attracts more and more divers and is earmarked by the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and Culture for future eco-tourism development. With this in mind, the Government of Indonesia is looking to nominate the archipelago as a World Heritage Site.

Some of the highlights include the great dives and under as well as above water caves of Misool, the blue water mangroves, the reefs of the Fam Islands, the fish and manta rays of the Dampier straight, the pearl farm at Aljui Bay and the great karst islands of the Wayag Archipelago. Then there are the extensive mangrove forests and the many deserted beaches. Some excellent diving can be found in the “blue water mangroves” just west of the Island of Misool. In the north there is some superb critter diving at Waigeo Island and great coral and fish dives in Dampier Straight.


Kri Island_W Papua_iIrian_Kri_Resort_2
Kri Island_W Papua_infinitypool

The underwater world is enchanting with the greatest and healthiest coral reef biodiversity of its size in the world, nearly 1,200 species of fish and 540 species of coral have been recorded, 70% of the world’s total number of coral species.

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Divine Diving | Komodo National Park, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia

By Dian Hasan | July 22, 2010

Komodo National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site situated in the straits between Sumba and Flores and consists of the three larger islands of Komodo, Rinca and Padar, as well as numerous smaller ones. Because of its unique geology, the islands have developed equally unique wildlife. With dragons on land and a utopia underwater, you will find an array of dive sites and hiking trails to suit every level of experience.

From pristine corals, mantas, sharks, turtles, dolphins, dugong and giant pelagics to tiny pygmy seahorses, nudibranchs and frog fish, you’ll find the diversity of marine life inspiring if not mind boggling. The islands feature a dramatic wild savannah landscape with patches of forest especially on the southern hills of Komodo and Rinca. White and red sand beaches, blue lagoons teeming with fish and some of the most spectacular underwater scenery in the world entice divers and guests from around the world.

The underwater topography is as varied as the marine life it homes. Dive sites vary from gentle coral slopes to sheer cliff walls, channels, flat bottoms, pinnacles, caves, swim-throughs and a host of hard and soft corals. From the Flores Sea in the north, the warm waters gradually become cooler as you travel southwards into the Indian Ocean.

Seraya Island - Sunset Continue reading

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Sleek & Chic Afloat | Seven Seas Luxury Phinisi Schooner, Indonesia

By Dian Hasan | July 21, 2010

Few people realize that Bali’s immense popularity as a world travel destination has made it into a cruise center, from where cruises carrying divers and surfers ply the oceans east of Bali to explore Lesser Sunda Islands of Sumba, Sumbawa, FloresWest Timor and further afield. The leading attraction in these waters is of course the Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis) giant monitor lizard that inhabits the island that forms the Komodo National Park.

Bali’s cruise industry is mostly made up of  the smaller, human-scale live-aboard ships fashioned from the traditional Phinisi schooners and converted into modern ocean-plying sail boats.

Until recently, however, most of these majestic Phinisi were better looking on the outside, and the interior was reduced to an afterthought. It was all rustic and traditional, not that much different from the ambience found in the fishing villages where the Bugis crafted Phinisis.

Luckily, some forward-thinking liveaboard operators, understood that the market was looking for something better. Something with an umph! Hence, designers were commissioned, some style quotient got kicked in, and voila!…  a new crop of luxury phinisi emerges. Seven Seas is a clear precursor. Continue reading

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