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Chartering in Indonesia
14th July 2023
As the world’s largest archipelago with more than 17,000 islands to its name, many of which are uninhabited, Indonesia presents a compelling destination for yachting nomads looking for exploration and adventure. Camper & Nicholsons reveals the hidden gems the region has to offer, and the best options within its charter fleet from which to discover them.

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AQUA BLU Luxury Motor Yacht for Charter | C&N
60.35m | Brooke Marine | 1968 (2019)
15 Cabins | 30 Guests | 30 Crew

From: US$ 329,000 p/w

KUDANIL EXPLORER Luxury Motor Yacht for Charter | C&N
50.00m | Teraoka Shipyard Co | 1978 (2022)
8 Cabins | 16 Guests | 21 Crew

From: US$ 161,000 p/w

VELA Luxury Sailing Yacht for Charter | C&N
50.00m | Pak Haji Abdullah | 2022
6 Cabins | 14 Guests | 18 Crew

From: US$ 105,000 p/w

THE MAJ OCEANIC Luxury Sailing Yacht for Charter | C&N
47.00m | Custom | 2020
7 Cabins | 12 Guests | 16 Crew

From: US$ 70,000 p/w

SEQUOIA Luxury Sailing Yacht for Charter | C&N
26.30m | Saleh and D.E.N | 2017 (2022)
3 Cabins | 6 Guests | 12 Crew

From: US$ 87,500 p/w


Chartering in Indonesia

Memories are made in Indonesia’s Solor Archipelago. The emerald scatter of islands look like Polynesian volcanoes ringed by Maldivian sapphire lagoons. Swaying palms crown each island, below which forests of vanilla and sandalwood offer balm for the soul. The only cloud on the horizon rises from Ile Api (the 'Mountain of Fire') on Lembata. This active volcano can be scaled at sunrise for views over yachting’s final frontier.

The Solor Archipelago is divided by the Indonesian Throughflow, a tropical current that filters warm Pacific water into the Indian Ocean. Five hundred species of coral decorate the seabed. One thousand species of reef fish are chased by giant trevally and hammerhead sharks. Onlookers include the giant oceanic sunfish, which can easily reach 1,000kg and appears too gentle to indulge in the feeding frenzy below. Not so humpback whales, who dive deep for a seafood dinner in the world’s most abundant aquarium.

The Camper & Nicholsons Indonesian charter fleet knows Indonesia’s Seram Sea, Banda Sea and Arafura Sea better than a frigatebird. A favourite destination for exploratory guests is Kaimana, where the lush mountains of West Papua tumble into a cyan sea. The coastline is a divers’ dream. A labyrinth of underground rivers deliver nutrients to canyons and caves. Here endemic breeds thrive like the gigantic no-eye fish, which is completely blind, and the Triton Bay walking shark, which strolls the seabed on its fins by night.

On land, Kaimana is extra-terrestrial. Yacht guides can point out kangaroos that can climb into the rainforest canopy. Plus 300 bird species, which dodge blue-tailed monitor lizards and Papuan green tree frogs. Hike at night when bioluminescent mushrooms glow like coral on the rainforest floor. It's a lost world.

Most guests travel a long way to reach Indonesia. Which presents a unique opportunity for further exploration, explains Camper & Nicholsons charter manager Frédéric Cretin. “Whatever class you fly in, it’s hard to arrive fresh from Europe or the United States to fully enjoy a week on a yacht,” he explains. “Just as importantly, it’s a shame to fly this far and not see as much as you possibly can.” Frédéric and his colleagues offer a “best of both worlds” plan that seamlessly connects incoming and outgoing sailors with a five-star hotel.

“Our accommodation partners on Bali, the easiest Indonesian island to reach, have been tested to Camper & Nicholsons standards,” asserts Frédéric. Like Capella Ubud, a rainforest Arcadia that ranks, according to Travel + Leisure, as one of top ten hotels in the world. Luxury cabanas are scattered through the Balinese jungle. As is a prana studio and a cocktail bar containing a khaki pool table.

“Bali has a host of inland adventures,” adds Frédéric. Such as quad bike tours to a distant waterfall, eBike rides through rice paddies and tubing down a white-water river. “The best hike is to the active volcano of Mount Batur,” continues Frédéric. “The views are epic,” while the hot springs are a welcome bonus after a sunrise assault to the summit. “We can also arrange a stay at Raffles Bali,” which has a sprinkle of private villas dotted above the sea.

Frédéric has overseen a boom in off-of-the-beaten-track yachting itineraries, with a hotel stay added at either end. The only issue has been finding the right boat to suit. “As Indonesia is keen to protect its environment, the country has a closed maritime registry,” he explains. Which means that if you wish to sail between Bali and the Solor Archipelago, “you must build or charter a phinisi, as people have done for centuries.”

Hand-built phinisi sailing ships have lugged nutmeg to Bali, textiles to Vietnam and sea cucumbers to Australia for five centuries. These traditional vessels are built in beachfront boatyards on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. The construction methods are biblical. Shipwrights plan the entire blueprint in their heads, without paper, let alone a hard drive. Labourers wield saws and adzes to construct the hull without 20th-century tools — not even nails. The art of phinisi boat building was recently inscribed onto UNESCO’s intangible heritage list.

One Camper & Nicholsons charter yacht has upgraded the classic Indonesian design for the 21st century. The 26m Sequoia was hand-built on Sulawesi with three sumptuous suites in place of several smaller cabins. A sky lounge replaces the cargo area, where pepper and cloves from the Spice Islands would traditionally have been stored. Her John Deere engine conforms to Tier 3 Environmental Protection Agency regulations. Sequoia remains the only yacht in Indonesia to meet US Coast Guard safety standards. Best of all, she can dance over the coral reefs that demarcate Indonesia’s 17,000 islands — a task that’s beyond larger, heavier phinisis

In order to tread carefully through an oceanic Eden, the owner of Sequoia demanded sustainability at every turn. Fittings are built from local hardwoods. Organic ikat and batik fabrics decorate cushions and shades. Palm oil and single use plastics are prohibited on board. Her entire hull is built from Borneo ironwood, an indestructible timber used to craft blowpipes and railway sleepers. Her low impact toys include paddleboards for tracking migrating mantas and binoculars to watch birds-of-paradise.

The 50m Vela is the ultimate exploration phinisi. She was built at the barefoot shipyards on Sulawesi. Yet she is a spellbinding synthesis between east and west. Local materials and Indonesian artwork pair with fabrics from Hermès and bathroom fittings from Olivari. In common with the latest modern superyachts, two master cabins above deck each host a private terrace.

Vela is equally at home hosting an adventurous family or a group of divers. Her surfboards come into their own off Sumba and Sumbawa, both islands an overnight sail east of Bali. Snorkels are shared out on first-to-dive reefs, where sealife appears utterly unafraid of humans. Hikes, sights, stargazing, and cookery lessons are all in a day’s work.

When it comes to scuba, Vela’s entire complement of guests can follow her divemasters to Raja Ampat, which hosts the greatest marine biodiversity on planet earth. The destination sits at the epicentre of the Coral Triangle, known as the ‘Amazon of the Seas’. Fortunately, Vela possesses a Nitrox generator, which allows divers to go deeper for longer.

A luxury charter yacht that regularly runs surf trips is Kudanil Explorer. With tailored surf or dive programs offered, she has developed a certain expertise in this area. 

A true offshore yacht, she is capable of exploring the most remote areas of the beautiful Indonesian Archipelago with ease - built for exploration and designed for comfort. Kudanil Explorer is equipped with three powerful custom tenders and an array of water toys including clear-bottom kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, surfboards, wakeboarding equipment, a floating swimming pool, snorkelling gear and, for those who are certified, scuba diving sets.

Cruising locations in Indonesia vary throughout the year from Komodo National Park, Sumba, Flores & Alor, the Forgotten Islands and Spice Islands of Maluku, to the magnificent Raja Ampat region and beyond. Kudanil Explorer generally follows the monsoon and sails from east to west to cruise on calm seas and avoid the rain.

Charter broker Bobby Bigio, who grew up in Southeast Asia, confirms that every inch of reef in Raja Ampat is teeming with marine life. “My youth was spent searching out the best islands and reefs in Thailand and Indonesia,” he explains. “While I’ve cruised from New Zealand to Myanmar via Tonga, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Malaysia, Raja Ampat is not to be missed.” It’s a destination where armies of fusiliers patrol alongside forests of purple gorgonia fans, while batfish form sunset feeding squadrons above black coral. “When you finally surface, you’re in the most stunning surroundings on the planet,” continues Bobby.

Waigeo is the Raja Ampat island that has it all. Topaz bays hidden behind limestone cliffs are only accessible by tender. Rare white dolphins and dugongs cavort in the shallows. Just inland, a waterfall slices through the rainforest into a sun-dappled lagoon below. Even if guests may need a few nights in a luxury hotel while they acclimatize or decompress, on land and at sea, Indonesia promises the best of both worlds.

If you are planning to sail in this special area, contact our specialists in the destination for a tailor-made charter.

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