Above: The exterior of the Alila Purnama, a two-masted sailing vessel, cruising in Indonesian waters

Cruising the Indonesian Archipelago

The best way to explore the remoter areas of the Indonesian archipelago is by luxury boat. Aman Resorts operates both a 105-foot wooden motor yacht, Amanikan, and a 170-foot traditional sailing vessel, Amandira. Alila Hotels and Resorts has a 150-foot wooden sailing yacht, the Alila Purnama.

The exterior of Amandira, a traditional sailing vessel that cruises to various spots in the Indonesian archipelago - Courtesy of Aman

Both Amandira and Alila Purnama belong to a type of traditional Indonesian two-masted sailing vessel known as a “phinisi,” which is chiefly constructed by members of the Konjo tribe on the island of Sulawesi. The first phinisi is thought to have been built around 1600 in imitation of a Dutch pinnace, but the design culminated in its present form in the 19th century, when elements of the Western schooner rig were incorporated. Phinisi vessels are still used in interisland trade and, increasingly, for upscale tourism.

A dining table aboard Amandira, a two-masted vessel that sails in Indonesian waters - Courtesy of Aman

Amanikan has three above-deck cabins, a large foredeck for outdoor dining and state-of-the-art scuba-diving facilities. Amandira is a custom-built phinisi that was launched in 2015, with five cabins (two with king-size beds). Both vessels can be privately chartered. The Alila Purnama has four suites, plus a master suite with a private deck.

The Sriwijaya Master Suite on Alila Purnama, which sails in Indonesian waters - Alila Hotels and Resorts

Both Aman and Alila operate weeklong cruises through the astonishing Raja Ampat Islands, an archipelago located off the coast of Indonesia’s West Papua Province. This comprises four main islands — Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool — plus about 1,500 small jungle-covered islets and cays. Part of the so-called Coral Triangle, the number-one priority for global marine conservation, Raja Ampat has the greatest diversity of marine life on earth — new fish species are still being discovered — and consequently some of the world’s best diving and snorkeling. Encounters with dolphins, turtles, manta rays, whale sharks and pilot whales are relatively routine.

Itineraries aboard Aman and Alila boats also include cruises to Komodo National Park, home of the famous dragons, which includes the large islands of Komodo, Padar and Rinca, plus 26 smaller ones, and more than 400 square miles of surrounding sea. Here, too, the diving is world-class.