...Just back from

Raja Ampat

INDONESIAN PARADISE

Our Asia specialist Stephanie Carthy finds the stuff of dreams among the islands of eastern Indonesia.

In a League of its Own

Located off West Papua in an area seldom visited since pepper and nutmeg were more valuable than gold, Raja Ampat comprises hundreds of pristine, jungle-clad islands, surrounded by water so clear it has a hyper-real quality.

I recently explored this ocean paradise aboard the Dunia Baru, a luxurious 51-metre Indonesian phinisi made from polished teak with interiors carved by Balinese artisans.

To call it a mesmerising part of the world would be an understatement. I’m fortunate enough to be extremely well-travelled but this remote marine wilderness is well worth shouting about.

Dunia, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

"I've travelled extensively but I was thrown by Raja Ampat. It's so pristine and the underwater world is simply phenomenal - my advice is to go now before word gets out"

Stephanie Carthy
Dunia Baru, Raja Ampat

Aboard Ship

Upon boarding the sleek vessel, I was impressed with the roomy ship. Each of the capacious seven cabins has an en-suite bathroom, but it’s the master suite that steals the show with its own private deck, furnished with an inviting day bed. Elsewhere there are plenty of spaces to relax, from indoor and outdoor dining areas, to padded seating which turns into a cocktail bar at night.

Accommodating up to 14 passengers, the ship is perfect for a family or group looking to celebrate a special occasion, and with 20 crew on board, you’re guaranteed to be extremely well looked after.

Dunia Baru Raja Ampat, Indonesia

ISLAND LIFE

Exploring the ship was just the start of my adventures. It wasn’t long before the Dunia Baru had unfurled her sails and we were out among the islands of Raja Ampat, exploring hidden coves, still lagoons and wispy white-sand beaches – all amid water so clear we seemed to hover unfeasibly on its surface.

I’m not a diver, but I was amazed by the huge array of fish and kaleidoscopic coral clearly visible just a metre or two below the surface. Even snorkelling I found myself surrounded by turtles, giant manta rays, pygmy seahorses, reef sharks, clownfish and much, much more.

Even out of the water, on our way north to Wayag Island, a pod of dolphins began tracking the vessel as we drifted over the equator. Minutes later I got a glimpse of a passing minke whale.

Evenings were just as eventful. Some days we’d go ashore to a remote beach for a BBQ, on others we’d stay onboard and be spoiled by the chef. And perhaps most astonishing of all, we realised that after six nights at sea, we’d only seen two other ships. Surely there are few other places on earth as achingly beautiful and so seldom visited?

Raja Ampat boat Dunia Baru, Indonesia

The Verdict

A journey aboard the Dunia Bara offers a truly exclusive and privileged view of one of the most pristine marine environments in the world. There’s a handful of eco-resorts here too, but a seven-night boat charter takes you even further into this untouched wilderness.

‘Getting-away-from-it-all’ may be a hackneyed phrase, but here it rings true.

Good to know

It’s a long journey to get here so I’d recommend taking at least two weeks to really make the most of it. A boat charter here combines well with stays in other parts of Indonesia, be it Bali, Java, Komodo or Sumba.

Raja Ampat boat Dunia Baru
Dunia, Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Dunia Baru Raja Ampat, Indonesia

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