These Stunning Yachts Are the Best Way to See Idyllic Indonesian Islands

As Asia reopens to travelers, Travel + Leisure takes a look at the artfully designed charter yachts plying Indonesia’s waters.

The red-sailed Dunia Baru ship sailing in the waters off of Indonesia
The Dunia Baru ship off the Indonesian island of Komodo. Photo:

Courtesy of Dunia Baru

Indonesia has drawn hard-core sailors and scuba divers for decades, but these days a flotilla of more luxurious, all-inclusive ships is bringing a new breed of adventurers to the archipelago’s 17,000 islands. Aman helped change the game back in 2015 with the launch of Amandira, one of the first high-end charter yachts in Indonesia to have creature comforts like air-conditioned guest cabins and water toys like kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. Though newly constructed, Amandira nevertheless retained its romantic allure with traditional phinisi styling, including a timber hull and gaff-rigged sails.

Now a number of similarly exclusive, elegant yachts are voyaging to dream diving destinations such as Raja Ampat and the Moluccas, the island chain between Papua and Sulawesi. The Dunia Baru accommodates up to 14 guests in seven en suite cabins, and has a spacious deck filled with daybeds and lounge areas. Dierdre Renniers Interior Design, which previously worked on Amandira, handled Dunia Baru’s look and feel, putting the emphasis on natural fibers and hand-carved ironwood.

“One client chartered the first time for a week in the Komodo region, then the next time for six weeks, sailing from Indonesia to the Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar,” says Jingyi Wee-Van, the vessel’s Singapore-based owner.

Another new phinisi, Vela, is a 12-passenger, six-cabin yacht operated by the team behind eco-minded Bali resort Nirjhara. Vela, which launched in May, hosts open-air yoga sessions and workouts on deck, as well as guided meditation and massage treatments. Trips also afford guests ample scuba-diving opportunities — swimming above corals and through underwater caverns — in destinations including Komodo National Park.

Arriving in January 2023 will be Celestia, a seven-cabin phinisi from Indonesian siblings Jasmine Chong, a fashion designer, and financier Jason Tabalujan. “It really is a passion project for me and my brother,” Chong says. “The idea is to show guests the romance of slow travel — to stop and be still in nature.” The yacht will offer three-night jaunts around Komodo and two-week sails in the coral-fringed Moluccas. “It’s about immersing yourself in the stars,” Chong notes, “and the jewels underwater.”

A version of this story first appeared in the October 2022 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline "Sailing Ahead."

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