Imagine returning from a dive on Cannibal Rock in the southern region of Komodo National Park and being greeted by wooden masts rising beside the verdant, cloud-capped hillsides, your ship’s handsome traditional profile a reflection of Indonesia’s distinguished boatbuilding heritage. As a Komodo dragon drags its prehistoric self along the black-sand beach, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve slipped back to the 1800s. But after a short tender ride, your reverie is pleasantly dispelled by the Arenui’s ever-enthusiastic crew offering fresh towels and warm cocoa to ward off the chill of the Indian Ocean. This is live-aboard diving at its best: adventure without hardship.
Traveling this beautiful archipelago on a 141-foot live-aboard constructed in the tradition of an Indonesian Phinisi schooner is an experience no scuba diver should miss — the sensation is that of an intimate Balinese resort that just happens to be at sea. Massages, cappuccinos and gourmet snacks await your request, and meals are almost excessively pleasurable.
While the crew goes to great lengths to ensure a relaxing and indulgent experience, the real reason we trek halfway around the world is to dive. Two fast and stable tenders with twin outboards are piloted by Indonesians with an uncanny knack for appearing instantly wherever you might surface. Your scuba diving gear is always ready when you are, and everyone strives to make sure you get from boat to dive sight easily, while cameras are handled with confidence and care. Now that dive boats like the Arenui are able to provide the comfort of terra firma resorts, there really is no reason not to cast off on an adventure you’ll remember for a lifetime.
» PADI Five-Star Dive Resort
» Gear, computer rental
» Guided tours
» Nearest airport Ngurah Rai (DPS)
» PADI instruction to Divemaster
» Amenities: eight air-conditioned cabins; sails to Komodo, Alor, Banda Sea, Raja Ampat and Central Maluku
» Contact: thearenui.com