Your Checklist For Chartering A Liveaboard In Indonesia

With some of the most epic and well documented diving in the world, Indonesia has become a popular destination for travellers looking to indulge in the wonders of the sea. But serious divers face a choice upon arrival: to locate themselves on the shores of various islands and travel by land, or to fully indulge in the adventure lifestyle by booking a luxurious cabin on an Indonesian liveaboard dive boat that will do the travelling for you.

But, there are some important factors you should consider when making the decision about chartering a liveaboard in Indonesia. After all, no one wants to be out to sea eating poor quality food on a trip with people they don’t like, or worse, find themselves under the not so experienced care of a Dive Instructor who doesn’t know the area. To make sure you choose the right boat and have the experience of a lifetime in Indonesia, we’ve put together this checklist to ensure you know what to ask about when you’re planning your Indonesian liveaboard experience.

The harbour in labuan bajo, a popular launch spot for liveaboard trips

Launch Spot

In Indonesia there are many incredible dive sites but of those, the best two are undoubtedly the region of Raja Ampat and the protected areas of the Komodo National Park. It’s more than possible to include both of these areas on a liveaboard journey, so make sure you ask any companies you are considering whether they’ll do so. Then make sure you’re clear about where the boat will launch. Boats commonly depart from Labuan Bajo in Flores, or from Sorong in West Papua. It’s also important to make sure you ask about the weather and timing of your trip. Both of these areas are welcoming to tourists, but you should know that West Papua requires an extra day of travel from Denpasar.

Dive Equipment

If you’re an experienced diver you’ve likely got some, or all of your own equipment, but make sure the boat you’re considering has ‘top notch’ gear anyway. Ask them what kind of equipment they have, look for reputable brands and ask them if the gear is regularly serviced. Some Indonesian operations skimp on this vital factor and the result is equipment that is aged or damaged. Ask them if they have spare parts, if they can carry out unexpected repairs on board, and even how many tanks they’re operating. They’ll need to have an air compressor on board but these machines can be noisy, so make sure there are enough tanks to get you and your dive buddies through the day before the machine is switched on. Also, double check that the company has DAN insurance, and oxygen on board in case of emergency.

Divers on an Indonesian liveaboard

Sleeping Arrangements

Whether you’re sharing a twin cabin or planning to book your own, really look at the photos and make sure there’s enough space for you to catch a decent night’s sleep. A common mistake friends make is trying to squeeze three into a room that was built for two people. Unless you’re chartering a super yacht, the cabins on any boat are built to be compact, so ensure that there’s enough storage, that the beds are comfortable and that there are enough bathrooms to accommodate you.

Crew

Don’t hesitate to ask about the crew who’ll be on board with you. Are they experienced, have they been working together for some time, or are they newly assembled. It’s especially important to ensure your Dive Instructor or Dive Master knows the area well and if they are trained in first aid. Also ask the company if there are other certified divers in the crew, and what languages they speak. It’s always reassuring to feel as if you can communicate your needs to at least one of the crewmembers. A good boat in Indonesia will have someone who can speak English, Italian, Indonesian, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Crew members on board Mantra Dive and Sail

Service

As a paying customer the team should be ready to assist you with anything you may need and that means you can expect them to keep up a professional standard of service throughout the whole trip. So ask about the service, is there a cabin boy to clean your room and wash clothes? Does a waiter attend the meals and can someone make you a coffee in the morning? Indonesia’s beautiful environment needs protecting so ask the company what they do with the rubbish and also whether you’ll have access to a TV, DVD player and sound system should the weather turn and require a movie night.

Food

Food and beverages are an important part of your liveaboard experience. There’s nothing nicer than sitting back watching the sunset and enjoying a gorgeous meal after a day in the water! Before you choose your company, check to see if the chef has been professionally trained. If you’re on a longer trip, you can expect there will be times between ports where fresh food gets a little low, so ask about what’s served when that happens. Also, ask about what drinks are on board, can you bring your own wine or do they accept requests to stock spirits of your choice? Be aware that in Indonesia, the supply of alcohol is often limited, this is due to the largely Muslim population in many areas of the archipelago, so make sure your demands are reasonable but also that you feel accommodated.

The island of Alor from a liveaboard dive boat

Route Flexibility

Some companies run the same trips over and over and have no flexibility about routes and schedules. This can be disappointing if you find a sweet spot that you want to dive again or if the weather turns. Make sure you ask the team whether they are willing to be fluid with the schedule? Depending on the length of your charter you’ll always sacrifice one stop for another, but ask if they’re willing to do this should you desire it. There’s nothing worse than finding a diving mecca and having to pull anchor when you want to spend more time exploring!

Just Diving?

Though diving may be your main motivation consider a company who also offers adventures above the water. Indonesia is rich with many experiences on land as well as in the sea. Whether it’s island hopping in search of unique cultural experiences, mountain climbing, fishing, sea kayaking, water skiing or even exploratory trips into unchartered areas. Further to this, does the boat have a qualified PADI or SSI instructor so you can up skill on your diving? If so consider becoming an advanced or rescue diver while on board and using the time to better your underwater skills.

Numbers

Many liveabords run large operations where you’ll find yourself on board with 15-20 people! Think about how this will impact your serenity and sense of freedom. While there are benefits to meeting lots of others, consider smaller boats with a higher level of luxury and service. The lovely thing about a smaller group is that you get to know each other intimately. You share in moments of joy and beauty together and it’s a bespoke experience. The main factor to consider is comfort, boats have limited space so do yourself a favour and make sure you don’t get caught out by a ‘cookie cutter’ type of charter where you’ll feel like just another cog in the factory line.

A small group of divers on a private liveaboard charter

Cost

This is the one area where most people go wrong. You need to consider that you’re not just paying for your diving; you’re also paying for all of your food, accommodation and entertainment for the period of your trip. So make sure you weigh this up when you’re making cost decisions. If you choose to see this beautiful country by land you’d be paying added expenses anyway but a liveabaord trip is generally all-inclusive.

Explore Indonesia With Mantra Dive And Sail

If you’re looking for a boat trip that ticks everything on this list then consider Mantra Dive and Sail. The company offer bespoke liveaboard experiences throughout Indonesia with everything from 2-day to 25-day trips available. You can book the whole boat for a journey of your choice or just a private cabin on one of the trips they already have planned. Liveabord is the best way to dive the archipelago of Indonesia so ensure you’re getting what you pay for with a quality company! Click here for more information and start planning the trip of a lifetime.

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Liveaboard Indonesia – Four Best Destinations

Dreaming of a liveaboard trip? Glide gracefully on the trade winds through the magical sun-drenched islands of the Indonesian archipelago. The romance of a sailing adventure beckons! Read on to learn about the four best destinations for a liveaboard adventure in Indonesia: Komodo Island, Raja Ampat, Alor, and the Molucca Islands.

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Best Destinations for Liveaboard Boats in Indonesia

Indonesia has the second longest coastline in the world, with over 17,000 islands spanning over 1,700 miles, so there are a lot of choices. Because of its location at the confluence of the Wallacea, Sundaland, and New Guinea bio-regions, Indonesia offers incredible biodiversity. Over 70% of coral species and more than 3,000 species of fish inhabit the Coral Triangle marine park. In addition, you can see endemic species of birds and wildlife that cannot be found anywhere else. Read on to discover four of the best destinations for liveaboard adventures above and below the sea.

The Komodo Islands

The Komodo Islands offer liveaboard travelers remote pink sand beaches and a chance to see the largest living species of lizard, the Komodo Dragon. Komodo Dragons can also be found on nearby Rinca Island.  Rinca, Komodo and Padar are all part of Komodo National Park. The government established the park in 1980 in order to protect the dragons. Because the park is the only place you can see Komodo Dragons, the area near the fishing village of Kampung Komodo hosts a lot of visitors.

Komodo Dragon from the front

One of the advantages of travelling on a liveaboard boat is that you can ask your captain to get you to shore at an empty beach, so you can avoid the tourists and have an adventure of your own far from the crowds. Trekking on the island you will see the famous dragons as well as wild pigs, miniature deer, and water buffaloes. Many species of birds also nest on the island.  In addition to the unique attraction of the dragons, the park offers protection to a myriad of pristine diving and snorkeling sites. If Komodo sounds like a place you might want to visit, follow the link to more information about our liveaboard yacht trips to Komodo Island.

Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat lies just to the west of Papua New Guinea at the far east edge of Indonesia. The name means four kings and refers to a myth about seven eggs, four of which hatched to produce kings. Subsequently, the four mythical kings inhabited the four main islands of Raja Ampat: Misool, Salawati, Batanta, and Waego. The region is remote and unspoiled and the islands are spectacular, with strange shaped under cut rocky cliffs and towers appearing to float above the water.

Raja Ampat consistently ranks in top ten lists for best dive and snorkel sites. Conservation International reports that marine diversity around Raja Ampat is the highest on earth. Liveaboard dive travelers can see an incredible variety of marine life here. Over 500 coral species are busy building reef in the waters around the islands, providing habitat for over 1,500 species of fish. Dense schools of fish throng around the reefs and enormous whale sharks and coelacanth cruise through the region. Read more about our liveaboard sail, snorkel, and dive trips to Raja Ampat here.

Alor

The remote and rugged volcanic island of the Alor lies to the north of Timor Leste and to the east of East Nusa Tenggara. Few tourists visit this unspoiled area. The island is almost all steep mountainous terrain with few major roads. Many people live in small, relatively isolated communities. Consequently, liveaboard travelers visting Alor can experience local culture that has continues almost unchanged for 100s of years.

While most the locals are officially Protestant, they still observe ancient animists rites and revere gods representing animals and forces of nature.  Many of the locals practice subsistence agriculture. Some people grow vanilla and almonds or harvest sandalwood for export. Travelers may enjoy visiting traditional pearl farms and purchasing a few pearls to take home as souvenirs at a fraction of the prices found elsewhere.

 

Alor has perhaps the best dive sites in Indonesia for more experienced divers. The volcanic origin of the region has created underwater contours as dramatic as the mountains island. As a result, divers will encounter strong currents for drift diving and intense thermoclines. The pristine water offers great visibility and an abundance of marine life. Liveaboard divers can see huge Sun Fish, hammerheads and dolphins against a backdrop of a rainbow of coral reef.  Alor is also home to the largest and most dense banks of anemones in the world. Read about our liveaboard dive yacht trips to Alor here.

The Molucca Islands

The Molucca (or Maluku) Islands have long been know as “The Spice Islands,”  ever since Portuguese traders landed in the 1500s and discovered nutmeg, cloves, mace. Modern liveaboard travelers will likely be more interested in the amazing bio-diversity than the spice. There are over 1,000 islands in the Molucca Archipelago, most of them forested and mountainous. The small isolated islands have given rise to many “endemic” species. (Endemic species are those that cannot be found anywhere else.) Rare nocturnal marsupials including cuscus and bandicoots live on the islands. There are around 100 endemic species of birds. Some birds of paradise only live on particular islands in the Moluccas and nowhere else in the world. The Aru islands have animals that also live on Paupua, such as kangaroos and cassowaries.

The seas around the Moluccas have deep trenches, so divers can experience the best wall dives in Indonesia here. Schools of barracuda and scores of smaller creatures unique to the area fascinate divers who make the trip to this remote area. Several species are carry the name of Ambon Island, the Ambon Pufferfish, the Ambon Scorpion fish, and the Ambon Cardinal fish. Bizarre brightly colored species of frog fish hide in the reefs of the Moluccas. Liveaboard divers also see many species of octopus in the region.

Want to Know More About Liveboard Trip Options in Indonesia?

Here at Mantra we love to help travelers get to the most spectacular and exciting destinations in Indonesia for adventures on land and in the sea. Please contact us and tell us your interests. We will be happy to make some recommendations!

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