Owned and operated by Australian expat and serial snorkeller Amanda Zsebik, Al iikai is an Indonesian phinisi cruising east of Bali year round. Traditionally built by hand from ironwood on a beach in Sulawesi, Al iikai was completely refitted with 6 spacious cabins in 2014. Essentially a floating boutique hotel with sails, guests are treated to fine cuisine dished up by friendly Indonesian crew between sorties off the boat. Excursions include thrice-daily snorkelling opportunities amongst the splendid underwater world as well as island and village visits. Vast sunbeds peppered with cushions covered in locally woven cloth are perfect for relaxation, reading or getting to know fellow travellers. Fitness, golf and cooking school themed cruises are also on offer.
Best time to book: Enjoy a saving of $42 (6% cheaper than the average price paid over the year) if you book your flights 12 weeks in advance).
Secret Retreats are a boutique cruise business. Find your Bali cruise from one of these options:
Board traditional Indonesian 50m sailing vessel (known as a phinisi) Silolona in Bali for a luxurious sailing adventure with a handful of like-minded travellers. Spacious suites are fitted out in teak and textiles to give a real sense of Asia. Voyages travel eastwards towards Komodo Island with opportunities to visit traditional fishing villages, scuba dive or snorkel pristine reefs while indulging in plenty of relaxation as islands slip by.
Sailing ship Si Datu Bua is similarly well equipped and plushly fitted out with a focus on fine cuisine and exquisite service from Indonesian crew. Dine on deck beneath starry skies as gentle tropical breezes waft across the deck of this 42m timber gaff rig phinisi.
Both vessels are based in Komodo National Park from April to August, sailing on to West Papua from September to mid-November.
46m Alila Purnama is another traditionally built phinisi crafted by Bugis seafarers from Sulawesi. Alila is kitted out throughout with furnishings custom-made from teak, rattan and other locally sourced Indonesian materials. Sun lounges and market umbrellas on the main deck are a delightful spot to watch islands slip by or to enjoy scarlet Indonesian sunsets. With five suites, a spa therapist, library, lounge and indoor air-conditioned dining room Alila also has a PADI dive centre on-board.
Salila Expeditions operates a 56m motor yacht with accommodation for up to 20 guests. Explore eastern Indonesian islands such as Komodo, Ambon and Raja Ampat in comfortable expedition style. Complete with open air hot tub on the sundeck and full width swimming platform that lowers into the water, Salila has modern contemporary styling akin to a fine hotel. For total indulgence book the Master cabin which comes with its own bathtub.