Christmas Cruising in Indonesia

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Cruising incredible Indonesia and its sun-kissed islands during the season of merriment can provide superyacht visitors with a memorable adventure voyage to Bali and on to the Forgotten Islands and Banda Group.

If you like blue skies and warm days, December is also the best time to visit Bali. The essence of the yuletide season has crept into the Balinese culture in Indonesia over time and there are lively festivities to enjoy in Bali. Unlike the western world, a Bali Christmas is influenced by the Bali-Hindi culture and locals adorn traditional clothing and erect a Penjor outside of their homes and buildings.

Made of plaited young coconut leaves, the Penjors are hung from the pieces of bamboo and set in front of the Christian Balinese homes during their big celebrations. These can be seen on the roads and are unique to Bali and found mainly in the South. Other colourful culture can be experienced, such as catching the traditional Kecak dance or visiting famous ancient Hindu temples. Throughout Indonesia, fun activities include learning to surf or ziplining through the trees, swimming and snorkelling and beach barbecues. There’s also volcanic terrain, rainforest jungles, black beaches and more.

Indonesia offers some great holiday cruising, reports Capt Jimmy Blee, heading up Asia Pacific Superyachts Indonesia: “Asia Pacific Superyachts is looking at a busy Christmas client program with boats in four differing cruising locations in the country. The most adventurous of these cruises is called the Forgotten Islands and the Banda group trip and I’ll be on board for the four-week trip”.

The Banda islands in the very south of Maluku lie in the remote and hard-to-reach Spice Islands. In wide-spread Indonesia of more than 15,000 islands, this little archipelago is one of the most incredible to be found and is not a popular destination due to its isolated location.

Boasting of rich history, the Spice Islands were famed for nutmeg, along with cloves, almonds and cinnamon and first colonised by the Portuguese. The Dutch soon took control of the islands and fought the Spice Wars with the British. In the Treaty of Breda in 1667 New Amsterdam was traded by the Dutch for Rhun Island, to obtain a monopoly of the Banda Spice Islands.

Banda Besar Island offers the Spice Tour, where a guide can take you around and share the history and facts about nutmegs, cloves, almonds and cinnamon. This is also an opportunity to visit the town and plantations and learn of the history of the Spice Islands. Nearby is the active volcano at Banda Api, last erupting in 1988 and for hearty souls wanting to climb, it takes about three hours.

The exotic Spice Islands has been visited many times by Captain Jimmy, who reports, “In addition to marvelling at its abundance of marine life and incredible topside scenery, you can relax on peaceful, secluded beaches and seek out indigenous handicrafts and ancient art.” As for its remoteness, he notes: “You might not see another boat for days, if not the whole trip, particularly if you’re not hitting the main dive spots.”

The Forgotten Islands of Indonesia is not just one destination or location but rather the name for the hundreds of islands from Timor in the south up to West Papua, with a diverse culture, wildlife and marine life. Making up Indonesia’s ‘Ring of Fire’, the Forgotten Islands along with the Banda Group is a true adventure trip and a study of biodiversity in real-time.