Welcome to another of The Lighthouse Consultancy’s series of articles focusing on the incredible cruising to be found in Indonesia. The author, Mike Veitch is an \experienced guide in Indonesia who works in close partnership with The Lighthouse Consultancy, forming part of the our extensive network of cruising guides and yacht support in the region. Mike has vast experience guiding vessels throughout the many cruising regions of Indonesia. As with our previous Raja Ampat and Komodo articles, this piece highlights the top attractions in the area and provides valuable information that should be considered before beginning any trip to the area.
If touring a village or two in the Cenderawasih area is not “adventurous” enough, the Baliem Valley of the central highlands is a short charter flight away and can be enjoyed as a day trip or overnight adventure. Home to the Dani and Lani tribes, many Baliem Valley people live in the true traditional style of Papuan people, and some of the tribes have only relatively recently been “discovered” by westerners. These tribes continue to follow stone-age traditions and beliefs and are not too many years removed from the practice of cannibalism! Touring this area is a window into how people still live in the deep woods of this large island, complete with body piercings, penis gourds, and ritualized body scarring.
7. Kayaking Along the Coast
Cendrawasih Bay is home to hundreds of acres of mangrove habitat that is perfect for exploring with a kayak. Healthy hard corals abound in the shallow waters of these protected environments and nothing compares to the sounds of nature that can be heard from the tranquil base of a kayak. The stunningly serene green forested backdrop and the opportunity to listen to the sounds of birds or even stumble upon an endangered dugong are some of the highlights of a daylong kayak exploration in many locations within the bay.
8. Diving and Snorkeling Beautiful Coral Reefs
The coral reefs that encircle the islands in the southern and western areas of the bay are covered in rich hard corals and large schools of tropical fish. Unlike other popular tourist destinations such as Bali, there are very few visitors meaning the pressure on the corals is far less. The dive sites around Roon, the sites off the Napen Peninsula, and the string of patch reefs called Tridacna Atoll are the region’s healthiest reefs with the most abundant fish life. The key to diving the best sites in the bay is to have an on board guide who is familiar with the sites, as there are areas have been exposed to coral damage over the years. However with an impressive number of endemic species of fish to be seen, the diving in Cenderawasih is most definitely about more than just whalesharks.
As it has only become a destination for the yachting community and tourism in general over the last few years, many areas of Cenderawasih Bay are still waiting to be explored. Yachts with a flair for adventure will love “getting off the beaten track” in this area to find their own little corner of paradise. This could be a beautiful white sand beach, a never before explored coral reef, or simply a wonderful local village full of friendly people eager to meet foreigners for the first time. With each new yacht visiting the area, new activities to be experienced are found and shared and the list of attractions grows.
The Lighthouse Consultancy’s series of articles on Indonesian cruising destinations will continue next time with a visit to the beautiful and historic islands of Banda Neira, in the Banda Sea, Maluku.
Logistical Considerations in Cenderawasih
As Mike discussed, Cenderawasih is a beautiful destination with many attractions to entertain visiting vessels. For a yachts’ initial visit to Indonesia, we generally suggest the Cenderawasih Bay visit is combined with time in Raja Ampat.
It is important to note that Cenderawasih is the most expensive area The Lighthouse Consultancy operates, in terms of both clearance fees and bunkering.
Lighthouse Cruise Guides
As with all regions of Indonesia, to really experience the full catalogue of attractions that Cenderawasih Bay has to offer, our team at The Lighthouse Consultancy recommend that a cruising guide joins the vessel. Through our network of cruising guides, both Indonesian and International, we place individuals such as Mike on vessels to guide the yacht for short or extended timeframes in the area. Cenderawasih Bay is a little different to other areas of Indonesia, as at the time of writing, it is a necessity to have a Park Ranger overseeing the yacht timeframe in the area. This Ranger visits local villages and interacting with them to socialize the intentions of the yacht during their time in the region.
The Baliem Valley
Mike’s article mentioned the incredible visit to Baliem Valley. The Lighthouse Consultancy team have coordinated this experience for yachts in the past and it is always extremely rewarding. It should be noted that it is a complicated and challenging undertaking arranging and coordinating a trip out to this area, and usually requires a charter aircraft or private jet to enable a specific itinerary to be met. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for more details about what the experience requires.
Visa On Arrival
Biak and Manokwari are not international ports, so special permissions and permits need to be arranged in order to have either a yacht or jet arrive and clear internationally. This sounds complicated, but with experienced assistance it is feasible. As with many aspects of trips to the area, it takes effective pre planning, which is why with The Lighthouse Consultancy’s experience in remote Indonesia, every yacht is in safe hands.
Biak and Manokwari are actually relatively well connected with a couple of flights each day coming in from Bali and Jakarta via Makassar. This makes provisioning and logistical support possible, but complicated due to the sheer distance and the quantities of supplies that usually need to be flown out to a vessel. The availability of supplies is improving in the more remote areas of Indonesia, but provisioning is still unreliable so most items, except for the basic staples, need to be flown in. The Lighthouse Consultancy’s full time Provisioning Consultant, Kerry Shorten is always available to discuss seasonal and regional availabilities as well as logistical constraints regarding the required supplies.