We all love a little travel porn and so we have asked Tim Simond to share his latest trip to the remoter part of Indonesia with us. Eight years ago, stuck in a rut, Tim decided to turn a passion for diving into a business. Thus Dive in Style was born, a marriage between the best hotels and the best diving. Years of travel, more wonderful underwater experiences, and two best-selling books later, he launched Original Diving,with the aim of making the dream destinations on the pages of his books, and more, a reality for their clients.
“From both a holidaymakers and divers’ perspective, the vast archipelago of Indonesia has so much to offer. An amazing culture, great rubble (archaeological remains!), white sand beaches, luxuriant waving palms, crystalline turquoise waters and, most importantly to me at least, truly the greatest marine biodiversity on the planet. Put simply if you are a diver or snorkeller, this is it, the real epicentre of the marine world. You will get no better.
Indonesia is spread over a truly vast area and encompasses 17,500 islands more than 10,000 of which are uninhabited so there is plenty of wilderness to go around. The choice is immense, from the well known and idyllic island of Bali to the less well known, even more idyllic and genuinely remote islands of Banda, Komodo or Raja Ampat, and the beauty of it is that you no longer have to search the attic for you gap year backpack, but can do so in comfort and with your family; this is a holiday where age is no excuse.
The starting point is whether you go on a boat or want to stay in an hotel. If it is a boat then dependent on budget, either you can book cabins on something larger or even better, perhaps link up with another family and charter your own which clearly gives you the ultimate in choice and flexibility. The great thing is that you don’t have to be a diver to enjoy these remote parts of Indonesia, and the bigger your budget, the bigger your choice as there are now some truly amazing boats that ply these waters, the origin of the phrase ‘Sail the Seven Seas’. Choose Komodo and whilst the diving and snorkelling is fantastic, so too is the chance to mix it with the famed 11ft Komodo Dragons and wander deserted islands. Or cross the world’s deepest sea (for its size) to the islands of Banda, the Nutmeg Isles, where the pristine coral mixes with the most extraordinary and still visible history which resulted in us owning New York, an extraordinary tale in itself. Add in the endless shell strewn beaches, the bonfire lit beach dinners, the complete absence of light pollution to give unparalleled starlit skies…… In short, there is much to do above and below the waves and in as much comfort as you can afford and want. All of the boats are modelled on traditional timber hulled and character riven Phinisis (local fishing boats), and amongst them are options for every budget and level of luxury, Tiger Blue , Seven Seas or the incomparable Silolona and its latest sibling Si Datu Bua and more.
If you want to keep your feet on solid rock, or at least sand, then you can head to Northern Sulawesi, which remote as it sounds, and indeed is, is really easily accessible from the UK. I am just back from having a look at the Siladen resort which struck me as a sort of Soneva Fushi lite (Soneva Fushi is a wonderful luxury eco resort in the Maldives) and with great diving and snorkelling and access to the Lembeh Channel which has some of the most sought after life in the world, some you have not even dreamt about, veritable brain food for sci-fi directors. And whilst in the region, try a detour to see another land based anomaly, the Tarsia, the world’s smallest (and cutest) mammal. And then of course there is Wakatobi, claimant of the best house reef in the world hanging off the south of Sulawesi.
Feeling more adventurous, take a brave pill and head further East to the Western fringes of Papua to a group of islands known as Raja Ampat and here you can find not only the very pinnacle of diving and snorkelling on the planet as well as amazing scenery, but also get the chance to play at being David Attenborough and catch a glimpse of the incredibly beautiful Bird of Paradise. In this vast area there are really only two hotels to stay, the seven room Sorido in the north and the slightly larger Misool in the South. Either way you will really feel, and be, right out there, and you will have the best diving and snorkelling you can imagine. I should point out that Raja Ampat, truly wonderful though it is, is more for the avid snorkeller/diver/nature lover as there is little else to do.
I have been lucky enough to visit all these areas and together with Neill at Original Diving, we have finally managed to uncover all of the best boats, hotels and itineraries that encompass the vast choice that is Indonesia. For a slightly more adventurous holiday, the more remote regions of Indonesia have so much to offer. Go.