Komodo On Board Dunia Baru
Recently, I was graciously invited to take part in a familiarization trip on board the 51m luxury charter yacht Dunia Baru in the remote and unspoilt waters of the Komodo National park. Dunia Baru, appropriately translating to ‘New World’, is a traditional Indonesian phinisi design with all the modern conveniences of a contemporary luxury yacht. Perfectly suited to the cruising environment of Indonesia she offers stability and seaworthiness without compromising on comfort.
The Komodo National Park is best known for the famous Komodo dragon, closely followed by it’s world renowned diving. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and has been selected as one of the new seven wonders of nature. It is located about an hour and a half flight east of Bali between the remote provinces of West and East Nusa Tenggara.
For a short trip in Komodo it is recommended that you fly in to Bali and then via a domestic flight in to Laduan Bajo to meet the boat. It is also possible to start from Bali but this trip is best if you have a little more time. The other brokers and I spent 5 days on board giving us two nights in Bali before meeting the boat. I would recommend spending at least a few nights in Bali either before or after your time in Komodo to experience both the bustling and energetic as well as the remote and peaceful sides of Indonesia.
After a 6 hour flight from Sydney I was met by Courtney Robba, the kind natured, personable manager and on board host of Dunia Baru. We slipped past the taxi queues and all of the excited chaos that is Denpasar airport, to the luxury of private transport. Though it was a late arrival (11pm), the view from my window on the drive from the airport to my hotel in Seminyak filled me with motivation to get out and explore this incredible place. Stepping out in to the warm, sweet Bali air late on a Friday night I am met with a collision of east meeting west, a mecca of diversity. Culturally, spiritually and socially the country explodes with energy. Tourists flock here by the millions each year, and the main tourist centres such as Kuta and Seminyak see hordes of (mostly) Australians in the narrow scooter filled streets. Bird’s nests of buzzing power lines hover above streets that are filled with colour and life. Hanging ‘Penjor’s’, huge ten metre bamboo poles, carved in to detailed flags, line the clustered streets. This is truly a collision of opposite worlds, meeting at a hub of excitement, a thriving example of globalization where ‘anything goes’!
The next day I was picked up by Courtney from my Hotel for a day of touring this crazy and beautiful place by daylight. We walked the narrow streets of Seminyak together, exploring the many diverse shops filled with all things bright and beautiful. Jewelry of silver, gold, beaded and ribbons, bright tasseled tunic’s, harem pants line the walls with intricately patterned prints, flowing sun dresses… I could go on forever! After ‘just a little bit’ of pampering at one of the many beauty spa’s in town we ended our day perfectly with sunset cocktails at the renowned cliff top Bulgari Resort in the area of Ulawatu. Looking out over the endless Indian Ocean from this sheer cliff top in to an ethereal mist, one is reminded of their mortality and the eternal natural beauty that is all around us. It was the perfect spot to enjoy one last evening on land before my flight to meet Dunia Baru.
Flying in to Komodo I instantly recognised the windswept, volcanic landscapes carved from two oceans and converging trade winds. We were met at the airport for our 15 minute drive through Labuan Bajo township to the wharf where we met the tender. As we left the wharf the sounds of chanting from the surrounding temples, echoed throughout the horseshoe shaped harbor, an authentic induction to our impending, Indonesian experience. As we approached the vessel, we were met with the gleaming, wide smiles of the fleet of 20 crew members, warmly welcoming us on board. After meeting each crewmember and a tour of the vessel we were taken to our cabins.
The impressive full beam master suite situated on the upper deck looking aft, enjoys a private sun deck complete with outdoor day bed. The four-post, walk around bed is surrounded by large windows that provide an unobstructed 180 panoramic view of the picturesque Indonesian waters surrounding the vessel. Hidden behind the luxury bed is an equally luxurious en-suite complete with an oversized shower and his and her basins. This cabin is absolute heaven! The vessel itself stands proud in the water, rightfully taking her place as the largest, newest and most luxurious charter vessel operating out of Indonesia year round.
Once all settled in, we head out on our first ‘test’ dive. This is a safety precaution so that the on board instructor, Ramon is aware of each of our individual diving abilities and we can all enjoy our time under the water with confidence.
The following morning it was straight in to what this place is all about and certainly what I was most looking forward to,diving! Our first dive was in the passage between Gili Lawa Laut and Gili Lawa darat and is quite appropriately named the Shotgun. We dropped down together in a relatively wide-open area of the reef and drifted along with the current at a leisurely pace above a thriving colourful reef. Countless species of small brightly patterned fish and colored corals, soft hard, flat, round, fanned, the diversity is endless. As we went a little deeper we dipped down the side of the reef along a wall, alight with brilliant colors. The ginormous hanging corals dropped down to the sandy bottom of the ocean floor, and from here we were treated to a sight we were not expecting... a Turtle!
From our first dive it just got better, each dive I saw at least one stingray, turtle and/or shark (my three favorites!). And the reefs were filled with colourful corals of all kinds and a plethora of electrically colored fish living in them. The diving in this area I am told, is so good due to the multitude of currents, every dive is with current, the cold southern swell meeting a warm northern swell through a labyrinth of islands and reefs, seems to be the perfect recipe for underwater life to bloom.
The beauty of Komodo is striking; dry volcanic landforms climb up from the deep blue swirling waters below. The dry barren uninhabited lands meet with waters teeming with life. The architecture varies from steep, sharp conical tips, sliced with sharp valley’s to rolling, low wind swept dusty green masses meeting perfect white sand beaches. Turquoise waters shine bright before dimming to a deep mysterious blue.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Komodo without saying hello to the infamous Komodo dragon. We were taken to the official entry to the Komodo National Park where we met our guide. We then went on a half hour dragon hunt, hiking through the park always watching for dragons underfoot! Sure enough we come to a clearing and there he was, the Komodo dragon quite happily taking a nap in his natural habitat.
Later in the trip we sailed to horseshoe Bay on Rinca Island where the dragons come out on to the beach, right down to the waters edge. Sailing from Komodo to Horsehoe Bay was a thrilling experience. In a vessel as large as Dunia Baru, weighing 400 tones I was very impressed with her ability. Travelling under sail, relying solely on the energy of the wind to move you is always a liberating experience. There was something about being in this wild and remote location, heading directly for the Indian Ocean in the deep blue waters that hide more life than can be comprehended with the conscious mind. It took me back to my childhood, memories of sailing the open seas with my father and I was able to look out to the sea with childlike wonder again.
I really could go on forever about this place and this incredible boat, all of the breathtaking dives, the attentive and kind natured crew, the people of Komodo and Indonesia… But we don’t have forever; we only have today and with so many more seas to sail, adventures to be had and lands to discover I must stop writing!
My experience on board Dunia Baru has done what the name suggests and opened my eyes to new worlds both above and below sea-level. I will be forever grateful to the owner and crew of Dunia Baru for giving me these unforgettable memories. I cannot wait to organize a trip in Komodo for our clients and share this truly life changing experience with others!
By Fleur Tomlinson