Here at the Arenui, we aim to provide you with the convenience of a fully equipped dive liveaboard, combined with all the richness, artistic touches and comforts of a 5 star luxury boutique hotel. But unlike a land-based resort, this luxurious floating hotel drops you off directly at the best dive sites that Indonesia has to offer!
The Indonesian archipelago, located within the Coral Triangle, boasts the world's highest marine biodiversity and offers truly unique diving in a picturesque island setting. This region is truly a dive mecca and high on most diver's wish-list.
Just like our vessel design and services, the same attention to detail was given to our cruise itineraries, which not only include all the usual popular diving sites in Indonesia but also other world-class destinations which have been overlooked by most recreational diving operators. When it comes to our annual schedule, the Arenui has chosen the best dive sites based on the best times of year to explore these world famous destinations.
To showcase the best of Indonesia, we spend the May to October months mainly around the Komodo National Park area, taking in dive sites and landscapes from Bali right across to Flores and Alor. In November we move towards Ambon in Maluku and the Spice Islands in the Banda Sea, working our way to the Raja Ampat area of Western Papua to continue dive cruises from December through until April.
In Indonesia, whether its nudibranchs and rhinopias you're after, or manta rays and schooling fish, this region really has it all. From black sand muck dives to crystal clear drift dives, from warm water to cold, Indonesia is a place to visit time and time again; once is never enough!
Indonesia: Dive at the Heart of the Triangle of Biodiversity
In order to fully appreciate the exceptional status of this region, suffice it to say that the whole Caribbean area has only 9% of the corals and 35% of the fish species found in Indonesian waters.
The reason for such a big difference is that the entire area of the Atlantic Ocean underwent a mass extinction of species during the last ice age. All types of corals and animals vanished during this period and the other species never regained the strength of their former numbers.
In Indonesia - the centre of this biodiversity triangle - the variety seen underwater is truly astonishing. In certain bays and around small islands, you can find more species than in the entire Caribbean. In a research report conducted in 1997 on the island of Flores, respected marine biologists Rudie Kuiter and Gerald Allen counted 1,133 species of fish just in Maumere bay. This is still the highest number of species of fish ever counted in a specific area.
In Raja Ampat, the same Gerald Allen, world-famous ichthyologist, counted the incredible number of 284 different species of fish counted during a single dive. In the same area, 465 different species of corals were found. As a result, scientists nowadays believe that this destination is the world's current no. 1 spot in terms of biodiversity.
While diving around the Komodo National park, we enjoy excellent muck diving, but also outstanding pelagic action. We offer 7 to 13 night cruises, exploring all the popular dive spots such as Gili Lawa Laut, where we dive at Crystal Rock and Castle Rock (great opportunity to try out a 'reef-hook' dive, as you secure yourself to the rock and float in the current, watching the schooling fish and predator/prey action). Plus, we visit a dive site in the shadow of an active volcano to feel the bubbling hot springs, and take a stroll on land with Komodo's giant lizard population. To sum up, these cruises are all about diversity, with exhilarating drift diving, interesting muck diving, encounters with pelagics (mantas, sharks, whale sharks, sunfish), macro attractions (pygmy seahorses, blue-ringed octopus, frogfish, ghost pipefish), shallow reefs, walls, pinnacles, seamounts, and pristine hard/soft corals.
The Raja Ampat season offers various 11 to 13 night cruises, taking in the major dive sites such as Manta Sandy (great for watching and interacting with mantas as they visit the cleaning station), Boo Windows (try out your photo skills at the 'window' as your dive-buddy swims through an opening in the submerged rock past a reef draped in soft corals and brimming with fish), Neptune's Fan Sea (rush along a gulley in the current, past giant colourful gorgonian seafans) and Arborek Jetty (famous for pipefish, cuttlefish, octopus and giant clams, plus the newly discovered Pontohi pygmy seahorse). This area is known for its vibrant underwater colours but also its majestic landscapes, making it a perfect destination for keen photographers. The only problem with diving here is that you'll be so spoiled by the near-perfect conditions that you may never want to leave.
Other world-class hubs of biodiversity include Flores, Alor, Southern/Central Maluku and the Banda Sea, to name just a few.
It's no surprise that these hotspots are considered among the ultimate destinations for divers.
Indonesia's Top Destinations
Underwater Photography & Videography
Given the stunning dive sites and topside landscapes, Indonesia is a photographers' dream destination.
We are pleased to have had many professional photographers onboard and it seems everyone is a budding photographer, so we have made every effort to cater to this aspect of the diving experience.
In the back of the restaurant and lounge area we have 2 computers setup for both PC and MAC systems (with photo editing software). There are charging stations for all your equipment, extension cords and adaptors to cater to different systems and plenty of table space for using your own laptops, plus our experienced cruise directors will be happy to assist with most of your photo and computer needs during the cruise.
For a bit of extra advice and tutoring, why not join on of our special 'photo-cruises', with pros onboard, which run throughout the year.
Every year the Arenui runs a number of special cruises, focused on specific creatures or skills. If you're keen on Underwater Photography, Marine Megafauna, Marine Biology, Pygmy Seahorses or Nudibranchs, then we have a trip that's perfect for you!
- - Underwater Photography trips March 2015 with Matt Meier; December 2015 and 2016 with William Tan; April 2016 with Rod Klein
- - The Queen of Mantas (of the Marine Megafauna Foundation) Dr Andrea Marshall is onboard twice in July 2016 and twice in February 2017
- - Join Marine Biologist and TV celebrity Monty Halls to explore Komodo in July 2015 or Raja Ampat in November 2016
- - If it's Pygmy Seahorses you love, join Dr Richard Smith for a Raja Ampat trip in February 2016
- - Or for a special cruise on Nudibranchs, look out for the special trip with Vanessa Knutson in May 2016 trip
We're also planning other special cruises in 2017 and we're hoping to add more to the 2016 schedule, so keep checking the website for details.
It might seem a long way ahead, but with just 16 guests on our luxury vessel, places are limited and all of our cruise dates are filling up quickly. So if you're interested in any of these special cruises, please get in touch as soon as possible - as spaces are in high demand (and some may already be sold out). Or drop us an email if you have suggestions for other specialties you'd like to see on our annual line-up!
NB:Please be aware that should there be any unexpected changes to the special guests' availability then an alternative photographer/biologist will be arranged.
Andrea in Komodo and Raja
Meet the mantas and other megafauna of Indonesia on our 8 or 11-night “Special MEGAFAUNA Cruises” with Dr Andrea Marshall- 2016 KOMODO 8N CRUISE: Embark Bali, 6 July 2016 - Disembark Labuanbajo, 14 July 2016
- 2016 KOMODO FOCUS 11N CRUISE: Embark Labuanbajo, 16 July 2016 - Disembark Bima, 27 July 2016
- 2017 RAJA AMPAT 11N CRUISE: Embark Sorong, 1 February 2017 - Disembark Sorong, 12 February 2017
- 2017 RAJA AMPAT 11N CRUISE: Embark Sorong, 14 February 2017 - Disembark Sorong, 25 February 2017
Matthew in Raja
Discover the photographic potential of West Papua on our 13 night “Special PHOTO Cruise” with Matt Meier- 2015 RAJA AMPAT & TRITON BAY 13N CRUISE: Embark Sorong, 18 March 2015 - Disembark Sorong, 31 March 2015
Monty in Komodo and Raja
Explore the fascinating underwater world of Indonesia on our 11-night “Special MARINE BIOLOGIST Cruises” with Monty Halls
- 2015 GRAND KOMODO 11N CRUISE: Embark Bali, 1 July 2015 - Disembark Bali, 12 July 2015
- 2016 RAJA AMPAT 11N CRUISE: Embark Sorong, 12 November 2016 - Disembark Sorong, 23 November 2016
Richard in Raja
Seek out the camouflaged pygmy seahorses of Indonesia on our 11 night “Special PYGMY SEAHORSE Cruise” with Dr Richard Smith
- 2016 RAJA AMPAT 11N CRUISE: Embark Sorong, 5 February 2016 - Disembark Sorong, 16 February 2016
Rod in Alor
Get the most out of Alor's photo opportunities on our 11 night “Special PHOTO Cruise” with Rod Klein
- 2016 ALOR 11N CRUISE: Embark Maumere, 29 April 2016 - Disembark Maumere, 10 May 2016
Vanessa in Komodo
Go ‘critter-hunting’ for the nudibranchs of Indonesia on our 8 night “Special NUDIBRANCH Cruise” with Vanessa Knutson
- 2016 KOMODO 8N CRUISE: Embark Labuanbajo, 27 May 2016 - Disembark Bali, 4 June 2016
William in Raja
Appreciate the beauty of Indonesia through your camera lens on our 11 or 12 night “Special PHOTO Cruises” with William Tan
- 2015 RAJA AMPAT 11N CRUISE: Embark Sorong, 11 December 2015 - Disembark Sorong, 22 December 2015
- 2016 RAJA AMPAT 12N CRUISE: Embark Sorong, 21 December 2016 - Disembark Sorong, 2 January 2017
Mark joined us in Alor
TRIP ENDED: 11 night “Special PHOTO Cruise” with Mark Strickland
- 2014 ALOR 11N CRUISE: Embark Maumere, 22 April 2014 - Disembark Maumere, 3 May 2014
A Day in the Life of an Arenui Guest
What can you expect for a typical day on our liveaboard?
Small breakfast, dive 1, big breakfast, dive 2, lunch, dive 3, afternoon snacks, relaxing massage, dive 4, dinner, movie and log-books, sleep. and repeat!
Here's a sample Arenui day for a keen diver who also wants a relaxing holiday
6:00-7:00am | Wake up in a remote paradise, head out to the restaurant area and start the day with a small breakfast of toast, pastries, fruit, coffee and juice. One of the cruise directors gives a full dive brief, using two TV screens to highlight the dive site map and a recommended route to explore the reef, and also uses the fish ID books to show photos of the popular critters we hope to see that are special to this site.
8:00am | First dive of the day. Grab rash-guard, mask, booties and fins, then pass crew the camera to put in a plastic basket and take to the tender. Step down into the tender and check over BCD (already waiting for you, setup and ready to go). Quick 2-3 mins ride out to the site, gear up and then back roll into the water. Probably a deeper dive, perhaps a nice slow drift or maybe a good chance to hook onto the sea bed and watch some early morning fish action. Pop up (after safety stop) to find tender waiting at the surface. Head back to boat and crew member hands over a warm towel to dry off!
9.30am | Time for the big breakfast now, with a full spread of hot items and eggs cooked to request (before the first dive you'll be asked how you'd like your eggs so they can prepare and have everything ready after the dive). Relax on the sky lounge, go for a nap in your cabin or complete log books. Thirty minutes before the dive time it's another dive briefing, with map, route, photos.
11:30am | Second dive of the day. Good time to take out the underwater camera and try for some images in good light. Test out some fun sun-burst photos using dive buddy as a model.
1pm | If it's not dive-time then it must be food-time. Lunch is a mouth-watering buffet of local and western food with healthy salads and vegetables to make sure everyone's feeling fit and healthy for the next dive. Perhaps time to pop up to the sky lounge for a short cat-nap, or to read a good book or chat with other guests and crew. Step in to say hello to the captain in the wheelhouse and ask him about the beautiful islands we're sailing past. Back down to the restaurant for a full dive briefing.
3:00pm | Third dive of the day. Fueled by a tasty lunch, drop in for a current dive and try to keep up with the schools of fish
4.30pm | Chef puts out some tasty snacks, savoury and sweet. Try to resist eating too much but it's all so delicious and you have the excuse of needing energy for all this diving! Time to decide whether to do the night dive or not. If not, there's the option of an early dinner so not eating too late.
5:00pm | Find some time between reading, chatting, snacking and looking at photos on the computer, to get a back massage. Fragrant massage oils smell great, mixing with the salty ocean breeze. Now it's decision time; sunset cocktail or a last dive? There's time later for a drink with the stars instead, so head down for a dive briefing to find out what's in store on this night dive.
6:30pm | Fourth dive of the day. Well worth skipping the cocktail, as the reef is alive with weird and wonderful creatures. Eagle-eyed dive guide points out tiny bits of fluff that turn out to be minute species, rarely seen. After the dive, head back to the boat through inky black water under a canopy of stars. Crew member has a hot towel and a cup of hot chocolate ready and waiting!
8:00pm | Take a seat in the sky restaurant on the top deck under the stars, with fellow divers, to discuss the day's highlights, while tucking into the starter laid out at the table. Soup is next, then crew serves up the main course (chosen earlier, at lunch time, from menu that changes daily) and everyone toasts to a great day of diving. After a delicious desert there's time for a short movie. Someone's downloading photos onto one of the computers in the restaurant (windows or mac setup) and having a go at editing the best shots.
9:00pm | Seems like a great opportunity to get some night photos, so try out different settings to get a nice night-sky, starry image. Look out over the peaceful, calm waters. Imagine the activity going on beneath the surface, as night-time critters go about their business. Plan ahead for tomorrow; perhaps take one of the kayaks for a closer look at the islands. There's talk of visiting a village too, to meet some locals and buy some souvenirs. Or maybe another massage!!!
Our Dive Team
We are proud and pleased to have one of the finest crews in Indonesia. With 22 crew serving a maximum of 16 guests, we aim to make your cruise a truly relaxing and first-class experience.
Our 3 Indonesian divemasters are rated amongst the most knowledgeable in the region and the whole operation is led by our 2 highly experienced western cruise directors.
Cruise Director Jerry, born in Mexico, has been working in the dive industry since 1995, both overseas and in Indonesia.
He grew up in Cancun, making his first dive was at the age of 10 and he has been diving ever since. The Red Sea, Mallorca, Indonesia and Thailand have all been home for Jerry, since he became a dive instructor. According to Jerry, diving from a liveaboard is the best way to experience remote areas in luxurious comfort - with the 'house reef' changing every day as the boat moves to the next exciting destination.
He joined the Arenui in October 2009, together with Debbie, as the first cruise launched and they have been an integral part of the Arenui's success ever since. His knowledge and experience of Indonesian waters are fundamental to our ability to treat our guests to the best dive spots Indonesia has to offer. He is also a skilled photographer, particularly keen on shooting landscapes and village life when we visit remote Indonesian islands. Jerry also enjoys underwater photography and has had his photos published in various dive publications.
Cruise Director Debbie, hails from England, close to the university city of Oxford.
She has always loved the ocean and many family holidays were spent by the sea. Her formal education was a first degree in Banking and International Finance, followed by a Postgraduate degree in teaching. In 2000, she began her world wanderings with a two year trip to Australia and New Zealand. Returning home she found it very difficult to return to 'real life' so she moved to Thailand, looking for teaching work. The quest for work turned into a divemaster course in the Similan Islands, during which time she became passionate about liveaboard life. She took her Assistant Instructor course in Mallorca, Spain and then qualified as an instructor in Thailand.
Debbie works closely with Jerry to ensure that all our guests enjoy their onboard daily activities. Besides managing the crew, she also spares some time to go diving and takes great underwater photographs. You might find some of her photos in Asian Diver Magazine. Debbie is also our onboard PADI instructor and as a former teacher, loves to teach. Her favourite critter is the frogfish and she has been known as the 'Frogfish Queen' by her friends and fellow divers!
Divemaster Wawan was trained by Max Ammer, in the Dampier Strait area of Raja Ampat, and enjoys helping guests with logbooks - he's even working on learning all the Latin names for the special critters and nudibranchs we find at our dive destinations.
Divemaster Ronald has been diving since 1997 and was guiding in Lembeh Strait (North Sulawesi) for 16 years - so his experience finding critters in Lembeh means his guests are sure to see lots of hidden delights, plus he enjoys guiding photographers and pointing out photogenic subjects.
Divemaster Gayus is from Bitung and trained to be a dive master in the famous Lembeh Straits. He worked at the top resorts in this area for 7 years, so his experience guiding guests in the muck paradise of Lembeh means he has a great eye for spotting all types of critters. In 2010 he moved onto liveaboards and has since dived all areas of Indonesia including Raja Ampat, Komodo, Alor, Banda, Kaimana, Cendrawasi Bay and Ambon. His favourite critters are octopus!
Raja Ampat is rapidly on its way towards becoming the most popular dive destination in Indonesia. This is why we, at the Arenui, believe a true eco-tourism approach needs to be applied to this area.
Our conservation program is an ideal way to do something really worthwhile, see a different side of Raja Ampat and, at the same time, take part in helping the local community. With the help of our guests' donations, we support a selection of conservation projects that provide the local communities with the resources they require, in order to better their own standards of living and their livelihoods.
PERMANENT MOORING: With a growing number of liveaboards active in Raja Ampat, anchor damage is inevitable, as large boats anchor in the vicinity of coral reefs. Anchoring generally in Raja Ampat is not easy, as reefs often drop off very steeply to depths of 80m. Strong currents and storms mean boats have to put out several hundred meters of chain, just to maintain their position.
This potentially drags over delicate deep water communities or, in the worst cases, ships anchor on patch reefs in 40m or less.
To tackle this problem, Conservation International (CI) is installing moorings around Raja Ampat to limit anchor damage and provide safe locations for liveaboards to overnight or moor up near diving areas. These moorings must be strong enough to support large vessels in storm conditions. CI utilizes local resources and systems, with the assistance of Atlas South Sea Pearl, to install 7000kg cement-bag anchors attached to large drum buoys.
This is the most cost effective system for such a remote area and would not be possible without the support of local companies and supportive visitors. The Arenui team recently sponsored an additional mooring in the Wayag area, but with your help we can do more to support CI's efforts.
A hospital is currently under construction in Waisai, but is some time away from completion, so currently patients must travel to Sorong. Health education is also very limited and even simple problems can escalate quickly due to poor hygiene and misdiagnoses.
A series of 15 illustrated booklets, each booklet dealing with a different health matter, has been produced by Australian nurses Jim and Robyn Nottingham, and translated into Indonesian.
Full permission has been given for these booklets to be printed and used in the Papua region. We are aiming to print 2 sets of the full booklet series, one in Indonesian and another translated into the 3 main local languages found in Raja Ampat (as many villagers, especially mothers, do not speak Indonesian very well and they are often the ones most in need of basic health education). You can assist us with this objective, and help us increase the number of booklets printed, by donating to this worthy program.
Following an extensive socialization and education program, in 2007, the communities were persuaded to completely give up hunting turtles and to set aside areas of reef as no-take zones. Part of that program involved providing an alternative source of meat, particularly for their celebrations, and as a Christian community their preference was for pigs.
Since the environment in this region is particularly sensitive (coral atolls), an Indonesian-designed, and built, alternative technology closed system 'piggery' was sourced. A pilot project to install and operate the system in one village commenced in Dec 2007, and has proved so successful that we would like to expand the project to the other villages. We anticipate having 3 or 4 communal piggeries in each village, run by co-operating Margas (extended family groups).
These projects require that the Arenui provides all the imported materials and technical expertise, while the village provides the labor and locally sourced materials (wood and thatch roof). This is effective in keeping costs to a minimum. Donations from supporters, especially our guests who visit and dive the region, will turn these ambitions into a reality.
For more details on any of the above projects, or to donate, please contact us directly. If you are joining a cruise, please don't hesitate to ask our cruse directors for updates on the projects, and find out how you can assist in the development and safeguarding of this region.