Nicole Trilivas takes to the sea to explore the crystalline waters surrounding Indonesia’s far-flung Raja Ampat islands with Meridian Adventure Sail
A Mindful Sailing Voyage Through Indonesia’s Uncharted Islands
Blooming from the emerald equatorial seas, the immaculate Indonesian islands of Raja Ampat are not easy to reach—and that’s exactly what makes them so special. There are no crowds, flashy resorts or dependable phone service; instead, there’s mind-blowing diving; dazzling scenery pulled straight out of Avatar; and an overriding sense of serenity that only comes from getting far, far away from it all.
In the interest of keeping the peace, one of the best means of exploring the area is by boat. Meridian Adventure SAIL is an adventure-focused sailing club consisting of six eco-friendly catamarans currently based in the region and designed to literally sweep you off your feet. Travellers can book one or up to all six of the catamarans to set sail on a custom-designed diving and sailing adventure around the largely protected marine reserve.
Onboard, daily activities generally consist of two morning dives where neon-bright sea life appear before your eyes like fireworks. Sun-filled afternoons are eaten up whole by high-octane hikes, paddle boarding trips or racing about on state-of-the-art sporty sea toys, like zippy seabobs and electric hydrofoil surfboards.
There is no set itinerary, but most trips to Raja Ampat include a stop in Wayag, a spellbinding seascape of gargantuan conical karst islands capped in swishy palms. (Google “Raja Ampat” and images of Wayag will appear.) At the moment, Wayag is the only part of Raja Ampat where you may come across other vessels—largely, motor yachts or traditionally inspired “liveaboard” phinisi boats.
Meridian Adventure SAIL’s smart, semi-bespoke 62’ catamarans certainly stand out from both a structural and environmental standpoint: With all the shipshape elegance of a sailing yacht (but none of the high-emissions), each catamaran is a study in pale beechwood with cream and navy accents. Sails are used often and whenever possible and an onboard waste management system means local reefs are kept pristine.
Each catamaran holds a minimum of six guests, and though it’s possible to book only one catamaran, Meridian Adventure SAIL takes on a truly singular shine when several of the boats are booked for one big adventure (such as for a corporate trip or a multigenerational voyage). To witness the catamarans sailing together in perfect harmony is like watching ballet: In other words, it’s easy to completely lose yourself.
Qatar Airways offers flights from London to Jakarta starting from £533 return. (From Jakarta, Raja Ampat can be reached via a domestic flight to Sorong.) qatarairways.com
Meridian Adventure SAIL’s all-inclusive, semi-private Raja Ampat voyage starts at $8,250 per day, per vessel (6-8 guests; 1 week minimum). Group expeditions with 6 vessels start at $49,500 per day with up to 21 cabins available. Guests can enquire online about club membership. sail.meridianadventures.com
Imagery courtesy of Meridian Adventure SAIL