Bali – ‘Island of the Gods’

Written by Linda Cartlidge

Photo credits by Asia Pacific Superyachts Indonesia

Written by Linda Cartlidge

Photo credits by Asia Pacific Superyachts Indonesia

Known as the Land of the Gods, Bali appeals through its sheer natural beauty of looming volcanoes and lush terraced rice fields that exude peace and serenity. The island country attracts sail and motor yachts from all over the world and is fast becoming a favoured destination for superyachts.

Bali’s highly favourable geographic position, out of the heavy weather and cyclones, along with its unique location almost equidistant from the Pacific and the Maldives, Japan, the Seychelles, and New Zealand, make it a popular choice for international travellers.

Bali is the heart of Indonesia, with its culture characterized by a deep spirituality and the omnipresence of Balinese Hinduism in everyday life and architecture. All existing alongside vibrant traditions, charming hospitality and delicious cuisine for which the island is famous. 

The largest archipelago in the world, Indonesia consists of five major islands and about 30 smaller groups with a total of 17,508 islands to its name, of which about 6,000 are inhabited. To cruise the country properly would take more than three years of continual sailing.

Benoa Harbour is the main port for Denpasar, the capital of Bali, and centrally located just north of Nusa Dua in the teardrop on the southeast side of Bali, close to the airport and to Kuta, Legian and Sanur. The other anchorage option, especially for cruising yachts spending longer periods enjoying Bali, is to the north in the protection of Serangan (Turtle) Island. When rounding Bali’s north-eastern tip, the cone-shaped volcano of Mt. Agung is a magnificent sight, and it the welcoming vista for many visiting sailors.

As vessel formalities are completed, the Asia Pacific Superyachts Indonesia director, Captain Thomas Taatjes and his team, will continue to create a close-knit relationship for visiting superyachts to traverse the complexities of staying and cruising in Indonesian waters. There are excellent onshore activities for crew and world class provisioning ahead of voyages in the Asia Pacific Region. 

A great start is watching or riding the Balinese waves on a surfing excursion in the Uluwatu (Bukit) area. Boasting some of the most glorious beaches in Bali with legendary sunsets, here you’ll find Balinese ceremonies on the beach, complete with gamelan players and offerings to the gods. Along with the cultural experiences, there are sophisticated spas and high-end boutiques to entice you from the waterfront. 

Then there is the World Heritage Site of Jatiluwih, where you can view the Jatiluwih rice terraces, most famous for their dramatic and exotic landscapes. The cool highlands and the breathtaking scenery of this village at the foot of Mount Batukaru serves as a soothing retreat. 

Then it’s onto cruising, “Every type of adventure, activity, cultural experience and natural beauty cruising destination is available here,” enthuses Captain Thomas. “One can dive with whale sharks or mantas, visit the amazing Komodo Dragons, trek in the rain forest looking for the famed Bird of Paradise, snorkel in areas where the rainforest meets pristine coral reefs, and visit authentic villages.”

Bali offers superyachts the opportunity for ship repair and maintenance and now, there are new services while in Bali, advises Captain Thomas: “APS Indonesia recently expanded in bringing in a dedicated marine engineering division led by an English superyacht engineer and captain, providing high end 316 stainless fabrication and marine engineering to international standards. And excitingly, APS has also partnered with Superyacht Teak in milling and processing the finest Marine Grade A teak, sustainably sourced from Java for export to the shipyards of Germany and the Netherlands. APS can now lay teak decks in Bali at a fraction of the cost elsewhere, with the finest workmanship and materials.”


Given its geographical size Indonesia has a 12-month cruising season with April to October best. Transition cruising, typically known as the ‘Inter Monsoon’, is March / April and October / November. This allows yachts to move or visit any one of the 17,000 islands making up this amazing country with November to February the peak season for equatorial cruising. 

Lombok Island

Snorkel pristine waters while you spend a few days in Lombok, steeped in beauty, charm, and tradition. It makes a fantastic addition that rounds off an experience in Bali, offering some of the most biodiverse waters anywhere in the world. The 26 Gili Islands of northwest and southwest Lombok, many of them uninhabited, offer white sandy beaches, idyllic bays and anchorages all year round. 

APS recommend taking a traditional Lombok cooking class in Waroeng Tugu, where dining recreates the casual atmosphere of traditional Javanese and Balinese meals enjoyed in the villages or in the comfort of their homes. ‘Waroeng’ is the name for the open-aired huts where people eat lunch and dinner with a menu of simple but truly delicious dishes from the local villagers. It’s a unique experience that showcases hundreds of years of tradition and where you can experience the humble beauty as well as the exotic richness of Indonesian dining and cooking. 

Mountain ridges on the Lombok mainland provide stunning scenery and include the tallest volcano in Indonesia, the 4,000-metre Mount Rinjani on the northern Lombok coast. The majestic jungle-clad volcano towers over this untouched landscape. Here there are world-class surf breaks, jungle treks and buzzy cafes in Kuta Lombok. Senggigi is a hotspot for families, with resorts and villas located amongst lush landscapes of coconut trees and hidden coves. 

“There’s a beautiful sail across to an anchorage in the bay of Nusa Lembongan, the closest island destination to Bali,” notes Captain Thomas. The two tropical islands of Nusa Lembongan and Ceningan are just off the Bali coast, and are relatively quiet with a yellow bridge that connects them. Impressive coastal cliffs sides, great beaches and beach clubs, and snorkelling with manta rays are among the many things to do here. 

Moyo Island

The nature reserve of Moyo Island is 15 kilometres off the coast of Sumbawa, at the western end of the Nusa Tenggara islands, a grouping that begins with Lombok and stretches some 1,300km east to Timor. In the untamed wilderness of West Nusa Tenggara, Moyo is a rustic jewel of unspoiled nature and seas that are alive with plentiful marine life. Most of the island is a nature reserve and remains virtually untouched; a veritable Eden in the Flores Sea. 

Swimming with Whale Sharks

Swimming with multiple whale sharks is now firmly on the wish list of visitors and on the trip plan of yachts. In a large and isolated bay between Bali and Komodo, hundreds of whale sharks live year-round. APS clients have said swimming and snorkelling with these gentle giants is a life changing experience, and it’s not uncommon to swim with more than three of these sharks at a time. APS Indonesia is a pioneer of these trips, running them exclusively for their clients for over four years. 

Komodo National Park

The Komodo National Park offers opportunity to marvel at the famous Komodo Dragons, swim with manta rays and a whole plethora of fish and marine life. Home to a population of about 5,700 giant lizards, this is the only place in the world where people can see the endangered Dragons in their natural habitat. Komodo and Rinca islands both have Komodo Dragons, and a trek can be arranged with a ranger guide. 

“It took me two years to convince our owner to visit Komodo, and yes, it is a bit ‘off the beaten path’ and access isn’t the easiest, but when we eventually said goodbye to Komodo and its surrounding islands after an extensive cruise in the area, the owner quietly told me it was the most beautiful place he had visited and that he was glad I managed to convince him,” tells Captain Tanguy Adriaenssen. “These are the words coming from a long-time yacht owner who has visited the likes of Palau, Micronesia, most of the Caribbean, Antarctica, Madagascar and the list goes on. I couldn’t agree with him more!” reports Captain Tanguy. 

“What I found on arrival in Komodo and then during the seven-week cruise far exceeded my anticipation. A place devoid of humans and riddled with paw prints and wildlife. Of course, it is famous for its dragons, but we saw a myriad of other animals. Diving wise it has some of the richest ecosystems on earth – but beware of the currents!” 

Return to Bali

Yachts returning to Bali are awarded a spectacular downwind sail as they take in the towering peaks of Tambora, Rinjani and the view of Mt. Agung. Agung is an active volcano and the highest point of Bali in Karangasem. Balinese people believe that Mt. Agung is the most sacred place on the island, and the oldest and mother temple, Besakih, is built on its slopes. 

With its eclectic mix of beautiful beaches, stunning forests, picture-perfect islands, volcanoes, Komodo Dragons and mystical aura, Bali will continue to draw more superyachts to her shores. An exceedingly attractive Asia Pacific cruising destination, those seeking exploration and adventure will find nothing short of a cruising paradise.


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