Aqua Blu is a long-range motor yacht sailing the East Indonesian Archipelago including Komodo National Park, Spice Islands and Raja Ampat on unforgettable seven and twelve night itineraries.
With a grand legacy as the former British Naval Explorer HMS Beagle and later as the private yacht of a European aristocratic family, Aqua Blu is a compelling maritime statement. A 2019 refurbishment overseen by Dutch yacht design maestro Cor D. Rover brings the vessel to world-class cruising specifications. Inside the five-deck, 15-suite Aqua Blu, enjoy a brass and ivory interior theme with generous and inviting indoor and outdoor social spaces, including a sun deck.
The vessel is additionally equipped with Quantum Zero Speed stabilisers for optimal comfort at rest or while sailing. Aqua Blu can cover vast distances in a short span of time — and in any sea condition — creating the most varied, enjoyable and rewarding coastal cruise itineraries in this wild and stunningly beautiful region of the world.
Each of the 15 individually-designed suites aboard the Aqua Blu is an oasis on the vast East Indonesian seas. Each air-conditioned suite suite has 14 square metres to 34 square meters with portholes or windows, private bathroom with overhead rain shower, comfortable King-size bed or twin beds, closet with safe and organic hair and bath amenities.
Public areas include a dining room, lounge, sun deck with jacuzzi and sun loungers, bar, al fresco dining, a private speedboat, free use of on board snorkelling and dining equipment and on board spa and fitness area.
- Boat Description
15 spacious suites, with en-suite bathrooms and luxury amenitiesMore details
- Cat I: 8 suites – Bridge Deck (1 suite), Forecastle Deck (2 suites), Main Deck (2suites) and Lower Deck (3 suites)
- Cat II: 4 suites – Bridge Deck (1 suite), Forecastle Deck (1 suite) and Main Deck (2 suites)
- Cat III: 3 suites – Main Deck (1 suite) and Lower Deck (2 suites)
Ambon and Spice IslandsMore details
Ambon and Spice Islands
Ambon and Spice Islands
The epicentre of the Old World global spice trade, Banda Neira is a kaleidoscope of tradition, culture, nature and wildlife.
Banda Neira’s claim to fame originated with the myristica tree. Once found only on the Spice Islands, the tree was the source of nutmeg and mace. Today the oldest nutmeg plantations in the world remain, and like the Alba truffles of Italy, Banda nutmeg is still regarded as the highest grade varietal of the spice in the world.
Indeed, it was was the presence of nutmeg that allowed Banda Neira to flourish into an international centre of trade in the 16th and 17th century, and with this came an impressive collection of European relics built mostly by the Dutch, including the commanding hilltop stone fortress of Fort Belgica overlooking Banda Harbour and architecture such as the VOC Governor’s Residence. All across the 3.5 square mile island, remnants of a once great trading centre are visible, be it ancient cannons or colonial homes.
With the only significant population centre of the Banda Islands (about 8,000 inhabitants out of 15,000), Banda Neira is where most of the Spice Island’s distinct culture is found and practiced. Traditional Indonesian customs and traditions, many of which are distinct to the Ambon & Spice Islands are, are practiced to this day, such as the spectacle of a Kora-Kora war canoe display by the locals.
Activities on Banda Neira include:
- Fort Belgica
- Colonial era architecture such as the Istana Mini
- Trekking Gunung Banda Api volcano
- Snorkelling and diving
- Local market visits and village tour
- Witnessing a Kora-Kora war canoe display
It’s difficult to imagine now, but this remote island village was once worth as much as Manhattan.
By the middle of the 17th century, all but one of the Spice Islands, the British-controlled Pulau Run, was under Dutch ‘rule’. Finally, after tiring of Dutch hostility, the British exchanged Pulau Run with a then-swampy strip of North American land from the Dutch called Manhattan (then known as New Amsterdam) in the 1667 Treaty of Breda.
The rest, as they say, is history. While Manhattan flourished over the centuries, Pulau Run has barely changed as a fishing town, with a current population of just over 2,500. There are rumours of a long-lost British fort, yet to be found, on this 1.5 square mile island, but the rare visitors Pulau Run receives tend to focus their attention on a spectacularly gorgeous beach on the northeast of the island — an unexpectedly beautiful getaway in a remote land ideal for a range of water-based activities.
Activities on Pulau Run include:
- Swimming, snorkelling and diving
- Village tour
- Hiking and birdwatching
With its fair share of historical artefacts, this is a picturesque paradise for both water- and land-based adventures and home to the dugong (Asian manatee).
Lying to the east of Ambon, the island of Nusa Laut possesses some stunning hard coral seascapes that can be witnessed by both diving and snorkelling. This island is a heartening story of successful, locally-led marine conservation; on the northeast coast, the villagers of Ameth and Akon keep a close eye on the shoreline to deter any unauthorised fishing boats. As a result of communal vigilance, the reef around Nusa Laut is brimming with fish and unblemished coral reefs.
Offshore, divers can expect great wall and reef dives. Notably, frequent sightings of schooling hammerhead sharks further out have been reported, and well worth visiting is an enormous marine arch just under the surface on the east side of Nusa Laut and amazing natural rocky architecture along the east side of Molana island. Visibility is often superb, approaching 100 feet (30 meters).
The bays on the northern side of Nusa Laut are also known to support a population of dugong, the Asian cousin of the manatee that is also known for inspiring the legend of mermaids. With fairly flat terrain, pleasant scenery, quaint villages and welcoming locals, the fairly flat 15 square mile island is also ideal to be explored on a mountain bike.
The vibrant capital of Maluku province offers a fantastic introduction to the region. Serving as the gateway to Maluku province and the Spice Islands, Ambon as a city famous in the circles of natural history as the ‘Galapagos of Asia’. While Charles Darwin was coming up with his theory of natural selection in the Galapagos, his contemporary Alfred Russell Wallace was taking up residence in the region’s cities and towns, including Ambon, and coming up with arguably a more complete version of a similar theory based on his detailed observations of the region’s myriad wildlife.
The city of Ambon itself offers many opportunities for land-based cultural exploration, with its many markets and communities such as Soya Atas, a beautiful mountain village that offers stunning views of Ambon and surrounds. As Wallace would have agreed, birdwatching is highly recommended.
Ambon is also the site for muck diving at a sediment-filled bay, where divers and snorkels can discover marine life unique to such habitats such as the pygmy seahorse. Meanwhile, at Sarapua, discover an idyllic seaside village with historic Dutch forts: Fort Amsterdam and Fort Duurstede telling different facets of the rich colonial history in the Maluku, coupled with opportunities for trekking and birdwatching. A key highlight for Sarapua is the pottery village of Ouw, with potters and villages that live among a forgotten fort.
The easternmost volcano of Indonesia and only 466 miles from Darwin in Australia, Pulau Manuk is a terrain that rises from the bottom of the Banda Sea that’s nearly 10,000 feet deep. Inhabited by thousands of seabirds, the sky can literally darken when they take off at the same time. Here, marine life is equally impressive, with many pelagic species such as sharks that are drawn to the many underwater springs of Pulau Manuk to warm themselves. The surrounding waters of the island are also home to one of the largest aggregation of sea snakes on Earth.
Bali to Komodo National Park
Set sail from Bali and explore the wonders of Komodo National ParkMore details
Bali to Komodo National Park
Sailing from Bali to Labuan Bajo and vice versa, this voyage uncovers the best of the Nusa Tenggara archipelago, including Moyo Island and the iconic Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its native population of Komodo Dragons and the volcanic-sculpted Pink Beach as well as Horseshoe Bay.
Komodo National Park
A cruise experience of utmost exclusivity in the most dramatic UNESCO World Heritage Site on Earth.
Rinca is the second largest island in the Komodo National Park and it’s a grassy and windswept environment that is one of the few places to be able to spot Komodo dragons in the wild (while accompanied by an official park guide). Look out for watering holes where these wild creatures hunt for prey.
Compact and picturesque, Padar Island is a volcanic landform where no Komodo Dragons reside. What Padar does have is one of the most spectacular natural vistas on Earth that’s also easily accessible. The hike to the viewpoint across the Park’s distinctive savannah terrain takes anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on your fitness. Either way, Padar’s perfectly curved bays and beaches flanking both side of the island, framed by the cobalt blue of the surrounding sea, is an unbelievably breathtaking sight and a photographer’s dream.
An off-the-tourist radar nature reserve with hidden rewards for the explorer. Located in between Bali and Komodo National Park, the secluded island of Moyo is an unspoiled paradise. It sits at the mouth of Saleh Bay off the northern coast of Sumbawa Island, West Nusa Tenggara, and offers the explorer sparkling coastlines, a wealth of underwater life and a photogenic cascading waterfall in its interior that is accessible with a short trek. Along the way to the waterfall, the wildlife of Moyo reveals itself, from butterflies with wild oxen.
Moyo Island is also a paradise for bird lovers. Of the 124 bird species found in Sumbawa, 86 are found on the island. Among the rarer bird species are yellow-headed parrots and megapodes. The latter is a chicken-like bird unique for building a large mound of debris to incubate its eggs, aided with the heat of decomposing matter within the debris. At Saleh Bay, the local government in Sumbawa has discovered 50 semi-permanent whale sharks who had befriended fisherman in the area. Local squid boats had attracted the whale sharks with their bulging hauls, and explorers who visit Saleh Bay might just catch these marine “thieves” in action as they try to suck squid out of the boats’ fishing nets! Swimming with these gentle whale sharks is an unforgettable experience in its own right.
Known as Current City, this narrow channel is a nourishing force for marine life. Here, water from the Indian Ocean meets the Flores Sea. The convergence results in a nutrient-rich, life-giving concoction that that gives life to marine creatures. Some of the most famous dive sites in Komodo National Park lie within the Linta Strait.
Linta Strait is also dotted with islands large and small, as well as the Karang Makassar reef complex on the west side of the strait. Here’s a great place to come face-to-face with the gentle manta rays. At Mauan Island, a manta ray cleaning station can be found alongside some beautiful beaches. Reaching 7m in length and weighing up to 3,500lbs (1,600 kilograms), manta rays are majestic creatures of the sea that can often be visible a short distance beneath the water surface, at times even coming close to shore.
This is a surreal Jurassic landscape where adventure awaits. Nowhere in the Komodo National Park is the feeling of being in “Jurassic Park” more apparent than in the iconic Horseshoe Bay. Located at the far southern reaches of Rinca Island, this terrain is in fact the remains of an ancient volcanic caldera. Almost entirely surrounded by land, the waters here are also remarkably calm and tranquil. Horseshoe Bay offers some of the signature diving experiences of the Park, with several well-known dive sites such as Cannibal Rock and the Yellow Wall of Texas. From the soaring mist-covered peaks that encircle this horseshoe-shaped bay, to the Komodo Dragons pacing along the bay’s black sand beaches, the entire area pulsates with primordial energy. For terrestrial animal encounters, this is by far the best area in Komodo National Park: monkeys, deer, wild pigs, and of course the endemic Komodo Dragon can be observed prowling the small beaches at all times of the day. Away from the untamed shoreline, swimming can be an exceptional experience near to the moored Aqua Blu as kites and sea eagles soar proudly above.
Gili Lawa Islands
A prime haven for leisure within Komodo National Park. Consisting of two small islets, Gili Lawa Darat and Gili Lawa Laut, just north of Komodo Island, the Gili Lawa Islands offer a relaxed atmosphere to engage in snorkelling, swimming, and diving. This is also one of the best islands in Komodo National Park to witness a sunset, with Gili Lawa Daut particularly notable for its fine white beach with wide areas of sand and fringed with a reef. There are also trekking opportunities with great views back towards Komodo National Park.
A wonder of nature and one of the best beaches in the world.
One of the seven pink beaches on the planet, the aptly named Pink Beach on Komodo Island gets its characteristic colour from microscopic creatures called foraminifera that produce a red pigment, which then gets left behind on coral reef. Over time, tiny fragments of the red coral get washed up and combine with the white sands of the beach to produce a soft pink hue that is particularly beautiful in the evening light, where the Aqua Blu will anchor. The Komodo National Park itinerary ensures that guests enjoy Pink Beach at its quietest and most tranquil; under a moonlit sky and constellations, this promises to be one of the most magical nights of your life.
Pink Beach is also one of the best spots in Komodo National Park for snorkelling and diving.
Explore the magical Raja Ampat National Park, remote islands and local villages from the luxury Aqua Blu.More details
Translated to mean “Four Kings”, Raja Ampat captivates with the enigmatic beauty of its limestone karst island clusters, spawned out of legendary myth and continuing to bewilder and enthral explorers with dramatic landscapes that shelter secret lagoons, bays and beaches. In between excursions to discover the world’s most biodiverse environments, Raja Ampat offers the chance to find that one perfect private hideaway out of thousands. To put it simply, every day is a National Geographic moment right before your eyes.
Raja Ampat’s world-class wildlife excursions are both on the ground and underwater. It is here that famous 19th-century naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace had stumbled upon species of the bird of paradise that exist nowhere else but in this region on Earth. Catching sight of the otherworldly beauty of Wilson’s bird of paradise and the Red bird of paradise and their mesmerising behaviour is arguably one of life’s most rewarding wildlife experiences. These winged wonders live alongside 350 other bird species, including forest kingfishers and king parrots.
Meanwhile, Raja Ampat’s many beaches are often the nesting ground for turtle species including the Pacific leatherback, the largest of all living turtle species on Earth, while the world’s most extensive network of mangrove forests support populations of dugong and juvenile fish. Raja Ampat is also a designed Marine Protected Area (MPA) by the Indonesian government.
At almost every turn, the mesmerising turquoise and blue hues of Raja Ampat’s waters constantly jostle for your attention and beckon you to dive down and under. Located at the heart of the Coral Triangle, the region is known to house every kind of underwater habitat imaginable; pristine reef flats, secret bays, swift channels, deep drop-offs, shallow seamounts, mangroves, marine lakes, and protected coral gardens are just a sample of the types of marine habitats that can be found in the roughly 20,000 square mile region.
As a result of the sheer diversity of underwater habitats, Raja Ampat is a thriving subterranean metropolis that houses more than 1,300 species of tropical marine fish (about 50% of all known species) and more than 600 species of coral (nearly 75% of all known species of reef-building corals) in addition to manta rays, rare sea turtle species and schooling hammerheads. Cape Kri in the Dampier Strait notably holds the world record for the most number of species counted in a single dive (374 in total).
Nature’s underwater spleandor isn’t defined with sheer numbers alone. Raja Ampat also happens to be in the middle of a major cetacean migration route and aggregation site where various whales and dolphin species have been sighted. Of great significance is also the fact that the region is the meeting point of the Indian and the Pacific Ocean called the Indonesian Throughflow, where a six-inch (15cm) average height difference between these two oceans creates an immense exchange of water carrying millions of aquatic eggs and larvae that spawn to life or serve as a vital source of food for marine animals.
At the same time, the cooler water from deep-sea trenches and basins has also played a part in Raja Ampat’s stunning biodiversity. These environments offered marine life shelter from glacial water in the ice ages, and today offers natural protection against rising sea temperatures that have resulted in the bleaching of other relatively unprotected coral habitats including the Great Barrier Reef and the Maldives. Endowed with natural geological defences, Raja Ampat is truly Mother Nature’s last frontier.
Aqua Expeditions’ Raja Ampat cruise aboard the Aqua Blu cruise ship sails every year from December through to February, the best tine to cruise. The cruise sets sail on 7-night itineraries, departing from the city of Sorong.
The Aqua Blu is a classic motor yacht providing the perfect base to explore the East Indonesian Archipelago.
The Sun Deck has outdoor seating, a lounge sofa and barbecue, the Bridge Deck has a jacuzzi, outdoor lounge area, spa and exercise zone, the Forecastle Deck has outdoor dining and seating area, an indoor lounge bar, library and TV room and the Main Deck has outdoor seating, a salon and dining room.
- Year Built: 1968 as British Naval Explorer HMS Beagle
- Year Converted: 2006
- Year Refurbished: 2019
- Year Operational: 2019 (Inaugural voyage November 2019)
- Cabins: 15 suites across 4 decks in 3 different suite categories
- Ports of Embarkation: Bali, Labuan Bajo, Maumere, Ambon, Sorong
- Vessel’s Registry: Indonesia
- Type of Vessel: Ocean-and-sea Expedition Yacht
- Length: 198 feet / 60 meters
- Beam: 37’ 05” / 11.4 meters
- Draft: 13 feet / 4.2 meters
- Cruising Speed: 10-12 knots
- Electricity: 220V and 110V
- Engines: 4 x 660hp Lister Blackstone
- Generators: 2 x Volvo Penta 225kW, 1 x Volvo Penta 80kW (backup)
- Stabilizers: Quantum Zero Speed
- Safety: ISM Compliant/RINA Class/SOLAS Certified
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