The Forgotten Islands are part of a remote archipelago in the southeast corner of the Moluccas (Maluku Tenggara). Despite the remote feeling in other parts of Indonesia (such as Alor or Banda), the Forgotten Islands are isolated even by Indonesian standards, covering a 1,000 km long chain of islands staring at Timor and extending up to West Papua. The Tanimbar group of around 65 islands that separate the Banda Sea from the Arafura Sea include the island of Yamdena where the capital Saumlaki is the final destination on this cruise. There are many groups of islands in this area and the Forgotten Islands are relatively undiscovered and still being explored. The exact itinerary around these islands will depend exclusively on the weather and current conditions.
For the majority of the year, the Banda Sea is a force to be reckoned with. However, every September, the seasons shift ever so slightly, creating a calm and navigable sea. Most underwater explorers are familiar with the northern stretches and all of its treasures, but few have heard of the untouched, forgotten chain of islands that profile the southeastern corner of these notoriously wild waters.
Due to its sheer remoteness, only the most intrepid journey to this corner of the globe. In fact, for a country made up of over 17,000 islands, this region is considered far-flung even by Indonesian standards. Not everyone has been discouraged by its isolation, though. The adventurers among us understand how rare genuine exploration can be in this day and age and are willing to put in the extra effort to experience it.
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.
“Here at the Arenui we believe scuba diving holidays CAN combine world-class dive sites, with a truly relaxing and luxurious experience. You shouldn’t have to choose between colorful, critter-packed, fishy, pelagic-filled dives and 5-star accommodation with gourmet food and a personalized service. Yes, you can have it all … diving cruises without compromise!
Here at the Arenui, we have built a stunning wooden vessel that offers a taste of the local culture (a traditional Indonesian Phinisi) but fitted it with all the modern conveniences of a luxury hotel. We designed spacious boutique cabins that once again invite our guests to enjoy the country they’re visiting (local handicrafts and inspirations). We added a luxury restaurant serving international and local cuisine (evenings are waiter served a-la carte) and added both an outdoor sky restaurant and a top-deck sky lounge for massages, sunbathing, relaxing and enjoying the island views. Then we trained up an enthusiastic local crew, including 2 highly sought-after chefs and 3 eagle-eyed dive guides, to join our 2 western cruise directors, adding up to 22 members of the Arenui onboard team providing a truly personalized service for our 16 guests.” -Arenui
Our guests’ safety and comfort were paramount when creating the Arenui structure and layout. We chose just 2 decks – and a higher draft than most other Phinisi – to maximize stability and avoid rolling in rough seas.
We also wanted to maximize flexibility in terms of rooms, so we created an unconventional layout to offer larger cabins, a larger restaurant, a large outdoor area (sky restaurant, sky lounge and dive deck), a roomy wheelhouse for the captain (and guests keen to take part), as well as a very large area for our invaluable crew (22 beds in the crew quarters with extra space for our cruise directors who work so tirelessly on our operations).
To accommodate these spacious rooms we minimized the corridor space and created a compact galley with innovative storage areas. We also chose the stern of the vessel for the ‘working’ area, so the tenders and diving equipment can be prepared easily without disturbing guests.
The restaurant area is also unique, stretching across the full width of the vessel to allow for maximum seating and space, so guests can spread out and have a choice of places to sit. Altering the layout on this deck would have compromised this impressive restaurant space, so we felt this should be our priority.
The upper deck features 2 master-suites (Rama and Shinta, double beds) and 2 deluxe twin cabins (Barong and Ganesh, single beds), plus the galley, the dive deck and the spacious restaurant.
On the lower deck we have 4 deluxe cabins (Garuda, Legong, Toraja and Dayak), accommodating couples, single divers or groups of 3 (e.g. families with children). On the skydeck you’ll find the sky restaurant and sun-bathing, the wheelhouse and then the raised sky lounge with stretches across the back half of the boat.