Yacht Charter in Indonesia: the Ultimate Guide

Alexis
Modified on January 22, 2024

Indonesia is a huge playground for sailors. Here is what you should know about yacht rental, cruises and sailing zones in Indonesia.

Indonesia: an incredible playground for sailing enthusiasts

Few countries in the world can boast of having a playground for sailors as vast and rich as Indonesia.

Indonesia is a vast archipelago perfect for boating

sailing zones indonesia

With its 17,000 islands and almost 2 million square kilometers, much of which is made up of oceans and seas, there is no doubt that you will have a hard time finding a country with more corners to explore by boat!

Many visitors forget the real size of Indonesia, which has an area almost equivalent to that of Europe, but also its population, almost 270 million inhabitants.

An archipelago of this size inevitably means great cultural diversity with many variations in terms of ethnicities, traditions, or even food from one island to another.

A yacht charter in Indonesia is, therefore, a good way to discover a vast space that looks more like a mini-continent than a country as everyone usually understands it.

Indonesia's climate is ideal all year round

As if having so many natural advantages were not enough, the entire Indonesian archipelago has a warm climate, often tropical or equatorial, making Indonesia a cruise destination that operates all year round, unlike popular yachting destinations in the Mediterranean that are primarily sought after in summer.

In addition, Indonesia is not prone to hurricanes like the Caribbean, nor typhoons like some Asian countries facing the Pacific.

Indonesia is, therefore, an excellent alternative to the Mediterranean in summer and the Caribbean in winter, with a cultural variety that you won't find anywhere else.

The types of cruises and boat rentals found in Indonesia

Some cruises and types of boat rentals are more popular than others in Indonesia.

Cruises often take place on small-sized boats, not on cruise ships as seen in other regions of the world.

Some cruises are primarily intended for sports activities, mainly diving or surfing depending on the regions.

Private yacht charter in Indonesia mainly concerns crewed boats. Whether it's a large wooden sailboat or a smaller motor yacht, rentals without a skipper and crew are very rare.

Indonesia is, therefore, mainly for those who want to:

  • Go on a cruise on a human-sized boat
  • Rent exceptional large yachts (often wooden schooners)
  • Engage in (very) intense diving or surfing

Main areas for cruises and boat rentals in Indonesia

As you can imagine, there is not just one place to sail in a vast area like Indonesia. Here is an overview of areas where cruises and yacht charters are relatively popular.

Amed Bali

Bali is undoubtedly the most popular island for tourism in Indonesia, but it is not really the top choice for sailors and cruisers visiting Indonesia.

The reason for Bali's low popularity for yachting is actually quite logical: Bali is not an island where sailing is easy or particularly pleasant.

The west of the island is swept by swells and winds from the Indian Ocean (hence its world-renowned surf spots). The east of Bali is separated from Lombok by a strait where the currents are known to be violent and dangerous. A simple crossing from Bali to Lombok or the Gilis quickly makes you realize that comfort is not exactly guaranteed.

The north of Bali is much calmer, as are some parts of the northeast of the island, which are very popular for diving, but are ultimately visited relatively little by boat renters who most often prefer to go directly to their favorite islands.

However, Bali is a very popular starting point for cruises to Lombok or even to Flores, due to its well-equipped and efficient ports and marinas. Renting a boat in Bali for an event or a short trip is also relatively popular.

And let's be clear, many of those who rent boats in Indonesia land in Bali before heading to their more exotic final destinations. So even if Bali is not THE yachting destination in Indonesia, it remains an almost obligatory stopover point for many people.

Lombok: a neighboring island of Bali that can be a little paradise on a boat

Lombok is a much less popular and much wilder island than its Balinese neighbor.

Despite its generally calmer waters than Bali, it is also not frequently visited by sailboats and other cruise boats.

It is full of very interesting places for a yacht trip, especially the Gilis archipelago in the south of Lombok (Gili Gede, Gili Asahan, Gili Layar).

East Indonesia: by far the preferred destination for cruises in the archipelago

East Indonesia is truly the flagship destination for those looking for itinerant vacations on a boat in the archipelago. Again, the area is very vast, and several destinations can be distinguished, which are far from each other.

sunset yacht indonesia

Renting a yacht in the Komodo National Park from Flores is undoubtedly one of the most popular routes in Indonesia for both cruises and private yacht rentals.

It must be said that the playground is immense and conducive to navigation. The waters are calm, the landscapes breathtaking, and the underwater life is very preserved, promising extraordinary snorkeling and diving sessions.

Many of these cruises depart from Labuan Bajo in Flores, but it is also possible to find them departing from Bali. In both cases, access to your boat from Bali is relatively easy.

The Raja Ampat: the favorite option for diving cruises

raja ampat yacht charter

The Raja Ampat is another favorite destination for those who rent boats in Indonesia, but also for many diving cruises.

The area is located near Western Papua and is quite difficult to access, making it a naturally preserved area where nature is truly lush and wild. The islands of Raja Ampat are all more beautiful than the others.

Raja Ampat is undoubtedly one of the most renowned areas in the world for divers, but also an incredible place to sail.

If you have the opportunity (and the funds) for a cruise or a boat rental in Raja Ampat, you are likely to remember it for the rest of your life.

rote yacht charter indonesia

The Lesser Sunda Islands are all potential yachting destinations, which are currently quite unexplored as they are relatively unknown.

Nevertheless, the landscapes in these regions are very impressive, sometimes resembling Northern Australia with their shared climate and biodiversity.

These islands are much drier than the North of the Indonesian archipelago, making them preferable destinations during the rainy season, which is often less intense in these regions.

Sulawesi and the Moluccas: two immense and relatively unexplored sailing areas

suwalesi yacht charter indonesia

The center of Indonesia, particularly the archipelagos of Sulawesi (Celebes) and the Moluccas, are two immense sailing areas that have long been ignored by most tourists.

Currently, it is mostly divers who visit these islands, which are often very well-preserved.

If you are looking for an extraordinary destination in Indonesia, these two regions can be part of a very interesting sailing itinerary, both in terms of landscapes, diving spots, and the cultures you will encounter.

surf charter mentawai indonesia

The Mentawai Islands, located west of Sumatra, are often compared to the Disneyland of surfing.

Many of these islands have perfect waves all year round, attracting surfers from around the world.

Most of the Mentawai Islands are uninhabited. On some of them, the only inhabitants are the employees of surf resorts that have decided to establish themselves there.

The area is naturally worth visiting by boat since you don't really have another choice (there are not always roads, let alone airports!).

Mentawai yacht charters are primarily surf charters that take surfers directly to the spots. But there is nothing stopping you from renting a boat in this region even if you don't surf.

What types of boats are available for rent in Indonesia?

Several types of boats are available for rent in Indonesia, both in classic yacht charters and in shared cruises with other passengers.

Gulets: large wooden sailboats, stars of Indonesia for your luxurious stays

sailboat charter bali

If you are looking for large luxury sailboats to rent in Indonesia, the archipelago will be a true paradise for you.

Unlike other destinations where "modern" boats are popular, here it is rather the old wooden gulets that are the real stars of the archipelago.

These gulets are simply magnificent, real wooden jewels, with increasingly breathtaking views of the East of the Indonesian archipelago...

Of course, these large sailboats come with all the necessary crew: captain, as well as hostesses and other employees for your well-being.

Many of these large sailboats can serve as luxury liveaboard boats for your diving trips, and some can even be shared among several passengers to reduce the cost of the cruise.

Liveaboards: shared boats for diving and surfing cruises

Liveaboards are boats in which you live during your cruise in Indonesia. Most are intended for scuba diving or surfing.

Most of the time, you pay per person or per cabin and share the boat with other clients.

Dive or surf liveaboards come in different types:

  • Some are real luxury yachts shared among passengers (especially large sailboats as explained above)
  • Others are relatively basic boats where function clearly outweighs aesthetics (the majority of surf charters and dive liveaboards)

Motoryachts: relatively uncommon in Indonesia but still findable

Motoryachts are not necessarily the most common boats in Indonesia, although it is still possible to find them with some searching.

Most often, motoryachts are found on Bali or the surrounding areas and are more often rented for events and parties. There are also small motor yachts, usually with a skipper, for day trips.

Catamarans: rather rare in the Indonesian archipelago

Catamarans, whether sail or "motorcats," are quite rare in the Indonesian archipelago.

If you are a lover of catamaran sailing, Indonesia is not really the best destination for you. Alternatively, you can opt for a gulet that will offer you an exceptional sailing experience with onboard space equivalent to large catamarans. What torture!

When is the best time for a cruise in Indonesia?

Indonesia has a climate that varies from equatorial in the north to tropical in the south. The dry season extends from May to September, and the rainy season from October to April.

Storms are rare in Indonesia, so you can go on a cruise in the archipelago almost whenever you want, including during the rainy season. The rainiest months are from December to February, but that doesn't mean it will rain all day.

If you go at the height of the rainy season, choosing the southernmost regions of the archipelago (Timor, Flores, Rote, etc.) is a good way to avoid the rain as much as possible.

The winds are much stronger during the dry season, and the swells as well. If you want to have thrilling experiences (and almost guaranteed sunshine), this period is to be preferred.

How much does a cruise or boat rental cost in Indonesia?

The cost of a cruise or yacht rental in Indonesia depends on many factors:

  • The type of boat you want to use and its services
  • The destinations you want to visit
  • If you will share the boat with other passengers or not

Here are some prices to give you an idea:

  • Shared liveaboard dive cruises: from €200 / person / day
  • Surf charters in Mentawai: from €200 / person / day
  • Full gulet boat rental: from €15,000 / week

Conclusion

Indonesia is a destination that is likely to become one of the epicenters of yachting in the years to come, given the immense natural assets that the archipelago possesses.

From Mentawai to Raja Ampat, passing through Bali, Flores, Timor, not to mention Celebes and the Moluccas, how can you not fall under the spell?

Between luxurious wooden sailboats, diving boats, surf charters, and other yacht rentals for day trips, there is truly something for every taste.

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