Holidays for Couples Holidays for Couples Apr-Sep 2017 - Page 68

asia // indonesia A 12-hour sail takes Al likai around the other side of Rinjani to Keramat. The water is pure glass and we snorkel to a tiny island where there’s an ageing woman, her husband and their two grandchildren, faces painted in ochre to protect against the sun. At another nearby village, population 500, the swarms of children follow us like we’re rock stars. Goats slouch on doorsteps and young women wash their long, black hair in buckets of water. We snorkel back toward the boat over streets of sea urchins, spiky in name and nature, and discover a sailor’s eyeball – a type of algae which looks precisely as its name suggests and is one of the largest single-cell organisms in the world. By late afternoon we are at Moyo (the village school here received funding from Australia after the island was devastated by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami) and take a 2.5-kilometre walk to cool waterfalls and a swing rope. Back on board, we’re escorted by drifting dolphins who like to surf the wake of the vessel in the early evening when the hauntingly beautiful melody of Muslim prayer calls out from a village over the ocean. Around halfway through our journey we arrive at the island of Satonda, behind which sits Mount Tambora on Sumbawa Island. Substantially more destructive than Krakatoa, Gunung Tambora lays claim to being the site of the largest volcanic explosion in recorded history. On Satonda itself, a crater left by an ancient volcano has been filled with warm saltwater from the Boxing Day tsunami. Locals and visitors hang coral on a wishing tree here for good luck. Another long sail through the night brings us to the weaving and boat-building village of Wera on Sumbawa. There’s another active volcano around here, which turned these once-white beaches to grey ash three years ago, but Sangeang Api (or ‘Mountain of Spirits’) is quiet today. The plump cushions scattered around the decks and day beds on Al likai are made from the intricately woven cloths on this island. By late afternoon on day six we’re in Komodo National Park, where it’s all swirling sea eagles and stingrays in the calm cove where we moor. The next morning the mantas are mooching along the ocean floor as if the coral is crooning a beautiful ballad. We drift snorkel along Manta Alley, a white-pebbled path along the ocean floor off Komodo National Top left: A traditional Indonesian sailing ship known as a pinisi. Top right: The sun-kissed Rinca Island offers extraordinary landscape – on land and under water. Above: You can snorkel all year round with the majestic manta rays. Bottom: Komodo National Park is inhabited by some 5,700 komodo dragons Park, and it’s a 30-manta morning on this magnificent day. On our penultimate day we arrive at Rinca, home to the komodo dragons. Around 10 lazy lizards are sunning themselves in the early morning warmth, as if to say, “Forget the snorkelling, it’s us you’ve really come to see”. And indeed, these million-year- old dinosaurs make a point. But the ocean is beckoning again, and our last snorkel features a sea snake and reef shark before the sun sets on our final sail, and our intriguing glimpse into the mysterious life beyond the magic of Bali. H // Al likai carries a maximum of 16 people. For more information on the boat and her sailing itineraries, which may vary depending on local weather conditions, go to 66