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Alila Purnama Captain Mario Tells It All

3 December 2014

Alila Purnama, Alila Hotels and Resorts’ luxury Phinisi, takes guests on voyages of discovery throughout the stunning, undiscovered waters and islands of Raja Ampat and the Komodo Islands. Each expedition see guests experience amazing sea and island-hopping adventures, alongside world-class diving in some of Indonesia’s most pristine destinations.

An accomplished kite surfer, surfer and diver, Alila Purnama's Captain Mario Gonzalez has cumulated extensive knowledge of the best dive sites in Indonesia and West Papua in his years of sailing the Indonesian waters. From night diving with Eupalette sharks in Raja Ampat to drift-diving with schools of snappers and jack fish in the Komodo Islands, Mario shares with us, the ultimate insider’s guide to the best diving in Indonesia.


Gili Selang is located in the south side of Amed, on the east coast of Bali, famous for its hard and soft underwater coral just below the water’s surface. Gili Selang is one of the most challenging sites in Bali but excellent for experienced divers that are keen to see pelagic fish. With a visibility of 20-25m and water temperature between 20-30°C, divers can expect to see yellow margin morays, schooling big-eyed giant trevally, cuttlefish and pygmy seahorses on the gorgonian sea fans. Following the reef downwards, the sand slope becomes a wall, which is known for occasional ‘spinning’ currents combined with a horizontal current from the other side of the channel.


"Shotgun" as the locals call it or "The Cauldron" as named by others, is an intense and high adrenaline dive, perfect for drift diving, with amazing changes of scenery between Gili Lawa Darat and Gili Lawa Laut, north of Komodo. Named the "Cauldron" because of the bowl shaped drop off, along the eastern end of the site, the name "Shotgun" refers to the currents that can reach peaks of 10 knots as the water squeezes into the narrow space between both islands. The currents bring the micro-organisms from deep waters, feeding the small fish, which in turn creates the perfect hunting ground for the big-fish. Black and white tip sharks, giant trevallies, schools of snappers, and jack fish, fusiliers fish and even mantas and dolphins, are just some of the sea-animals divers can expect


Night diving is an experience not to be missed. The water comes alive at night allowing divers to see the ocean from a totally different perspective. Some coral reefs can’t be seen in daylight, it’s only when darkness descends that they appear. The Orange Tube Corals glow orange in darkness and the Sea Pens look like little brown furry leaves. Night diving in Waigeo is extraordinary as divers will see creatures rarely encountered anywhere else in the world, including the Eupalette shark, which is brown with dark spots and prefers to walk with its fins rather than swim. Divers are also guaranteed to spot wobbegong sharks, blue ring octopus, toadfish and crocodile fish in almost every dive.


Guests of Alila Purnama diving around Castle Rock, will always see wild dolphins, white, black and silver tip sharks, Napoleon Wrasses with schools of jack fish, groupers and barracuda, to joining them for a swim. Castle Rock is northeast of Komodo Island, located close to Crystal Rock. The beauty of marine life in this area is remarkable and the coral slope is simply beautiful. Due to the strong currents, this dive should always be performed in slack tide and divers should never go deeper than 20 or 25 metres.


Kri Reef is one of the most famous dive sites in Raja Ampat. It has even secured a place in the Guinness Book of World Records thanks to the 374 types of marine life that can be found here, including barracuda, turtles, tuna, groups of giant trevally and large schools of bumphead parrot fish – divers can even see them crushing the corals with their huge teeth. Here, divers will find the healthiest coral reefs in the world and if lucky will witness sweet-lips hordes in tens as they pass by. To have the best possible dive, stay deep in this location to avoid strong surface currents. Alila Purnama, translated as The Full Moon is the most luxurious liveaboard Phinisi in Asia, providing beautifully designed accommodation and spacious decking for up to ten guests. The 46-metre long ship consists of three decks and has been built by hand in the traditional style of an Indonesian Phinisi boat. Onboard are four well-appointed cabins, all air-conditioned with queen-size beds, en-suite bathrooms with showers, writing desk, separate toilet and double wardrobes. In addition there is the Master Suite, expansively designed with large, wrap around windows offering 270-degree views of the ever-changing yet incredible landscape.

From October to March, Alila Purnama sails the Raja Ampat Voyage while the Komodo Island Expedition commences from May to September. Alila Purnama offers private charters (full ship chartering), which are tailored to guests’ preferred itineraries and sailing duration, subject to availability. Four nights, five days of full charter starts at USD 44,000++ which includes live-aboard meals and accommodation for 10 people, unlimited dives, water activities and shore excursions.

Alila Purnama is also open for Raja Ampat Limited Edition voyages, which cater to individual reservations (two persons sharing a suite). Several trips are available based on two people sharing a cabin, for six nights from USD 12,750++ for one of the onboard suites and USD 15,000++ for the master suite.

Raja Ampat’s Limited Edition set departure dates include:

13 December 2014 – 19 December 2014

24 January 2015 – 30 January 2015

14 February 2015 – 20 February 2015

14 March 2015 – 20 March 2015

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