Written By: Missy Johnston
The South Pacific is brimming with possibilities for an amazing yacht vacation. In particular, we recommend a private luxury yacht cruise in Indonesia or Fiji for unique and extraordinary cultural experiences.
While these two countries are not close enough to visit both in one charter, either one is a great yacht charter choice for full immersion in rich, colorful cultural traditions. The solution, of course, is to plan two private different luxury yacht charters in both of these amazing places!
What to See In Indonesia On A Private Yacht Cruise
Indonesia is a wonderful vacation spot. While Komodo Dragons are not to be missed, and only live in Indonesia, and in Indonesia only in one location in the beautiful Komodo Archipelago, there are so many other areas of Indonesia in which to cruise with unique villages that have their own cultural traditions.
Visit the textile villages of Indonesia
The textile-dyeing technique known as ikat is not as well-known as the classical Indonesian batik, but it is every bit as beautiful and intricate. Unlike batik, where skilled artisans apply wax to and then dye finished cloths (leaving the waxed parts undyed and the wax to be removed with boiling water), ikat textiles are made with yarns that have been resist-dyed before they are woven into finished cloth. In ikat, the resist is formed by binding individual yarns or bundles of yarns with a tight wrapping, which is some type of natural material, that is applied in a pattern. The yarns are then dyed. This process is often repeated to produce multicolored patterns. When the dyeing is finished, the yarns are woven into cloth.
The pre-weaving dyeing practice dates back several thousand years and has origins in several cultures around the world, but it was the Indonesian ikat that took hold and became popular, even among Westerners. Ikat textiles arrived in Europe as early as the 17th century.
It is in the Eastern Flores Archipelago and on the eastern end of the island of Flores that the Ikat Textile dying villages are located. The various villages have been weaving Ikat dyed textiles for centuries and have created certain patterns that identify different villages. The dyes are natural, the cotton grown locally, hand-carded, spun, and woven on handmade looms. When cruising in this area, different villages can be visited, to see the dying, weaving and creation of Ikat textiles, and often it is possible to buy an Ikat Textile directly from the weaver.
The Eastern Flores Archipelago is further enlivened by Volcano Alley, a cruising area filled with active volcanoes, on the edge of the Ring of Fire. Lambata Island is one of the last active whaling communities where whales are hunted by hand with spears from sailing boats. Today you can enjoy a marriage ceremony on Alor Island including the Moko Drum, also known as the rain or frog drum.
Vist Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat is a large yacht cruising area. Consisting of an archipelago of more than 1,500 islands, It is a pure and unadulterated paradise that has glistening pristine waters, beautiful beaches, and undisturbed nature sanctuaries. Visit Piaynemo, a small cluster of islands in Raja Ampat, for a photo-worthy slice of heaven on earth. Piaynemo offers both hiking and swimming opportunities that are not to be missed.
Raja Ampat is well-known among diving and snorkeling enthusiasts around the world. Because of its remote location, the waters have not been polluted; coral and aquatic life thrives here. You can see manta rays, dolphins, sharks, and large schools of fish while diving or snorkeling.
Don’t miss an opportunity to visit the local communities, such as Yenbuba, Arborek, and Sawingray, in Raja Ampat. You will find some of the kindest and most welcoming people and have a unique chance to immerse yourself in the culture of each of these communities.
What to Do In Fiji On Your Luxury Private Yacht Charter
When you think of a Fiji private yacht cruise, you may picture lying on a beautiful sandy beach or sipping a cocktail on your yacht while you enjoy a majestic sunset. You can easily make those visions a reality, but there is much more to enjoy in the region than just the stunning scenery. If you’ve never visited Fiji, you might be surprised by the strength of their traditions and culture, especially in the Fijian Out Islands, where villages have passed down traditions from generation to generation. And on any Fiji luxury yacht charter when in the Out Islands, plan to head ashore as no anchor can be dropped in any village bay without asking permission of the village chief. And to ask permission of the village chief, one must participate in a Fijian Kava ceremony, also known as a Sevu Sevu Ceremony.
Participate in a Fijian Kava ceremony
Kava, a drink made from Piper methysticum roots, is the national beverage of Fiji. It is such an integral part of Fijian culture that, if there is a major event going on, chances are there will be some form of a kava ceremony happening as well. Therefore, it’s important to understand what to do and what not to do if you’re offered a bowl of kava during your vacation.
You’ll want to dress conservatively if you plan to attend any events in Fiji, especially events in traditional villages that adhere to early Christian customs. Conservative dress is a sign of respect, so wearing a bikini or a pair of swim trunks would be one way to get off on the wrong foot when meeting the locals. Sunglasses should also not be worn on the face or even on one’s head.
Participating in a Sevu Sevu Ceremony is itself another sign of respect for the village, the chief, and their land. It is customary to bring a gift in the form of dried kava roots when you attend a ceremony. On your charter yacht, your captain is your chief, and it is your captain that will lead the way, with gift in hand, no sunglasses, with everyone dressed conservatively to ask the village chief or perhaps the next person down, if the chief is busy in a Sevu Sevu Ceremony, for the right to anchor and visit the village.
For the ceremony itself, prepare to sit on the ground, around the village Kava Bowl, and watch while the Kava powder is mixed with water. You will be handed a coconut cup of kava by a cup-bearer, but don’t taste it right away. Wait for the greeting to be completed, and then drink the cup all at once.
As with most traditional ceremonies, the drink is not the focal point of the ceremony; asking for the right to anchor and perhaps to visit the village is the point. If visiting the village, don’t be surprised by a sudden shopping area manned by the village ladies that will appear in the village center of homemade goods and shells on blankets and cloths. It is very polite to purchase.
Attend a lovo (barbecue)
Fiji was originally known as the Cannibal Islands before the British Empire acquired the island chain in 1874. Lovos (barbecues) have a strong part to play in that story.
Lovos combine the traditional technique of wood-fired oven cooking with Fiji’s fascinating history. Once used by native tribes to cook the bodies of rival clans after violent battles, the lovo has an admittedly brutal history. Don’t let the cannibalistic origins put you off before you try a modern (non-human) lovo dish, or you’ll be missing out on a spectacular and delicious meal.
Today, the lovo is known for the delectable pork, lamb, chicken, and other dishes enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. This method of cooking is popular for barbecues and large gatherings because the size of the earth-dug lovo ovens are suitable for cooking entire pigs or other bulk meals.
If you come across a lovo while you’re in Fiji (you will, if you happen to be visiting around October 10th, which is National Fiji Day), this is one attraction worth stopping in for a look or a taste. You’ll experience traditional island flavors such as savory meats, tropical fruits, and root vegetables cooked to perfection in the smoky depths of the underground lovo oven. On a private yacht charter, often a village will create a Lovo evening just for charter yacht guests, and of course, the Kava Bowl is always a part of the festivities.
Watch a traditional meke
Meke dancing, a Fijian performance art used in native ceremonies, is a centuries-old tradition that predates early Christian missionaries and European travelers. Performers sing, dance, and play music that tells the stories of famous Fijian legends, folktales, and even prophecies.
Each presentation features eye-catching, colorful costumes and choreography passed down through generations. In fact, this custom is so old and so important to the people of Fiji that an 1896 ethnographical publication attributed the lyrics and dance moves to divine beings, who taught select, magic-imbued choreographers, known as daunivucu, the sacred art “in the spirit world.” These spirit deities sent messages and prophecies to the ancient tribes in the form of poems to be recited and acted out by Meke performers taught by the magical daunivucu.
Even after Christianity came to Fiji, and as late as the 1900s, a daunivucu by the name of Aporosa Bulivou corroborated the story and agreed that witchcraft, communication with deities, and the worship of ancestral spirits was still a widespread practice.
If you’ve seen one Meke, you have not seen them all. This performance art encompasses a wide variety of styles and themes, from peaceful, graceful fan dances to energetic and intimidating spear dances. On a private yacht charter, it is always possible to have a village in the Out Islands perform a private Meke.
Now that you have a sampling of what Indonesia and Fiji have to offer, which country will you visit first on your luxury private yacht charter? Contact us today!