The island nation of Indonesia straddles the equator between the Indian and Pacific Oceans and lies at the heart of the ‘Coral Triangle’ - the epicentre of the world’s marine biodiversity. Nowhere on ...
Leyla is a traditional Phinisi vessel that combines high standards of service and superb modern style. Offering intimate and action-packed trips around Komodo, Raja Ampat, the Banda Sea, Alor, and the Forgotten islands, Leyla is the perfect choice for an enriching dive holiday around the Indonesian archipelago.
Leyla is a traditional wooden Phinisi boasting exceptional standards of safety, performance, and beauty – setting a true benchmark within the industry. Launched in 2018, this vessel is fully equipped for diving and offers private charters, shared cabin trips, and expeditions around Raja Ampat, Komodo, and the Banda Sea. Leyla can accommodate a maximum of 12 guests in superb comfort, and creates the perfect setting to enjoy relaxing water activities such as swimming, snorkelling, kayaking, and diving, as well as enriching cultural excursions throughout the Indonesian archipelago.
Komodo National Park is situated close to the coast of Flores, with Sumbawa and the Sape Strait to the west. Covering over 1,730 square kilometres, the park includes the three large islands of Komodo, Padar and Rinca, along with 26 smaller islands. The park’s rugged terrain is dominated by jagged peaks and mountain slopes covered in dry savannah and dense stands of deciduous forests. Erosion has carved the coastlines of the islands into deep bays, inlets, channels and isolated beaches, creating some of Indonesia’s most spectacular scenery. Locations such as Komodo’s ‘Pink Beach’ and the incredible view from Padar looking across back-to-back, circular bays, are worth the trip alone!
Komodo’s dramatic landscape continues beneath the waves and the waters are some of the richest marine environments in the world. The reefs, channels, seagrass beds and mangroves are home to over 1000 species of fish and 250 species of corals. The channel surrounding theses islands funnels huge volumes of water between the Flores Sea and the Indian Ocean, resulting in nutrient-rich upwellings and dramatic currents that sweep past the islands, creating the perfect conditions for an incredible diversity of marine life and superb diving. The national park was founded in 1980 to protect its infamous resident - the Komodo dragon. This extraordinary species is the world’s largest land-dwelling reptile and can still be observed in the wild on both Komodo and Rinca islands.
Raja Ampat is an archipelago of over 1,500 small islands and reefs surrounding the 4 main islands of Misool, Salawati, Batanta and Waigeo - the ‘Four Kings’ from which Raja Ampat takes its name. The area is part of the newly-created province of West Papua and, despite its allegiance to Indonesia, the islands of Raja Ampat feel very much like part of a different world. Although resorts are being developed throughout the archipelago and liveaboards run regular schedules around its famous sites, this string of beautiful islands still holds on to a lingering promise of exploration and discovery.
Papua is home to an incredible diversity of flora, fauna and cultures with the rugged terrain and relatively late development having helped to preserve the unique biological and cultural diversity. Much of the mainland is made inaccessible by rugged mountains and dense jungle and new endemic species are being discovered here every year. Below the surface of the sea, the rich reefs of Raja Ampat are a similar treasure trove of unique species; in fact, Cape Kri on Mansuar Island in the Dampier Strait holds the record for the most number of fish species recorded on a single dive. Raja Ampat is so species-rich and such a vital area for reef conservation that the entire area has been protected as part of the Bird’s Head Seascape.
The Banda Sea lies just south of the equator in Eastern Indonesia and is bounded by the islands of Buru, Ambon and Seram in Maluku to the north, Sulawesi to the west, curving arcs of volcanoes and reefs to the east, distant islands of Nusa Tenggara and Timor to the south. Within the basin itself are two chains of islands - an inner arc of rugged volcanoes that rise from the deep waters of the central area and an outer arc of low, limestone islands that mark the eastern boundary of the sea. These remote islands of the ‘Ring of Fire’ have escaped much of the development of the modern world and remain pristine outposts of Asia’s extraordinary marine environment, offering untouched reefs, prolific marine life and plenty of bigger species.
This remote area once lay at the heart of the lucrative spice trade - in fact, Banda and its neighbour, Run, were the original ‘Spice Islands’ sought after by explorers and fought over by nations. Today the islands of the Banda Sea attract a different type of adventurer - drawn by the opportunity to dive remote, pristine reefs, visit islands rich in history and culture, and explore a part of Asia that, despite its previous fame and fortune, has become a pristine backwater.
The Alor region consists of two large islands, Alor and Pantar, as well as 14 smaller islands lying due east of Flores. They are amongst the least developed in Indonesia but offer incredible experiences both above and below the surface of the sea. On land, steep mountains and dry savannahs blend into lush forests that hide waterfalls, hot springs and even an active volcano.
The islands are part of the Lesser Sundas and along with Flores to the west, help to define the northern boundary of the Savu Sea. The famous Indonesian Throughflow is at its strongest in this part of the archipelago and an extraordinary volume of water passes through this region, funnelled through the channels that separate each of the islands. These huge currents bring with them a constant supply of nutrient-rich water, providing the perfect conditions for the marine life that so obviously flourishes around the islands of Alor. These pristine blue waters and swirling currents, along with beautiful reefs, drop-offs, caves and sheltered bays, are home to thousands of marine species in one of the richest biodiverse regions in the world.
Launched in 2018, Leyla is a 33-meter traditional Phinisi built for leisure and style. This vessel can accommodate a maximum of 12 guests in 4 ensuite cabins with air-conditioning, but aims to operate with groups of up to 10 people. A unique and balanced menu is served in the semi-open dining area at the back of the boat, blending traditional herbs and spices with local ingredients. A spacious deck at the front of the vessel and a shaded upper deck are equipped with comfortable seating and provide plenty of space for relaxing between dives. The indoor lounge features a library, entertainment system, and an air-conditioned dining area. Guests can also enjoy a range of activities while onboard including swimming, snorkelling, kayaking, trekking, and enriching cultural excursions.
Leyla is fully equipped for diving operations with 2 tenders, providing quick and comfortable access to every dive site, and full equipment rental including dive computers. Underwater photographers will also find camera rinse tanks and charging stations onboard. A range of PADI courses is offered, from Discover Scuba Diving to Advanced Open Water, and includes various specialities. All navigation, communication, and safety equipment onboard Leyla is state-of-the-art including GPS, VHF radio, first aid and oxygen kits, life jackets, and life rafts.
An example itinerary departs from Labuanbajo, and heads to the nearby island of Sebayur Kecil for a check dive, before exploring Sebayur Jetty in the afternoon. The next day guests will dive Tatawa Besar’s beautiful reef, and then sail north to experience the Cauldron – a site where divers drift through a channel between two islands known as the Shotgun due to its high-speed currents. Gili Lawa Darat’s coral garden is next up with an abundance of juvenile fish hiding among the staghorn corals and eagle rays passing overhead. Castle Rock and Crystal Rock will be explored the following day, boasting incredible trevally action, with Crystal Bay offering a nice alternative when currents are too strong.
Golden Passage, Manta Point, and Batu Bolong are next to be visited, followed by a relaxing evening watching the sunset. An early morning visit to the viewpoint on Padar Island allows guests to see overlook 3 differently coloured beaches, before dives at Pillarsteen and Three Sisters. Heading back to the centre of the national park, guests can explore the reefs and overhangs of Siaba Kecil, search for critters around Siaba Besar, and spot manta rays hovering above the reef at Mawan Island. Leyla will then stop at Rinca Island, for a short trek to see the komodo dragons before diving the top muck site of Wainilu. Depending on flight times, a dive at Batu Pengah may also be possible. Leyla then returns to Labuanbajo.
Leyla offers multi-day cruises around Raja Ampat of varying durations. An example itinerary departs from Waisai and heads to Misool. Arriving at Daram Island early the following morning, guests will get the opportunity to dive Warna Berwarna, Andiamo, Candy Store, and Andy’s Ultimate. Leyla will then travel to Boo to visit Boo Windows and Yellit Kecil. Guests can then explore Nudi Rock and Batu Kecil – small rocks connected through an underwater ridge and boasting an abundance of reef life – before visiting Whale Rock in the afternoon. The following day, Leyla will visit Four Kings for some incredible fish action and possible manta rays, before heading to Wedding Cake. Goa Farondi and Friendly Canyon will then be dived before heading back to the Dampier Strait, visiting the viewpoint of Puncak Harfat on the way.
After the overnight crossing, Leyla will stop at Dayang Channel, known for manta rays, before visiting Karang Bata and My Reef. Beginning the day on the wall of Keruo Channel, guests will then visit Melissa’s Garden before an afternoon hike to the viewpoint on Piaynemo. The sloping reef and shallow coral plateau of Yeben Shallows will be explored next, spending surface intervals on the white sand beaches, before heading towards Yefnabu in the afternoon. Citrus Ridge, Mayhem, and Lalosi will be visited the following day, offering schooling fish, bright corals, trevally, barracuda, and wobbegong sharks. On the last full day of diving, guests will visit Sardine Reef, Blue Magic, and Mike’s Point before returning to Waisai.
An example itinerary departs from Ambon and heads towards the Banda Islands. A check dive will be done at Pulau Suanggi before travelling to the steep slopes of Pulau Nailaka where pelagic hunters are often found. Pulau Run, Prince’s Reef, and Pulau Ai are next to be explored, followed by Banda Jetty where divers can observe the mating ritual of the Mandarin Fish. After a morning dive at Pulau Pisang, guests can visit the old spice route including Fort Belgica, before a late afternoon dive at Banda Besar.
The next day is spent around Pulau Hatta and Hatta Wall, boasting a stunning swim-through and a magnificent coral garden, followed by a dive at Karang Hatta where large schools of hammerhead sharks are often spotted. After an overnight sail, Leyla will arrive at Nusa Laut for several dives around Amet Reef, which is well protected by the locals, creating an underwater paradise. The boat then travels to Waisai to disembark.