Off the coast of Bali, Indonesia is a small underdeveloped island called Flores, affectionately known as
The Bali from 20 years ago
because it still has pristine beaches and no traffic or pollution. Here humanity craves simplicity and the people that make their way to this island are ultimately choosing a simpler existence and a slower paced life. As we descended into Flores, you are flying over hundreds of islands, some of them completely uninhabited, and the shores were dotted with ancient fishing boats from a long gone era.
Once in Flores, you have your choice of staying on one of the island’s private beach resorts or you can take to the ocean on an ancient fishing boat, called a Phinisi Boat and set sail through some of the hundreds of nearby Indonesian islands.
But why not do both?
While down there I met Marilena, the owner of Seraya Hotel who also owns a Phinisi Boat called Aqualuna that you can charter with a crew for 3 to 5 days from the hotel. Marilena did it right by creating both an island sanctuary hotel and then a floating sanctuary, giving you the perfect mix of isolation and freedom.
Seraya Hotel is luxurious cluster of eco-villas on it’s own private stretch of beach nestled in a cove surrounded by some of the most pristine coral reefs. You can just walk out in the water from your villa and snorkel or scuba dive.
You can spend a day lounging by the pool, have a masseuse come give you a massage, or have cocktails and sprawl out on pillows in their open air lounge. It is perfectly quiet there except for the occasional boat going by or the ocean breeze. It is truly a place you want to go to get away.
We dove and spent lazy evenings in the lounge and it was the perfect blend of adventure and solitude. If that is not enough solitude or luxury for you, you can even rent out their main villa on the hilltop that comes with it’s own butler and staff.
The second half of our trip we were invited to spend a few days aboard the Aqua Luna Selini, the private boat belonging Seraya Hotel. I had never even heard of a Phinisi boat until this trip and I was so excited to check out the boating culture and see how the locals live.
When Marilena brought us aboard our new floating home, we were greeted by our crew and took a quick tour. At first glance it looks like an old pirate ship. You can sleep 12 people comfortably downstairs. The boat has 4 comfortable private cabins with beds and air conditioning, but most people love to sleep under the stars on the deck which was like lounging in a Moroccan tent with pillows and lanterns.
For the next few days our itinerary sounded like something from “The Land of Make-Believe”. We would be setting sail in search of real-life dragons, Komodo Dragons, that live nowhere else on Earth. We would lounge on the deck our boat to watch a Million Bats migrate each night at sunset and watch the sky turn from pink to blue to a deep purple behind the many silhouetted islands and one by one the thousands of stars started to shine through. At first you thought the water was reflecting the sky, but then we realized that it was bioluminescent plankton in the water glittering like diamonds in the wake.
There is something magical about life on the water. The second we stepped foot on the boat it was if time slowed way down. Maybe it was the subliminal rocking of the waves, or the sense of adventure or freedom to go anywhere, but it is as if your internal clock becomes synched with nature and you find yourself rising and setting with the sun. We luxuriated on the deck of the boat lounging on overstuffed cushions as we watched the islands drift by.
We would stop every once in a while to check out a private cove and snorkel or visit a quaint fishing village while the crew prepared meals or coffee for us. Our needs and wants became very simple and primal. Instead of being obsessed with our electronic devices and constantly devouring the world around us….life just slowed down.
Two days on the boat felt like a week. We napped when we felt tired, ate when we were hungry, stopped to explore when we wanted to, and I found myself to be reconnected to the world around me, even though I was on a boat sailing through and archipelago of remote uninhabited islands, where if I really wanted, no one could ever find me.
As we sailed back to Flores on our Phinisi boat, I realized that to really experience life in Flores or on any of the 200 islands in the area, that you must do it on a boat. The water culture there is how everyone lives. You have the freedom to dip in and out of the islands yet always have a calm place to return back to. The best way to gain respect for the land really comes from the perspective of seeing it from the water.
It is reassuring to know that places like this still exist on Earth. That there are still lands untouched by humans and ruled by nature. Places where the days and nights stretch out into infinity and where you can still go back and find a simpler place in time.